Current BLM Cultural Resource Research

Current Research Synopses

Extraordinary opportunities for scientific investigation exist on public lands; their rich cultural , historic, and fossil resources truly make them "outdoor laboratories."  Scientists working on public lands are often on the cutting edge of new research, discovering more about our past - and how to preserve it - every year.

 

Alaska | Arizona | California | Colorado | Eastern States | Idaho
Montana | Nevada | New Mexico | Oregon | Utah | Wyoming

 

Alaska :

Gulkana River Surveys .  Along the Gulkana River, BLM’s Glennallen Field Office and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks will utilize both a random sample survey grid and a geoarchaeological probabilistic survey to establish a baseline for BLM-managed cultural resources and the potential impacts from all types of river users. Additionally, these data will fill a gap in the prehistoric record for the Copper River Basin.  For more information about this project, please click here

White Mountains Caving Project. From 2002 to 2005 eight surveys exploring natural, biological and cultural characteristics of karstic features took place in the Limestone Gulch area of the White Mountains National Recreation Area (WMNRA). The WMNRA, managed by the Bureau of Land Management – Fairbanks District Office (FDO) is a nearly 1 million acre contiguous land unit located in central-eastern interior Alaska. The primary goal of the surveys were to gather basic natural and historical information by, primarily, non-experts, in order to highlight the nature of the resources available in this largely unsurveyed area. Experts in specific fields (e.g., paleontologists; large mammal biologists; recreationists) can now use the data gathered to better plan their own field studies. For more information about this project, please click here .

Arizona :

Experimental Laser Scanning of Prehistoric Rock Art in the Agua Fria National Monument .  This study will evaluate the suitability, cost effectiveness, efficiency, and accuracy of three-dimensional (3-D) laser scanning, versus other methods, in digitally recording rock art and its environmental context.  The study will also assess whether 3-D scanning can help determine age differences among rock art elements at a particular location.  This is a partnership project between BLM’s Agua Fria National Monument and Arizona State University’s Deer Valley Rock Art Center.  For more information about this project, please click here .

Documentation of Pueblo la Plata . Partnership efforts during 2004 and 2005 have produced a detailed documentation of Pueblo la Plata, one of the largest sites in the Agua Fria National Monument. Pueblo la Plata is a relatively accessible site that the BLM has identified for future interpretive development as a heritage tourism destination. Detailed mapping and scientific studies are preserving important data and providing a foundation for developing protection measures and an interpretive plan. The information revealed by these studies will enrich the interpretive media to be designed for public education and enjoyment. For more information about this project, please click here .

Sears Point Rock Art Recordation. The BLM in Yuma has developed a partnership with Arizona Western College (AWC) to record at-risk rock art sites administered by the Yuma Field Office. For more information about this project, please click here .

Mt Trumbull Field School. Nevada State College and Desert Research Institute conducted another season of its undergraduate archaeological field school in the Mt. Trumbull area, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in 2005. For more information about this project, please click here .

Hualapai War Battlefields Project. The Hualapai Indian War took place in Mohave County, Arizona, from 1866 to 1869. It involved the Hualapai, Mojave, and Yavapai Tribes as well as the U.S. Cavalry, miners, ranchers, and teamsters. Although the Hualapai War took place at the same time as the wars against the Apache and Plains Indians, it never gained the national attention of the other Indian wars. As a result, we know little of the war and none of its battlefields have been identified. For more information about this project, please click here .

Upper Burro Creek Research Project. Each summer since June 2003, the BLM’s Kingman Field Office has been working with Pima Community College’s Center for Archaeological Field Training to conduct archaeological surveys on public land in the upper Burro Creek watershed.  Because of the project’s remote location, the crews camp on-site for the duration of each field season.  Over the past three years, the field school has surveyed 1,634 acres and recorded 49 prehistoric sites.  For more information about this project, please click here .

Yanawant Paiute Places and Landscapes in the Arizona Strip. This report is the product of a study funded by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
entitled, The Arizona Strip Cultural Landscape and Place Name Study. The study is intended to serve as a foundation for identifying and managing Native American resources, cultural sites and cultural landscapes on the Arizona Strip.

