Landscapes

Legislature Protects Nevada Heritage

Posted on: July 12th, 2011 by Guest Writer

 

Written by Greg Seymour

The Pony Express Trail in Nevada (Photo: Brian Turner)

The Pony Express Trail in Nevada (Photo: Brian Turner)

This session the Nevada legislature was able to pass SB 257, which increases penalties for graffiti at “protected sites” on public and private property. Passing overwhelmingly in both the Senate and Assembly and signed by Governor Sandoval on June 10, 2011, it is effective October 1. Senator Valerie Weiner, District 3, (Las Vegas area) was the author of this bill.

The legislation creates new protections for a wide variety of the historic resources unique to Nevada, including:

"A site, landmark, monument, building or structure of historical significance pertaining to the history of the settlement of Nevada; Any Indian campgrounds, shelters, petroglyphs, pictographs and burials; or Any archeological or paleontological site, ruin, deposit, fossilized footprints and other impressions, petroglyphs and pictographs, habitation caves, rock shelters, natural caves, burial ground or sites of religious or cultural importance to an Indian Tribe. (SB 257)"

It makes destructive acts a felony if the site is protected. Dollar thresholds for damage for this offense dropped from $5,000 to $500 in order to ensure that even small acts of vandalism are cover under this new law. Penalties can include with a 10 day mandatory jail stay with probation, restitution, up to 300 hours of community service, and substantial jail time.

This new law helps protect our state’s cultural resources on public and private property with similar protections that federal laws afforded us for resources on lands under the US government’s oversight. Similar legislation at the federal level, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, provides penalties for cultural resources over 100 years old on federal lands. Resources not meeting that age threshold are subject federal vandalism laws. Now private property rights are strengthened through enhanced legal and civil penalties. The property owner would have the option of pressing charges.

For many of us, the allure of Nevada is imbued in its rural places. Our collective history is long and rich and can be seen in its many ranches and mining sites, some long abandoned. Prehistoric rock art can also be enjoyed as art, as history, or both. One cannot help to wonder about how difficult it must have been to survive especially during those below zero winters in the Great Basin or the above 100⁰ summers in the Mojave Desert. Our predecessors ranched, farmed, worked and grew families and made decisions which still influence our vision of what Nevada has been and what we will be. For a more urban view, mid-century modern architecture can act as an anchor for revitalization based on historic preservation combined with fun and funky shops, cafes, and bars. These special places can help us understand our collective heritage.

Heritage tourism brings in outside dollars providing employment across the state. Millions of dollars annually are spent at parks, museums, hotels, restaurants, stores and casinos by visitors to our historic and scenic sites. Did you know that Nevada is home to the Great Basin National Heritage Area? If you don’t believe me, just ask them about heritage dollars in Nevada. These are example of Nevada’s special places where heritage resources deserve our patronage and protection.

Turns out good things can happen despite our current hard economic times. Good Job Nevada!

Greg Seymour has more than 25 years of experience in CRM archaeology and historic preservation. He holds positions on various boards and professional organizations, including Preserve Nevada, Nevada Archaeological Association, Nevada Coordinator for Preservation Action, and as the Nevada Advisor for 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.

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.

Ask President Obama to Take Historic Action for Fort Monroe

Posted on: July 12th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

 

Aerial view of Fort Monroe (Photo: Fort Monroe Authority)

Aerial view of Fort Monroe (Photo: Fort Monroe Authority)

Take action to help designate Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, as a National Monument within the National Park System.

Fort Monroe is one of the least known but most important historic places in America. The Director of the National Park Service called Fort Monroe “a resource of exceptional historic interest that bookends the beginning and end of slavery in the United States.” National Monument designation is critical to the future of Fort Monroe

President Obama can use his authority through the Antiquities Act to designate Fort Monroe as a National Monument, but he must hear from us.

Ask President Obama to take historic action by adding your name to the National Trust’s open letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior and, if you wish, add your own personal note.

