Sustainable Military Earthworks Management

Assessing existing conditions at Stones River National Battlefield, NPS photo.

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Process for Earthworks Management

Military earthworks are often one resource within a larger park setting. A general planning document such as a master plan or a cultural landscape report typically establishes a historical context and an overall management philosophy.

This document identifies the management concept for the park as a whole and develops a management strategy for individual resources. For earthworks, a management plan ideally identifies key locations for visitor access, specifies interpretation strategies and themes, and determines in what condition earthworks are to be managed: grass or forest cover. Although specific approaches to earthworks management differ based on individual conditions, the following management fundamentals apply to every situation and are explored in detail in appropriate sections of this publication:


View from earthworks at Fort Sedgwick , Petersburg, Library of Congress.

1 Historical research informs the preservation planning process and is critical for decision making.

2 A thorough inventory of existing conditions and an accurate base map provide clear graphic information about the location, complexity, physical context, and condition of an earthwork or earthworks system.

3 Management planning, treatment, and implementation is essential in earthworks management and maintenance.

4 Resource monitoring establishes a baseline condition and measures the success of a management strategy.

Management Team

Earthworks management is a complex process requiring knowledge from a range of disciplines. Each phase of earthworks care, from background research to planning and implementation, requires a specialized interdisciplinary team to ensure the task is successfully achieved. Professionals associated with this effort include military historians, historical landscape architects, arborists, skilled maintenance professionals, cultural resource professionals, etc.

Cultural Landscape Currents is a product of the Historic Landscape Initiative

National Park Service 05 | Currents