This report is organized in two volumes. The first volume is entitled Yanawant – Paiute Places and Landscapes in the Arizona Strip . The second report is entitled Yanawant – Paiute Places and Landscapes in the Arizona Strip , and it draws upon historical accounts, diaries, and oral histories to document Southern Paiute occupation and use of the Arizona Strip from the time of European and Euro-American contact until the middle of the twentieth century. The volume
also includes Paiute names for 148 places on and in the vicinity of the Arizona Strip. To download Volume 1, please click here . To download Volume 2, please click here .

California:

Punta Gorda Rock Shelter. The Punta Gorda Rock Shelter is a unique heritage resource within the Bureau of Land Management and is one of two known well preserved rock shelters in coastal northern California.  The rock shelter was tested in July 2005 by the University of California at Davis and found to contain a well stratified deposit with 37 distinct stratigraphic units and well preserved faunal remains. For more information about this project, please click here .

Colorado :

The Village Project, Southwestern Colorado .   This National Science Foundation-funded project involves scientists and educators from all over the United States.  Computer simulation utilizing data about known sites will clarify the relationships among climate, culture, and human behavior that resulted in village formation and depopulation in the Mesa Verde Region of Colorado between A.D. 600 and A.D. 1300. For more information about this project, please click here .

The Colorado Wickiup Project .   Wickiups are rapidly disappearing from the landscape due to the effects of natural weathering, wildfires and human impact. In 2003, Native American wickiup structures were listed on Colorado ’s Most Endangered Places List. This listing prompted a multi-agency funded effort to comprehensively document all known Protohistoric/Historic aboriginal wooden structures in the State of Colorado. 
For more information about this project, please click here .

Landscape-Level History of The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument . The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument covers approximately 164,000 acres of land in extreme southwestern Colorado administered by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. The Monument was established on June 9, 2000 under the authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act in order to protect cultural and natural resources on a landscape level. The area encompassed by the Monument contains the highest density of archaeological sites in the United States.

This landscape-level history was prepared to assist in management planning for the Monument and is a companion document to oral histories that have been collected as part of the same project.

To download a copy of the Landscape-Level History, please click here .

Class I Cultural Resource Overview of the Roan Plateau Management Area. The Roan Plateau Management Area encompasses just over 127,000 acres and is located immediately to the northwest of Rifle, Colorado. RMC Consultants, Inc. (RMC) contracted with the BLM to compile a Class I cultural resources overview of the area. The results of this study will be used by the BLM to make planning decisions concerning cultural resources. The goal of the project is to describe the known cultural resources in the study area, synthesize the known information into a model of prehistoric and historic land use of the area, and develop recommendations on the management of cultural resources in the study area.
To download a copy of the Cultural Resource Overview, please click here .

Eastern States:

Archaeological Evaluation and Historical Interpretation of the 18 th -Century Chiles Homesite in Charles County, Maryland This recording and excavation project, jointly undertaken by BLM-Eastern States and the College of William & Mary’s Center for Archaeological Research, will provide data regarding early Euro-American settlement and domestic lifeways along the Potomac River.  The Chiles homesite, located on BLM’s Douglas Point tract in Charles County, will be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and an interpretive plan will be developed.  For more information regarding this project, please click here .

Idaho :

Lower Salmon River Geoarchaeology Study Through geological mapping, excavation, and analysis of subsurface soils from selected geoarchaeological sites, this project is helping BLM’s Cottonwood Field Office and Oregon State University to define human adaptations to changing environmental conditions during the Paleoarchaic-Archaic transition in west-central Idaho .  This research has led to new dialogue regarding human settlement on the Columbia Plateau and the Northern Great Basin more than 11,000 years ago. For more information about this project, please click here .

Shoshone Field Office-University of Oregon Partnership . In 2003-2005, the Shoshone Field Office of BLM-Idaho, the National Park Service and the University of Oregon, Eugene, entered into an agreement to complete a Cultural Resources Overview for the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.  Created by Presidential Proclamation in 2000, Craters of the Moon National Monument is co-managed by the BLM and the Park Service and is part of the Bureau’s National Landscape Conservation System.  The Monument consists of 750,000 acres of which almost 500,000 are covered by late Pleistocene and Holocene basalt flows.  The remaining acres are primarily contained within “kipukas”, a Hawaiian term that refers to an island of land surround by lava on all sides.  Idaho archaeologists know this area was visited by prehistoric people, but until now, there had been no systematic study of the entire area.   For more information about this project, please click here .

