Landscapes

 

Written by Rebecca Schwendler, Ph.D.

On April 17th, 2010, this innovative video was honored as one of the top four films out of 65 entered into the Society for American Archaeology’s 7.5 Minute Film Fest. Created by staff from the Anasazi Heritage Center and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, with financial support from the Colorado Historical Society and the Bureau of Land Management, the film presents multiple Native American perspectives on appropriately visiting and appreciating archaeological sites.

Recognizing a good thing when we saw it, we first blogged about this great video in July 2009. Since then many of you have watched it, shared it and posted links to it on your own websites. Thank you, and keep spreading the word and being good stewards of archaeological sites! We’ll keep the video on our Public Lands site, where you can find additional films about visiting and preserving amazing cultural resources on our federal public lands.

The messages common to all of these films are that prehistoric archaeological sites—including impressive Pueblo structures, graceful rock art and informative surface artifact scatters—are the traces left by Native American people hundreds and thousands of years ago. Many modern Native Americans feel close to the people who left these remains, because those people were their biological or spiritual ancestors. Each new generation helps to keep its cultural history and wisdom alive by continuing to visit, honor and even use the places that were important to those who came before.

Likewise, many historical archaeological sites—including beloved family homesteads, sprawling ranches, precariously situated mines and migratory herder camps—are the remains of the homes and activities of the ancestors of modern Euro-Americans. These sites are memorials and links to the hard work, innovation and creativity of our own forebears. If you look closely at the remains, you’ll likely see many objects still in use today!

When you visit any kind of archaeological site, think of the people who came before you. Respect the traces of their lives and stories. And keep your eyes, minds and hearts open (but your hands to yourself!) when you embark on adventures through our public lands.

Rebecca Schwendler, Ph.D., is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s public lands advocate. She is stationed in the Mountains/Plains Office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Historic and Cultural Resources in America's Great Outdoors

Posted on: May 3rd, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Barbara Pahl

Painted Hand Pueblo in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Cortez, Colorado.

Painted Hand Pueblo in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Cortez, Colorado.

Last month, I participated in the President's Conference on America's Great Outdoors, modeled after one held by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908. Roughly 600 people were invited to participate in this day-long event. Attendees came from all parts of the country, and represented government agencies and advocacy groups ranging from the National Rifle Association to Defenders of Wildlife. The whole conference was pulled together in about two weeks so to get this kind of diverse crowd suggests someone in the federal government has a heck of a rolodex.

America’s Great Outdoors will become the blueprint for this administration’s conservation agenda, and is expected to include strategies for more public land protection through new National Parks and units of the National Landscape Conservation System, more protection for farm and ranch land, and more urban parks. The lead federal agencies are the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House Office on Environmental Quality, with participation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Army Corps of Engineers. Most people attending the conference seemed thrilled to see these federal agencies all pledged to work together, and it was also encouraging that the President took time to come and make remarks.

While most of the agenda at this time is vague, there is one overriding principal – to get more young people out into the great outdoors, whether it is their city park or a national park. Four specific goals mentioned during remarks made by Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Ken Salazar were:

  • Take care of our national heritage of parks and historic sites,
  • help farmers and ranchers save their land,
  • get kids outside, and
  • create a new generation of community parks.

Why should we – historic preservationists and the National Trust – be involved? While the President mentioned historic and cultural resources in his remarks and the memo he signed includes our resources, the conversation was dominated by natural resource protection. The last question Secretary Salazar asked his panel was how historic and cultural resources play a role. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson talked about heritage tourism and Bill Cronon (Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin) noted that human stories have always been present on the landscape, but that was about it. Clearly, there is room for more conversation, and we need to be at the table, looking for opportunities to advance our public lands, rural heritage, and urban agendas.

We all have an opportunity to share our message at the upcoming listening sessions on America’s Great Outdoors that will be held across the country between now and the middle of September. If you cannot attend one, share a story about an historic place on the America’s Great Outdoors website, www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors Help us make a great idea even better. Tell the President that historic places matter and need to be at the table!

Barbara Pahl is the director of the Mountains/Plains Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

New Program Engages the Public in Saving Historic Places

Posted on: March 25th, 2010 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 

HistoriCorps is a new preservation program modeled after community service programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps. It’s a public-private partnership that will engage a network of volunteers and professionals to preserve and rehabilitate historic places. But preservation isn’t the only benefit to the program. It will also include learning, outdoor recreation, and heritage tourism opportunities in some of the nation’s most beautiful mountain and plains settings. Instructors and volunteers/students are coming from all over the United States to participate in this summer’s projects, which include the restoration of a turn-of- the-century Forest Service Ranger Station in Colorado and a CCC-era fire lookout in Alaska.

