Administrative History
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Chapter III:

Forest Service Management Of The Monument

To date, the 1975 Cooperative Agreement has functioned well. As they have done since 1964, representatives of the Forest Service and the Park Service meet once a year to review issues of management, maintenance, and preservation; to resolve any problems; and to settle on an appropriate budget. In 1987, the associate regional director of park operations noted that "the working relationship has seemed to improve with each year." [79]

As agreed, forest staff manage the day-to-day administration of the monument, and these positions are funded by the Park Service. In addition to interpreting the monument, keeping it physically up to standard and implementing recommendations made by the Park Service, the Forest Service has contributed significantly towards planning for the future by producing two well-received plans for resources management, the 1976 Statement for Management, and the 1986 Statement for Management. For its part, the Park Service has since 1975 sponsored three stabilization studies and performed two stabilizations, one of which was a site in the Gila National Forest. It contracted the development of an interpretive prospectus as a guide for improving the interpretive program, the visitor center, and the contact station. It contracted the research necessary to document the monument for the National Register of Historic Places. And it has also programmed funds and time for its own staff to research and publish a detailed analysis of artifacts recovered earlier at the cliff dwellings; to map and sample the surface of TJ site and to publish the attendant facts; and to resurvey all archeological sites on the monument.

In short, the transfer of daily administrative responsibility has not at all diminished the professional stewardship of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The ruins continue to receive appropriate and timely measures of protection, the physical plant is maintained regularly, and interpretation has been substantially enhanced by the increasing amount of research. At the same time the Park Service has again saved money. The number of people permanently and exclusively employed—and therefore paid—for the benefit of the monument has declined from four in 1974 to a park ranger and a lead guide in 1990, who spend most of their time on interpretation. [80] To administer resource management and maintenance programs, the Wilderness District ranger, who doubles as the superintendent of the monument, and the district resource assistant now divide their time between the monument and more typical duties. [81] In turn, the Forest Service has been able to expand its staffing on the short-handed Wilderness District—just as Supervisor Robert Williamson had hoped. With new funds and an additional mandate, the district staffing increased from four permanent positions in 1974 to 11 within three years. [82]

The only real problem stemming from the transfer of administrative responsibility was the novelty of archeological interpretation in the Forest Service. Since there was no clearly defined career track for that role within the bureaucracy, one interpreter—an ambitious and conscientious employee—labored under the ill-fitting title of park historian for nearly 10 years and under three different district rangers before another suitable position opened elsewhere.

This problem was finally resolved in 1986 with yet another interagency agreement. [83] The Park Service agreed to canvas its own employees for assignment as park ranger at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, and the Forest Service agreed to hire one of those applicants. In addition, it was understood between the two agencies that this ranger would be re-employed by the Park Service after a tour of duty at the monument lasting not less than two years and not more than three. Since 1986, two permanent employees of the Park Service have accepted the limited transfer to the Forest Service.

Undoubtedly, the transferal of administrative responsibility in 1975 was facilitated by a history of interagency cooperation that had increased gradually and in clear increments. Rumburg's signature was just another step down a trail first blazed when Frank Pooler directed the supervisor of the Gila National Forest to build a fence to protect a rival agency's monument. Inevitably, the narrow constraints of canyons and flood plain pushed the agencies closer together as each contemplated developing cultural and recreational resources on the forks of the Gila River. After years of accommodation in a small place, the applied mandates of the Forest Service and the Park Service now fit comfortably together.

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Last Updated: 23-Apr-2001