Colorado Desert District Archaeological Site Stewardship Program
State Parks promotes the importance of education about our
common cultural and natural heritages and encourages public
responsibility in the protection and preservation of cultural
and natural resources on Park lands and elsewhere. This
philosophy incorporates the training and use of volunteers to
assist in and expand the roles of Park Staff in many endeavors.
The Colorado Desert District (CDD) has joined forces with members of the Colorado Desert Archaeology Society (CDAS) and other volunteers to create a successful Archaeological Site Stewardship Program. The CDD includes three State Park units: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and Palomar Mountain State Park. Site stewards visit archaeological sites in these parks on a regular basis to assess their condition. The stewards’ findings are then reported to the Park Rangers and District Archaeologists. The work of the stewards is invaluable and helps park staff to preserve and protect the sites from natural and human events that may cause harm to these important cultural resources.
QUESTIONS ABOUT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
WHAT IS ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE STEWARDSHIP?
Archaeological Site Stewardship is a program of monitoring recorded prehistoric and historic sites on a regular basis. Monitoring includes obtaining baseline data on an initial visit with a professional archaeologist, regularly revisiting the site and making observations about various aspects of site condition, reporting findings to a designated agency staff member in a timely fashion after each visit, and immediately reporting any major impacts to the site that have occurred during the last monitoring visit. Archaeological Site Stewardship includes accepting a Code of Ethics and always acting on behalf of the protection and preservation of the cultural resource.
There are a number of reasons why archaeological sites need stewardship. An uninformed public may purposefully, inadvertently, or unknowingly cause damage to fragile nonrenewable cultural resources. Vandalism is a huge cause of loss of cultural resources. It is not clear why certain people and groups purposefully damage archaeological sites, but many social, educational, and economic causes have been postulated. Accidents and inadvertent damages are usually due to a lack of understanding about the value of cultural resources, the importance of context, and the fact that once disturbed, cultural resources cannot be restored to their full value. Another important cause of compromise to archaeological sites is natural causes, such as water and wind erosion; erosion caused by foot, vehicle, and horse traffic; earth movement; and other forms of weathering and wear. While we often cannot prevent natural and human impacts to sites, sometimes we can prevent further damage and possibly control some of nature’s forces that cause the damage.
WHEN IS ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE STEWARDSHIP IMPORTANT?
Archaeological Site Stewardship is important when the professional staff of public agencies is unable to periodically and systematically visit recorded archaeological and/or historic sites that are under their jurisdictions and that are subject to impacts. Limitations in agency staffing, funding, priorities, and physical access to remote areas are some of the reasons why Archaeological Site Stewards can make a significant contribution to our collective cultural heritage. Site Stewards can be the “eyes and ears” of professional staff and help preserve and protect cultural resources for future generations of scientists and the public.
WHO ARE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE STEWARDS?
Archaeological Site Stewards can be from any walk of life. They can be retired persons, working people, retired professional archaeologists, people who love the outdoors and hiking, horseback riding, or trail biking, college students, families who have an interest in regional prehistory and history, persons concerned with their own heritage or the cultural heritage of others, teachers, policemen – practically anyone. Site Stewards must be over 18 years old, be concerned about the protection and preservation of cultural resources, understand the Cultural Resources Laws, and be willing to adopt a Code of Ethics.
Archaeological Site Stewards can work in
State Parks, on Indian Reservations, on Forest Service lands, on
BLM and Bureau of Reclamation Lands, or on private lands.
Stewards can pick their own sites to monitor or be assigned a
site or sites by professional staff of government agencies or
non-profit preservation agencies.