I am Brant Loflin and am stationed at D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery in Spearfish, SD. I work with Rhoda Lewis, Regional Historic Preservation Officer and Galen Burgett, Fire Archaeologist. We recently restructured the regional archaeology program and, therefore, Fiscal Year 2004 (FY 04) was my last year traveling throughout Region 6 as the Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) program Archaeologist. In September, zones were established for the archaeologists. The three archaeologists for the region will handle most of the cultural resources issues within the zone they have been assigned. Rhoda, Galen and I feel this will give us better ability to establish closer relationships with the other agencies and organizations with whom we work and should reduce travel by shrinking the size of the geographic area in which we travel. Under the restructuring, I have been assigned Utah, Montana and Wyoming and will be responsible for the Fire, PFW, and Refuge programs in those areas. Although I will miss working with all of the people I have met across the region, I sense that this new organizational structure will make our jobs easier and make us more effective at completing them.
FY 04 included several projects and events that were unusual for this program. Two archaeological sites were discovered during project implementation and had to be archaeologically excavated in order to determine the research quality of the deposit. In each case, steps were taken to avoid disturbing cultural resources and damage to the archaeological sites was minimal. The projects will be discussed in detail below under each state heading. I also attended several professional meetings and training in FY 04. The meetings included the Island in the Plains Conference in Keystone, SD, a meeting for all Service cultural resources staff in Portland, Oregon and Contracting Office Technical Representative (COTR) training in Denver, CO. COTR training allows me to assume the title that I need to monitor work on large contracts. With the restructuring of our program there will, no doubt, be plenty of instances for me to use these skills since contracts are often used for archaeological work on refuges.
During FY 04, 22,299 miles were logged during 19 trips that lasted from two days to two weeks. The amount of effort and expense the agency has devoted to complying with the National Historic Preservation Act demonstrates the Service’s commitment to managing multiple resources.
As in the program’s past, when archaeological sites with research potential are found within the impact area of a project, we generally move the project. This is because most of our projects have small budgets and cannot support intensive archaeological investigation as is often seen in larger Federal projects like highway construction. If we impact a site that does not have research potential, (more formally - sites which are not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places [NRHP]) I document the site and provide this information to the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) for review. As long as the SHPO agrees with our determination of NRHP not eligible status, for a given site, and documentation is completed, the project can impact the site. If the SHPO does not agree, we have to negotiate a solution. Although SHPO consultation takes about a month and a half to complete, it documents our agency’s historic preservation efforts and provides a form of preservation of information for cultural resources that would otherwise be lost. Below, information on cultural resources issues is provided for the states in the region. Each paragraph details the number of sites found and the outcomes of compliance in each case. Region-wide, less than one percent of PFW program projects had to be cancelled due to cultural resources issues. This is due to the fact that most of these projects can be altered or moved to avoid disturbance of cultural resources.
Most of the Partners projects in Colorado involved non-disturbing activities such as grassland and wetland easements. Other projects such as wetland creation or restoration and riparian fencing occasionally required field review. For FY 2004, field review was conducted for three projects in Colorado while 31 projects required desktop review only. We had one problem project in Colorado which involved a landowner who started the grading for the project before the cultural resources review was complete. In this instance, Rhoda conducted the field review for me. When she got to the project area she found several quartzite cobbles and pieces of red ochre in the graded area which do not naturally occur in the sand dunes found in the project area. This suggests that the materials are what archaeologists call manuports or material that has been moved from its natural location in order to serve some human-related purpose. In order to determine if the site had any research potential, Rhoda and I returned to the project area and set up two test units (see photo) to excavate the areas of the site where the manuports were located. We were assisted by Matt Filsinger, the project biologist. After excavation, a few more stones were uncovered, but no additional cultural material that would suggest that the site had research potential was found. The site was determined not eligible for the NRHP and the project proceeded.
A worked stone found in the excavation unit (USFWS Photo)
As in many states in the region, the Kansas PFW program projects vary widely depending on the area of the state in which the project is being implemented. One unusual aspect of the PFW program in KS is that the biologists contact the SHPO for every project they conduct so that I am contacted by the PFW program staff when the SHPO recommends survey. This system of compliance saves me a great deal of time and allows me to focus on states where more cultural resources work is required. In the eastern part of KS shortgrass prairie restoration is a major issue. These projects consist of burning or mechanical removal of invasive species (e.g. Eastern red cedar) and reseeding the areas with native species of grass. These projects have few cultural resources issues. In other parts of the state, where there are more waterways, wetland creation and restoration are important. In FY 2004, one desktop review was conducted in KS while the remainder were reported to the SHPO by the biologists.
One vegetation removal/burning project required SHPO consultation. A review of the state site files revealed that the project area supported a prehistoric site that was determined eligible for the NRHP. Considering the nature of the project activities, it was established, by the Service and SHPO, that the archaeological site would benefit from the removal of the trees since the root systems of trees are natural ground-disturbing forces that affect the site and the trees were not going to be manually uprooted, which would disturb the site.
