This presentation was part of A Century of Design in the Parks Symposium, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 21-23, 2016.
By Laurie Matthews, ASLA
As one of only two Recreation Demonstration Areas built in the western part of the United States and one of only two that remain intact nationwide, Mendocino Woodlands is a rare and complete example of the planning, design and craft of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) era. As a camp that still enjoys its historic use today, the threats to this National Historic Landmark don’t come from adaptive reuse. Instead the dense redwood forest that continues to mature and the flowing streams rich with life that braid through the site both contribute to this cultural landscape’s character and are contributing to its loss. In addition, the site is struggling financially and has been at the short end of funding streams in a region that often prizes its natural resources over its cultural ones. These are not isolated issues, but systemic of the types of challenges facing historic properties located in sensitive complex landscapes. The solution is not to continue conserving one resource at the detriment of another, but looking at the resource more holistically and developing preservation and conservation strategies that sustain the character of this property.
Laurie Matthews, ASLA, is Director of Preservation Planning + Design at MIG, Inc. and specializes in research, analysis and developing collaborative design solutions for cultural landscapes across the United States including projects at Point Reyes National Seashore, Yosemite National Park, Hearst Castle, and Marshlands Conservancy. Prior to joining MIG, Ms. Matthews worked for the National Park Service’s Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation. She has an M.L.A and B.L.A from the University of Oregon, and a B.A. from Lewis & Clark College, and her work has garnered national and regional awards. She currently serves as Oregon’s representative for the Historic American Landscape Survey and is President of Oregon ASLA.