Cultural Resources

Plutonium Processing Plant

While many national wildlife refuges protect remnants of America’s history, none are as rich, varied and complete as Hanford.

The unique and fortuitous circumstances (establishment of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation during World War II) that preserved the area since 1943 also created a unique set of cultural resources with contextual integrity that may no longer exist anywhere else in the region. These remnants of past human culture and activity are invaluable and irreplaceable keys to former life ways and behavior patterns. Unfortunately, some of the resources, such as the historic town sites, homesteads and other structures, as well as Native American traditional use areas and aboriginal occupation areas, were destroyed before and during establishment and operation of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. However, there is little doubt that without the inadvertent protection of the area through its restricted public use, many of these resources would have been damaged or obliterated.

Protection of these cultural resources—including tangible portions of sites such as artifacts, features, structures, natural resources and landscapes (e.g., traditional use and sacred areas), as well as oral and written records—is paramount to management of the Monument. In addition to the preservation of the physical geography, the Native American ethnology and oral traditions, and the Euro-American written and oral histories, are the threads that tie together the story of the cultural landscape. The opportunity to meld this interaction between the scientific data and the human story is a critical element to support the protection of the cultural resources in the Monument. Inheriting this resource brings an obligation to the FWS not only to manage the Monument for the protection and preservation of these heritage resources but also to enhance their value through public education.