With a grant from NCPTT, the University of Oregon created a draft manual for management response to the impacts of climate change on cultural landscapes. This is a work in progress and the manual is projected to be available in the fall of 2016. The manual is based on a review of climate literature, cultural landscape documentation and evaluation procedures, and field work at six national parks in 2014: Saint Gaudens National Historic Site; Jacob Riis Park, Gateway, National Recreation Area; Valley Forge National Historic Park; Dyke Marsh, George Washington Memorial Parkway; Rapidan Camp, Shenadoah National Park; and Portsmouth Village, Cape Lookout National Seashore. The cultural landscape sites were selected based on their ecological and landscape type diversity.
The manual proposes a decision tree that includes three major stages: research, planning and stewardship. It also proposes seven non-exclusive adaptation options which may be engaged by site managers: no active intervention, offset stresses, improve resilience, mange change, relocate/facilitate movement, document and do not intervene, and interpret the change.
The manual argues that cultural landscapes, recognized throughout the NPS system, are experiencing serious impacts from both climate change events (such as hurricanes and storms) and trends (such as drought) and that there is a need to make often difficult management decisions about the future management and protection of these valued places. The seven proposed adaptation options are intended to serve as a general guideline for site managers, recognizing that each site faces other pressures as well, including budget, personnel availability, planning priorities, and available knowledge.
The work is grounded in established NPS policies and procedures for both Cultural Landscapes Inventories and Cultural Landscape Reports, as well as the NPS Director’s memo 14-02 on Climate Change and Stewardship of Cultural Resources.
The project was conducted by Principal Investigator Robert Melnick, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon, and two advanced graduate students, with the participation and cooperation of a number of NPS personnel, including site managers at all six park sites; the Park Cultural Landscapes Program Manager; the NPS Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator for Cultural Resources; the Chief, Resource Planning and Compliance, NPS Northeast Region; and the Cultural Landscapes Inventory Coordinator, NPS Pacific West Region.