Cultural Resources Section

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The NMDOT Cultural Resources Section works to ensure that the historic fabric of New Mexico is maintained and appreciated by residents, visitors, and future generations.

The NMDOT has supported one of the most enduring cultural resources programs in the country beginning in the 1950s. The Cultural Resources (CR) Section is managed out of the NMDOT General Office in Santa Fe. Our team of historic preservation professionals provides assistance and guidance to six NMDOT districts across the state.  The CR section works directly with districts, federal and state agencies, tribal and local governments, and other interested parties to balance New Mexico’s transportation needs with protecting and preserving our state’s cultural heritage along and adjacent to the NMDOT highway system.

The CR Section is responsible for NMDOT project compliance with standards set forth in federal historic preservation regulations such as the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (Section 106: 54 U.S.C. 306108) and its implementing regulation 36 CFR Part 800 and the Department of Transportation Act, Section 4(f) (23 U.S.C. 138 and 49 U.S.C. 303-Part 774). 

1912 Map of New Mexico

State statutes include the New Mexico Cultural Properties Act (N.M. Stat. §§ 18-6-1 through 18-6-17, as amended through 2005), the New Mexico Cultural Properties Protection Act (N.M. Stat. §§ 18-6A-1 through 18-6A-6), and the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act (N.M. Stat. §§ 18-8-1 through 18-8-8). In addition, the CR Section maintains collaborative partnerships with land managing and regulatory agencies including the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) as well as 33 federally recognized tribes.

The CR Section plays a vital role in project development in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  Section 106 and Section 4(f) require that federal agencies identify and take into account the effects undertakings may have on historic properties.  The CR Section oversees the level of effort for identification of cultural resource sites and areas of importance to Native American communities prior to proposed NMDOT projects.  Identified historic properties such as archaeological sites, buildings, and districts, listed or eligible for listing in the National or State Register of Historic Places, are avoided or effects minimized, when possible, through modification of project design. To make the federal and state compliance process more effective and efficient, programmatic agreements with the SHPO and other agencies help streamline the identification and consultation process while ensuring that mandated historic preservation compliance responsibilities are met.

Programs

image of roadside landscape in New Mexico

Tribal Consultation under NPHA Section 106 and State Tribal Collaboration Act

The consultation program for the NMFHWA/NMDOT recognizes the government-to-government relationship of federal government agencies with tribes.  Using the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list of projects we invite tribes to identify projects and properties of interest early in the project development process so tribal comments and concerns can help avoid impacts to historic and traditional cultural properties.  Continued contact on specific projects helps to protect tribal interests while keeping transportation projects on schedule.

Point of Contact:

Genevieve N. Head, Cultural Resource Section
P.O. Box 1149
1120 Cerrillos Rd., Rm 206
Santa Fe. NM 87504-1149
Phone: 505-469-1529
Email: Genevieve.head@state.nm.us

Tribal/Local Public Agency

Tribal and local governments (T/LPA) often receive funds administered through NMDOT.  These can include both federal (usually FHWA funds) and state (usually capital outlay funds).  The intent of the environmental review and certification process is to make sure that, through proper planning, effects to the natural and cultural resources are avoided or minimized.  The T/LPA is responsible for obtaining all necessary permits and certifications from the appropriate federal and state agencies.  The T/LPA, usually through its consultant, initiates the environmental review process by submitting a Level of Effort form to the NMDOT Environmental Bureau.  The project can proceed after the T/LPA receives the environmental certification (clearance) from the Bureau.

Point of Contact:

Emily Dossett, T/LPA Coordinator
P.O. Box 1149
1120 Cerrillos Rd., Rm 206
Santa Fe. NM 87504-1149
Phone: 505-469-9993
Email:  Emily.dossett@state.nm.us

sidewalk in carrizozo image
sidewalk in carrizozo image

Tribal/Local Public Agency

Tribal and local governments (T/LPA) often receive funds administered through NMDOT.  These can include both federal (usually FHWA funds) and state (usually capital outlay funds).  The intent of the environmental review and certification process is to make sure that, through proper planning, effects to the natural and cultural resources are avoided or minimized.  The T/LPA is responsible for obtaining all necessary permits and certifications from the appropriate federal and state agencies.  The T/LPA, usually through its consultant, initiates the environmental review process by submitting a Level of Effort form to the NMDOT Environmental Bureau.  The project can proceed after the T/LPA receives the environmental certification (clearance) from the Bureau.

Point of Contact:

Emily Dossett, T/LPA Coordinator
P.O. Box 1149
1120 Cerrillos Rd., Rm 206
Santa Fe. NM 87504-1149
Phone: 505-469-9993
Email:  Emily.dossett@state.nm.us

dump truck and shovel working on project

Contractor Located Activities

Contractors may propose activities/infrastructure needed to complete construction of a NMDOT project. Commonly proposed contactor located activities (CLAs) include construction yards, aggregate pits, and material-disposal sites. In general, CLAs are not certified during the initial environmental analysis and certification of the larger construction project. Contractors must submit a request form for all proposed CLAs. The purpose of the program is to coordinate the environmental and cultural-resource certification process among the contractor/consultant and all pertinent agencies for all proposed CLAs.

