Message #89:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Chaco, Endangered Monument
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 96 10:57:00 MST
Encoding: 206 TEXT

As you may have read in the newspapers, the World Monuments Fund selected 
Chaco Culture National Historical Park and associated archaeological sites 
in New Mexico for its first annual List of 100 Most Endangered Monuments. 
 The list is part of a new 5-year project, entitled World Monuments Watch, 
to identify and preserve the world's endangered cultural landmarks. It is a 
program of the World Monuments Fund, a private not-for-profit organization 
established to help preserve the world's artistic and architectural 

Other sites nominated to the 1996 World Monuments Watch list include a 
Greco-Roman archaeological site in Albania, the Taj Mahal, the Byzantine 
church of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, Tibetan monasteries in Nepal, the 
equestrian monument of Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice, Angkor Wat in 
Cambodia, and the Khami National Monument in Zimbabwe. In the United States, 
selected sites include Ellis Island in New York, the Eastern State 
Penitentiary in Philadelphia, adobe missions of  McKinley County in New 
Mexico, and Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans.

The nomination of Chaco was made with the support of the National Park 
Service by me and a number of archaeologists and other people concerned 
about Chaco's future. As part of the nomination, we were also required to 
develop a proposal that would address its threats.  We did so, as described 
below--essentially a well-facilitated strategic planning effort to bring 
other the diverse stakeholders who are concerned about Chaco to devise 
strategies for its protection.  The World Monuments Fund has a grant from 
American Express that will help some but not all of the listed monuments. 
 Not all sites on the list will receive financial assistance; the grants 
will not be announced until the end of May.  Even if the Chaco project gets 
funded, it will need augmentation from other sources.  It will also require 
the participation, on a largely volunteer basis, of many other people who 
want to add their knowledge and expertise to this effort.

This memo will provide some information about Chaco, the nature of the 
threats to the area and our proposed project.  If you would like to be added 
to our Chaco e-mail  list to be kept posted on our acuities, please send me 
a private e-mail message to: 

Snail Mail Address:
CEHP Incorporated, 1627 K Street NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20006
Phone:  202-293-1774     FAX:  202-293-1782

Chaco Canyon and its associated archaeological sites are unique and 
extraordinary examples of a culture's ability to adapt and flourish in a 
harsh environmental setting. The basin has been used for thousands of years 
by nomadic groups of hunters and gathers (as evidenced by elusive 
PaleoIndian and Archaic cultural remains), sedentary ancestral Pueblo 
agriculturalists, and Spanish, American, and Indian peoples from the 16th 
century through the present.

The Chaco Canyon ruins were proclaimed a National Monument by President 
Theodore Roosevelt in  1907.  Most of the monument's large "town sites" were 
listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966 and 
in 1980, the U.S. Congress redesignated  the monument as the 33,989-acre 
"Chaco Culture National Cultural Park" and designated 33 outlying sites as 
"Chaco Culture Archeological Protection Sites"(Public Law 96-550).  In 1995, 
Congress added 6 areas to the list of protection sites, bringing the total 
to 39 on 14,372 acres.

The park-- including Kin Bineola, Kin Ya'a, and Pueblo Pintado 
outliers--along with Aztec Ruins National Monument, also administered by the 
National Park Service, and selected outlier sites on lands administered by 
the Bureau of Land Management are also on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

As we stressed in the nomination of Chaco to the list of endangered 
monuments, the Chaco ruins face a number of dire threats, several of such an 
immediate nature that the very qualities that make Chaco unique are in 
danger of being lost. Although the types of threats stem from natural as 
well as human causes, the solutions to both types require human 
intervention--and soon. Among the naturally caused threats are water from 
summer thunderstorms that seeps into masonry joints and winter snow 
accumulations that melt and trickle down into the walls sections. Extreme 
temperature, wind storms, accumulation of sand in the wall, xeric plant 
species, and livestock all add to the threat. The National Park Service has 
documented in its recent strategic plan, "Vanishing Treasures," that the 
ruins are deteriorating at a rate which far exceeds the Service's efforts to 
maintain them.

Although the naturally-caused threats are extreme and the most immediately 
obvious, it is the human-created threats that may ultimately cause the most 
severe problems. These threats center around the adverse impacts of tourism 
and the lack of a comprehensive planning strategy among the various agencies 
and groups involved in the care and management of the archaeological 
resources. The ruins are extremely fragile and easily damaged by vehicular 
and pedestrian traffic. Although both types of traffic are heavily 
controlled through park policy, the sheer increase in the annual number of 
vehicles and people visiting the park results in accelerated deterioration. 
In response to increased visitation, the National Park Service has attempted 
to control visitor access and to keep up with ruins deterioration, but has 
fallen short due to budget limitations and factors relating to the 
sustaining capacity of the ruins themselves.  The Park Service recently 
resorted to testing new techniques such as backfilling ruins. Backfilling, 
however, will drastically change the character of the visitor's experience 
and some archaeologists are concerned about the long-term effects of 
backfilling on the ruins themselves.

