Values-Based Management of Archaeological Resources at a Landscape Scale

Francis P. McManamon, John Doershuk, William D. Lipe, Tom McCulloch, Christopher Polglase, Sarah Schlanger, Lynne Sebastian,and Lynne Sullivan

Historically, there are examples of large public projects in which more broadly conceived approaches have been used to assess the value of archaeological resources in a management area prior to development or for the mitigation of infrastructure project impacts to significant

archaeological resources (Altschul 1997). Examples of such management and mitigation approaches

include: the Wetherill Mesa program at Mesa Verde National Park (Hayes 1964); the Dolores Archaeological Program in southwestern Colorado (Dolores Archaeological Program 2015); the Theodore Roosevelt Dam Studies (Theodore Roosevelt Dam Studies 2015); the Jamestown Archeological Assessment (Brown and Horning 2006; Colonial National Historical Park 2001); and


Public agencies at all levels of government and other organizations that manage archaeological resources often face the problem of many undertakings that collectively impact large numbers of individually significant archaeological resources. Such situations arise when an agency is managing a large area, such as a national forest, land management district, park unit, wildlife refuge, or military installation. These situations also may arise in regard to large-scale development projects, such as energy developments, highways, reservoirs, transmission lines, and other major infrastructure projects that cover substantial areas. Over time, the accumulation

of impacts from small-scale projects to individual archaeological resources may degrade landscape or regional-scale cultural phenomena. Typically, these impacts are mitigated at the site level without regard to how the impacts to individual resources affect the broader population of resources. Actions to mitigate impacts rarely are designed to do more than avoid resources or ensure some level of data recovery at single sites. Such mitigation activities are incapable of addressing research question at a landscape or regional scale.

Los organismos públicos de todos los niveles de gobierno y otras organizaciones que administran recursos arqueológicos a menudo se enfrentan al problema de muchas empresas individuales que afectan a un gran número de recursos arqueológicos significativos individualmente. Este tipo de situaciones se presentan cuando una agencia es la gestión de un área grande, como un bosque nacional, distrito de administración, unidad de parque, refugio de vida silvestre, o la instalación militar. También pueden surgir en relación con los proyectos de desarrollo a gran escala, como la evolución de la energía, carreteras, embalses, líneas de transmisión y otros proyectos de infraestructura importantes. Con el tiempo, la acumulación de tales impactos también puede degradar el paisaje o de escala regional los fenómenos culturales. Normalmente, estos efectos se mitigan como acciones individuales sin tener en cuenta cómo los impactos a los recursos individuales afectan a la población en general de los recursos. Acciones para mitigar los impactos rara vez están diseñados para hacer algo más que asegurar un cierto nivel de recuperación de datos en los sitios individuales. Este tipo de actividades de mitigación son incapaces de hacer frente a la pregunta de investigación en un paisaje o escala regional.

Advances in Archaeological Practice 4(2), 2016, pp. 132–148 Copyright 2016© The Society for American Archaeology

DOI: 10.7183/2326-3768.4.2.132



the Lower Verde Valley Archaeological Program in central Arizona (Lower Verde Archaeological Project 2015; Whittlesey et al. 1997).

In this article, we consider how archaeological resources can be managed at a landscape or regional spatial scale in ways that take account of the full range of their values. First, we present information noting the importance of this topic and some efforts already underway to develop and implement such a resource management approach. Then, we describe necessary precondi- tions for the successful application of such an approach. Readers should note that we are describing an emerging, broad resource management framework, not a rote, formulaic solution.

We define “landscape or region” as a relatively large area, although we do not select a minimum or maximum size. The landscape approach to resource management and valuation that we discuss in this article typically is applied to relatively large areas with cultural, ecological, environmental, and/or historical consistency. Examples include: the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico; the American Bottom area of the central Mississippi River near St. Louis; Cape Cod on the New England coast; generally conceived ecological regions such as the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin, or the Southern Great Plains, all of which include portions of several states. A landscape approach to resource management also may focus on a particular geographical area that is managed by a public agency.

An important feature of values-based landscape-scale manage- ment is the range of resource values that can and should be considered. While form and visual value are used to describe and evaluate “cultural landscapes,” additional values, such as cultural, educational, historical, and scientific values, also can be incorporated into landscape-scale resource management. In different sections of this article, we consider both the values that archaeological resources may have and how individual

resources may be ranked when the relative importance of differ- ent values is evaluated. Such rankings are essential to decision- making about management of individual resources or classes of resources. More broadly, adoption of a landscape management orientation in archaeology aligns with growing trends in ecologi- cal and environmental sciences.

