This presentation is part of the online document Acknowledging Landscapes: Presentations from the National Register Landscape Initiative.
Astrid Liverman: I appreciate this opportunity, again, to present our initiatives relating to landscape nominations. I do speak principally from the perspective of the Preservation Planning Unit in our office, which oversees national and state register survey and statewide preservation planning. We do have our 2020 State Action Plan for preservation that was approved in November 2010. Goal A deals principally with preserving the places that matter. You’ll see here from the introduction, we do allude to historic and cultural landscapes as being among the most threatened resources in our state due to development pressure. In the visioning for the state plan, it was indicated that “an aggressive survey effort will have yielded a greater understanding of the cultural landscape in our state by 2020.”
We have a couple of related initiatives that our unit and partners are undertaking under goal A. Notably, updating the survey manual to better address landscape components, because landscapes are considered, specifically, to be threatened and underrepresented resources. With that, our staff is seeking opportunities to actively engage in landscape training. We participated in October in Portland, Oregon, in Nancy Brown’s National Preservation Institute landscape preservation courses.
Moving back to October of 2011, we held a two day workshop featuring twenty-six speakers in collaboration with Barbara Wyatt, of the National Park Service. It was entitled “Cultural Landscapes in the Western United States.” We had over 175 folks in attendance from federal, state, and tribal agencies, our review board consultants, and participants from far away as Alaska. Some of the topics that were addressed during the workshop included linear landscapes, specifically the Santa Fe Trail, the Hispanic-Latino Legacy landscape in Colorado, in the San Luis Valley, nominating design landscapes focusing on CCC camps, significance and integrity in evocative landscapes with the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, and nominating traditional cultural places to the National Register, with a focus on Mount Taylor. We addressed new energy initiatives: wind and solar, and the archaeology of landscapes. We did have a posting of the video components from that workshop up on our History Colorado website. It is currently down as we change license platforms, but I can provide that link when it’s back up.
At that 2011 workshop, we also debuted a new historic cultural landscape survey form, in an effort to have notably consultants under the Section 106 process but, in general, everyone participating in preservation in our state better recognizes those types of broader resources in the field. We are currently working with volunteers on model form samples for various landscape types for web posting, because in the upcoming year we hope to create a website with guidance, a bibliography, and sample National Register nominations from our state. We have been partnering with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Historic Preservation Officers since 2009 when he assumed that title. There are a number of larger archaeological districts and ethnographic landscapes on reservation land for the Ute Mountain Ute that are both listed and not. They have management concerns. They have appealed to us to talk about those types of resources.
Our Colorado Historic Preservation Review Board – we have actively solicited landscape expertise for our board membership, notably Ann Mullins who is currently the Colorado/Wyoming, HALS Coordinator. She provided a landscape training session to her board colleagues last January 2012, and our in January 2013 training and orientation for review board members will also feature a small highlight on landscape architecture as an area of significance. Board members now routinely request landscape context for all of our National Register nominations, which we really appreciate and use actively as a tool to remind consultants and preparers that our board will ask, and we want to see this type of information in our nominations.
Through our History Colorado State Historical Fund, which is a grant program for historic preservation funded in part through limited high stakes gambling revenue, we have been able to award several grants that focused on survey and nomination of large scale ranching, homesteading, and transportation rural historic landscapes. Specifically, the Santa Fe Trail project which will make use of the newly amended multi state MPDFs, which recognizes the centrality of settings, topography, wet or dry water ways, vegetation, and view sets as key to the trail experience at these sites, specifically Bent’s New Ford, Iron Springs, and Fort Wise. Also, down in southeastern Colorado, surveys have been conducted in the past couple of years that are tantamount to countywide reconnaissance, some of which will also be resulting in MPDFs and nominations of large scale agricultural rural historic landscapes associated with ranching and homesteading. We’ve been using these nominations to highlight more holistic view of complex use of outbuilding buildings, the function of the working landscape: sensing, grazing, and irrigation.
These are some of our more recent nominations that have been successful and had a heavily landscape-oriented component. We do have a couple of MPDFs in our state that deal with landscape issues, notably the mining industry in Colorado, Denver Mountain Parks, Denver Park and Parkway Systems Thematic Resource nomination, the Agricultural Resources of Boulder County, and Historic Residential Subdivisions of Metropolitan Denver, 1940-1965. I won’t go into any of these specific nominations, but I do have brief synopses if anybody is interested in sort of seeing how we have been constructing some of those arguments.
These are some of the challenging or more complex nominations that we’ve been dealing with recently, as well. This is the Reiling Dredge in Summit County, outside of Breckenridge. It’s a [inaudible] connected bucket dredge, and it’s associated intact mining landscape. The dredge operated between 1908 and 1922, when it sprung a leak and settled in its pond. It’s believed to be, from our office’s perspective, nationally significant based on research to date and to comparable properties nationally. The mining landscape includes the dredge pond, the dredge, archaeological remnants of a residential complex, as well as bucket line housing and superstructure frame remnants, refuse scatter privy pits, and an extensive setting of distinctive boulder-like dredge tailings piles, some of which are up to 20 feet high.
