3 Rivers Communication is planning several improvements to fiber optic networks in Madison County in southwestern Montana. Fiber optic cable allows large amounts of data to pass quickly from one end to another. The speed of data delivered via fiber optic cable is not distance-dependent and fiber optic cable has a much greater bandwidth capacity than traditional copper wires. Fiber optic cable is a thin strand of glass that allows pulses of light (data) to pass from one end to the other. Since light can travel great distances over fiber optic cable without any weakening of the signal, the speed of data delivered via fiber optic cable is not distance-dependent.
Western Cultural completed four Class I cultural resource surveys for 3 Rivers Communications for proposed projects in Madison County, Montana. As part of the planning process, 3 River Communications contracted with Western Cultural to identify previously recorded cultural resources and inventories near the proposed routes. This information could then help 3 Rivers anticipate the types and density of cultural resources that may be encountered during the course of the project.
After receiving maps showing the locations of the proposed routes, Western Cultural submitted a file and literature request to the Montana State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for sections near the project area. Requests for sections included all sections within 1 mile of the proposed project area. The 1 mile search area ensured that all properties which might be impacted by the proposed project were considered. The Montana SHPO then provided Western Cultural with a list of previously recorded cultural resources and cultural resource inventories within the search area, from which Western Cultural requested copies of all site forms and cultural resource inventory reports.
The cultural resource inventory reports and site forms provided by the Montana SHPO were then aggregated and analyzed by Western Cultural. This data was then compared the information recorded with the maps of the proposed project area provided by 3 Rivers Communications. Cultural resource surveys and previously recorded sites where mapped on topographic maps with the proposed project location in order to illustrate the proximity of those resources to the project area. The results of the file and literature search were then discussed in detail, along with possible impacts to known cultural resources, in relation to the proposed project area, in a professional report.
None of the projects involved federal or state money, oversight, or agency participation which would have required compliance with either the National Historic Preservation Act or the Montana State Antiquities Act. Contracting with Western Cultural to conduct these Class I cultural resource surveys demonstrates 3 Rivers Communications proactive approach to the consideration of Montana’s cultural resources in their planning process.