First Annual National Park Service Historic Preservation Conference
NPS Logo

Charles Voll

In preparation for this meeting the Superintendents and the staff of the Navajo Lands Group were polled for their comments and views. The following is a list of their comments and questions.

1. Why is historic preservation not integrated with park management?

2. Why is historic preservation not integrated with maintenance?

3. If what I am doing is outmoded and wrong, where are the professionals to advise me?

4. If the professionals do not know what to do, what are they doing to find out what to do?

5. Preservation is highly important but without protection it is impossible and without interpretation it is meaningless!

6. What is the system? What do I do to comply?

7. Specifically, what is an inventory of historic resources, an historic structures report and an historic resources management plan?

8. How does the historic resources management plan mesh with the management objectives of the area?

9. Why do we need both an historic resources management plan and a natural history resources management plan?

10. Is the historic resources management plan integrated with the natural resources management plan? And if not, why not?

11. What is an historic resource preservation guide? How do I get one?

12. What about the preservation of historic artifacts?

13. Is the National Park Service really committed to historic resource preservation? Where is the emphasis within the National Park Service?

14. Why are clear, studied, approved and documented preservation project plans not developed before a project begins?

15. How do I get production?

16. Over-preservation is as destructive and wasteful as under-preservation.

17. Archeological resource preservation is dominated too much by archeologists. An interdisciplinary, not multidisciplinary, approach is needed.

18. The term "historic preservation" means prehistoric preservation, too. Right?

19. Present National Park Service standards for historic structures must be adapted to prehistoric structures.

20. Are the present standards attainable?

21. Start with an inventory of historic structures. Follow-up with an historic resources management plan.

22. Any historic preservation plan must provide for interpretation and for moderate use of historic structures that result in some wear and eventual replacement of the original fabric.

23. We must have a balanced program. Other park programs must not suffer at the hand of an increased historic preservation program. They must and will be enhanced by an increased history preservation program.

The park's view of historic preservation may or may not be true, correct, reasonable or logical, and certainly it is far from being unbiased. Nevertheless, the view is real - it exists - and rightly or wrongly, it is important.

At the present time it is the park's view of historic preservation that the various roles, functions and duties of the various offices concerned with historic preservation are disjointed, that they are not integrated with park management and that they are not responsive to the needs of park management. The park manager is convinced that historic preservation is removed from the park, that it is too concerned with external programs, that the emphasis is not within the National Park Service, that it does not understand the National Park Service management system, that it is not providing support to park maintenance, that it does not know what it is doing, and that it is doing little to find out what it should do.

The task of preserving America's cultural heritage is large and expensive. The former comfortable arm's length relationship between the park manager and the preservationist will no longer do. The threats are too real and too imminent for any-thing other than the closest kind of cooperation if ways out of our present dilemmas are to be found.

As a first step toward acquiring cooperation between the park manager and the preservationist one must become aware of the different characteristics of the two for their personalities, methods, motivation, roles and orientations are often foreign to one another.

The park manager's methods tend to be multidisciplinary. He may only imperfectly understand the methods and disciplines he uses. He is apt to grasp at almost anything to get the job done. He tends to be oriented to the here and now, and he desires visible payoffs. He is production oriented. He works through others to get the job done, and he constantly balances people, disciplines, funds, plans, programs, attitudes and internal and external pressures. He believes preservation is highly important but without protection it is impossible and without interpretation it is meaningless! He frequently does not fully understand the specialist even when he has a preservationist background, which is rare. He thinks of himself as a generalist and somewhat like engineers, he wants to use the present state of the art to reach the best possible answers. He may tend to believe that he knows as much or more about the problem than the specialist. He tends to mediate and to arrive at compromises that are most acceptable.

The preservationist tends to seek certainty. He is interested in the future. He tends to work within a narrow discipline even when utilizing methods acquired from several disciplines. He tries to explain, predict and control phenomena. He wants to gain knowledge and understanding. He seeks to control nature and not people. He tends to manipulate things. He looks upon himself as a specialist and wants to do the very best he can. He tends to be uncompromising. He frequently does not fully understand the manager.

These characteristics can lead to healthy conflict. It is the manager's job to resolve conflict and assure cooperation, but to do this he needs the understanding and cooperation of the preservationist.

The problems which the park manager faces in regards to the preservation of historic resources are much more than personnel and money. He needs to know why he must preserve. Preservation for preservation's sake is not enough. He must be able to explain the why of preservation to his supervisors, to his staff and to the public. He must know when to preserve. Over-preservation is as destructive and wasteful as under-preservation! He must know how to preserve, that is, what are the standards, who does he go to to get action, what studies are necessary, what are the performance guidelines and criteria, how does he acquire and train qualified artisans, and what techniques and methods are there.

The National Park Service has a management system. Historic preservation is part of the system. The park manager is for system and hence he is for historic preservation and compliance. Preservationists have long accepted the idea that they should advise park managers, but they have not accepted the idea that park managers should advise them. He argues for cooperation and mutual advice-giving, and for working within the National Park Service management system.

The park sees the role of the Region as being the provider of professional support to the park and the leader in historic preservation planning and programming. Few areas can justify a full-time professional preservationists and none can set Regional priorities. The park believes that the park and Region must begin by inventorying the historic resources of the parks, by reviewing and reassessing what has been done and what is being proposed, and by establishing with the involvement of the park manager an Historic Resource Management Plan for the park and a plan of action for the Region. The park recognizes that such a plan will be less than perfect, that it must be revised periodically and that some projects now thought to be high priority will lose their rating. The park believes that such a systematic approach will allow the park and Region to identify the number and type of preservation personnel needed, estimate costs, program funds, develop a workable organizational structure which clearly defines the duties, roles and functions of all offices concerned with historic preservation, mission-oriented applied research, establish objective priorities, justify budget requests, function within the National Park Service management system, operate efficiently, be responsive to park needs - especially interpretation, and integrate historic resource management with natural history resource management and area management objectives. The parks believe that the Region must develop Regional Preservation Teams including the necessary administrative personnel to carry out large and complex preservation projects which are beyond the capability of the park.

The parks believe that maintenance is an area responsibility and an extremely important key to successful historic resource preservation. They feel that the Region must provide professional support and advice to park management and maintenance primarily through the production of historic structures preservation guides, training of maintenance personnel, and at least once-yearly on-site professional inspections. All of this, however, can be of no avail if there are no program evaluations by park managers and professional preservationists working together to assure at least visual compliance, to promote concern, to improve techniques, to provide good communications and to adjust programs to new data and new management directives.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 14-Jul-2009