Buffalo Field Office records, protects cultural resources through Passport in Time project

Story by Ardy Hahn, Archaeologist; and Tyson Finnicum, Public Affairs Specialist. Photos by Ardy Hahn.

Throughout the last week of June, seven volunteers contributed a combined time of 270 hours to assist the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming Buffalo Field Office (BFO) with the Crooked Creek I Passport in Time (PIT) project in southern Johnson County, Wyoming.

Volunteers in blue shirts entering a sandstone rock outcrop.
PIT volunteers record historic inscriptions on a sandstone rock outcrop.

The weather was hot, and the trees were scarce, but the group persevered to record historic inscriptions and artwork, prehistoric rock art, and a large prehistoric campsite. The group also updated site recordings for six other previously recorded sites and accomplished an extensive survey of rock faces for rock art and inscriptions – work that requires patience and many eyes to complete. A falcon nest above the group’s campsite provided a great viewing experience, and by the end of the week, two of the three fledglings had learned to fly!

A volunteer holds up a measuring stick to a historic inscription that is on a rock face.
PIT volunteers record a historic inscription.

“I’m always impressed at the work ethic and willingness to learn that the volunteers bring every year,” says BFO archaeologist Ardy Hahn. “I really appreciate the varied skills, backgrounds, and experience the volunteers bring to the projects and cannot thank them enough for the work they do.”

The BFO has hosted a PIT or Volunteer Archaeology project every year since 2010. PIT is a volunteer cultural heritage program that works with federal agencies to match volunteers to projects. To date, BFO’s PIT projects have racked up a total of 4,100 volunteer hours dedicated to site recording and testing, metal detection, pedestrian survey, and artifact curation throughout the 10 plus years. Many of the volunteers return yearly and are very skilled at recognizing and recording artifacts. The seven volunteers who participated this year traveled from California, Texas, Montana, North Carolina, and Wyoming to pitch in on the project.

Volunteers stand around a prehistoric open campsite that is in a field.
PIT volunteers and BLM archaeologists record a prehistoric open campsite.

“The work we do over the course of four to five days is exponentially more than the BLM can do on its own within the same timeframe,” says Hahn. “The program is also a great way for these volunteers to experience Wyoming’s cultural resources and some of the state’s beautiful, remote areas that are hard to access.”

Tents set up with the background of a scenic landscape and the setting sun.
Many of the PIT projects involve backcountry camping, offering participants a chance to sleep out under the stars in remote settings.

To learn more, visit PIT’s website at: http://passportintime.com/