Monument and Partners Collaborate to Preserve Prehistoric Site

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Date: May 27, 2011


On April 6, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument personnel, volunteers from the Arizona Site Steward Program and Tohono O'odham members, including Tribal Elder Joseph Joaquin and Peter Steere, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer gathered to mitigate damage being caused by a historic dam to an important prehistoric archeological site. The dam was constructed during the early 20th century to capture water for ranching operations. Over the years, sediment accumulated behind the dam. The result of the trapped sediments is believed to be causing damage to the prehistoric archeological site. To prevent further damage a two phase mitigation plan was developed. The first phase was completed on April 6 with the trapped soil being removed using picks, shovels and buckets. The group of 25 volunteers and staff spent six hours digging two trenches down to the original bedrock streambed. The second phase was completed the following week by the maintenance staff at Organ Pipe Cactus. The five man team used a rock saw and power chisel to remove a 12 foot section of the dam that was 3.5 feet tall and 30 inches thick. They hauled the concrete from the site using five gallon buckets and wheelbarrows.

 The results of the project will be monitored to ensure that the plan was successful in preserving the prehistoric site. "It is great to be able to see the coordination, support and collaboration not only by park staff but also from other volunteers, partners and friends of Organ Pipe," said Superintendent Lee Baiza.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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