Three field reviews were conducted in Montana in FY 04. These projects consisted of a stream restoration project, a cattle watering development and moving a cattle corral which was located in a riparian area. One of these stream restorations was located in a large, prehistoric and historic archaeological site. The project was to restore a creek channel to its natural state after the county had channelized the creek to increase the water velocity in order to prevent the formation of ice in a road culvert. When the stream was channelized it reduced the habitat for fish and wildlife by raising water temperatures, and reducing habitat for fish. When I reviewed the site files, I found that a site had been recorded in the same location during the 1970's. The site included a log cabin and a large scatter of prehistoric artifacts. When I walked over the site, I realized it was much larger than previously thought. The artifact scatter along the creek was very light in some areas and I suspected that the portion of the site with the most research potential was far enough from the project that we could still conduct the work without impacting the site. With the help of the PFW program biologist, Randy Gazda, we excavated shovel tests along the west side of the stream to see if subsurface deposits existed. All of the tests were negative, demonstrating that there was little or no subsurface material. I determined that the Service could implement the project, without negatively impacting the site, as long as we stayed on the east side of the creek. I sent a letter to the SHPO to get their concurrence on the alteration to the project plan and the project proceeded.
Project site with cabin in the background (USFWS Photo)
Desk top reviews were conducted for 18 projects in Nebraska for FY 2004. Some of these projects were ditch plugging and fencing projects to protect and restore natural wetlands. The remainder of the projects were located on islands in the North Platte River and involved the removal of invasive plant species and reseeding with native species of grasses. These islands are modern, dynamic structures which do not have the potential to support prehistoric sites; therefore, these projects do not require field review.
Project goals and restoration techniques used in North Dakota are identical to those used in the South Dakota PFW program. Wetlands are created by dam construction, dam repair and ditch plugging; grasslands are protected through grazing plans and development of water sources to keep cattle out of riparian areas. During FY 2004, four projects required field survey while 30 projects needed desktop review only. Cultural resources were found on one project. The project was a dam construction in a small upland drainage surrounded by wheat fields. Six prehistoric lithic flakes were found on the surface of a small hill which was to be used as part of the dam. I shovel-tested the landform and was unable to find any additional subsurface artifacts. The site was determined not eligible to the NRHP, a letter was written to the SHPO and the project proceeded.
The Partners Program in South Dakota generates the largest number of projects and the most cultural resources-related issues. Most of the projects in South Dakota are wetland creation projects consisting of either building shallow ponds, rebuilding existing dams or filling in ditches used in the past to drain wetlands. Waterfowl are the primary wildlife beneficiaries of these projects; however, many other species are supported by the presence of these wetlands. Because these projects involve excavation, most of them need field review to make certain archaeological sites are not disturbed. Of the 99 projects reported to the PFW program Archaeologist for South Dakota in FY 04, 75 field reviews were conducted; the remaining 24 projects did not require field review because they involve little or no excavation. Cultural resources were discovered in four projects. One of these was a single artifact, or what archaeologists call isolates, which did not require extensive evaluation. Other, more salient, cultural resources were found including one sod structure, a possible prehistoric stone windbreak and a Works Progress Administration (WPA) dam. Two projects were altered to avoid these resources. Eight projects required Native American or Bureau of Indian Affairs consultation due to the fact the projects were located on tribal lands or on private lands within the tribal boundaries. One dam project consisted of repairing a large WPA dam on state land. The dam was earthen, faced with flat stones and had been breached at the spillway (see photo) at some point in the past. Although the structure is historically interesting, it has degraded and did not embody any attributes that would make it eligible for the NRHP based on the evaluation criteria and was determined not eligible for the NRHP. The repair proceeded when the SHPO concurred with our findings.
Breach in Waterfowl Production Area dam (USFWS Photo)
All five projects reported for FY 04 in UT required field review. One of these was a 1,000 acre, multi-agency vegetation removal/reestablishment project that was completed by a contractor. Native forbes and sage brush vegetation were planted on the tract using heavy equipment in order to replace vegetation lost during several years of prolonged drought. Vegetation in the project area is used as winter forage for mule deer and other species that take refuge in these lower ranges from the high mountain snows. Eight sites and seven isolates were found during the survey. Three of these sites were determined to be eligible for the NRHP. The Service’s plan to protect the areas where the sites were located was to mark and avoid these areas during project implementation. The SHPO concurred with the contractor’s report and our plan to avoid the sites.
The second project with cultural resources issues was a cattle watering project which impacted the habitat of the arboreal toad, a threatened species. The spring-fed cattle watering pond where we were going to get water for the project is surrounded by a prehistoric archaeological site. Because the spring represents the only water available for the cattle, we had to impact the site.
