Are Archeological Sites Part of the California Register?

An archeological site may be considered an historical resource if it is significant in the architectural, engineering, scientific, economic, agricultural, educational, social, political, military or cultural annals of California (PRC Section 5020.1(j)) or if it meets the criteria for listing on the California Register (14 CCR Section 4850).

CEQA provides somewhat conflicting direction regarding the evaluation and treatment of archeological sites. The most recent amendments to the CEQA Guidelines try to resolve this ambiguity by directing that lead agencies should first evaluate an archeological site to determine if it meets the criteria for listing in the California Register. If an archeological site is an historical resource (i.e., listed or eligible for listing in the California Register) potential adverse impacts to it must be considered, just as for any other historical resource (PRC Sections 21084.1 and 21083.2(l)).

If an archeological site is not an historical resource, but meets the definition of a “unique archeological resource” as defined in PRC Section 21083.2, then it should be treated in accordance with the provisions of that section.