A Victory for Nine Mile Canyon’s Rock Art

Posted on: January 23rd, 2009 by Jason Clement


Art should be revered, which is why we all know the unspoken rules when it comes to museums.

No loud talking because you should be thinking. Don't get too close because you'll probably get beeped at. No refreshments because Dali wouldn't approve of slurping. And of course, keep your hands to yourself because, well, you know how it goes: you break it, you...

But what about those masterpieces that are found in our nation's backyard rather than in its National Gallery? How do we protect relics from the past that - rather than gum chewing and flash photography - face growing threats from industrial development and the dust-stirring truck traffic that it creates?

Pictured above, Utah's Nine Mile Canyon and the region surrounding it contains the nation's greatest density of ancient rock art, with tens of thousands of prehistoric images already documented and many more yet to be discovered. Unfortunately, due to ongoing oil and gas lease sales, the fate of these irreplaceable cultural resources was largely uncertain in the final months of 2008.

However, with the new year has come a new victory for what is also known as the world's longest art gallery.

On January 17, 2009, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of the U.S. District Court granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from moving forward with leases on more than 110,000 acres of federal land in Utah, including land near Nine Mile Canyon. The decision comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in December 2008 by a coalition of conservation and preservation organizations, which includes the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Wilderness Society, and Earthjustice.

In the ruling, Judge Urbina found that the conservation groups "have shown a likelihood of success on the merits" and that the "'development of domestic energy resources' … is far outweighed by the public interest in avoiding irreparable damage to public lands and the environment." The merits of the case will be heard later in 2009. Until that time, BLM is prohibited from cashing the checks issued for the contested acres of Utah.

As is often the case in preservation, protecting Nine Mile Canyon is an ongoing project. We invite you to stay tuned over the coming months as we continue to be a watchful eye and a strong voice for the region's prehistoric masterpieces. And in the mean time, check out our previous blog posts on Nine Mile Canyon to read more about this story as it developed, and visit PreservationNation for additional resources and information.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

Live Online Now: Plight of Mid-City New Orleans Comes Before LA House Committee

Posted on: January 22nd, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment


The Louisiana House of Representatives Appropriations Committee is meeting today to discuss the possible reuse of Charity Hospital as a medical facility. The Foundation for Historical Louisiana and the National Trust for Historic Preservation will present a plan that would transform Charity Hospital into a state-of-the-art medical facility, spare demolition of the historic Mid-City neighborhood, and return medical care to New Orleans more quickly and at less cost less than constructing a new hospital. Visit the Louisiana House website to watch live online. (RealPlayer plugin required.)

If you're not able to tune in, today's New Orleans Times-Picayune has a good article about the hearings: LSU-VA Hospital hearing set today at state Capitol.

Check back later today for a full report later from our New Orleans Field Office staff.


Learn more about our ongoing efforts to save Mid-City.

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 History, Even as it's Being Made

Posted on: January 21st, 2009 by Sarah Heffern


I've loved history all my life, and have always had an understanding that it's something that happens every day -- that today's now is the future's "back then." I never quite got it when my classmates would complain about all the memorizing dates and names; to me it was all just stories about people and what happened in their lives. Don't get me wrong -- I certainly learned about all of the major events, but they didn't necessarily grab me in the same way as the day-to-day did.

Every now and again, though, History-with-a-capital-H overtakes smaller moments, both in books and in life -- and yesterday was just such a day. I don't need the historian's backward view to know that, as I stood on the National Mall, I was a tiny piece of a huge, breathtaking moment, and every person there knew the same thing. The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States was history being made, in front of a crowd of millions.

Help us take a moment now to preserve that piece of history, by sharing your story or pictures from the day. Did you have a chance to be part of the action here in DC? Or did you gather with friends and family to watch the ceremony and parade on television? We'd like to hear from you. Visit our Inauguration page or click here to add pictures or tell your story.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

My Historic Washington: Mt. Vernon Square

Posted on: January 20th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


Construction cranes.

