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NPS Archeology Guide > Cultural Resources and Fire

Cultural Resources and Fire

The Cultural Resources and Fire module of RM #28A: Archeology (the NPS Archeology Guide) provides guidance for managing and protecting cultural resources that may be affected by wildland and structural fires. Cultural resources may be adversely affected by the direct effects of fire; efforts to contain and control wildland fire; post-fire recovery, including rehabilitation and structural demolition; and post-fire effects such as erosion and exposure, resulting in the loss of contextual integrity and increased potential for looting and vandalism.

Wildland fire may also be beneficial. Fire may play a critical role in natural ecosystems in which cultural resources such as ethnographic plant communities, or traditional cultural properties may be situated. Managing wildland fires and planning and implementing fuel reduction projects to improve cultural resources and cultural resource protection is a mutual goal that requires planning, cooperation, and coordination between wildland fire programs and cultural resource programs.

The module is intended to inform NPS personnel—particularly superintendents; cultural resource managers in parks, regions, and centers; wildland and structural fire program managers; and National Historic Preservation Act NHPA Section 106 coordinators—about their responsibilities and help them to integrate cultural resource management with park fire management operations. Advance planning, cooperation, and coordination are key elements in ensuring that cultural resources are fully considered when planning and implementing wildland and structural fire-related activities.

Employee and public safety is the first priority in every cultural resource management and fire-related activity. All cultural resource management and fire-related planning and project implementation must reflect this commitment.