Cultural resources are tangible remains of past human activity. They are important to our nation because they tell the story of our past and can provide solutions to modern problems. Much of their meanings are tied to their specific locations. They are non-renewable and irreplaceable if removed or damaged.

The Governor’s Executive Order 21-02 requires most RCO-funded projects to be reviewed for their potential harm to cultural resources.

Grant applicants should request funding to do this work in their applications.

RCO leads the review process for most projects from local governments, tribes, and nonprofits. State and federal agency applicants review their own projects.

Process Details

Types of Cultural Resources

Cultural resources encompass all the physical evidence of past human activity. They include the following:

  • Archaeological sites or objects
  • Built resources older than 50 years, including buildings and structures, transmission lines, bulkheads, and levees
  • Traditional cultural places and sacred sites
  • Sites of significant events
  • Historic locations for an activity, such as trails, petroglyphs, village sites, or battlefields
  • Historic landscapes, earthworks, and canals
  • Prehistoric sites
  • Historic or prehistoric objects or collections

Protected Archaeological Information

Information that identifies the location of archaeological sites or the sites of traditional religious ceremonial uses is exempt from public disclosure. This may include archaeological investigation reports, archaeological site forms, site maps, and photographs. Keeping this information private may prevent looting or disturbance and may help ensure continued use of the area by traditional religious practitioners.


The Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s guide for hiring a preservation consultant.


E-mail cultural resources specialists

Sarah Johnson Humphries, Cultural Resources Unit manager, 360-764-3072

Photography by Chris Popek