We use the term “archaeological resources” to emphasize that such a management framework must consider all types of in situ archaeological sites, as well as archaeological collections, including associated paper and digital records. The latter are significant archaeological resources in their own right.

This article is derived from a report prepared by the Task Force on Valuing Archaeological Resources (established in October 2014) for the Board of Directors of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) (Altschul 2016; SAA Values Task Force 2015; Supplemental Appendix A).

The SAA Board asked the task force to determine whether managing archaeological resources at a landscape spatial scale using a values-based approach was a feasible and positive management approach. The short answer to the question is a qualified “yes.”

The feasibility of a management framework depends on how it is devised and implemented. If the necessary conditions and guidelines are met, a values-based, landscape-scale archaeo- logical resource management framework can be applied. Such

approaches have great potential to generate useful archaeologi- cal data and manage both individual archaeological resources and classes of archaeological resources for effective long-term protection and use.

Our overall perspective and general recommendation, expressed throughout this article, is that archaeological resource management systems, whatever their basis and methodology, should include treatment options that extend beyond avoid- ance, in situ preservation, or impact mitigation through data recovery. These preservation treatments are important, but alone they do not provide the full social benefit that should be derived from the effort and expense that they require. Man- agement of archaeological resources should include proactive efforts to provide societal benefits that go beyond preservation (Lipe 1996, 2009; Willems 2014). Activities that enable broad access to heritage or educational sites, collections, and informa- tion are widely appreciated. The creation of new information about the past and its dissemination through scholarly and publically oriented publications, media treatments, museum dis- plays, and social media also are important aspects of archaeo- logical resource management. A landscape approach will yield greater integration and synthesis of data and clearer translation of detailed information for the public. For many archaeological sites, in situ preservation and the adequate curation of physical collections and digital data simply make it possible for public benefits to be delivered someday, somehow, by someone.

Resource management needs to extend beyond this essential, but incomplete, preservation activity.


Many federal, local, state, and tribal agencies manage land and so are responsible for the management of archaeological resources. This includes a wide range of agencies, for example, at the federal level, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the NPS, the Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), various Department of Defense (DoD) branches, and more. Other agencies fund

or regulate public developments (e.g., the Federal Highway Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and are responsible for the impact that these undertakings have on archaeological

resources (e.g., see Departmental Consulting Archeologist 2010; McManamon 1992, 2000). Many of these agencies are inter- ested in improving the stewardship of archaeological resources by managing them at a larger spatial scale. Organizations that advise and oversee how agencies treat the cultural resources for which they are responsible, for example, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO), share this interest in improving the management of cultural resources, but may not always agree with how agen- cies determine to do so.

The movement emphasizing resource management at larger spatial scales recently has been driven by leaders in key public agencies. One such example is Secretarial Order Number


FIGURE 1. National map of the United States showing general locations of projects and programs mentioned in the text (map prepared by Grant Snitker, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University).

3330 by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell (2013), Improv- ing Mitigation Policies and Practices of the Department of the Interior. The approach summarized in this document involves determining the values of the resources within a larger spatial unit, for example, a river drainage, oil or gas leasehold, military installation, park, forest, or refuge. This larger areal perspective provides the context for determining how impacts to resources affected by an undertaking can be mitigated in relation to the values associated with groups of resources. Such a perspective

should enable a land or resource manager to focus more holisti- cally on the preservation or other proper treatment of archaeo- logical resources, rather than on a site-by-site basis.

As agencies develop ways to undertake this approach, they are considering a number of issues. The BLM, for example, is adopting a landscape approach to managing natural and cul- tural resources to meet challenges for which project-by-project

reviews are not sufficient. BLM projects at this scale include: the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, covering much

of eastern southern California ( and the San Luis Valley Rapid Ecosystem Analysis Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy in southern Colorado and northern New

Mexico ( (Figure 1; Kate Winthrop, personal communication 2015). The BLM approach begins with a regional assessment of resource types and values, which then informs strategies to identify conserva- tion and development areas and to develop impact mitigation strategies. A landscape approach for archaeological resources means identifying the actual resources that occur, the types of cultural resources that are known to occur, and the resources likely to occur; identifying the types of values inherent to them

(e.g. educational, historic, interpretive, scientific, or traditional cultural value); assessing risks and vulnerabilities likely to affect these values; setting priorities among the resource values; and developing mitigation strategies appropriate for different types of resources and values.

The NPS is developing a landscape approach to its manage- ment of cultural resources that utilizes methods and techniques to facilitate collaboration among archaeologists, historians, tribal representatives, and a variety of other stakeholders.

