Iowa DOT – Protecting Iowa’s cultural resources

Iowa DOT  – Protecting Iowa’s cultural resources

(Music introduction) What story does our land have to tell? At the Iowa Department of Transportation, we are investigators, looking for significant history. We are dedicated to the preservation and protection of Iowa’s historic heritage as we work to improve and maintain Iowa’s highways and roads. It’s our responsibility to avoid or minimize any potential impacts to Iowa’s important cultural resources. A job we take very seriously. A cultural resource is a prehistoric or historic site, district, building, structure or object. Some cultural resources are things that seem obvious. But they can also include lesser-known things like cemeteries, caves, and even sewers. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 focuses on preserving historical and archaeological sites in the United States. The Iowa DOT follows a federally-mandated process and state laws that help us consider the effect of our projects on cultural resources. The process begins with conversations with stakeholders who help identify potential cultural resources. Consultation is the heart of the review process. Consulting parties can include local, state, and federal agencies, sovereign nations as well as the general public. Seeking input from these parties is one of the most important aspects of the process and helps to ensure that all issues and viewpoints have been fully considered. Once cultural resources in the project area have been identified, we look to evaluate these resources for their cultural and historical significance. Significance is determined by the resources potential for nomination to the National Register. The National Register is the nation’s official list of properties that are recognized for their historical significance. In order to be eligible for this list, a resource must meet at least one of four criteria. If the resource meets one of these four criteria, the Iowa DOT looks to find project alternatives that avoid or minimize impacts while still being respectful of cultural resources. If avoidance cannot be achieved, we look to ease the negative impacts through mitigation. Mitigation efforts can include documentation of an education about the significant resource so that it may live on as part of Iowa’s history. At Iowa DOT, we are committed to achieving balance in improving Iowa’s transportation system while respecting the state’s past. (Music ends)

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