Road improvements pose an especially severe and imminent threat.  Currently 
the direct routes into Chaco are unpaved. However, improvements in nearby 
roads in the basin have already increased access to the park and its 
environs; further improvements closer to the park could increase visitation 
exponentially. While most visitors are law-abiding, improved access brings 
with it the likelihood of inadvertent damage as well as deliberate site 
vandalism and looting in previously remote areas. Road improvements are not 
solely tied to tourism, but involve the region's economic development 
interests, health and safety concerns of local residents, and retrieval of 
energy resources by oil, natural gas, and coal companies. The result is the 
same. More people will visit the area endangering the ruins and stressing 
the ability of their owners to protect them. The intangible visitor 
experience is also threatened by development, looting, and over-visitation.

These problems are exacerbated by having many different federal, state, 
tribal, and private interests controlling the stewardship of these 
resources.  No single agency is responsible for considering the 
environmental and cultural impacts of such projects.  Road construction or 
resource development projects are planned by state and local agencies, by 
federal land management agencies, and by Indian tribal agencies, in response 
to needs that each group perceives as important to their interests. 
 Although agencies do coordinate some projects and conduct environmental 
reviews, as required under federal and state statutes, there is no 
comprehensive context in which cumulative impacts to cultural resources can 
be assessed, conflicts resolved, and management strategies developed and 
implemented. In addition, rapidly expanding oil and gas development in the 
region is causing imminent threats to the ruins.  Meanwhile, the concerned 
public is largely unaware of what is happening.

Several steps are needed to develop and implement an effective protection 
plan for Chaco. Following are four initial stages that we identified.  Of 
these, only number 1 is addressed in the project proposal, based on the 
WMF's limited funding (which must be augmented by other sources of support, 
from cash or in-kind contributions). Additional sources of funds are needed 
for the other stages.

Stage 1. CONSENSUS RUINS PRESERVATION STRATEGY.  All interested parties help 
develop common goals and objectives for Chacoan ruins preservation (see 
description below).

agreed to by the interested parties involved in the Stage 1 ruins 
preservation strategy workshop, implements the results of the workshop and 
develops criteria for identifying and evaluating archaeological site 

Stage 3. RUINS PRESERVATION TRAINING PROGRAM.  CEHP Incorporated has joined 
the Partners in Parks to develop a workshop in masonry ruins preservation to 
develop a compendium of best practices on preservation techniques and a 
curriculum for the training of skilled masonry preservation crafts people. 
 This program compliments stages 1 and 2 providing a solution to specific 
problems already known to exist for archaeological sites in the San Juan 
Basin and elsewhere in the world.

Stage 4. DEVELOPMENT OF CITIZEN SUPPORT. As part of Stage 1, opportunities 
will be identified for developing a citizens support organization, composed 
of both local stakeholders and others outside the area--scientists, 
conservation advocates, etc--to promote the protection of the park and the 
associated Chaco sites in the region. Funding will be sought to organize and 
promote such an organization.

The proposal requested funding for stage 1, developing a consensus ruins 
preservation strategy. The project will: (1) Identify the intents, 
interests, and threats that will affect the ruins in the foreseeable future, 
(2) Develop strategies to avoid or mitigate negative impacts to the ruins, 
and (3) Explore implementation strategies to meet the interests of both 
public and private stakeholders. These stakeholders include private 
landowners or corporations, public and tribal agencies, and profit and 
non-profit interest groups.

The project will first identify and interview stakeholders and delineate 
their particular intents and interests. A facilitated workshop will be held 
to develop a broad-based strategy for addressing the problems facing the 
region's significant cultural resources. A workshop report will be prepared 
that describes and analyzes the strategies and alternatives discussed during 
the workshop and, after its distribution for review and comment, a final 
Consensus Strategy Report will be readied for all parties to sign.

We are seeking people and organizations and potential donors to help with 
these projects.  To assure protection of Chaco could be a massive 
undertaking, of which this effort is merely a beginning. Anyone who would 
like to work on it is most welcomed.

To begin getting things underway, we want to go ahead and start forming a 
"Friends of Chaco" group that will draw upon residents of the area and as 
well as nationally to provide support, funding for projects, heighten 
visibility, and involve the public.  We are seeking interested persons and 
organizations to participate in the project.  The National Parks and 
Conservation Association is hosting a grassroots conference in and for the 
Southwest  in Albuquerque, NM May 17-19 bring together park advocates and 
community leaders in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. The purpose is 
to share information, build networks and skills, and emphasize citizen 
responsibility for parks. We think this would be an excellent forum to 
stimulate interest in a friends' group for Chaco.

For information call 1-800-NAT-PARK, ext. 221 or contact Dave Simon, NPCA's 
southwestern director,  based in Albuquerque.
Phone: (505) 247-1221, or fax (505) 247-1222.  Dave's e-mail address: