Meet: Michelle Zulauf

Published March 24, 2017
Michelle Zulauf is the new archaeologist in our Regulatory Division.

Michelle Zulauf is the new archaeologist in our Regulatory Division.

Name:  Michelle Zulauf

What is your position?  Regulatory Archaeologist        

Describe your job:  All Department of the Army permit actions must comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, so my main responsibility is to make sure that all the permit decisions we make in the Regulatory Division comply with this act and all supplementing regulations for Historic Preservation. In essence, I evaluate the potential impacts a permit action may have on historic properties. Historic properties are those cultural resources that are eligible or potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and include archaeological sites, historic structures, historic districts, sacred sites, artifacts, documents and records. Section 106 of the NHPA is a process that helps agencies define undertakings, identify historic structures, determine their eligibility to NRHP, determine the effects their undertaking may have on historic structures and address those adverse effects, if necessary. In addition, Section 106 requires federal agencies to consult with the State Historic Preservation Officer and federally-recognized tribes. I usually lead these consultations for all different kinds of permits applications.

What is the most unique thing that you bring to the District?  I am new to the Corps, however, I have met other Corps archaeologists throughout my career and I have always heard how rewarding it was to work for the Corps. When this opportunity came up, I decided to go for it. Furthermore, as an archaeologist, history and historic preservation is something I enjoy and Charleston is an amazing place to gaze and just admire for its history, culture and architecture.  

What is the most rewarding part of your job?  Because we process so many different kinds of permit actions all over the state of SC, I get to deal with a wide variety of projects and historic properties. I am constantly reading up on different archaeological sites and historic events. This makes my job challenging in a really fun way, as I am constantly learning about new sites, events and methodologies.  

Highlight a notable milestone or memory in your career. While working for the Forest Service I was able to assist in several repatriations (when Native American remains are removed from their original burial grounds and buried again). Often it may take years or decades for remains to be reburied, and even though I was just facilitating with the process it felt good to make things right again.  

What goals do you hope to accomplish in your new position?

I definitely want to streamline our section 106 compliance process. Regulatory is under very tight timeframes and the more efficient we become the faster we can process permits. I would also like to maintain and nourish our working relationship with the different federally-recognized Native American tribes. Often our permit decisions impact native archaeological sites and resources and it is important to maintain open channels of communication in order to understand and preserve their culture and history. 

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, therefore I am a native Spanish speaker. I moved to Boston in 2006, for graduate school, and that’s where I polished my English.