Learn more about Fort Monroe:

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.

The State of America’s National Parks: A Response

Posted on: July 8th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Barb Pahl

Last week, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) released their report on The State of America’s National Parks, calling for major improvements in the management of natural, historic and cultural resources in advance of the 2016 centennial of the Park Service.

Workers repair a National Park log cabin's exterior. (Photo: Katherine Longfield, NPS)

NPCA’s report, based on 10 years of research on 80 park units, finds that the Park Service lacks the professional and financial capacity to care for the 27,000 historic structures, 4 million archaeological sites, 123 million museum objects and archival documents in park units it is responsible for protecting. Historic structures were found to be in fair to poor condition in the parks studied. None were in excellent condition. In fact, $3 billion of the $10.5 billion deferred maintenance budget for National Parks is needed for park historic structures. Additionally, overall funding and priority for the protection of cultural resources is not on par with funding for the protection of natural resources even though two thirds of the parks were created because of their historic and cultural significance.

This should come as no surprise to members of the National Trust where, since 1988, we have included 23 units of the Park Service on the 11 Most Endangered Places List including this year’s listing of the Greater Chaco Landscape. Since 1988, the National Trust has included 23 units of the National Park Service on our annual list of America’s Most Endangered Places -- 7 of these were Civil War Battlefields in addition to other icons of American history, places like Independence National Historic Park, Ellis Island, Valley Forge and Mesa Verde. Many of these places were listed because of a lack of funding and maintenance.

National Trust and National Park Service gathered together in White Grass. (Photo: National Trust)

NPCA also notes that the ability of park managers to care for cultural resources is hampered by a lack of professional staff trained in historic structure and buildings maintenance. To help address this problem, the National Trust has partnered with the National Park Service to create a preservation and training center at the White Grass Dude Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. To read more about it, see the White Grass website.

The lack of attention and funding for historic and cultural sites managed by the Park Service has become a chronic problem during both good and bad economic climates. Today, with tight budgets and the nation’s attention focused on finding ways to reduce the national debt, some may suggest that it isn’t government’s job to take care of these places - that in times of fiscal constraint, our nation cannot afford to protect is national patrimony. I would argue that we must make the protection of these places one of our highest priorities. If we don’t, we run the risk of not knowing who we are, where we came from, and how, using the lessons of history we can achieve our dreams for the future. There is no better place to learn the lessons of American history than in the places where history happened. And there is no better collection of places of American history than those that are managed by the National Park Service.

Barb Pahl is the Regional Director of the Trust's Mountains/Plains Office in Denver and the Director of the Public Lands Program.

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.

Emancipation National Monument: Historic Fort Monroe at Hampton Roads, Virginia

Posted on: June 10th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Rob Nieweg

Aerial view of Fort Monroe. (Photo: Fort Monroe Authority)

Aerial view of Fort Monroe. (Photo: Fort Monroe Authority)

On June 8th, in a letter to the White House, National Trust for Historic Preservation president Stephanie Meeks asked President Obama to exercise his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate historic Fort Monroe as a National Monument, which would make the 565-acre fortress an official part of the National Park system.

Fort Monroe is one of the nation’s most important landmarks of US military and African American heritage. One hundred fifty years ago, three enslaved men, Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker, and James Townsend, escaped the Confederate Army and fled by boat to Virginia’s Fort Monroe. There, the Union Army commander seized these men as “contraband” of war, an unusual legal maneuver that provided refuge and relative freedom for the three men, and in turn, heralded the beginning of the end of slavery in America. Over the course of the Civil War, more than 500,000 African American women, children, and men would follow in the footsteps of Mallory, Baker, and Townsend, leading to one of the Civil War’s most extraordinary—and overlooked—chapters. It is imperative that we commemorate the hard struggles and unprecedented triumphs of these self-emancipators, and permanently preserve the nationally important historic site where these momentous events took place.

