Category: Community Solar
Consultation with Tribes affiliated to your project area can impact the schedule of the project. Tribes are considered sovereign nations with their own laws, government, and leaders. Building relationships and early consultation with the Tribes will help smooth-line your project for a timely completion. If you are in the planning process of development, consultation with Tribes is mandated by multiple Federal laws, if the project is identified as a federal undertaking [NHPA 36 CFR 800.16 (y)], and some State laws. Projects that fall under National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Section 106 [NHPA 36 CFR 800.16 (f)], and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) are required to consult with Tribes. Consultation with federally-recognized tribes on a government-to-government basis is not only the law; it is considered a form of comprehensive management policy and the right way for the United States to do business. “Successful consultation is a two-way exchange of information, a willingness to listen, and an attempt to understand and genuinely consider each other’s opinions, beliefs, and desired outcomes” (Grachen). Consultation is the process of seeking, discussing, and considering the views of other participants with the goal to seek agreement with them. Meaningful consultation involves effective communication, collaboration and mutual respect from which trust is earned and partnerships are developed. Having a Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) and a Tribal Liaison involved in the (consultation) process contributes to the overall success, as does having adequate funding for Tribal parties to travel to meetings, and for Agency and Tribal participants to view the site together. Amiable personalities make consultation pleasant. The key for successful consultation with Tribes is building a trusting relationship. The process is bigger than an individual interaction and can indeed be institutionalized and replicated over time. The mindset of consultation cannot be one of an obligatory task, but rather than an opportunity to seek a process that is efficient in time and finances to achieve a mutual goal.
Marilyn Zenko– Natural and Cultural Resources Group Manager, Terracon Consultants, Inc.