"Transitioning neighborhood." I was introduced to that concept six years ago as I sat in my partner's rowhouse in the historic Mount Vernon Square section of Washington, DC. It was a gorgeous and peaceful spring day, so we had the front door open. The sounds of a nearby church's jazz band drifted in and out, in between dog barks and car horns. Then, a sudden loud and crackling rumble. Jerry jumped out of his chair.

"The crackhouse fell down," he said.

My response was simply: "What?" I'd heard his words, but--what?

We ran to the door and saw a rising pillow of dust rolling towards us from the end of the street. What had been an abandoned two-story brick rowhouse in an empty lot was gone. In its place, a pile of bricks and splintered wood at the base of a house seemingly cut in half. Neighbors slowly began to file into the street, calling the police or taking photos on their cellphones. It was so surreal.

"Wow," I said, "The crackhouse really...fell down."

This neighborhood and the areas surrounding it are no strangers to sudden changes. Wedged between Shaw to the north and Chinatown/Penn Quarter to the south, Mount Vernon Square transformed from a mixed working and merchant class commercial district to a solidly middle class African-American residential neighborhood by the middle of the 20th century. In April 1968, the riots that devastated large portions of Washington also severely crippled much of the neighborhood for much of the next 30 years. The crack epidemic of the 1980s did even more damage to the social and economic fabric of an already vulnerable part of the city. But long-time residents persevered, and newer residents moved in or opened businesses.

In my teens and twenties, I had no idea of the history of this place. I came to this part of DC to hang out in the underground punk and gay clubs. Much of the building stock was abandoned or empty, especially at night, and the streets weren't terribly safe. But the scene was unpredictable and cool. What else did a bored suburban kid like myself need?

Scenes, of course, cool down. We grow up. Neighborhoods keep changing. In Mount Vernon Square and Penn Quarter, new subway stops brought new development. The Verizon Center arena opened. A new convention center was built. Highrises and the chain stores popped up one after the other. And Gallery Place gradually became DC's "Times Square."

Honestly, I'm ambivalent about the path this part of DC has taken. It is ironic that I decided to settle down in the very place where I'd misspent so many of my formative years. And we live here now, so it seems a little silly to complain about the streets being too safe or the grocery store being too convenient.

Still, there's a part of me that misses the old 'hood. Ms. Tao, the Chinatown restaurant where I had a first date, is now a CVS. The 930 Club where I'd spent my youth losing my hearing to Fugazi or the Mekons is now a realtor's office. AV Restaurant is gone. The Warehouse Stage looks like it's gone. The DC Eagle may be next. Then what?

Two years after the crackhouse fell down, Jerry and I attended an open house on that exact spot for a row of five, brand new $1 million condominiums. They were beautiful. If we'd had a pile of money, we may have even bought one.

Obviously, neighborhoods aren't the only things that transition.

-- Warren Shaver

Warren Shaver is director of online communications at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This is our final post leading up to the inauguration from National Trust staffers telling their stories about the greater D.C. area. Coming to town for the historic event? Be sure to visit our new Preservationist’s Guide to Washington. And when you're done, share your photos with us.

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.


Letter from a Birmingham Jail: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms..." [mlkonline]

Guide to Catching the Inauguration from Anywhere: [LifeHacker]

Accidental Maps: [StrangeMaps]

Town Center's Urban Planning Bumps into Wal-Mart: "Eden Prairie envisions a new "town center'' in its future, and Wal-Mart -- to the company's dismay -- has a store right in the middle of it." [Minn-St Paul Star Tribune]

Superb Idea: Bike Lane that Travels With You: "The system projects a virtual bike lane (using lasers!) on the ground around the cyclists, providing drivers with a recognizable boundary they can easily avoid. The idea is to allow riders to take safety into their own hands, rather than leaving it to the city." [Good]

Pneumatic Post in Paris: "Introduced to combat the shortcomings of the telegraphic network in Paris, the subterranean Poste Pneumatique (Pneumatic Post) moved written telegraph messages from 1866 until 1984. The pneumatic tube network relieved the saturated telegraph network, delivering physical messages across the city and to the suburbs faster and more reliably than the telegraph." [active social plastic]

What Will Save the Suburbs?: "The problem now isn’t really how to better design homes and communities, but rather what are we going to do with all the homes and communities we’re left with." [New York Times]

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.