Importantly, June 8th also is the 105th anniversary of the enactment of the Antiquities Act, which presidents have used to enshrine and protect some of America’s most important and beloved historic places, from President Lincoln’s Cottage to the Statue of Liberty to Chaco Canyon. A creative partnership of the National Park Service, Fort Monroe Authority, and Virginia Department of Historic Resources can ensure that future generations of Americans will learn from, and be inspired by, this vital piece of American history. Creation of a new National Monument at Fort Monroe is supported by Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell, U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner, Congressmen Bobby Scott, Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell, and Rob Wittman as well as the non-profit preservation and conservation communities.

For further information on “Contraband” Heritage please see our earlier post, The Contraband of America and the Road to Freedom.

Rob Nieweg is the director & regional attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Southern Field 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.

Court Battle Threatens Historic Green Mountain Lookout

Posted on: May 27th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The historic Green Mountain fire lookout. (Photo: Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)

The Green Mountain fire lookout. (Photo: Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)

The U.S. Forest Service has been sued in federal district court in Seattle for preserving the historic Green Mountain Lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 for fire detection, the U.S. Army also used this iconic wood frame Lookout to spot enemy aircraft during World War II. In 1988, in recognition of both its architecture and its historical associations, the Lookout was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1984, 51 years after the Lookout was built, the Glacier Peak Wilderness was expanded to include it.

Since the Lookout is on a remote mountain peak, and subject to extreme weather conditions, maintenance was difficult, and the condition of the Lookout suffered. Dedicated volunteers repaired the lookout to the best of their ability, assisted in 1999 by a $50,000 matching grant from Save America’s Treasures. Eventually, however, the foundation became unstable, and major repair was needed. The Forest Service relied on an extraordinary outpouring of public support, including thousands of hours of volunteer labor, to painstakingly dismantle the historic structure and moved it offsite for repair. With the approval of the State Historic Preservation Office, the Green Mountain lookout was reconstructed in 2010 using a majority of original materials that were lovingly refurbished and rebuilt by the volunteers.

A historic shot of the Green Mountain Lookout. (Photo: Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)

A historic shot of the Green Mountain Lookout. (Photo: Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)

Wilderness Watch, a non-profit organization that monitors federal management activities in designated wilderness areas, viewed the repair work as illegal. In a blog post the group called the action an “egregious breach of wilderness ethics and law” and described the Forest Service action as “arrogan[t].” In late 2010, the group sued the U.S. Forest Service seeking a permanent injunction that would require the agency to remove the historic lookout entirely from the wilderness area. Wilderness Watch has taken the extreme position that all man-made structures should be removed from wilderness areas, regardless of their historic status.

The National Trust views the draconian remedy of removing the Green Mountain Lookout as one that would directly contradict the Forest Service’s obligations for the stewardship of historic resources under the National Historic Preservation Act. The Department of Justice, representing the Forest Service, authored an eloquent brief highlighting the stewardship responsibilities of the Forest Service for historic sites and structures in wilderness throughout the country, spanning more than 10,000 years of human history. The Forest Service made a compelling argument that the Wilderness Act and the National Historic Preservation Act are not mutually exclusive, and can indeed coexist as a set of principles that govern the agency’s management and stewardship of its historic properties.

The National Trust recently weighed in to support the Forest Service with an amicus curiae brief, together with a coalition including the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the Darrington Historical Society, and the Forest Fire Lookout Association. In a motion requesting the court’s permission to file the amicus brief, the coalition expressed the concern that Wilderness Watch’s extreme position threatens protections for a range of other historic resources that predate wilderness designation, including Native American shrines and rock shelters, graveyards, lighthouses, pioneer cabins, as well as other fire lookouts.

On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation announced that the Green Mountain Lookout was named to the state’s “Most Endangered Historic Properties” list. Stay tuned, as the battle to protect this unusual historic structure continues.

Brian Turner is the regional attorney for the Western 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.