This presentation is part of the online document Acknowledging Landscapes: Presentations from the National Register Landscape Initiative.
Mary Hopkins: We’ve done several different landscape initiatives. We had a statewide committee which I believe Nancy Brown actually participated … was a participant in that committee and many of the other federal agencies so throughout that effort of that group, we’ve held two landscape workshops, one, in Pinedale Wyoming, where we brought Barbara and Nancy both as presenters to do training exercise for our contractors and consultants with federal agencies.
Then last year in Rawlins, Wyoming we held a follow-up session on Wyoming landscapes, but expanded to some degree because we also brought tribal members in to discuss tribal landscapes and had presentations by the Northern Arapaho and the Ute Tribe representatives at our conference. We’ve also looked at landscape efforts along the National Historic Trails in our state, specifically the Oregon Trail, the Cherokee Trail, and the Overland Trail.
That is ongoing. We have not done any formal nominations to date or done any multiple property documents yet for any of those National Historic Trails, but it’s something that we do have on our radar; we would like to get those things completed. We have context written but we have not turned that into actual nominations yet.
The first property is related to historic ranching, ranching practices in the state of Wyoming. It’s the Green River Trails Traditional Cultural Property. It is located near Pinedale, Wyoming, which is in the middle of the upper Green River Basin. It’s extremely harsh environment. The growing season in Pinedale is about thirty to forty days. It’s a very short growing season and in winter, it’s a very, very extreme environment.
The upper Green River Cattlemen Association was established in the 1890s, so this property has been in use pretty much by the same families that originally home settled in the area.
Brian Beadles: The way the drift works is that in the spring, the ranchers will drive their cattle up to the north to grazing allotments that they hold on BLM land, or Forest Service, or on the private allotments. In the fall as the weather starts to change, the cattle know it’s time to come home so they start drifting back down through the drift, which is why it’s call a drift, the cows just drift back down. Along the way, there’s what are called cut grounds, or counting areas, where the cowboy and ranching families come out and they’ll separate some of the herds and do a count of the cattle as they drift down.
Mary: We did an umbrella multiple property document form about four years ago on ranching, farming, and a home setting in Wyoming that covered the period of 1860 to 1960, because the end of the period is significant of the drift is to the present. We did not formally nominate it under that MPDF but it is connected to that document. The drift has a total of sixty-one contributing resources. Actually everything on the drift is contributing, including the stock drive, trails, the corrals, the bridges, the underpass, everything.
Brian: In counting resources, we did the by the trail up into I believe seventeen segments. Those segments were based more or less on the distance that would take to drive the cattle in a day. I say more or less because that’s not always a consistent number. It varies on conditions of the season, what the vegetation is like for that particular season, the nature of the cattle, the number of cattle and that sort of thing.
We tried to do, basically more or less on a day’s worth of travel and we had the segments end at places that are known and named places, there were named and known by the local ranchers that use the drift.
Mary: All of the names of the places are … If someone would say I’ll meet you at the Cora Y, everyone knows immediately where that place is and what it is.
This is a very bad map. I apologize but those red squares are six miles by six miles, or a township, so that the drift extends just a little over fifty-eight miles and then there are additional forty-one miles of spur lines so most of the homesteads and the ranches are on the southern portion the basin and they gather the cattle at each of the ends of this candle-like spurs and then push them up all together communally to where they go on to the National Forest.
Brian: Prior to starting the drive up the trail, the ranching families will gather and they’ll set time tables to say that this family will start on this day, the next family will start on this day, so that there is some to it order as they’re driving up.
Mary: It’s been a tradition and a really true economic essential to the ranching community in their upper Green River Basin.
This is just an example of one of the contributing structures, maybe not one of the most scenic of the contributing structure along the property, but this is the underpass under Highway 191, right at the Cora Y.
The sketch map next to it shows the Cora Y cut grounds and then we actually have residential areas next to this and other roads that cross down to the large oil and gas fields in the Pinedale area. This is the area of the largest oil and gas production in the forty-eight states so the Jonah and Pinedale Anticline are highly developed gas fields. There’s a lot of traffic along these roads.
Actually the drift does go through the Jonah and the Anticline and so this has already been in existence with the change in the setting and the time and the use of this property throughout its history. The Cora Y is the place where if you’re coming as a tourist to this location, where you can actually see the cattle drift. It’s becoming more and more popular for people in the fall to come and stop and watch the cattle come back down on their own, back down to the allotments, and where they then are given back up to the ranch owners, they’re all branded so they divide up the cattle back out as the ownership is appropriate.
