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Home arrowNews arrowJFebruary 25, 2013

ACHP Sends Final Comments on Pawtucket Dam to FERC

Merrimack River

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has prepared final comments for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding proposed alterations to the historic Pawtucket Dam in the Merrimack River at Lowell, Massachusetts. The action comes in the wake of FERC’s January 8 notification that the agency was terminating the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). That provision requires federal agencies to consider the impacts of undertakings they carry out, fund, or license on properties listed, or eligible for listing, on the National Register of Historic Places (National Register).

The project at issue was Boott Hydropower, Inc.’s plan to replace a historic dam structural feature with a contemporary treatment that uses a crest gage with inflatable bladders to regulate high-water flow at Pawtucket Dam in the Merrimack River. The Pawtucket Dam is a nationally significant historic engineering resource listed on the National Register and as a contributing element of a National Historic Landmark (NHL) within the Lowell Locks and Canals Historic District (LLCHD). The LLCHD is nationally significant as representative of America’s first great industrial city, which today encompasses the most historically significant extant aggregation of early 19th century industrial structures and artifacts in the United States. The Pawtucket Dam is also included as a nationally significant structure in the Lowell Historic Preservation District (LHPD) and the National Park Service’s List of Classified Structures (LCS) for Lowell National Historical Park, both of which are listed on the National Register.

Pawtucket Dam WorkingsFollowing FERC’s termination of the Section 106 review process, the ACHP had 45 calendar days to provide its final comments on historic preservation and Section 106 issues. As a key part of this process, ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, created a five-member panel from the ACHP membership to oversee development of comments and recommendations. The panelists were provided copies of documents compiled from the Section 106 consultation to inform their review. On February 5, 2013, the panel conducted a site visit and public meeting in Lowell, Massachusetts, and received testimony from consulting parties, including the Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Officer, Lowell National Historical Park, and Department of the Interior, public officials, organizations, and members of the community. Subsequently, the panel prepared these comments for consideration by the Chairman of FERC in reaching his final decision on the project. The Chairman of FERC must take into account these comments and respond to them prior to reaching a decision on the project.

Read the ACHP’s comments here.

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