Collaborations are intended to produce information useful for identifying pertinent cultural resources and determining their values in particular landscapes. The values identified or devel- oped by such groups would be used to classify land parcels and cultural resources into high, medium, and low cultural resource sensitivity. These rankings would be used in planning for future development activities and land uses.

The USFS has expressed interest generally in developing landscape or regional-scale approaches to the management of cultural resources along the lines expressed in more detail by BLM and NPS. The ACHP encourages these approaches.

In a comparable vein, Leaders in Energy and Preservation (LEAP), a non-governmental organization, is addressing the challenge of creating voluntary best management practices for archaeological resources affected by relatively unregulated energy projects. This approach is being developed at a land-

scape scale (e.g., an entire shale oil or gas play) to allow energy companies to manage their impacts on the most important archaeological resources, as determined in consultation with

archaeologists and other key stakeholders. One key compo- nent of the LEAP best-practice framework is the assessment of archaeological site value at the landscape scale. Given all of this focus on landscape-scale and value-based management by public agencies, it is important for the archaeological commu- nity to identify management practices that can be implemented in ways that benefit interpretation, preservation, and study of archaeological resources.




The management and treatment of archaeological resources on a project-by-project basis typically focuses on identification and evaluation investigations of small impact areas. In some cases, this leads to data recovery mitigation efforts at individual sites or, more typically, portions of sites. These short-term preserva- tion practices may not lead to the best preservation or resource use solutions. Landscape approaches to archaeological resource management are designed to overcome this problem.

A management program that simply avoids in situ archaeologi- cal resource sites once they have been discovered also is not an effective or efficient long-term management approach. Avoid- ance strategies are severely limiting because not knowing the values and relative importance of resources restricts the treat- ment options available to managers. Decision makers cannot readily determine which resources have educational, interpre- tive, historical, or scientific values and should be investigated

or otherwise managed. Depending on the size of the area, any future use of the land may be substantially constrained. As

more sites are discovered and managed by avoiding any impact to them, the areas around the sites cannot be considered as suitable for other uses. For the avoided sites, the assumption

of resource significance remains unsubstantiated by actual investigation, evaluation, and documentation. At the same time, the avoided sites may suffer deterioration from conditions that are not detected.

Landscape-scale management is an alternative to manage- ment by avoidance or by using case-by-case, “one site at a time” procedures that result in piecemeal decision-making. This broader approach may not require impact mitigation for every resource adversely affected by an undertaking. Past uses of such an approach have been referred to as “programmatic” or “alternative” mitigation. Impacts to resources and mitigation of them are considered at larger-than-single-site spatial scales and for groups or populations of resources. Examples, some of them described in more detail as case studies (and located on Figure

1) in subsequent sections, include:

  1. a model for management based on site significance at the Utah Test and Training Range (Sebastian 2008);

  2. a model for site location and significance at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico (Heilen et al. 2012);

  3. the impact mitigation program for the modification of Theodore Roosevelt Dam near Phoenix, Arizona (Rice and Lincoln 1998);

  4. the Fruitland Coal Gas Gathering Systems data recovery program (Brown et al. 2014);

  5. the Permian Basin Oil and Gas Field archaeological inven- tory and data recovery program (Schlanger et al. 2013);

  6. the identification of “cultural resources priority areas” as part of regional planning in southern Arizona and New Mexico (Laurenzi et al. 2013);

  7. the inclusion of drainage basin archaeological and archi- tectural history data in the development of “water trails” by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, integrating cultural resource management concerns with water quality

    and other environmental management issues and emerging eco-tourism opportunities (e.g., Haury 2014; Iowa Depart- ment of Natural Resources 2015);

  8. the Utica Shale archaeological valuation approach being developed by LEAP for archaeological sites in eastern Ohio. This program, currently being developed, involves consultation among archaeologists, staff from the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, and representatives of the oil and gas industry; as yet, there is no published description (LEAP 2015).

These large-scale management approaches have been applied in a variety of contemporary contexts. Examples (a) and (b) relate to long-term management programs of archaeological and cultural resources at large military installations. Examples (c), (d), and (e) are programmatic impact mitigation actions for large development projects; and (f) and (g) use archaeological research values and consultation with experts and stakehold- ers to identify areas of special archaeological potential within

a large multi-state region (f) or within-state drainage basin (g). The final example (h) is a developing voluntary archaeologi- cal resource management partnership at a landscape scale involving energy industry companies and developers, cultural resource management firms, and other preservationists. The majority of examples mentioned here and included as short

case studies in later sections are from the western United States. This distribution is not intended to indicate that such a manage- ment approach is possible only in this part of the country or the world; it simply reflects cases and examples most familiar to the authors.