HistoriCorps is a public-private partnership run by Colorado Preservation, Inc., with an advisory board that includes members from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Colorado State Historic Preservation Office, University of Colorado, and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Many of the projects are being sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado, but the mission of the program includes work on public lands and their gateway communities throughout the United States. The Forest Service has been fundamental in supporting the formation of HistoriCorps because, as a land management agency primarily concerned with natural resources, they employ few architects or preservationists. HistoriCorps will enable the Forest Service and other entities to restore more buildings and make them available to the public, primarily as overnight rentals for the vacationing heritage tourist. There are a number of historic cabins that can currently be rented. Find out more about these unique lodging opportunities at www.recreation.gov.

Saguache-Volunteer-Day-10-3-09

Saguache Volunteer Day, October 2009

Individual projects will build on existing local and community-based partnerships.
“We are very excited about the local and national potential of this new program,” James Hare, executive director of Colorado Preservation, Inc., said. "There are so many benefits to HistoriCorps. From on the job training of young adults, to providing a sustainable business model for significant structures on public lands, to fostering preservationists of the future, HistoriCorps will manage a workforce and broker energy, resources, and good intentions into major results that will truly benefit the public.”

Ann Pritzlaff, member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation who was fundamental in forming this program, said, “HistoriCorps is more than a clearinghouse for volunteers or a resource for funding. HistoriCorps will build the capacity of land management agencies and local governments to achieve preservation projects, advance green technologies and enable innovators in historic preservation and stewardship, so that preservation can take on real value for communities and economies.”

For more information about HistoriCorps, go to www.Historicorps.org.

Terri Liestman is the heritage program leader for the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States Forest Service.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

When Good Goals Go Bad – Cape Wind’s Toll on Cultural and Historic Treasures

Posted on: March 23rd, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Written by Roberta Lane

A historic ariel view of Nantucket.

A historic aerial view of Nantucket.

Yesterday, in an auditorium in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, hundreds of people gathered to speak their minds on a wrenching conflict between the importance of preserving our heritage and the importance of developing alternative energy. Tribal leaders, boat captains, town council-members, 12th-generation local residents, conservation and preservation professionals, college students, retirees, and many others lined up to address the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, as that independent federal agency prepares to make formal comments to Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar on the Cape Wind development proposal for Nantucket Sound.

Watching passionate people weigh in eloquently on both sides, I kept thinking that this never should have happened.

Cape Wind, Inc. has proposed to build 130 wind turbines that would be 440 feet tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty. The turbines would be illuminated and spread over a 25-square mile area in the federal waters that lie in the middle of Nantucket Sound, the seascape that is mostly enclosed between Nantucket Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod. It would be about six miles from Cape Cod and 13 miles from Nantucket. The development would require a lease from the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS), an Interior agency.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been actively involved in the review of the Cape Wind project since it started nine years ago. Deputy General Counsel Elizabeth Merritt and I were at yesterday’s hearing to deliver testimony on the National Trust’s views on the project. We argued that the Department of the Interior should reject Cape Wind at the current location, but take steps to move the project to a less harmful location, which has already been identified and studied nearby.

The National Trust views climate change as one of the most momentous and sweeping threats to our communities and our heritage. From the prospect of sea level rise, to changing patterns of human settlement, to intensifying and more frequent extreme weather events, the projected effects of climate change would transform people’s lives, in part by damaging our neighborhoods, landmarks, and cultural landscapes. The National Trust strongly supports the goal of developing renewable energy sources, including wind power.

However, there is no good reason for our nation’s goal of promoting wind energy development to conflict with our commitment of stewardship for our treasured historic places. This is a big country; there are lots of places to put wind farms. Why, then, is the nation’s first offshore industrial wind installation proposed for the heart of such a highly significant historical and cultural place?

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

 

Written by Amy Cole and Ti Hays

More than 10,000 prehistoric rock art images exist in Nine Mile Canyon, which also contains sites associated with pioneer settlement and ranching history.

More than 10,000 prehistoric rock art images exist in Nine Mile Canyon, which also contains sites associated with pioneer settlement and ranching history.

Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon has been the focus of National Trust for Historic Preservation advocacy efforts for nearly ten years due to the adverse effects from a series of natural gas development proposals on the canyon’s remarkable collection of prehistoric rock art sites. Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – the federal agency responsible for permitting oil and gas activities on federal land in and near the canyon – along with the Utah State Historic Preservation Office, the Bill Barrett Corporation, and a coalition of preservation groups that includes the National Trust will formally announce an agreement that will help protect the canyon’s significant resources from further damage.

More than 10,000 prehistoric rock art images exist in Nine Mile Canyon, which also contains sites associated with pioneer settlement and ranching history. Natural gas reserves are present in Nine Mile and on the adjoining West Tavaputs Plateau, where drilling has been increasing in recent years. The National Trust became concerned that drilling, increased traffic, and industrialization of the landscape associated with growing energy development were having negative effects on important cultural resources. In particular, dust and potentially harmful chemicals were being deposited on ancient rock art by oil and gas traffic that uses the canyon’s dirt roads. Infrastructure associated with natural gas development – compressor stations, pipelines, and staging areas – was also changing the canyon’s landscape setting. 

Beginning in 2001, the National Trust participated in the public review process under the National Environmental Policy Act for energy exploration and development projects near Nine Mile. Our advocacy efforts intensified in 2004 when the Bill Barrett Corporation began drilling exploratory wells on the West Tavaputs Plateau, which led to the currently-proposed development of up to 807 natural gas wells in and around Nine Mile Canyon. That same year, we listed Nine Mile Canyon as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

For a number of years, the National Trust worked with the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, the Colorado Plateau Archeological Alliance, the State Historic Preservation Office, the National Park Service, and BLM to ensure that Nine Mile Canyon sites were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We organized a field trip for National Register staff, helped to fund a National Register nomination, and participated in various meetings with partners to identify the best course of action for National Register designation of sites in the canyon. Happily, we can report that in December of 2009, 63 sites in Nine Mile Canyon – including sites from the prehistoric and historic periods – have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We're hoping that is just the beginning.

The National Trust also participated in a recent lawsuit over a decision by BLM to issue additional oil and gas leases near Nine Mile Canyon, which have led to even more potentially harmful truck traffic in the canyon. This lawsuit was ultimately successful when a federal court in Washington, DC sided with the National Trust and its conservation partners, ordering BLM not to formally transfer the leases. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar went one step farther in February of 2009 when he cancelled the leases after acknowledging that BLM had violated the law by issuing them.

Additionally, for several years, the National Trust unsuccessfully sought to be recognized by BLM as a consulting party under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) for two oil and gas projects near Nine Mile Canyon, including the Bill Barrett Corporation’s West Tavaputs Project. Section 106 of NHPA requires federal agencies, including BLM, to consult with a variety of stakeholders to identify ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse effects their projects could have on historic resources. BLM finally agreed to accept consulting parties for the West Tavaputs Projects in January 2009, and thanks to encouragement from Native American tribes and the National Trust, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation formally entered consultation with BLM. 

Through the Section 106 process, the National Trust and many other groups have since been participating in year-long negotiations about the impacts the West Tavaputs Project could have on significant sites in and around Nine Mile Canyon. Furthermore, due to our efforts, BLM agreed to revise several important determinations required by the Section 106 regulations. BLM agreed that the project could potentially impact a larger geographic area than originally identified, and for the first time ever, acknowledged that oil and gas traffic in the canyon had the potential to adversely affect not only individual rock art sites, but also the landscape setting of those sites.

The outcome of these negotiations will be documented in the formal NHPA Programmatic Agreement that will be signed today. In short, the agreement calls for more archaeological surveys, National Register nominations for sites in the canyon, development of conservation treatments for rock art impacted by dust, continuing research into the effects of dust on rock art, and development of visitor interpretation sites in the canyon.

The National Trust is cautiously optimistic that the terms of the Programmatic Agreement will be beneficial to Nine Mile Canyon's impressive collection of rock art and other significant resources, and that it will help mitigate the effects of the West Tavaputs Project. Once the agreement is signed, we will monitor its implementation and hope that it will serve as a model for other BLM projects in the future.

Learn more about Nine Mile Canyon, the West Tavaputs Project, and the Programmatic Agreement being signed today.

Amy Cole is a senior program officer in the National Trust's Mountains/Plains Office. Ti Hays is a project attorney for public lands who is based in the same office. Both have been heavily involved in the National Trust's efforts to protect Nine Mile Canyon and its fragile cultural resources over the past ten years.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.