Presented at the 2012 Summer Meeting of the TRB ADC50, committee on archeology and historic preservation in transportation, Tuesday July 17, 2012. A National Perspective of Cultural Resource Management Best Practices in Transportation ArcheologyBy Owen Lindauer, Ph.D., RPAChief Archeologist, Federal Highway AdministrationAbstractIn this period of fiscal austerity, uncertain job security, and shrinking ability of Transportation Departments to carry out new large construction projects, I’d like to share my national perspectives on Cultural Resource Management (CRM) best practices. These practices fall into three groups. Practices to save money. Practices that save time. And practices that, while not necessarily saving time or money, serve best to preserve cultural resources. I will draw upon my 16 years of experience as a transportation archeologist, working for both State and Federal government agencies.
You can save money for your project by engaging (or hiring) the best qualified and experienced people. For doing the archeological assessments/field work, for completing the Section 106 requirements, and for consultation/reporting/outreach. As soon as possible, prepare a plan for your project, identifying each of the necessary tasks, and a schedule, along with contingencies on things that can go wrong.Part of fostering excellent communication is to have the team members and stakeholders identified at the outset, and accommodate newcomers. Open, honest, and continuous lines of communication foster thoughtful consideration of concerns and dialogue and breed trust. Money can be saved by avoiding conflicts and developing trust.Many programmatic approaches have been developed to save money including applying predictive models by limiting survey efforts (Texas PALM), by utilizing standardized treatments to limit data recovery efforts and sampling (limit redundant data collection).
Take time to consider an alternative procurement approach for survey or data recovery services. Doing contracting in the same old way may be familiar but not cost effective. Periodic program assessments (for computing costs for acre surveyed, reports, and the like) allow for retrospective consideration of costly as well as cost effective practices. If yearly is too often consider every other year or every 3 years.With increasing reliance on contracting as a method for addressing archeological needs, assuring quality and complete contracting language as well as adequacy of deliverables may be accomplished through peer review. Encourage a constantsearch for best practices where ever they may occur through (a) discussions at state and national meetings, (b) list serves, (c) and possibly through incentives.
Before sending off reports and findings to consulting parties ensure that they are complete and adequate [redoing surveys and creating misunderstandings causes delay].Start your process as early as possible, putting off an action might become delayed through weather, permit changes, and personnel changes.You might think it is a good idea to agree to construction monitoring rather than to conduct additional survey or determine the depth of cultural deposits, but it may not be.Excellent communication fosters shared understanding among team members and consulting parties, encouraging trust and collaboration. NOTE: what makes for excellent communication is not only a skill, but also the knowledge and background to know you say what you want so that it is understood. (i.e., speaking to engineers on NEPA issues)Program PAs usefully identify concurrent rather than sequential reviews as well as agreed-upon review time frames. The best ones set forth streamlined procedures for handling emergencies, discoveries, and treatment of human remains.
Remember that the area of potential effects has three dimensions, the third being depth of your project impacts. See if the depth of project impacts can be limited or reduced through the addition of fill on top of archeological sites. Avoidance of adverse impacts by a project may not be preservation (due to exposure, looting, private development). But if property can be incorporated into a project through purchase or development easements can be arranged, improved stewardship may result. [examples, southern mounds in ROW, Texas mounds in golf courses]Although this can be a challenge to do well, raising awareness of avoided lost or forgotten archeological sites [i.e., community cemeteries] can lead to a re-connection of locals to their past, and a local commitment to stewardship.The growth in the sophistication of technologies available to archeological survey and data recovery has multiplied exponentially since I began my studies as an archeologist. Better survey knowledge now comes from remote sensing, GPS layers, and precise mapping all of which increase the ability to avoid adverse impacts. But these same technologies allow for improved stewardship through better development planning [limiting impacts by future projects] as well as stewardship.
Data recovery normally results in the production of a technical report but the products of public outreach often have greater preservation longevity and influence [i.e., through websites, brochures, podcasts, DVDs, and books]A component of the best educational efforts, be it to project teams, consulting parties, or the public, is emphasizing ways to achieve stewardship [through avoidance, through increasing the understanding and value of the past, or through appreciation of something not thought of previously]. I think I became a better archeologist when I was forced to explain the value of my work and it costs. Once you are a person of a certain age, your education comes mostly from attendance of regional and national conferences. I have found such venues as valuable sources for new best practicesCRM folks don’t usually focus on “publication” as an important product of their work [other than the technical gray literature sort]. We should encourage the publication of synthetic works [culture histories] from CRM as well as commentaries [a la Tom King or ACRA-L list serve] on efforts expended as well as best and risky practices.
Owen Lindauer, Ph.D, RPAOffice of Project Development and Environmental Review Federal Highway Administration
Best Archeological Practices Practices to save money Saving money for the project Saving money for the program Practices that save time Reducing or eliminating sources of delay Practices that increase efficiency Practices that best preserve cultural resources Through avoidance of adverse impacts Through education
Including: Best Treatments of Archeological Record Through preventing unnecessary damage Through well thought out strategies Through research opportunities taken Best Treatments of People Who Care about the Archeological Record Through thoughtful consideration of their concerns Through excellent communication Best Treatments of People Who Care about the Project Through thoughtful consideration their concerns Through excellent planning
Best Practices to save money: Saving money for the project Engage (hire) the best qualified/experienced people Have a plan/process and schedule prepared at the outset Ensure there is excellent communication among those on the project team and with stakeholders Utilize Programmatic Approaches Predictive modeling to limit survey efforts Standardized treatments and sampling
Best Practices to save money:Saving money for your program Consider whether sole source or competitive contract procurements are most cost effective Conduct periodic program assessments on what your program has gained for services provided Develop and implement peer review for contracts and deliverables Encourage the search for efficiencies
Practices that save time: reducingor eliminating sources of delay Ensure adequacy of deliverables Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today Take care in risk-based decision making Ensure there is excellent communication among those on the project team and with stakeholders Utilize Programmatic Approaches Concurrent rather than sequential reviews Establish approaches for handling emergencies, discoveries, handling of human remains
Practices that best preserve culturalresources: through avoidance ofadverse impacts Limit or reduce the depth of project impacts Encourage avoidance as well as long term preservation through incorporation Raise awareness of archeological sites to responsible local groups Make the best use of current technologies
Practices that best preserve culturalresources: through education Share important data recovered through public education Emphasize stewardship through educational outreach Encourage participation of regional and national conferences Enhance preservation through publication