A values-based landscape approach to management or impact mitigation requires two general stages to ensure an effec-

tive outcome: high quality background information about the resources at risk and a quantifiable and replicable means of assessing value. First, the characteristics of the archaeological resources, including the collections and records from previously investigated sites must be known sufficiently to establish poten- tial resource values. It will rarely be the case that the area of interest is identified simply by its archaeological characteristics. Most often, the areas for which management or impact mitiga- tion plans will be developed will be defined by the anticipated impacts of modern development projects or contemporary land

use or resource management planning. The values of archaeo- logical resources in an area will be affected by characteristics of the area. For example, the educational or economic values of a given site might be very high in a context of easy public acces- sibility; however, such values may be low for remote, hard-to- access resources.

Not every individual archaeological resource within the area needs to be identified and investigated to manage the

resources at a landscape scale. However, the size, scale, and characteristics of the population of archaeological resources within the area must be documented well enough that decisions can be made reasonably about the value(s) they are likely to have and to whom these values relate. Previous archaeological investigations of the area may provide a sufficient sample of

the resources upon which value ranking and treatment deci- sions can be based. In addition to the specific data about site characteristics, existing records and collections may be sufficient to inform current resource management decisions, including the use of alternative mitigation, and also have significant research potential for future uses (Sullivan 1992). Or, it may be that the area of interest requires a new archaeological investigation to obtain sufficient information for a values-based evaluation of the population of archaeological resources that exist in it.

The second key aspect of this kind of an approach is the development of procedures that are clearly defined, explicit, logical, and transparent for making decisions about the value(s) associated with specific archaeological resources. There must be agreement about the types of values of the archaeological resources in an area, about how to weigh the values assigned to different classes of resources, and about a procedure regarding how to balance impacts to some resources for the preserva- tion of others. The organizations likely to be involved in these considerations include federal agencies and State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. Other organizations and stake- holders also may be involved as consulting parties, e.g., Indian tribes and other descendant communities, professional and avocational archaeologists, local museum staffs, educators, his- toric preservationists, and outdoor recreationists. In subsequent sections, we describe examples of procedures for identifying appropriate values for archaeological resources and ranking resources for various types of treatment.


Prior Conditions—Background Information Necessary for Values-Based Management

The kinds and levels of values associated with the archaeological resources vary with the amount of available information, which, in general, will be incomplete. Known resources will be only a sample, usually not a representative one, of what actually exists in or from a management area. Specific application of any man- agement approach needs to take account of these limitations, and appropriate procedures and decision-making steps must be developed accordingly.

Archaeologists are familiar with working with incomplete infor- mation and small samples. It is important that management plans consider what are reasonable population estimates and ways of estimating the characteristics of resources in an overall population. For example, Iowa, like other states, maintains an inventory of archaeological site records. New sites are regularly reported by professionals and avocational archaeologists and added to the inventory; existing records are updated. Typi-

cal site records include information about cultural affiliation, chronology, location and size, site condition, known threats, and environmental context (e.g., distance to water, soils, and elevation). Such site inventories provide background informa- tion for creating a values-based, landscape-scale management approach.

These site data will have been gathered by investigations conducted for different reasons, by various investigators, using different methods, at different times. It can take substantial additional investigation to make these data useful for values- based assessments of resources in landscape-scale areas (e.g., Riley et al. 2011). To be useful, the information available in general site inventory systems may need to be enhanced and made comparable by additional analysis or survey activities.

An example of how site inventory data can be developed for landscape- or regional-scale management is the assessment done for the Village Ecodynamics Project (VEP), an 1,800-km2 study area in southwest Colorado (Figures 1 and 2; see Ortman et al. 2007; Varien et al. 2007). Note that VEP was not a resource management study; however, it provides a useful example of appropriate evaluation and use of site inventory data.

For the VEP, several thousands of survey records were examined to develop comparable data on site chronology, functional

site type, and site size (both in terms of site area and for the habitation sites, population). Survey coverage for the various periods represented had to be assessed and estimates made of what the site populations would look like if full survey coverage was available. The result was estimates of average momentary populations (of past inhabitants) for a number of chronological periods. Eventually, the VEP researchers were able to describe settlement systems for each of the chronological periods recog- nized in the analysis. The piecemeal site survey data contained much useful information when analyzed further to provide population-level data suitable for landscape-scale settlement pattern and demographic analysis.

