The Snake River Area Office has a legal responsibility to protect and preserve cultural resources both on Reclamation lands and on other lands being impacted or funded by Reclamation. Cultural resources may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Archaeological resources (more than 100 years old) – petroglyphs and pictographs, graves, caches, pithouse depressions, chipped stone scatters, activity areas
- Historic sites (more than 50 years old) – dams, powerplants, bridges, canals, buildings
- Traditional Cultural Properties – areas of significance because of their association with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that are rooted in that community's history, and are important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community.
The foremost law defining the responsibilities of federal agencies in regards to cultural resources is the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. It authorized the Secretary of the Interior to expand and maintain a National Register of Historic Places that lists historic properties significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture.
Federal agencies spend much of their time following through with processes outlined in Sections 106 and 100 of the NHPA, which include specific provisions for the identification and evaluation of cultural resources for inclusion in the National Register.
Examples of significant historic properties within the Snake River Area Office boundaries are the Fort Hall National Historic Landmark, the Owyhee Dam Historic District, the Boise Diversion Dam Powerplant, Arrowrock Dam and the American Falls Archaeological District.
Middle Snake Field Office