This has been somewhat of a contentious issue in that on the lower portion of this slide, in the red circle, you’ll see an outlined feature. That’s the dredge pond itself. There’s a lot of competing management issues for this property. A lot of folks were identifying, initially, the boundary as simply the dredge pond itself, whereas the larger outline that you see on that lower slide are the extent of the tailings piles. The red outline is the boundary that our office has been suggesting for the actual National Register Nomination, if ultimately this project results in that. Some of the management considerations of this site which compete include gravel extraction, which could provide funding for stream restoration.
Initial estimates indicate that each acre of gravel extracted is worth approximately $100,000, to which we counter the dredge piles may have monetary value but it is also an irreplaceable resource, in terms of the landscape. This property was also purchased as public open space, so arguably historic preservation considerations were not only at hand when that purchase was made. Yes, the issue of stream restoration and the habitat for the cutthroat trout. Currently, in partnership between the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance and the History Colorado State Historical Fund, Slater Paul Architects is developing a preservation master plan that will go through some of these various options for the boundaries. This is where we’re at, at present.
Some of the other upcoming complex nominations that we have are for the Tarryall Road Rural Historic District, which is a forty-one mile corridor with twenty-nine thousand plus acres. This project originated as a CLG grant, and it is to be nominated under A, C, and D for agriculture, architecture, exploration and settlement, recreation and tourism, transportation, historic non-aboriginal archaeology for the period 1862-1964. The consultant in Park County who is leading this initiative has actually applied for and successfully received a State Historical Fund grant to address some considerations with the nomination. The previous surveys, in 1995 and 2010, didn’t really adequately address landscape characteristics so we’re reworking Section 7 to work on that. The description of the ranch headquarters focused almost exclusively on the built environment to the exclusion of other landscape characteristics. We’re working on that, as well as providing additional information on how many acres are required to raise a cow and calf, the average size of the herd in this area, where the cattle were grazed, irrigation and hay meadows, hay storage, and how much pasture land was actually owned by the ranchers and how much open range land was required in turn.
These are some of the common nomination challenges that we’ve been experiencing in our state: notably, as I just alluded to, encouraging preparers to look past the actual ranch headquarters to see how the landscape functioned as a working landscape, lack of expertise in vegetation identification, promoting setting description in all nominations and some preparer resistance to augmenting those descriptions, educating field surveyors to address routinely these small-scale landscape features. Oftentimes, we’ll get the draft nomination and our staff will go out on the site visit and then we’ll try to assist by pointing out some of these additional features that apparent on the landscape to augment the nomination. Lack of understanding regarding the analysis of spatial organization, describing the landscapes of cemeteries, and then it’s cut off a bit in this slide but we do also have Senate Bill 1289 which is state legislation which restricts nomination of water-related structures and requires additional notification to all owners of water rights.
For any National Register Nomination that includes a well, a ditch, or anything of that nature, we file a water court resume and those water rights owners are also provided the opportunity to object. That limits, in certain cases, our ability to nominate a larger landscape. At the time that I gave this last time, these were pending nominations. These have actually all recently been listed in December on the National Register. These are coming out the State Historical Fund grant to do reconnaissance level surveying in Philips country. These are all between 160 and 320 acres, original homestead components.
Upcoming nominations are these: the Cherryvale Agricultural District in Boulder, I think is about thirteen hundred acres, comprising multiple ranches that are still actively ranched but they are also Boulder County open space. The Varro Sheep Ranch which is subsistence-level sheep raising, homestead filed in 1904 by an Hispanic family who arrived in Colorado from New Mexico. It would be nominated under agriculture, architecture, and non-aboriginal historic archaeology.
Barbara Wyatt: I want to ask you a quick question. You have, I believe, done a number of multiple property nominations that deal with landscape. Could you just maybe tell us a sampling of what these are and if you feel that they’ve been pretty successful?
Astrid: The landscape is definitely something that we’ve been asking folks to consider with all new MPDF’s that has been coming in. The San Juan mining and MPDF, which is a county-specific, we also have a state-wide mining context, but a county-specific that includes, specifically, guidance and registration requirements for nominating the mining district as a holistic landscape. Routinely, most of those nominations will come in and address the tailings piles, the [inaudible], and other hydraulic mining elements. It’s been fairly successful. We’re just starting to see a rash of MPDFs that will be coming in this upcoming year, one for Philips County and one for ranching and homesteading in the Purgatoire River Region. Both of those, presumably, will also include specific guidance for rural historic landscapes. We’re definitely trying to make sure that all of our nomination preparers are attuned to it. Some of the older MPDFs that do address landscapes are actually surprisingly comprehensive. The Denver Mountain Parks and the Denver Parks and Parkway Systems are extremely specific in terms of identifying landscape features for each park and indicating what elements can be considered contributing. That’s been very helpful.