USAF Signs Heritage Protection Agreement for Sentinel Program

The US Air Force has signed a programmatic agreement (PA) to support the Sentinel program’s compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.

The process will protect more than 34,000 acres of historical and cultural heritage near activities associated with the transition of LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles into LGM-35 Sentinel systems.

“The Air Force worked with all parties to develop an agreement that balanced the project’s national security priorities with the protection of the cultural resources within the project area,” 20th USAF Commander Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton said during the signing.

“The agreement is designed to seek tribal input on the identification, documentation, evaluation and protection of sites and objects of tribal significance through all phases and areas of this project. Through a spirit of respect and cooperation, all parties worked to develop the strongest, most effective agreement possible.”

Protecting Cultural Resources

The PA was signed by representatives from the US State Historic Preservation, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Park Service Interior Region, and Native American communities in North Dakota.

Minuteman III ICBM silo
Maintenance personnel guides the re-entry system for LGM-30 Minuteman III missiles onto a missile guidance set, September 1990. Image: US Air Force

Since the signing, the air force has been working for Sentinel approval by other tribes, federal agency regional departments, local authorities, and non-governmental organizations.

“A well-designed PA is meant to find the balance between the Air Force construction project and the protection of the cultural resources within the project area,” USAF Civil Engineer Center Environmental Impact Statement Project Manager Stephanie Newcomer stated.

“Through this process, we acknowledged the lands impacted by this project are the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples,” Sentinel Acquisition Program Manager Russell Bartholomew added.

“It is important for all parties and individuals involved in this project to understand the long-standing history that has brought us to reside on the land and our place within that history.”

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