This presentation is part of the online document Acknowledging Landscapes: Presentations from the National Register Landscape Initiative.
Jill Cowley: Thank you, Susan, and also thank you and welcome to everybody who’s on the phone. Thanks for being in the group today and thinking of your questions. I’ll be talking about, and following from Susan and Beth’s presentations, about some additional challenges, multiple historic themes related to representing cultural landscapes on the National Register, more examples of vegetation as contributing, landscape characterized as a site, pros and cons of that, and also, as part of that last discussion, different ways of structuring Section 7 of the nomination.
Multiple historic themes: To accurately represent a landscape with a complex history, the nomination may need to address several historic themes. The example I’m using here is Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico, where the period of significance is over 12,000 years and there are primary park resources relating to and dating from a number of different community and cultural interactions with the landscape: Puebloan, Spanish, Mexican, Civil War activities, and Euro-American ranching.
These resources, as you can see in the picture, physically overlay each other, and some are actually constructed on top of each other, so separating nominations by historic theme or cultural group would, especially in a case like this, artificially divide the landscape, and information would be difficult to apply to management. I know that a lot of nominations do combine and integrate historic themes.
We’ll look at an example of where there’s been a discussion with the State Historic Preservation Office about what is and is not appropriate. Here, we’re at Casa Grande National Monument in southern Arizona, a desert environment. On the top, two pictures are representative images of the archaeological historic theme. Down at the bottom is more of the historic theme, the New Deal Era development. Actually, one thing that I did not have a picture for, but it’s the third historic theme, is 19th and 20th century Euro-American exploration of this area and preliminary archaeological investigations.
From the Park Service perspective, as we did the cultural-landscape inventory, we wanted to … And from the Parks perspective, we wanted to integrate all three of these and do a nomination that would cover all park resources. This is a small unit of the Park Service, and as you can see by the lower two pictures, the historic and prehistoric resources are almost … I mean, they’re co-located. They’re really integrated, so we wanted to integrate.
The State Historic Preservation Office did not want to do that. They want to … They recommend and support separating out the archaeological from the historic. In other words, the first historic theme, the Hohokam Settlement, remains from that period would be addressed in a separate nomination from the historic, the 19th century and New Deal Era development. While I can understand their position that they want these separate, because of the way these resources are so integrated physically on the ground, it might lead to difficulties in management. Another factor here is the archaeogicaly resources are a primary resource, and while the historic New Deal Era, the historic designed landscape, is significant, it’s considered a secondary resource. That’s another example.
We’ll take a look at some specific examples of the importance of vegetation, in addition to other biotic resources, as key to landscape character and the importance of identifying them as contributing resources in nominations so that they have equal importance to structures and they can be addressed adequately in Section 106 compliance.
If we go back to Casa Grande, the top two pictures. On the upper left, we see the vegetation patterns earlier during the period of significance. This is from the 19th century. The native mesquite shrubs are present and abundant. On the right, we see conditions as they are today. With the lowering of the water table, a lot of this native shrub has died off and, of course, there’s a subsequent considerable loss in integrity and change in the historic landscape character.
Down at the bottom, we have the issue of the museum area and within the historic designed landscape. In order to preserve the integrity of this landscape, which plants are contributing and which are not? Because, as in the excerpt from the 2012 draft nomination at the bottom, you can see the last sentence, “The combination of planting both native and exotic plants within the Monument occurred throughout the district’s period of significance.” I must emphasize that this is from the draft nomination, a recent draft. I’m not even sure it’s been to the State Historic Preservation Office yet.
In other words, without specific information in the nomination on which of these species of plants are contributing resources and which are not, again, there’s not enough information for the parks to be able to manage integrity. While parks may have a cultural landscape inventory or report that does detail these, often, sometimes parks go straight to the National Register nomination for that information. Now we’re down in Arizona at Petrified Forest National Park.
This is a historic designed landscape, another historic designed landscape in a desert environment. Sometimes, the lack of something is a contributing resource. Upper left is a period-of-significance photo of the intent of this designed landscape: sparse use of native species. On the right, you can see that, I think during the Mission 66 period, some junipers were added in symmetrical fashion. Also, as illustrated in the photo at the bottom, sparse and selective use of clusters of shade trees are characteristic and contributing in this landscape. More extensive use of shade trees is not. So again, in order for parks to manage these landscape resources to retain integrity, they need to know what’s contributing and what’s not.