Cultural Resource Landscape Overview of the Bureau of Land Management Coeur D' Alene Field Office. The compiled research of the Coeur D' Alene overview includes extensive information on the natural environment, prehistory, ethnography, history, and archaeology of the area, providing a background document that will assist in developing information that could be used for interdisciplinary decisions at both the landscape level and ultimately the project implementation level. To download a copy of the final report, please click here .

Cultural Resource Landscape Overview of the Bureau of Land Management Cottonwood Field Office. The compiled research of the Cottonwood overview includes extensive information on the natural environment, prehistory, ethnography, history, and archaeology of the area, providing a background document that will assist in developing information that could be used for interdisciplinary decisions at both the landscape level and ultimately the project implementation level. To download a copy of the final report, please click here .

Montana :

Weatherman Draw The genesis of this project was the final disposition proposal accepted by the BLM Montana State Office and the Resource Advisory Committee regarding a proposed oil and gas withdrawal for the area.  Under the proposal, the Weatherman Draw Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) will undergo a complete Class III inventory; threatened sites will be tested; baseline cultural/historical data will be collected; rock art will be archivally recorded; and the area will be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as a National Register District.  The portion of the project that is currently underway is being conducted under a cooperative agreement with Western Wyoming College .  Ten percent of the proposed district will be inventoried each year, and threatened sites will undergo testing and data recovery efforts.  For more information about this project, please click here .

Western Montana Ethnohistory Project. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Preservation Department (SKTPD) have proposed an ethnographic study of  western Montana. The goal of the study is to initiate a process to identify, document and map places of special significance to the tribes for future management consideration under federal cultural resource protection laws by the Bureau of Land Management. For more information about this project, please click here .

Nevada :

Testing and Data Recovery at Boyd Reservoir Bison Site This three-year testing and data recovery project undertaken by BLM-Nevada will analyze a 620(± 40)-year-old bison-butchering/-kill site currently experiencing destruction due to stream erosion. Evidence generated by further subsurface testing may provide insights regarding the hypothesized Numic Spread, a major research issue in Great Basin archaeology. 
For more information about this project, please click here .

Bonneville Estates Rockshelter. The BLM Elko Field Office will continue a cooperative effort at one of the most important prehistoric sites known in the Great Basin – Bonneville Estates Rockshelter.  This shelter contains one of the longest continuous records of prehistoric behavior known from the Great Basin – and in fact, from North America in general.  The shelter was intermittently occupied beginning at least 13,000 calendar years ago, continuing until historic contact. 
For more information about this project, please click here .

Great Basin Restoration Initiative; Cultural Resources Landscape Level Planning Model. The Great Basin Restoration Initiative (GBRI) is a multi-state, multi-agency, state, local, and federal initiative focused on “restoration” of the sage/pinion/juniper biome within 75 million acres of the Great Basin.  To advance restoration efforts, ecological planning boundaries were created and multiple-use management goals, including those pertaining to cultural resource management and protection were, or are in the process of, being developed.  Many of the management goals of the GBRI can be accomplished if cultural resources (significant historic, prehistoric, and ethnohistoric sites and localities) can be managed in a more efficient manner.
For more information about this project, please click here .

New Mexico :

Mesa Portales Archaeological Project .   This project, conducted jointly between BLM’s Rio Puerco Field Office and Eastern New Mexico University, utilizes data gathered by instrument mapping, recording, and excavation.  Through a variety of techniques, researchers will analyze artifacts, floral and faunal remains, and features found on Mesa Portales.  Multiple dating methods will be employed; resulting data may be used to study the relationship between Mesa Verde-area abandonments in the Pueblo III period and the concurrent increase in populations at Mesa Portales.  For more information about this project, please click here .

Amarillo Field School  2004-2005 . During June of 2004 and 2005 the Center for Archeological Studies at Texas State University-San Marcos in Cooperation with the BLM Amarillo Field Office; held Archeological Field Schools on the Cross Bar Ranch about 15 miles northwest of  Amarillo, Texas.  For more information about this project, please click here .

