SEPA Planning


The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) is an environmental review process in Washington that may result in the need for a Cultural Resources Survey. Plateau has assisted clients with all aspects of the SEPA process involving archaeological resources. Question 13 of the SEPA review asks if there are any historic structures over the age of 45 within or near the project area, if there are any archaeological sites (precontact and historic) in or near the project area, requires a description of how the impacts to cultural resources will be assessed, and what measures will be taken to mitigate the impacts on those resources. Plateau can help our clients with all components of Question 13, from providing the response to Question 13 through the completion of work, while facilitating smooth navigation through the SEPA review process.

The Process

SEPA is initiated when a client applies for a permit for private land development or with adoptions of new municipal regulations. Plateau archaeologists can address these potential issues on the front side, helping clients respond to Question 13 on the initial application, or may be contracted to conduct a Cultural Resource Survey after a state agency review of the application has been completed. Either way, Plateau will review all correspondence between the project proponent, the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP), any concerned Tribes, or other agencies that may comment to create CRS parameters, a time frame for the work, and the cost estimation. Once an agreement is executed, Plateau archaeologists will conduct the field work, and record any historic structures and cultural materials that may be within the project area. A report will be created for the client and the agency detailing findings and recommendations for further work based on those findings. If significant cultural materials are found within the project area, Plateau will work with our clients to develop a management plan that facilitates project progress and protects cultural resources.


Who Needs This?

Privately funded projects with the potential for environmental impact: Both commercial and residential projects: Municipalities looking to adopt new regulations.


No. The type of project being proposed, the types of anticipated impacts, and the permits required for completion are the determinative factors.

SEPA may be triggered by the type of permit a client is applying for or if there is a potential for resources to be impacted by the project.  SEPA addresses a variety of natural resource and cultural resource concerns, and Plateau is equipped to assist with the cultural resource concerns surrounding a SEPA project.

The short answer is probably.  We have seen increased scrutiny of the impacts to cultural resources during the SEPA review in the last few years. Question 13 may be addressed by an archaeologist initially or a CRS may be required by the agency after review of the client application. Comments about cultural resource concerns often come in late in the SEPA review, so we recommend an early consideration of the Question 13 entries to help alleviate the potential for schedule delays. Monitoring or mitigation during project execution can be considerably more expensive and cause delays.

This is determined by a number of other factors dependent upon proximity to Cultural Resources and the potential impact of the project. Plateau is equipped and trained to deal with all levels of Cultural Resource Management and can provide a suite of services to facilitate timely, responsible, project completion.

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