National Park Service, Cultural Resources, Heritage Preservation Services
Strategies for Protecting Archeological Sites on Private Lands



Archeologists, preservation organizations, and state and local government officials have had great successes in protecting archeological sites through legal mechanisms described in the previous sections. It may, however, be unrealistic or even impossible to try to protect all archeological sites using these approaches. Legal means may not suit an individual landowner's needs and situation, and protecting ALL important archeological sites is simply too large a task for only a few organizations or agencies. Important archeological sites are, nevertheless, being damaged and destroyed. There are a number of voluntary strategies that, either alone or in combination with regulatory approaches, can be helpful in protecting archeological sites.

Registers of Historic Places. Federal, state, and local registers of historic places contain listings of historic and cultural resources that meet certain criteria of significance as evaluated by an established review body. Nominations are made voluntarily by property owners or others, with the owner's concurrence. Registers identify those important properties worthy of preservation and consideration in land-use or other planning processes. Registers formally and publicly recognize the importance and significance of historic and cultural resources. Most registers offer an informal measure of protection derived from the honor and prestige associated with having the property judged to be historically important. However, register listing can also be a first step in protecting the property, especially where federal, state, or local laws or ordinances link protective regulation to register listing. There can also be financial incentives, such as property and income tax reductions, when a property is listed on a register. Simply listing a property on such a register does not always confer protection. Register listing is frequently misunderstood as automatically placing restrictions on the property owner's use of the property, which is not true unless laws or ordinances have been enacted to do so. This misunderstanding can generate ill will against resource protection programs and activities.
Education Programs. Programs and activities, such as publications, workshops, site interpretations, and museum exhibits, help increase knowledge and raise awareness among the public and decision-makers about archeology and its values. Education programs help build a preservation ethic, and increase and enhance understanding about archeological values and protection strategies. A well-informed public provides strong support for archeological protection. Education can be an effective deterrent against the casual site vandal. Adequate financial and staff support must be available for educational programs to be effective.
Stewardship Programs. Voluntary community participation in site protection through field survey, site recording, site monitoring, site management, and other activities. There are two major types of programs: one depends on a group of "site stewards" who carry out a variety of survey, recording, and monitoring activities; another relies on encouraging landowners to serve as stewards of sites on their property, through personal relationships and technical assistance.
See Case Study 4; Case Study 8; Case Study 9; Case Study 20
Relatively low cost. Builds preservation ethic and sense of community responsibility and pride, as well as a constituency for archeological protection. Provides opportunities for public involvement and education in archeology. Landowner retains control and use of land, which remains on local tax rolls. Programs are voluntary. Success depends upon participants' strength of commitment. Steward group programs require coordination and management. In landowner stewardship programs, protection may cease when ownership changes.
Community Archeology Programs. Local community administration and management of archeological protection and stewardship programs, which could be housed in a local government agency, park, museum, or other facility, and include such activities as archeological site survey, recording, monitoring, historical research, site interpretation, and other educational activities. Professional staff administration of local archeology ordinance. Provides focal point for community interest in archeology. Offers opportunities for citizen involvement and education in archeology. Tourism benefits from interpreted archeological sites. Long-term relationships can be established among landowners, the public, decision-makers, and archeological protection advocates. May be costly for some smaller communities to fund professional staff and facilities.
Avocational and Professional Archeological Organizations. Membership organizations typically for the purposes of sharing information among members, learning about archeology, carrying out archeological projects, and promoting archeological values to others. Organized group of people committed to archeology can be very effective in doing field survey, monitoring protected sites, conducting other projects, educating the public, reaching out to landowners, and influencing decision-makers, especially in situations where government officials may not be welcome. Effectiveness of organizations depends on nucleus of active members and ability to coordinate with other groups with similar goals.

Introduction | Considerations | Land Ownership | Financial Options | Development Regulations | Laws Specific to Archeology | Voluntary Strategies | Site Management | Taking the Initiative | Bibliography | Appendices | Home | Comments

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