In the VEP study area, a “site” can be a small, low-density lithic scatter, a single rock art element, or a village that housed several hundred people. This focus allowed for sampling and evaluation of resources at the scale at which people lived. The VEP research team also recognized that for some periods in the study area, the settlement pattern was structured around large “community centers” that formed social nuclei for communities made up largely of dispersed households or small clusters of households. The community centers are hard to miss and there are not very many of them, so nearly all are represented in state survey databases, although the quality of the record varies. Information is much spottier for the hundreds of small dispersed habitation sites that surround the major centers.

The main point of this example is that landscape-scale assess- ments and subsequent management and treatment options


FIGURE 2. General map of the Village Ecodynamics Project study area (Courtesy of Tim Kohler, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, from VEP website, October 2015).

require considerably more than simply adding up site counts for a particular area. The scale of demographic and settlement pattern characteristics of the VEP study area varied from one time period to the next and from one part of the study area to the next. This would need to be taken into account in designing resource management or impact mitigation programs.

When information about the resources is limited, new inves- tigations may be part of the solution. It may be necessary to combine an explicit sampling approach with more focused site discovery investigations. Probability sampling, for example, will miss or underestimate the frequency of rarely occurring

resources. If such resources are specialized or potentially signifi- cant, procedures need to be developed to take account of them in management and treatment decision-making. Rare resources may be among the highest valued from different perspectives.

A values-based, landscape-scale evaluation of resources requires high standards for archaeological survey. Information must be detailed and consistent and carefully recorded. The determination of whether or not to collect artifacts or other samples from identified sites needs to be considered care- fully (Beck and Jones 1994; Heilen and Altschul 2013; Majewski 2010). If collections are not made, the appropriate information about observed and/or likely site contents and structure must

still be documented. Survey crews must be organized to include the appropriate expertise for systematic and accurate in-field analyses and interpretation of site contents, structure, and basic geomorphology.

Landscape-level approaches require a conceptual reorientation that considers settlement systems, communities, and demo- graphic clusters as the appropriate scale for the design and implementation of management or impact mitigation strategies.

This approach differs from those that regard the “site” as a fun- damental entity whose value is self-evident. The objective must be refocused on defining the values attributed to populations or sub-populations of resources within the management area.

Scale and ecological context of the landscape or region to be managed is also important. Coherent landscapes should be considered, but not excessively large or complicated ones. For example, it may or may not be sensible to lump multiple water- sheds together. Complex areal delimitations make management of the resources within them more challenging and potentially less effective. The identification and evaluation of archaeologi- cal resources also depends on understanding the past environ- ments in which these resources were created. Frameworks for the management of resources need to be sophisticated enough to recognize that a place now arid and sparsely vegetated may once have been a grassland or forest.

The Relative Values of Archaeological Resources at a Landscape-Scale

Values-based, landscape-scale archaeological resource man- agement requires that the values of the resources within the management area be carefully and fully considered. A variety of values are affixed to archaeological resources throughout the world (McManamon et al. 2008).

Lipe (2009) describes six kinds of value that archaeological resources hold: Preservation, Research, Cultural Heritage, Aes- thetic, Educational, and Economic. Due to legitimate concerns about the commercialization of objects removed from archaeo- logical sites, it is important to note that the “economic” value Lipe (2009:61) lists relates not to selling artifacts, but to sites that are “attractions that draw crowds and support the development of tourism.”

Among the research, cultural heritage, and educational values of archaeological resources is that they are “actual material evidence of the past” that helps to authenticate interpreta- tions about the past; and they can, with proper investigation, provide “credible accounts of what happened in the past” Lipe (2002:20–21, 2009). “Commemorative or associative” and “knowledge” values of archaeological resources, are similar to

research, educational, cultural heritage, aesthetic, and preserva- tion values (McManamon 2002). A number of the essays in Little (2002) also focus specifically on the public benefits and values associated with archaeology and archaeological resources.

Indian tribes or other organizations representing Native Americans often emphasize that archaeological resources have traditional cultural value to their members.

This wide range of kinds of value should be taken account of as part of management planning and impact mitigation. Federal regulations, the ACHP procedures, as well as planning and management policies and procedures of many state and federal public agencies recognize the benefit of such consideration (e.g., ACHP 2009:2; NPS 2006:19–20). However, routinely and historically, archaeological resources are most often valued for their research potential when evaluated by National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) criteria. Their cultural or historical asso- ciations, let alone the other kinds of potential value noted here, are less often recognized formally. Even in the case studies that

follow, the most frequent valuation of archaeological resources is done solely in terms of historical or scientific research value.