Point of Contact:

Jesse Murrell, Contractor Located Activity Coordinator
P.O. Box 1149
1120 Cerrillos Rd., Rm 206
Santa Fe. NM 87504-1149
Phone:  505-490-5747
Email:  jesse.murrell@state.nm.us

Permitted Right of Way Access: Utilities, Decel and Accel Lanes, & Driveways

Right-of-way Access permitting requires environmental review as part of the permitting process.  The permit application is obtained by the permittee (project proponent) from the NMDOT district office that will permit the project.  The environmental review is conducted by the NMDOT Environmental Bureau/Cultural Resources Section.  The applicant shall provide information as specified in the NMDOT Utility Permit Application Checklist to the environmental reviewer.  All required forms, instructions, and regulations will be provided upon request or upon authorization by the Department to the Engineer and Design specific utility relocations.

Prior to the permittee submitting a request for environmental review, the permittee shall determine land ownership of the highway right of way.  Typically, highway rights-of-way are owned by the NMDOT when rights of way are adjacent to private land.  When highways are adjacent to State Trust, federal (such as BLM and US Forest Service), and tribal lands, rights of way are owned by those entities.  The NMDOT only provides environmental clearance for projects in highway right of way that is owned by NMDOT.  NMDOT has easements on rights of way through State Trust, federal and tribal lands, and NMDOT issues permits on those easements, but NMDOT cannot provide information regarding the environmental requirements of those agencies.  The permittee will need to contact the appropriate land managing agency for environmental clearance. 

Point of Contact:

Gary Funkhouser, Permitted Projects Coordinator
P.O. Box 1149
1120 Cerrillos Rd., Rm 206
Santa Fe. NM 87504-1149
Phone: 505-570-7291
Email: gary.funkhouser@state.nm.us

image of old utility installation

Permitted Right of Way Access: Utilities, Decel and Accel Lanes, & Driveways

Right-of-way Access permitting requires environmental review as part of the permitting process.  The permit application is obtained by the permittee (project proponent) from the NMDOT district office that will permit the project.  The environmental review is conducted by the NMDOT Environmental Bureau/Cultural Resources Section.  The applicant shall provide information as specified in the NMDOT Utility Permit Application Checklist to the environmental reviewer.  All required forms, instructions, and regulations will be provided upon request or upon authorization by the Department to the Engineer and Design specific utility relocations.

Prior to the permittee submitting a request for environmental review, the permittee shall determine land ownership of the highway right of way.  Typically, highway rights-of-way are owned by the NMDOT when rights of way are adjacent to private land.  When highways are adjacent to State Trust, federal (such as BLM and US Forest Service), and tribal lands, rights of way are owned by those entities.  The NMDOT only provides environmental clearance for projects in highway right of way that is owned by NMDOT.  NMDOT has easements on rights of way through State Trust, federal and tribal lands, and NMDOT issues permits on those easements, but NMDOT cannot provide information regarding the environmental requirements of those agencies.  The permittee will need to contact the appropriate land managing agency for environmental clearance.

Point of Contact:

Gary Funkhouser, Permitted Projects Coordinator
P.O. Box 1149
1120 Cerrillos Rd., Rm 206
Santa Fe. NM 87504-1149
Phone: 505-570-7291
Email: gary.funkhouser@state.nm.us

man looking over construction plans

Airspace/Land Transfers/Subdivisions

Airspace and other right of way actions are often generated by outside parties that need to use NMDOT right-of-way or wish to acquire NMDOT right-of-way that the NMDOT no longer uses for transportation purposes.  Requests are usually made by private parties to the NMDOT District Engineer.  The District will review the request and submit its assessment to the NMDOT Right-of-Way Bureau.  The Right-of-Way Bureau will then send the request to a number of other NMDOT bureaus for review and comment; the NMDOT Environmental Bureau being one of those.  Environmental certifications are not usually issued for these types of actions because the action itself is non-ground disturbing.  But the sale or lease of a NMDOT-owned parcel can lead to ground-disturbing activities by the purchaser, which can have effects on cultural and natural resources if present.  The responsibility is on NMDOT to assess its parcels for resources, or any other areas of concern, prior to sale or lease.

Point of Contact:

Gary Funkhouser, Permitted Projects Coordinator
P.O. Box 1149
1120 Cerrillos Rd., Rm 206
Santa Fe. NM 87504-1149
Phone: 505-570-7291
Email: gary.funkhouser@state.nm.us

Section Point of Contact:

Gwyneth Duncan, Acting Cultural Resources Section Supervisor
P.O. Box 1149
1120 Cerrillos Rd., Rm 205
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1149
Phone: 505-699-1633
Email: Gwyneth.Duncan@state.nm.us

Highlighted Projects

Excavations at Hokona

Between March 2007 and August 2007, SWCA Environmental Consultants excavated a multi-occupation Puebloan site just south of NM 53 on State Land near El Morro National Monument.

Route 66

The New Mexico Department of Transportaiton and Federal Highway Administration are proud to present Route 66 and Native Americans in New Mexico.  This study is presented as a means of mitigating adverse effects to this historic road that have resulted from a bridge replacement project.

The Cambray Overpass and Historic US80

The Cambray Bridge was significant, in part, for its association with the federal grade-separation program, aimed at eliminating at-grade railroad crossings from our nation’s highways in the 1930s.