Archeology and GIS in Western Arctic National ParklandsWestern Arctic National Parklands
PARK ARCHEOLOGISTS ARE HEAVILY DEPENDENT ON GIS
Western Arctic National Parklands (WEAR) includes four park units (Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Kobuk Valley National Park, and Noatak National Preserve) which encompass over 11 million acres. In order to better manage such a large area, WEAR archeologists have divided it into 31 study units using GIS. This was accomplished by aggregating smaller drainage units (the State of Alaska’s coding units used in wildlife management) into archaeologically appropriate study units. This has enabled the archeologists to focus their research on individual areas of a more manageable size, as well as allowing them to focus on areas of potential impacts based on wildlife harvest data.
The GIS provided by the Alaska Region has also enabled the archeologists to plot known archeological sites, previous archeological reconnaissance transects, reported cultural use areas and travel routes, Native allotments, and a variety of base themes on USGS contour maps to assess threats, organize newly collected data, and to plan future work. Of equal importance has been the ability to create graphics for poster and slide show presentations in public and professional settings.
The most recent example of using GIS to protect cultural resources concerns the cleaning up of hazardous wastes in the form of abandoned drums. Drum locations, archeological sites, and other sensitive areas has been plotted on a series of hard copy segment maps and downloaded into GPS units for field use during the clean-up activity.