Surveys Unlimited Research Associates, Inc.

When to Hire an Archaeologist

The Permit Process (Section 106)

A conscientious archaeological consultant is his client’s trusted adviser, providing the most knowledgeable advice on how to negotiate the often-daunting regulatory thicket.

NASA fieldworkMany developers, wary of regulatory agencies and archaeological consultants, hire an attorney to represent them during the environmental process. This is usually not a cost-effective strategy because archaeological consulting fees are not remotely in the same ballpark as legal fees. It is usually far more efficient and certainly more cost-effective to deal directly with the archaeological consultant and regulatory agencies. It is extremely rare for archaeological considerations to halt a project. A good archaeological consultant can usually be far more effective than an attorney because the archaeologist has been dealing with these regulatory agencies and with Section 106 issues for years.

An initial telephone consultation or interview is desirable. This should allow the potential client to get at least a preliminary feel for whether this archaeologist is someone he can work with. The legitimate archaeologist will have no hesitation about discussing past projects and fees (at least within the bounds of discretion imposed by his agreements with past and current clients). If the developer then wishes to pursue the possibilities with this archaeologist, he should fax or mail the archaeologist his plans. Often we, as archaeologists, are called by potential clients who want a price on “fifty acres” or “ten miles of pipeline.” This is like a writer who asked the editor how much the editor paid per word. The editor replied, “What words and in what order?” Each project is different and the archaeologist will formulate a bid based on his understanding of the terrain and the likelihood of there being archaeological sites in the survey area. Some archaeological firms, sensing that an area will require additional (Phase II) archaeological work, will bid unrealistically low on Phase I work, in order to get the project. The client should thus be aware from the outset that he is never required to do further archaeological work, because he always has the option of amending his plans so as to avoid archaeological sites. As a practical matter, however, it is often faster and cheap to simply do the additional archaeological work if required. For this reason, the decision as to which archaeologist to hire should be based on more than simply a low bid.