Sen. Mark Udall chairs parks subcommittee meeting with focus on historic and cultural preservation in national parks
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with managing some of America’s greatest natural wonders, the National Park Service is also charged with protecting the nation’s most important historic sites, including archaeological treasure troves like Mesa Verde, Colorado’s only World Heritage site.
But protection of those historic and cultural resources has often taken a back seat to natural resource management, according to the most recent state of the parks report report from the National Parks Conservation Association. Overall, the condition of cultural resources was rated as generally “fair to poor,” with no sites rated as excellent.
The report documents threats to the agency’s historical preservation mission, concluding that, overall, cultural resources are in “serious trouble.” Cultural and historic sites tend to get less funding and often face a lack of qualified interpretive staff. Some are threatened by looting and vandals, according to the report.
Some of those concerns will be addressed during a Nov. 5 field hearing for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s National Parks Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Mark Udall. The hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. through 1 p.m. at the CCC Recreation Hall in Mesa Verde. More info here …
Witnesses include Laura Joss, the Intermountain Region associate director for cultural resources for the National Park Service, Gary Hayes, chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, James Dyer, a former board member of Mesa Verde Foundation, Reno Franklin, chairman of National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and Dr. Gail Dethloff, parks research specialist with the National Parks Conservation Association.
The hearing will cover topics including economic development, natural and human impacts to cultural resources and funding for managing those resources.
The National Park Service preserves and protects about 2 million archaeological sites, 27,000 historic structures, 3,500 historic monuments and 123 million museum objects and archival documents, second only to the Smithsonian Institute’s collections of over 137 million artifacts.