There are two main points about using the values of archaeo- logical resources in developing landscape-scale management plans. First, there is a wide range of potential values of archaeo- logical resources. Not all of them will apply in every situation, but the full range of potential values should be considered

in values-based planning. Second, an effective management framework based on the values of the archaeological resources requires clear, detailed, and transparent evaluation of the actual values of resources. Subsequent to such an evaluation, agency actions must be planned or organized in ways that preserve important values and make appropriate use of resources that are impacted by agency developments and operations. In addition, information about a landscape and sites needs to be regularly reviewed and values assessed as new information becomes available.

The values of archaeological resources are relative measures that are context driven and measurable on a number of lev- els; some are interrelated, others mutually exclusive. Single perspectives on value, e.g., historical or scientific research potential, heritage tourism, educational value, sacred value

(i.e., importance to a descendant community) should not be the sole focus of a valuation effort. Rather, all applicable vectors of value should be considered. The assignment of archaeological value to resources in a landscape cannot be done in a vacuum. It also may be important to consider the nature of the impacts expected from planned or anticipated development activities as part of determining what resources have value and the nature of these values in a landscape.

Modeling and Values-Based Assessment and Ranking of Archaeological Resources

In the previous two sections, we considered how the level of knowledge about the archaeological record of an area affects the development of landscape-scale management and the wide range of values that can be attributed to archaeological resources. Another key aspect in developing landscape-scale, value-based management plans for archaeological resources is how this information is used to describe and rank the relative importance or significance of resources within the area being managed.

We identified a number of examples of landscape-scale approaches to resource management, some involving resource- valuation tools for multiple cultural resource management uses, others developed specifically to guide mitigation of the effects of large scale development programs. In this section, we exam- ine some of these examples. This aspect of developing resource management plans is critical because resource assessment

and ranking determines how individual resources or classes of resources are treated in the operation of the management plan.

Two related examples of archaeological resource-valuation tools use quantifiable and categorical data for assessing of the values associated with the archaeological resources and for classifying or ranking the resources within military installations. The first example is a pilot project undertaken to assess the feasibility of developing a computer-based “significance model” that could


FIGURE 3. General map of the Utah Test and Training Range in Northwestern Utah (map prepared by Grant Snitker, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University).

systematically assign unevaluated archaeological sites to cat- egories that would determine how the sites would be managed, what kinds of protection from effects would be appropriate, and what the approach to mitigation might be if a site were to be adversely affected. This pilot project (Sebastian 2008) was com- pleted using data from the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR), a 6,796 square km (2,624 square miles) installation managed in part by the US Air Force and partly by the US Army, west of the Great Salt Lake in northwestern Utah (Figures 1 and 3).

Significance models, as discussed in detail in the UTTR report, are simply sets of computer algorithms that mimic the expert knowledge used by archaeologists with long experience in a particular area or with particular types of sites, to make decisions about the research potential and other values of sites, based on their surface manifestations (Figure 4). There are several good reasons for creating such models. For one thing, those archae- ologists with experience-based expert knowledge are retiring at an increasing rate each year; we need to capture at least some of that knowledge before it is lost. Additionally, large land- managing agencies probably have hundreds of thousands of unevaluated archaeological sites under their stewardship. Mak- ing site-by-site judgments about the significance of each one

would be prohibitively time-consuming. And finally, significance models make the rules being used to evaluate the significance of archaeological site explicit for all stakeholders, and transpar- ent to those who did not take part in the activities and meetings required to create the rankings.

In addition to their other advantages as a planning tool for archaeological resource management, significance models can help resource managers develop more flexible approaches to archaeological valuation. Although archaeological resources are valued most often for their information potential, when evalu- ated under NRHP criterion D, they may have other values as well. For example, they may be important heritage resources for descendant communities and other shareholders. The UTTR pilot model was designed to take account of both current research importance, as required by regulations, and the need

to address the broader issue of “loss or destruction of significant scientific, cultural, or historical resources” under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Significance models are based on the premise that there are physical characteristics of an archaeological site that can be used to predict the nature of the archaeological data that could be gained through data recovery at the site. Among the charac- teristics considered in the UTTR example are: types, numbers, distributions, and densities of artifacts; overall site size; pres- ence (though not absence) of temporal diagnostics; indications of structures or features; presence of ash, charcoal, or other evidence of burning; and indications of buried cultural materials. Other useful predictors of information potential are aspects of the site’s setting and environment. The models can also include measures for assessing other values associated with types of sites, types of features, and physiographic settings. For exam- ple, cultural heritage value might be derived from published ethnographic studies, recorded oral traditions, interviews, and consultation.

The decisions about which archaeological and environmental variables to use in developing the sorting algorithms and the resulting site significance and management categories are based on syntheses of local and regional survey and excava- tion data, including extant collections and records, the expert knowledge of agency personnel and local archaeologists, and the management needs of the agency or installation. The value categories into which sites are to be sorted need to be

meaningful and useful for managers and cultural resource staff and for the local and regional community of archaeological researchers. The purpose of these categories is not, however, to create immutable “value” categories and rankings, but rather to create a straightforward set of classifications to guide everyday management and compliance decisions. Categories and assign- ments to categories may (and should) change through time

as new information, new technologies, and new research and management needs arise.

Once a significance model has been developed and validated, it can be used to classify known sites into value-based categories, create sensitivity maps displaying the geographic positions of sites of different significance categories to be used in planning, and classify newly identified sites within an installation or other planning unit. Future excavation data would be used to test and refine the rules for significance category assignments.



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 

 

FIGURE 4. Diagram of Module 1 (upper half of page) and Module 2 (lower half of the page) of the UTTR Significance Assessment Model (Courtesy of Lynne Sebastian, SRI Foundation; Sebastian 2008).


FIGURE 5. General location of White Sands Missile Range, Southeastern New Mexico.

Based on the promising results of the UTTR pilot project, a full- scale significance model was developed for White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), a 8,288 square km (3,200 square miles) US Army installation in southern New Mexico (Figures 1 and 5; Heilen et al. 2012). This model successfully sorted nearly half of the 3,445 largely unevaluated archaeological sites at WSMR into signifi- cance categories. This information is being used today to make management decisions about the treatment of individual sites and mitigation approaches in cases where sites will be adversely affected. Even more importantly, in the context of this article, the significance model results are used to make large-scale plan- ning decisions about where military activities can most effec- tively be sited with the fewest potential conflicts with significant cultural resources.

The WSMR significance model sorts archaeological sites into high, medium, and low data potential categories, along with a fourth category called “high cultural significance.” This last category comprises sites with features of concern to Native

Americans—petroglyphs and pictographs, shrines, and burials. If ongoing consultations between the installation and culturally affiliated tribes should identify additional indicators of high cul- tural significance, the model can easily be updated to reclassify sites with those indicators.

The model assigns sites to data potential categories based on culture (e.g., PaleoIndian, Apache, Mogollon), temporal period (e.g., Early, Middle, or Late Archaic), assemblage size, and num- ber of features. Because many sites on WSMR are multicompo- nent but the site is the unit of management for the installation, the model assigns sites to the data potential category of its highest-scoring component.

As with most archaeological endeavors, the success or failure of a significance-modeling project hinges on the availability and quality of the data. The variables used in the WSMR modeling effort were constrained by what data were available. Assem- blage diversity is a key indicator of data potential, but this characteristic was not available or derivable from the data used in this case. Assemblage size, also a useful indicator, was not available for more than half of the WSMR sites. Available paper records could, with some effort and creativity, be made to yield proxies for the necessary information, in which case the model would be able to sort virtually all of the sites on the installation into significance categories for management purposes. How- ever, this was not done as part of the WSMR project.

To make landscape-scale decisions about the management of archaeological resources, we need to be able to make valuation decisions for currently known sites in the region or installation of interest at that scale. Significance modeling is a new technique, still being explored, that shows promise of being able to help cultural resource managers do just this. The principle is one

of simple logic—using “if, then” statements in a hierarchical, recursive process. The model can easily be rerun to include new data, new sites, or revised categories. One of the great advan- tages of this technique is that other values for archaeological sites beyond data or information potential can be included in the ranking process, and other ways of looking at data potential itself, beyond the simple “pass/fail” of National Register eligibil- ity, can be developed.



A values-based landscape-scale management plan is a liv- ing document that requires periodic review of the value(s) of resources. How we recognize the values of archaeological

resources varies with our perspective about these resources and our changing notions and questions about the past. All types

of projects can be valued, but the treatment of archaeologi- cal resources often varies depending upon whether a project proponent is a land managing agency or a developer. In the following case studies, we describe programs implemented by energy development projects and by land managing agencies and their management context.