Three Rivers Field School. Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is internationally known and visited by individuals from all over the world. To mitigate the effects to the petroglyph site and its related El Paso Phase Jornada Mogollon habitation site from increased visitation, the grading of the shoulders on an east-west county road that bisects the sites, and the continued blading of an east-west ranch road through the southern portion of the site, data recovery has been initiated. For more information about this project, please click here .

The Dinétah Place Name and Sacred Sites Ethnographic Investigation Project . The project was initiated in 2004 for the express purpose of identifying and evaluating places in the Farmington Field Office that have sacred, historical, and widely held cultural meaning to the Navajo Tribe and/or its members.  This project was developed in partnership with the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department who helped craft the scope of work, helped evaluate prospective contractors, and reviewed the reports and records generated by the project.  The project was initiated in part as a response to ongoing energy developments on Public and Navajo lands and the need to more accurately identify the potential for this development to affect places of importance.  For more information about this project, please click here .

Modeling Site Density in the Fruitland Coal Gas Development Area. This report describes the development of a series of graphic models predicting archaeological site density in the Fruitland Coal Gas Development Area, northwestern New Mexico. The models were formulated by the University of New Mexico’s Office of Contract Archeology (OCA) under a contract with the Bureau
of Land Management, Farmington Field Office (BLM-FFO). Although primarily intended for use in cultural resource management planning, the models also contribute to our understanding of the environmental factors that may have conditioned human settlement patterns in the region. To download a copy of the final report, please click here .

 

Oregon/Washington:

Cultural and Ecological Studies at Watmough Bay After conducting archaeological data recovery and site stabilization activities on Lopez Island in the fall of 2004, BLM’s Spokane District Office, the University of Washington’s Burke Museum, and the Samish Indian Nation’s Center for the Study of Coast Salish Environments will collaborate again to analyze ecological and cultural data samples from the site.  Various types of floral and faunal analysis will enable researchers to compare changing biophysical conditions at the site, allowing for study of climate and inferred human impacts as forces leading to local ecological change.  For more information about this project, please click here .  

Utah :

Comb Ridge Research Project This project, undertaken by BLM’s Monticello Field Office, will contribute to the archaeological knowledge of the Colorado Plateau and to the preservation of an area, occupied over 8,000 years ago, with potential connections to Chaco Canyon.  The project will involve Native Americans, public education, and public participation.  Components include investigation of both unrecorded and previously documented historic and prehistoric sites, plus assessments of the preservation and management needs of the sites.  For more information about this project, please click here

Non –Invasive, X-Ray Florescence Dating of Petroglyphs . The BLM-St. George Field Office, in partnership with the Utah Geological Survey and the EXAFs Corp., is using the power of x-ray physics (XRF) to develop a non-destructive, reliable method for dating petroglyphs (pecked or incised aboriginal rock art) at sites on public lands in Washington County, Utah. For more information about this project, please click here

Native American Consultation for Land Use Values and Traditional Cultural Properties, BLM Vernal and Price Field Offices. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is mandated to consult with Native American tribes to identify their concerns and "to assure that tribal governments, Native American communities, and individuals whose interests might be affected have a sufficient opportunity for productive participation in BLM planning and resource management decision making". In 2002, the BLM, Price and Vernal Field Offices began the process of revising the Resource Management Plans (RMPs) that direct current and future resource management on lands under BLM jurisdiction. As part of the planning goals and objectives for the management of cultural resources, BLM conducted Native American consultation to identify and document places of cultural and religious significance that require consideration under various federal laws. To download a copy of the final report, please click here .

Wyoming :

Cantonment Reno Research Project BLM’s Buffalo Field Office will conduct a historical/archaeological study of the Cantonment Reno to gather information on this late 19 th -century U.S. military supply depot, which helped supply General Crook’s campaigns against the Sioux, Cheyenne , and Arapahoe Indians.  Considerable historical, archival, and archaeological data will provide guidance for future archaeological investigations, and the creation of detailed maps will aid site management.  Further study may help determine the location of a settlement founded after the abandonment of the supply depot. For more information about this project, please click here