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Preservation of historic landscapes requires an interdisciplinary approach. Understanding and preserving the variety of features found in historic landscapes may require the expertise of architects, archeologists, botanists, and other professionals, in addition to an historical landscape architect. At NCPTT, the Historic Landscapes program also benefits from an interdisciplinary approach.

Landscapes Training

In June, NCPTT hosted in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Brookline Division of Parks and Open Spaces a Cemetery Landscape Preservation Workshop at the Old Burying Ground in Brookline Mass. Twenty-nine participants, including municipal planners, public works foreman, cemetery commissioners, landscape architects, archeologists, and preservation consultants learned the basics of proper cemetery maintenance. The majority of the participants were municipal employees, either directly or indirectly involved in historic cemetery management. As a result of the workshop, these communities are in a better position to make informed planning and maintenance decisions for their cemeteries.

Dan McCarthy discusses tree assessment at the Cemetery Landscape Preservation Workshop.

The Historic Landscapes program and the materials research program are partnering to livestream the lecture “Addressing Landscape Maintenance in Cemeteries” on April 8, 2010. The one-hour lecture provided an overview of landscape maintenance issues and their impact on cemetery historic resources. Topics included landscape documentation, replacing key features, removing invasive plants, mowing and trimming, tree care, and addressing conflicts between historic vegetation and built features. The livestream video will be reformatted for posting on the NCPTT website.

Field Research

The Historic Landscapes program and the Material Research program are also partnering to study the effects of herbicides on masonry. In progress are a preliminary literature review and the development of a survey directed to NPS historic site facility managers. Survey topics will include the types of herbicides used, herbicide application methods, other methods of vegetation removal, and identified masonry condition issues associated with herbicide use. This summer, Caitlin Oshida will join NCPTT as the graduate intern dedicated to the project. Oshida will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Historic Preservation and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from the University of Mary Washington in May 2010.

Historic Landscapes Mobile Documentation App

For several years, NCPTT has been working to develop an electronic field tool for inventorying and assessing the condition of historic landscape features. More recently, the program has worked in partnership with NCPTT’s web developer to create an application for the iPhone and iPod touch – and to now include the recently released iPad. Ideally suited for historic sites that require cyclical monitoring of landscape features, it will also be an effective tool to efficiently assess historic conditions following a natural disaster. In April 2010, Debbie Smith will present the application as a work-in-progress at the annual conference of the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation.

Preservation Maintenance Curriculum

In 2009, the Historic Landscapes Program and the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation partnered to host a roundtable to discuss creation of an historic landscape preservation maintenance curriculum. Fifteen professionals from around the country representing both NPS and non-NPS historic sites met at the Hampton National Historic Site. Discussion among the participants resulted in the first steps towards understanding and identifying the unmet training needs of field staff responsible for the day-to-day preservation of historic landscapes. Of particular interest among participants was the need to convey to maintenance crews the difference between traditional landscape maintenance and maintenance of historic sites. The ‘why we do things’ differently approach.

Roundtable participants gathered at Hampton National Historic Site to discuss development of a landscape preservation maintenance curriculum.

In March, Debbie Smith introduced the landscape preservation maintenance curriculum project to an NPS service-wide meeting of cultural landscape professionals in Shepherdstown, W. Va. The group enthusiastically supported the project – recognizing the need for trained professionals in the field of landscape preservation maintenance. To advance the project, Stephanie Nelson will join NCPTT this summer as a six-month graduate intern. Stephanie brings an interdisciplinary background to the project. She has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and will receive her Master of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University in May 2010.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119