During the original construction of the pond, the soils were disturbed; however, it was not certain how much disturbance had taken place. I wrote a letter to the SHPO requiring an archaeologist to monitor the development of the spring so that the project could be altered if an archaeological site was disturbed during the excavation. While monitoring the excavation, I noticed an undisturbed zone of soil about one meter below the disturbed upper soils and asked the operator to slow the work. After some careful troweling it was evident that there were archaeological materials in the undisturbed zone so I had the operator take off the disturbed soil through the rest of the trench and I started archaeologically excavating the undisturbed soil. As it turned out, we exposed the edge of a small prehistoric hearth (campfire) with lithics associated with it. The project was altered to avoid the site due to the fact that the site probably has research potential and was determined potentially eligible for the NRHP. Ultimately, cultural resources benefitted because the site would not have been detected using typical investigation methods, due to the deeply buried nature of the deposit.
Excavation in trench - pins mark the artifacts (USFWS Photo)
This year two field reviews were conducted in Wyoming, both of which required SHPO consultation. One was a stream restoration project and the other was a large multi-agency grazing plan that included riparian fencing and water development for cattle. The stream restoration project will impact a set of early twentieth century railroad bridge pilings and a dike which incorporates 1950's and1960s’cars as rip rap (see photo). The grazing plan is in South Pass which has been established as a National Historic Landmark due to the presence of several historic trails as well as other historic and prehistoric archaeological sites. Although there is little disturbance of soil planned for the project, visual impacts to National Historic Landmarks are legally termed “adverse effects” and have to be avoided including fencing in the “viewshed” of the historic trails. The project area is biologically extraordinary because it is a large tract with little human disturbance and is an important breeding area for elk and sage grouse. In order to get the project completed and minimize any impacts to the “viewshed” an electric fence is being used which is nearly invisible within 100 meters and beyond. The posts for the fence are approximately an inch in diameter and are green pigmented fiberglass which blends with the sage brush that is prevalent in the project area. Because the area has little warm-weather moisture, prehistoric people used these riparian areas heavily. These areas will be fenced and there will be some minor impacts to these archaeological sites; however, we believe that the effect of fencing cattle out of these areas will reduce the impacts to the sites by lowering soil disturbance near the streams.
Rip rap and bridge pilings (USFWS Photo)
Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Aberdeen, SD wanted to investigate removal of a grain elevator, corn crib (see photo) and some garages on the refuge. Currently the structures are in need of repair and the refuge wanted to decide whether to invest the money remodeling or demolish the structures. Although this is a Refuge project, Rhoda wanted me to investigate while I was conducting project reviews in the area. Sand Lake Refuge acquired the farmstead when they purchased the land for the original refuge. All of the structures are wooden and are sided with clapboards. Since government acquisition, the elevator was used by the refuge to store grain for waterfowl until about five years ago. After reviewing refuge and WPA reports from the 1940's it was found that none of the extant structures were built at the same time. Using the NR criteria, the farmstead, although an interesting part of local history, is not intact and should be considered ineligible for the NRHP. The refuge contacted the local historical society who wants to preserve the grain elevator by moving it to a public area for display. A letter to the SHPO stating that the Service supports the idea of letting the historical society preserve the grain elevator has been drafted and will soon be submitted to the SHPO. In FY 05 a final decision will be made concerning the structures.
Corn crib during construction (USFWS Photo)
9/27/04 - 9/30/04 Chamberlain and Aberdeen, SD for project reviews
9/16/04 - 9/18/04 Williston and Dickenson, ND for project reviews
9/08/04 - 9/15/04 Minot and Mandan, ND for project reviews
8/30/04 - 9/08/04 Lake Andes, Madison, Waubay and Huron, SD for project reviews
8/26/04 - 8/28/04 Faith, Huron and Sand Lake, SD for project reviews
8/15/04 - 8/20/04 Price, and Willow Springs, UT and Lander Wyoming for project reviews
7/22/04 - 8/07/04 Lander, WY, Price, Utah and Toole, UT for project reviews
6/20/03 - 7/03/04 Salt Lake, and Price UT for project reviews and Denver, CO for training
6/17/04 - 6/19/04 Crow Creek Reservation and Martin, SD for project reviews
6/07/04 - 6/09/04 Sand Lake and Waubay, SD for project reviews
5/08/04 - 5/08/04 Keystone, SD for conference
4/23/04 - 4/28/04 Martin, Sand Lake and Waubay, SD for project reviews
4/12/04 - 4/14/04 Orchard, CO for excavation
4/05/04 - 4/09/04 Portland, OR for FWS cultural resources meeting
3/29/04 - 3/30/04 Huron, Lake Andes and Pierre, SD for project reviews
3/10/04 - 3/11/04 Chamberlain, SD for project reviews
10/29/03 - 10/31/03 Madison and Pierre, SD for project reviews
10/16/04 - 10/20/04 Waubay, SD and Bismarck, ND for project reviews
This year I would like to thank Rhoda Lewis for her contributions to my work and future in cultural resources management. This spring Rhoda will retire and take her knowledge, positive attitude, experience and support of our program with her. I am sure that the Service will find a competent person to fill her position, but it will be difficult to replace her skill as a politician and knowledge of cultural resources personnel in all of the states in the region. I have worked in cultural resources management almost continually since 1993 and Rhoda has been one of the few managers I have had that continually teaches me inventive ways to deal with complex issues. Rhoda represents what other Federal Archaeologists and Federal workers in general, should strive to be.