Landscape-Scale Impact Mitigation Program

Landscape-scale management programs can apply to land man- agement areas and to large-scale development projects, such as highways or reservoirs. The Fruitland Coal Gas Gathering Sys- tems program used a landscape management plan developed


FIGURE 6. General map location of the Fruitland Coal Gas Recovery Project in Northwestern New Mexico.

and applied to archaeological resources in a clear, explicit, logi- cal, and transparent manner. The archaeological activities were designed to mitigate impacts, usually through data recovery, associated with the development project at a landscape-scale. The treatment of resources varied according to different value rankings of the individual resources.

The Fruitland Coal Gas Data Recovery Project (Figures 1 and 6; Brown et al. 2014:1–2) refers to archaeological survey and data recovery investigations associated with the construction of over 600 miles of pipeline gathering systems located on and around Navajo Reservoir in northwestern New Mexico between 1989 and 1996. In addition to drilling hundreds of wells with associ- ated well pads and roads and injection wells, etc., the energy companies involved constructed hundreds of miles of small pipelines connecting wells to storage tanks and processing facilities. The amount of ground disturbance was very high, as was the site density in the Fruitland play. To add to the chal- lenges, the development was driven by a federal tax credit for recovering “non-traditional” energy sources and thus was on an extremely accelerated time schedule.

The land-managing agency, the BLM, and the SHPO recognized that a standard case-by-case data recovery effort in the Fruitland gas development would have resulted in hundreds of small undertakings carried out by a variety of energy companies hiring a large number of different CRM consulting firms, who would

take scores of different approaches and ask dozens of different research questions at a multitude of sites. The BLM and SHPO, with the cooperation of industry representatives, instead devel- oped an approach that would do better archaeology and meet the needs of the undertakings.

The resultant Fruitland data recovery program involved a values- based, landscape-scale approach to the mitigation of impacts for a large number of widely spaced individual developments within an area of more than 4,791 square km (1,850 square miles) (Brown et al. 2014:1–6). Some of its aspects were:

Values-based landscape-scale management of archaeologi- cal resources has the potential to improve the stewardship of

America’s archaeological record. In appropriate situations, it will work better than managing resources in isolation or the review and mitigation of impacts individually, but it does not preclude consideration and management decisions regarding single resources if an individualized approach is appropriate and would yield better results. A landscape-scale approach requires certain amounts of background and contextual information, as well as

a clear, explicit, and transparent approach to site valuation. We have tried in this article to describe how such an approach can be developed and implemented efficiently.


The co-authors of this article appreciate that Past-President of the Society for American Archaeology Jeffrey Altschul and the SAA Board identified this topic as important for current and future American archaeology and established a Task Force to assess the issues related to it. We want to acknowledge the important work done by S. Terry Childs, SAA Board member, who served as the Board Liaison with the Task Force. Terry par- ticipated in each of the conference calls that the Task Force held to identify and discuss issues, experiences, and projects that might serve as examples or case studies. She actively reviewed and commented on the various drafts of the Task Force report and of this subsequent article. We also are grateful to the edito- rial staff of Advances in Archaeological Practice for the clear and useful recommendations and suggestions provided on the sub- stance of the material discussed in the article and its presenta- tion. Finally, we acknowledge and thank the many archaeologists and resource managers who, through their professional work on the projects we drew from as examples and case studies for this article, are attempting to improve the management of archaeo- logical resources for research on and improved understanding of the human past.

Data Availability Statement

The examples and information in this article come from a variety of sources that either contain the data upon which the examples are based or provide information about where these data can be obtained. More details concerning several of the examples can be found in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record). For these examples, links to tDAR records are included in the references cited. For other examples, links to websites or other digital repositories, if available, are included in the references cited.

Supplemental Materials

Supplemental materials are accessible via the SAA member login at

Supplemental Appendix A: Task Force on Valuing Archaeologi- cal Resources.


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Francis P. McManamon n Executive Director, Center for Digital Antiquity, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University; PO Box 872402, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402;

John Doershuk n State Archaeologist, University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist, 700 Clinton Street, Iowa City, IA 52242-1030; john-doershuk@


William D. Lipe n Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4910;

Tom McCulloch n Senior Policy Analyst; Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 402 F Street NW, Suite 308, Washington, DC 20001-2637;

Christopher Polglase n Cultural Heritage Practice Leader, Gray and Pape, Inc.;

Sarah Schlanger n Field Manager, Taos Field Office, Bureau of Land Management, 226 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, NM 87571-5983;

Lynne Sebastian n Historic Preservation Advisor; SRI Foundation, 333 Rio Rancho Drive NE, Rio Rancho, NM 87124;

Lynne Sullivan n Curator and Research Associate Professor Emeritus, McClung Museum, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN;