St George Field Office Receives Award for Conservation and Protection
On May 27, the St. George Field Office was recognized with a Conservation and Protection Award by the American Rock Art Research Association, at its annual national conference in St. George, Utah. The St. George Field Office was nominated by the local Dixie Archaeology Society for implementing management actions, in partnership with the local communities of Ivins and Santa Clara, designed to protect archeological resources, including rock art sites, on public lands in the Santa Clara River Reserve.
The Santa Clara River Reserve is a 6,000 acre area of public lands located along the Santa Clara River. Public land resource values include a very high concentration of prehistoric archeological sites, including many rock art sites located along the river channel and on Land Hill, above the river. Prior to the implementation of special management actions, the archeological resources were being damaged by vandalism, motorized vehicles, and illegal dumping. In 2005, the St. George Field Office began to implement management actions identified in the Recreation and Open Space Management Plan for the Santa Clara River Reserve, developed in collaboration with the Cities of Ivins and Santa Clara. Both cities provided matching funds and volunteers to assist with the drafting and implementation of the following management plan:
- Archeological inventories and research projects;
- Regular monitoring patrols by trained volunteer site stewards;
- Installation of protective fencing to prevent motorized vehicle damage;
- Development of interpretive panels and regulatory signing, including rock art etiquette information signs;
- Closure of selected zones to motorized vehicle travel, limiting non-motorized recreation to designated trails;
- Construction of a looped system of designated hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails, including an ADA accessible trail to interpreted rock art sites.
These actions have reduced the vandalism, motorized vehicle damage, and illegal dumping, while creating outstanding new opportunities for sustainable public recreation and heritage tourism.