A Historical Resources Impact Assessment (HRIA) refers to the process by which archaeological, historical, and palaeontological resources are located, studied, and managed in the Province of Alberta. Before industrial, private, and government organizations undertake development in the Province, they may be required to do HRIA work to assist in the protection and understanding of historical resources on affected lands.

Historical Resources Impact Assessment (or Archaeological Impact Assessment or Heritage Resources Impact Assessment in other jurisdictions) are field studies to determine the presence of historical resources in potential conflict with a proposed development. In Alberta, archaeological HRIAs must be carried out under a permit issued by the Archaeological Survey of the HRMB, the regulatory agency for the Historical Resources Act, and palaeontological HRIAs under permit issued by the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. HRIA fieldwork typically must be completed under snow-free and frost-free conditions. These must adhere to all relevant regulations and requirements for such permits as stipulated in the Historical Resources Act (RSA 2000), the Archaeological and Palaeontological Research Permit Regulation (Alberta Regulation 254/2002), all applicable HRMB “Survey Notes” and “Information Bulletins,” and the Schedule of Requirements for the Project.

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Field techniques typically include walkovers of all high archaeological potential areas identified within the Project lands, accompanied by a systematic shovel testing program to determine if buried archaeological remains are present. All newly recorded archaeological sites will result in full site assessment and recording, including in-field mapping, and detailed GPS coordinate collections. This level of data allows us to assess site characteristic, artifact density, boundaries, and significance, and allow us to make recommendations with regards to further mitigation studies or historical resources clearances. Where cultural materials are encountered, these will be collected, analyzed, and reported on. In addition, each pre-1968 standing structure must be recorded using black and white archival quality film photography and Historic Structure forms, along with Historic Land Titles searches.

Unlike similar studies in other disciplines, most jurisdictions require that a stand-alone HRIA report be submitted to the regulatory authority responsible for historical resources. HRIA reports are typically highly detailed, providing a wealth of information about the project and its potential to impact historical resources, the field and laboratory methodologies used to undertake the assessment and choose locations targeted for intensive work, and the results of the work including detailed descriptions of the nature, scale, and significance of any historical resources encountered. The text is accompanied by supporting tables, maps and other figures, photographs, the results of any detailed technical analyses (such as radiocarbon dating), and GIS shapefiles of the project, locations tested, and sites recorded. The reports should include clear recommendations on site significance, if a site should be avoided or mitigated, and recommended mitigation options.

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