Lake Roosevelt
Administrative History
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From Simple to Complex: Cultural Resource Management (continued)

Pot Hunting and Inadvertent Site Destruction, 1960s-1970s

Major drawdowns during the powerhouse construction enabled archaeologists to reach previously inundated sites, but they also provided access for local pot hunters whose interest was stimulated by the professional excavations. Monitoring the shoreline for violations became a concern for both field archaeologists and the Park Service. Archaeologists Edward Larrabee and Susan Kardas, who conducted a survey in 1966, found pot hunters "very active" during low water and warned that continued drawdowns posed an emergency situation. "It is very much going to be a case of [archaeologists] getting there before the pot hunters do and staying until the floodwater comes up," warned Larrabee, "because I think it will be almost impossible for the Park Service to patrol this area." He suggested concentrating work in 1967 on the most threatened sites. [23]

The Park Service tackled the problem head-on the following spring by apprehending violators, especially at Fort Spokane, and by alerting the public to provisions of the Antiquities Act through press releases distributed to local television and radio stations and seventeen newspapers. LARO began to work with the U.S. Attorney's office to develop procedures to deal with repeat offenders. The education campaign continued in 1968 with the Park Service and regional archaeologists cooperating on a series of articles dealing with both legal and scientific issues surrounding archaeology. Carl Anderson, Kettle Falls District Ranger, suggested using the educational approach to the pot hunting problem, but he warned, "It's going to take a lot of effort on our part to educate the public because of our indifferent attitude in the past." [24] Active participation by LARO staff, including citing flagrant violators, reduced the problem with vandalism by 1970. "This was all quite different from the rather depressing situation I encountered three years ago," wrote David Chance, expressing his gratitude to the Park Service. By 1976 Chance believed the problem had dropped to an insignificant level due to active patrolling of sites by LARO rangers. [25]

LARO staff had to adjust to the increase in archaeological activity. While early patrolling was far from perfect, their response to the problem of pot hunters showed a determined and creative effort to meet their new responsibilities of identifying and protecting sites. Not everything went smoothly, however. Superintendent David Richie appealed to WSU archaeologist Lester Ross in 1969 for help in preventing destruction of archaeological sites. That spring, bulldozer crews working on the Reclamation log boom at China Bend inadvertently destroyed four sites. Both Richie and Ross attributed this to a lack of communication between contracting archaeologists at WSU and the staff of the federal agencies at Lake Roosevelt. Ross offered three suggestions to improve the situation: archaeologists needed to inform the agencies of sites being considered for further study; agencies needed to tell the archaeologists about any potential activities that would alter the land; and finally, the archaeologists needed to investigate these areas prior to making recommendations for mitigation or avoidance. Richie believed that Ross's recommendations would place an undue burden on all parties, and he proposed basically that all known sites be mapped, allowing the agencies to see if proposed activities might cause any destruction. If there were potential for harm, the university would investigate prior to clearance; if no potential, the agency could proceed. The Park Service would advise anyone working along the lake, whether federal or private, that all work had to cease if they found "obvious evidence of archaeological remains." [26] It is not known what protocols were adopted, if any.

archeological excavation
Excavation of site at Kettle Falls. Photo courtesy of National Park Service, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (LARO.FS).

LARO staff did not always follow proper procedures concerning archaeological resources. Park Service Regional Archeologist Charles Bohannon went to LARO in 1978 to provide archaeological clearance for a new access road, only to find the rough grading already completed. The following spring, the Regional Director took LARO Superintendent William Dunmire to task for providing clearance for another small project without the benefit of an archaeologist. While the particular situation appeared relatively unimportant to the Regional Director, he reminded Dunmire that "the archeological community and the State Historic Preservation Officer have shown no hesitation in raking Federal agencies over the coals for even minor projects such as this." He was concerned that many such instances over the years could have "a drastic accumulative effect." [27]

National Register of Historic Places

The 1966 NHPA helped the Park Service create a formal program for the management of cultural resources. By early 1969, the agency began to push all park units to identify historic resources and prepare forms to nominate sites to the recently created National Register of Historic Places, as called for in the federal legislation. President Richard Nixon strengthened this movement with Executive Order 11593 on May 13, 1971, mandating federal agencies to begin preservation of historic properties under their jurisdiction and to nominate these to the National Register by July 1, 1973. The deadline was a year earlier for the Park Service so it could provide an example for other agencies. In addition, its early response would reduce the anticipated heavy workload for the National Register staff. [28]

LARO staff did not meet the July 1972 deadline for this major project. Their work was complicated by a controversy over including the inundated sites of Fort Colvile and Kettle Falls. While state and federal officials did not think that any sites lost to the reservoir were eligible for the National Register, Park Naturalist Art Hathaway believed they should be included. He asked archaeologist Roderick Sprague for guidelines for nominating archaeological sites or alternative means of protecting them. State officials then evidently changed their minds on this point and the Kettle Falls Archaeological District, including seventeen prehistoric sites as well as the site of Fort Colvile and St. Paul's Mission, was added to the National Register in 1974. Its listing caused controversy, this time with the Park Service objecting to state actions. The Washington State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) had nominated the district without any review by either the Park Service or Reclamation. Acting Regional Director Wayne Howe recognized the SHPO's authority in this matter but suggested that this type of unilateral action would worsen relations between state and federal agencies. He requested procedures to ensure that federal agencies be allowed to comment on state-initiated nominations in the future. Fort Spokane's nomination generated less controversy. The form, drafted in 1972, was later extensively revised before the district was listed in November 1988. [29]

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Last Updated: 22-Apr-2003