National Park Service, Cultural Resources, Heritage Preservation Services
Strategies for Protecting Archeological Sites on Private Lands
TAKING THE INITIATIVE — WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO PROTECT ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES
In communities all across the country, the strategies described in this web booklet are being applied in diverse and creative ways. Because no community is exactly like another, the effective local protection program is one that is empowered by a variety of regulatory, planning, incentive, and educational tools designed to serve the community's unique circumstances and interests. Likewise, the protection needs of archeological resources are unique to each site. Effective site protection depends upon a combination of various strategies carefully designed for each particular site. No single protection strategy, or combination of strategies, will be the right one in all cases.
As you embark upon efforts to protect archeological sites that you value, the following guidance may be helpful:
- Include a wide variety of strategies in your site protection tool kit, and be prepared to use them in creative ways.
- Both the "carrot" and the "stick" need to be in your site protection tool kit.
- Know about all the strategies in your tool kit - be able to explain their strengths and weaknesses, how they work, and contacts for using each. Don't try to become an expert in any of the strategies. Stick to your own expertise, and partner with others who specialize in using the strategies.
- Learn about existing funding sources and incentives, and seek creative ones.
- Protection in place is the first option to consider.
- Remember that ownership is power.
- Establish priorities for site protection so that you and/or others can move quickly when the need or opportunity arises; and have a clear, fair, objective, and systematic process to identifying which sites merit protection efforts and funding.
- Develop a top priority list of the 101 most important sites in your community or state that really should be targeted for protection.
- Identify the landowner's name and address, and make contact.
- Visit each site on the list to verify condition.
- Establish an ongoing and long-term relationship with the landowner that is respectful, courteous, friendly, proactive, informative, and helpful.
- Update the priority list as sites receive protection.
- Develop and strengthen partnerships and networks with the archeological community, land trusts, local and state agencies, local and state elected officials, and other groups with similar interests; capitalize on existing coalitions; and share information about these groups and the strategies they use to protect resources.
- Share information about archeological sites with our partners and decision-makers - it's difficult to protect a site if its existence is not known. Learn how advanced technologies such as the World Wide Web and computerized mapping systems such as GIS can be used creatively in this effort.
- Invite local law enforcement officers to visit your site(s) when excavations are in progress, for a site open house, or other public event; explain to law enforcement the important features of the site, how we gain new understanding about the past from archeological sutdy, the importance of the site to local history, and the challenges in maintaining security for the site. An informed law enforcement officer is an ally in site protection.
- Know the roles and authorities of different levels of government, including relevant laws and regulations.
- Know and educate members of your state legislature and your local elected and appointed officials.
- Become familiar with the land development process in your community (see Case Study 17 for a typical process). When we understand how decisions are made about land use and development, then we are better prepared to insert archeological issues at the optimum time for the greatest site protection success.
- Work to make archeology an integral part of your community's planning and zoning process. As a taxpayer and voter, you can have a lot of influence with local officials.
- Serve on a local review board or the planning or zoning commission.
- Get to know staff in city hall, in the planning department, and learn how the planning, zoning, and development review processes operate.
- Explain to city/county staff and the public the importance of protecting archeological resources.
- Attend public meetings and make your voice heard.
- Participate in plan development activities to incorporate archeological protection issues.
- Work with your local elected and appointed officials and the planning department staff to develop and adopt local planning policies and ordinances that will protect archeological resources.
- Serve as an archeological site steward to help monitor and record the condition of protected and unprotected sites in your community.
- Support land trust activities by becoming a member, volunteering to help on projects, actively participating in the activities of the organization, including serving on its board of directors, and sharing information on archeological values.