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New Mexico Cultural Resource Discovery Process (11-NM-d)

New Mexico is committed to respecting and preserving cultural resources on state trust lands. Regardless of pre-project archaeological investigation results, and even where archaeological investigations were not required, a subsequent unearthing of cultural resources at any point during a project triggers the cultural discovery process. NMAC 4.10.8.20.


Cultural Resource Discovery Process Process

11-NM-d.1 to 11-NM-d.3 – Cease Ground-Disturbing Activities in Vicinity of Discovery

Where cultural properties are discovered or unanticipated effects on known cultural properties occur during ground-disturbing activities, developers must cease all ground-disturbing activities within the vicinity of the discovery and establish at least a 50 foot buffer zone around the discovery or affected cultural properties. In addition, the developer must notify the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division (NMHPD) either directly or via the New Mexico State Land Office (NMSLO), within 24 hours of discovery. NMAC 4.10.8.20.

11-NM-d.4 – Evaluate Property’s Significance and Determine Appropriate Mitigation

If the discovered/affected cultural resource is not human burial remains, the NMSLO will determine a plan of mitigation that allows the project to continue and minimizes damage to cultural resources and/or involves excavating certain cultural resources. NMAC 4.10.8.20.

11-NM-d.5 – Review Mitigation Plan, Provide Comment and Potentially Modify

The NMHPD will review the mitigation plan within 48 hours of receiving the plan. The NMHPD may provide comments and even modify the plan, but is also tasked with working with the NMSLO and developer to develop a plan acceptable to all three parties. The NMHPD will provide comments and notify both the NMSLO and developer in writing that the plan is approved. NMAC 4.10.8.20.

11-NM-d.6 – Implement Mitigation Plan and Continue With Project as Authorized

The developer may only continue the project in adherence to the jointly administered mitigation plan by the NMSLO and NMHPD.




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Archaeologist, Cultural Issues Contact
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