A good example of addressing vegetation as a contributing resource, we go back to Capitol Reef National Park, the Fruita Rural Historic District nomination, and I’ve included some excerpts from the 1997 nomination. On the left is a section on contributing resources. This is not section 7 – Well, it’s part of section 7. It’s the specific list of contributing resources. Agriculture resources, specific orchards and fields are listed as contributing resources, and they’re characterized as sites, so that’s very helpful. There’s some description of each of these.
On the right, the excerpt on the right actually identifies two specific trees. You see they highlight the Mail Tree and its companion tree. These are the two trees that were by the mail drop area in this landscape. The fact that these are specifically listed in the nomination is very, very helpful, in addition to the CLI and the CLR. It’s very helpful to park management when it comes to Section 106 evaluations.
We’ve talked a little bit about terminology, and I want to talk a little bit about one of the workarounds that folks in the Cultural Landscapes Program have been using is to characterize a landscape, either a whole landscape or a part of a landscape, as a site to at least get it on the list of contributing resources. We’re going to go back to Casa Grande, and on the right, right under the photograph, you can see a site plan. The pink area is the archaeological resources in this particular area of the Monument. The blue and green represent the Visitor and Operations Complex.
Now if you go right to the left, you’ll see that this area, this whole area, is identified as one site in the list of contributing resources. Now, if you go down to the excerpt from section 7, you can see that this contributing site includes all landscape characteristics except for buildings and structures. This becomes problematic, as has been mentioned previously, because if we go back to the list, this whole site in all its complexity is treated on an equal par with specific structures. This can be problematic, the unequal representation and the fact of combining a lot of elements like circulation and vegetation that are equally if not more important, depending on the landscape, as an individual structure.
Sometimes identifying a landscape or an area within a landscape as a site can be appropriate. We’re now at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. You can see the landscape context with a larger current landscape on the bottom. The other two pictures are an area along the main park road where there’s a cluster of trees, and it’s a building foundation that is the remains of a historic store site. Now this more limited geographic scale and complexity, the identification of this little resource cluster here as a site, that might be appropriate.
Moving from and related to describing landscapes as a site is how section 7 of a nomination’s physical description is structured. I want to compare three different kinds of how to structure Section 7 as a jumping-off point for discussion. The first is, as I discussed in the Casa Grande National Monument example with the Visitor and Operations Complex, representing landscapes as a contributing site, a combination of the site, everything that does not include structures, and structures. That’s one way to do it. In my mind, this really doesn’t address landscapes as holistically and as well as should be done and has been discussed by Susan and Beth.
Better, as in the case of the Fruita Rural Historic District nomination and the Rainbow Forest Determination of Eligibility, is describing, within section 7, each landscape characteristic and also having a couple paragraphs on synthesizing all those together in a description of overall landscape character. In this way, each landscape characteristic, vegetation, circulation features, and so forth, are considered individually, not lumped together as a site.
Comparing this with best, or maybe not best, but even better, is to list specific landscape patterns and features, including specific vegetation, in the list of contributing resources within the nomination. Here, I’m comparing an excerpt from the nomination for the Kohrs Ranch House landscape at Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Montana. Here in their list of contributing resources in the nomination, you’ll notice they have natural/cultural landscape listed as a contributing site.
This is great to have this in the list of contributing resources. However, a manager or a cultural resources manager is looking at this, saying, “Okay, this is a contributing resource. I need to preserve it, but what particular elements within that natural/cultural landscape need to be preserved?” So additional information is needed. While this additional information might be descriptions and so forth might be included in the section 7 narrative, I think it would be very helpful to have at least specific features included in the list of contributing resources.
For example, the excerpt below, this is from the cultural landscape inventory for the same landscape and identifying specific vegetation features. For example, front lawn turf grass is an individual element. Then, in the CLI, there’s a list of about ten of these. I’ve just excerpted two. Another one is cottonwood trees planted on a grid pattern. Having this specifically listed both indicates that the cottonwood trees are significant and their spatial organization, how they’re arranged in a grid pattern. Having that information in the nomination, in addition to the CLI and CLR, would be very helpful.