Landscapes

Preservation Law Notes: Brief Filed in Support of Mount Taylor Listing

Posted on: September 30th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Ti Hays

Mount Taylor (Photo: US Forest Service)

Mount Taylor (Photo: US Forest Service)

Last Wednesday, the National Trust’s Law Department filed an amicus brief in support of the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee’s decision to list Mount Taylor—included on our 2009 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list—in the State Register of Cultural Properties (“State Register”). The filing was opposed by the plaintiffs, who include several mining companies and New Mexico’s public lands commissioner. However, following a hearing in Lovington, New Mexico on September 13th, state district court judge William Shoobridge allowed the National Trust and several of its partners—the All Indian Pueblo Council, American Anthropological Association, Association on American Indian Affairs, Sierra Club and Society for American Archaeology—to file the brief.

The plaintiffs have challenged Mount Taylor’s State Register listing on a variety of constitutional and procedural grounds, two of which we addressed in our brief. First, plaintiffs have argued that the decision lacks a “valid secular purpose” under the New Mexico Constitution’s Establishment Clause and was made solely to advance the religions of the pueblos and tribes (Acoma, Laguna, Zuni, Hopi and Navajo) that nominated Mount Taylor to the State Register. Like its federal counterpart, the state’s Establishment Clause requires government action in the area of religion to have one or more such purposes. However, as our brief explains, the nomination has several “valid secular purposes,” including protecting Mount Taylor’s archaeological, cultural and historic features, which number in the hundreds of thousands and are documented throughout the nomination.

Second, plaintiffs have claimed that Mount Taylor is not significant primarily for “historical” reasons, as the applicable regulations require for cultural properties that are “used for religious purposes.” In response to that argument, our brief cites the extensive “ethnohistoric” documentation prepared by each of the five tribes with the assistance of professional anthropologists and included in the nomination. Additionally, our brief points the court to the U.S. Forest Service’s 2008 determination, which the tribes also included in the nomination, that Mount Taylor is chiefly significant for “historical” reasons.

The court has tentatively scheduled oral argument in this case for December. In addition to the Committee, the Pueblo of Acoma will also argue in support of the listing decision, as the pueblo has successfully intervened in the case as a defendant.

Ti Hays is the public lands counsel for the Law Department of the 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.

Overwhelming Turnout for Open House at Mark Twain National Forest

Posted on: September 30th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Jennifer Sandy

A big "This Place Matters" gathering at the Fuchs House ribbon-cutting event. (Photo: Shelly Fuch)

A big "This Place Matters" gathering at the Fuchs House ribbon-cutting event. (Photo: Shelly Fuch)

An innovative partnership at the Mark Twain National Forest came to fruition earlier this month at a ribbon cutting for the restored Fuchs House, also known as Markham Springs. Built in the late 1930s out of local stone and situated near the town of Williamsville, the Fuchs House sat vacant for many years before the Mark Twain National Forest and the Heritage Stewardship Group (HSG) sent out an advertisement for creative re-use proposals for several surplus properties on the forest, which spans 1.5 million acres in southern Missouri.

Fortunately for the Fuchs House, Nick Barrack of CSE Construction in nearby Rolla saw the advertisement and thought the project looked like fun. He put together a team of contractors and craftsmen representing the various skills that would be necessary to rehabilitate the house and submitted a proposal to the Forest. After consultation with the Forest Service, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the National Trust, CSE Construction was awarded a special use permit to rehabilitate the Fuchs House at no cost to the Mark Twain National Forest. In exchange, each of the volunteer teams would be able to use the house for free one week every year.

When the dust finally settled and the finishing touches were in place, more than 500 people toured the house at a ribbon cutting on September 5th. Fuchs House will be available for rental a few weeks a year, and with its five bedrooms and accommodations for up to 14 people, will be the perfect family getaway. More information is available on the Markham Springs website, including photos of the rehabilitation project.

The National Trust is so pleased to see this historic property returned to active use, and we agree with CSE Construction - This Place Matters!

Jennifer Sandy is a program officer in the Midwest 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.

[VIDEO] President Obama Talks Preservation at Gathering on Jobs & Economy

Posted on: September 14th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Yesterday afternoon, one of our colleagues - Wendy Nicholas, director of the Northeast Office in Boston - had an opportunity to speak to President Barack Obama about historic preservation. At a small gathering about jobs and the economy hosted by her brother and sister-in-law in Fairfax, VA, Wendy engaged President Obama about his thoughts on preservation as an economic driver. In a lengthy response that touched on schools, National Parks, and the HomeStar legislation, the President revealed that he's both informed and engaged on this issue that's so near and dear to us.

(Please note: the video below seems to be loading very slowly into our blog. You can get it a bit more quickly by clicking this link.)

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.

Preserving a Piece of US Forest Service History

Posted on: September 9th, 2010 by Guest Writer

 

Written by Heather L. Bailey

The Alpine Guard Station site on my first morning of work.

The Alpine Guard Station site on my first morning of work.

As a Tennessee Scholar at the 2009 National Preservation Conference in Nashville, we were encouraged to take our experience and education out into the field and become personally involved in historic preservation. My graduate work involved education and outreach, and my employment after graduation involved preservation planning. While that framework certainly ensures that historic preservation is possible, I was eager to find an opportunity to have a direct and immediate involvement with historic preservation.

Shortly after moving to Colorado, I learned about Historicorps, a new initiative that grew out of a collaboration with Colorado Preservation, Inc., Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and the United States Forest Service. Modeled on community service initiatives like the Civilian Conservation Corps and Americorps, volunteers had the opportunity to work on a number of projects that involved hands-on historic preservation.

An exhausted crew enjoying our pre-dinner cocktail hour (the Wisconsin carpenters came well prepared) while our site manager installs final flashing around the ranger station chimney.

An exhausted crew enjoying our pre-dinner cocktail hour (the Wisconsin carpenters came well prepared) while our site manager installs final flashing around the ranger station chimney.

Never one to take the easy route, I volunteered for the week-long commitment to work at the Alpine Guard Station located 11,600 feet up on a mountain in the Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forest, roughly between Lake City and Powderhorn, CO. The volunteers brought tents and campers, stayed on site, drew our water from a well, and gathered around a campfire at the end of each work day.

The ranger station (1920) and bunk house (1913) were built a century ago so that rangers could check the permits of the sheepherders (of Basque and Spanish descent) who used US Forest Service land to graze their animals. While the sheep industry was prominent in the Western Mountain Region in the early twentieth century, this location has remained vacant for decades. The only residents were an enormous population of rats inside the buildings, and ground squirrels outside. Our work was to repair and stabilize the buildings, with minimal modifications to allow the cabins to be adaptively used as seasonal rentals.

Staff and volunteers gathered at the end of the week to commemorate our experience with a group picture.

Staff and volunteers gathered at the end of the week to commemorate our experience with a group picture.

Prior to my arrival, the staff and volunteer crews had already completed considerable work on the barn and bunk house (including rat clean up), installed a pit toilet and shed for the solar array accouterments, and installed the new pump well. The crew of volunteer expert carpenters from Wisconsin took up numerous tasks inside the buildings, and the rest of us took on re-shingling the roof on the ranger station, among other things.

I learned that laying cedar shingles (pre-treated to be fire resistant) is truly an art form and that precision matters (particularly after a helper who showed up for two days quickly laid down a number of rows, bragging about his speed, and leaving us with a few noticeably wavy rows to correct). I also learned that the nail gun (powered by our onsite generator) was a lot more fun when I was seventeen and re-shingling my parents’ roof; thus, I opted to use a regular hammer most of the time. But, hey, I could claim that I was being authentic in my craftsmanship. I also realized that the heaviest thing I lifted on a regular basis doing preservation planning was my computer mouse.

The volunteer opportunity with Historicorps was inspirational and invigorating. It brought full circle my work in the field by doing hands-on preservation rather than just making it possible for others to do preservation. I’ll always be able to go back to that ranger station and know that this place stands in part because of the physical work we did on this historic treasure.

Heather L. Bailey is a State and National Register Historian for History Colorado.

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.

Final Plan Means Less Oil and Gas Traffic in Nine Mile Canyon

Posted on: August 3rd, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Ti Hays

Released last week, the final plan for natural gas drilling in Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon ultimately means less oil and gas traffic.

Last Friday, the Bureau of Land Management released its final plan for a controversial natural gas project near Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon. This is the same plan that, when proposed in 2008, was criticized by many – including the National Trust for Historic Preservation – for its anticipated impacts on the canyon’s world-renown collection of rock art.

However, the final plan departs dramatically from the 2008 proposal in ways that are beneficial to the cultural resources both in the canyon and on the nearby West Tavaputs Plateau. First, the scope of the project has been reduced dramatically. The Bill Barrett Corporation will drill over 150 fewer wells on the plateau than originally proposed – 626 rather than over 800. This means less than one-fourth as many new roads will be built. And because the Bill Barrett Corporation has agreed to broaden its use of “directional drilling” – a practice that utilizes a single well pad for multiple wells – there will be over 75% fewer well pads. Collectively, these commitments will reduce the project’s area of long-term disturbance from 1,864 acres to 685 acres.

Second, the Bill Barrett Corporation has agreed to change how it will conduct business on the ground. Major access roads on the plateau will now be gated, thus making it more difficult for vandals and looters to reach archaeological sites nestled in the remote canyons of the Tavaputs. The final plan also restricts drilling activity within the Desolation Canyon National Historic Landmark during the height of the recreation season. This means boaters on the Green River will continue to experience Desolation Canyon much as John Wesley Powell did during his historic journey of 1869, which the National Historic Landmark designation honors.

Credit for the revised plan belongs largely to a surprising duo: the Bill Barrett Corporation and its historic foil, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. On more than one occasion, these two groups have clashed over oil and gas proposals in the Tavaputs region, oftentimes over the question of whether areas that possess “wilderness” values should or should not be developed. However, the two sides were able to put aside their differences to reach the terms now reflected in the final plan that allow development to proceed but with higher regard for the cultural and natural values of the Tavaputs.

As for Nine Mile, the final plan ultimately means less oil and gas traffic in the canyon. This is a good thing for the rock art, especially when considered with the programmatic agreement signed by the Bill Barrett Corporation, the Bureau of Land Management, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Trust, and others in February. This agreement requires the Bill Barrett Corporation and the Bureau of Land Management to implement a broad dust control and mitigation program in the canyon.

Of course, the impacts of this project on the canyon cannot entirely be avoided, even with the very laudable changes to the plan and the measures set forth in the programmatic agreement. However, thanks to the efforts of all of the groups that have advocated so tirelessly for the canyon, it is in a much better position today than it was two years ago when the project was first proposed.

Ti Hays is public lands counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Post updated August 20, 2010.

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.