Brian: This shows some various scenes from along the drift. That bridge in the bottom right, the cattle actually to do walk across that bridge, it’s stronger than it looks. This shows some of the various things that you see. You can see in the top picture in a lot places that the drift is very well defined as there’s a trail that you can see on the landscape. But we still had the usual issues with defining the boundaries and in doing that, we found it was very helpful and a great need to develop really good maps, like in the last slide, there’s that map that showed the cut grounds and the corridor. In defining those boundaries, it was very helpful to have a series of good maps that help us to strongly define what those boundaries are going to be.
I also want to point out that throughout the process, on this since federal agencies owned land along the way, there’s state land along the way, there’s private land along the way, and where there is development, oil and gas development, there is some pressure for residential development in the area that was a vital need to involve all these parties along the way in various stages of consultation.
We had, I won’t even count how many meetings with BLM and the Forest Service, the Wyoming Department of Transportation. We also public meetings up in Pinedale, which is a typical since it is an incorporated community, and then once the nomination was in draft form, we made those draft nominations available at the library in Pinedale and also the library in Big Piney, which is another community in the area. Just to make sure that everybody was apprised of what was going on and we got comments from all of those parties that can be involved with the drift.
Mary: Being as large as this property is, the boundaries were very challenging and we utilized man-made as well as natural features to create the boundaries. The boundary in the width of the trail, the drift trail itself varies based upon topography. Cows spread out; they don’t have anything to inhibit them. They’re going to spread out along that trail.
The local politics are very interesting. There is an interesting relationship between the upper Green River Cattlemen’s Association and other cattlemen in the area. Not all ranchers in the area belong to that cattlemen’s association. The association of the federal government, mainly the Bureau of Land Management who manages all of the grazing leases across the BLM lands and the local ranchers and just federal land management policy is always being questioned in Wyoming.
All of the National Register misconceptions that you can ever have about having something listed on the National Register arose that we’d never be able to change the drift or things would not be able to be installed along the drift as this happen so we’ve worked on trying to do public education on those misconceptions. Of course, counting and identifying the resources was also challenging. How do we count the segments of trails? How do we count the various features along the trail? We’re working on an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management for the future management of this property and we’re working with them to develop a programmatic agreement that covers any changes or alterations to the drift itself.
Mainly, we’re going to be looking at affects to those types of properties that are more structures. We don’t have any buildings on this particular a … we have one building.
Brian: There is one building that’s listed as part of this, it’s a discontinuous item.
Mary: Okay. Others are just structures. Mostly the bridges and the gates, the fencing at the Cora Y is pretty interesting. It is World War I barbed wire, and that still completely intact there at the Cora Y. So, those are the challenges of the drift. Happy it was listed. I have to give kudos to Laura Nolan who was on our staff, who wrote this nomination and did the research and also to Jonita Sommers who is the local rancher that brought this to us and did a tremendous amount of research on the property.
I had meant to add one quote about this out of the nomination that’s why we feel strongly that it is a traditional cultural property and this is from one of the ranchers named Rhonda Swain and she said “it’s a story about joys and sorrows and about helping out your neighbors, it’s the story about close working relationships and it’s good times and bad. Last but not least, it’s a story about dedication to and love for the way of life that we have chosen.” It is really inherent in the culture of that valley and those people that live there for the 155 years that they had used the drift.
The next property that we wanted to highlight today is the JO Ranch Rural Historic Landscape. This property is owned by the Bureau of Land Management. I don’t know when they acquired it because originally it was a private ranch. The last owner I believe was George Salisbury who was a really well-known local rancher in the Baggs area.
BLM now owns this property. Its twenty-four miles northeast of Baggs, Wyomingand is in the Washakie Basin. It’s really truly in the middle of nowhere. It’s along the Rawlins-Baggs Road and the Rawlins-Baggs Road was established at the end of Union Pacific Railroad and when the reservation period began and it was the way to transport goods from Fort Fred Steele to Meeker, Colorado and it was a freighting road.
There are seventeen total contributing resources on the property and one non-contributing building. Its period of significance is 1885 to 1964, when the property was finally sold and no longer occupied. It does retain excellent integrity and we nominated under Criterion A and C.
The boundaries of the property contain over 353 acres. Usually, boundaries can be complicated but because this ranch sits in the bottom of Cow Creek and there are relatively small ridges, not high ridges but ridges along that property that it helps to define the landscape itself and the boundary of the property.
Brian: In this case, there is a lot of the original fencing that was still there and to help to identify the boundaries and also they found that you could identify the end of the hay meadows where land was irrigated for just basically for pasture area so they were able to identify the edges of those irrigated areas that were used as part of the ranching complex.
Mary: This is a representative example of one of the buildings of the property. There are various constructions. There’s a log building but there’s several stone buildings on the property. This was originally used as a bunk house. We included a sketch map of all the property and it’s very typical of a Wyoming sheep ranching operation. They, at one time ran over ten thousand sheep out of this ranch throughout the course of its history. You’ll have a main house, ranch house, associated bunk houses for cowboys and sheep herders and then large sheep shearing pins and pens.
This is the example of that. The photo on the left-hand side is of the sheep shearing complex. Shearing sheep is labor intensive activity that takes a tremendous amount of coordination. They would gather up the sheep, gather up the lambs and the ewes in the spring, dock their tails and shear them,to get them ready for the range. These facilities, they’re used for all that activity and they bring the sheep inside to do the shearing. The fence lines are still original to the period of significance.
Challenges with this nomination, it was a very different from the drift. There were very few challenges because BLM owned the property. I believe that they paid for the National Register nomination and hired Bob Rosenberg, one of our contractor consultants to write the nomination.
BLM has it in their mission to utilize this property for public education, for better understanding of use of public land, Wyoming history. It’s in their regular day to day thought process and they’re always thinking about how this ranch can help educate the public. The boundaries were not nearly as complex as a drift property, and of course the setting retained excellent integrity. We had really good historic documentation on this property also.
I think BLM still struggles to find funding to restore buildings. Some of them, if we showed you more photos, do repair.
The next example, which is not a National Register property but a National Historic Landmark, but it keeps coming up in many of our discussions is the Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain traditional cultural property. It was originally listed in 1970 as a National Historic Landmark, and finally revised in 2011, and the boundary was significantly expanded.
Brian: The boundary went from I believe something like 110 acres to 4080 acres, with that revision.
Mary: I would say because it’s a NHL and it has been studied for decades and we have a tremendous amount of research and documentation associated with it, it still didn’t make the nomination any easier. The district has twenty-three total contributing resources. It’s associated with over twenty-eight northern plains and plains tribes. Tribes come from all over the western US, maybe all over the United States, North America to visit this property every year.
It was nominated under religion, landscape, transportation, and domestic use. However, the current function of the property also includes industry because there it happens to be a FAA weather facility on top of all mountains and that was also installed on the property. It is now over fifty years old. That is the one non-contributing feature, but it’s also included in the boundary at the property.
This was a set a twenty-year consultation process and I have to give kudos to the United States Forest Service for staying with this, is was very difficult. They had hired a series of contractors to write and expand this nomination. First to revise the original Wheel nomination and then it was expanded, so they had stop and starts. They would get a contractor to write something that wouldn’t be acceptable. They tried someone else, so finally in 2011, the National Park Service completed the writing of this nomination out of the Denver office.
I believe they hired a contractor, Tom and Laurie Simmons, out of Denver, to do the finishing touches and then to write the final document. As you can see, on this map it’s an extensive area. It’s also at a high altitude. It’s on the western side of the Big Horn Mountains, just east of Lovell, Wyoming. It would have been difficult to access in prehistoric times so that you need to be making good plans and efforts to get up to this mountain.
The boundary includes a lot of archeological remains, trails, plant gathering areas, ceremonial areas, and the thing with this also is that it recognized Medicine Mountain as a sacred important element of the property. There are tipi rings. There are many tipi rings, vision quest structures, effigies, cairns, prayer and ceremonial locations and the Forest Service has put a plan in place with all of the input of the tribes. We have a programmatic agreement that watches over how this property is managed by the US Forest Service. They’ve installed a parking lot so most individuals, unless you have a good reason that you’re handicapped or you need to be accessible, very little vehicle traffic up to the top, where the wheel is, most people walk up to experience this property.
This is a photograph of the enclosure that … Used to be a big, a great big chain link fence around the property and that was removed several years ago. They were having a lot of trouble with people entering the wheel that were not supposed to be in the wheel, removing artifacts, et cetera.
The Forest Service installed this protective fence and it’s easy to get over but most people respect it, and as you can see, there are a lot of offerings left, prayer elements left to every year. Then, only tribal members are allowed to enter the interior of this feature. Every year, they’re allowed to perform religious activities and they have scheduled time periods when they could go and they request that from the Forest Service. It’s quite a dramatic landscape as you can see.
In conclusion, I think we have just a few things on the wheel. Of course, the boundaries were very controversial. This is actually the boundary of the Wheel is more of a compromise than anything else. It was compromised between a tribe, the county commissioners, and the Forest Service. It could be expanded but this was something that everyone finally could agree upon.
Local politics, the land management policies were very controversial, and again, I think the agency and all of us that were involved learned so much about tribal consultation and tribal use of the property. That was interesting and challenging all in one and having a cultural understanding of Native Americans religious beliefs, that took a long time for a lot of the local people and the local community to come to terms with that.
All of those things were challenging but now, I feel like the plan and the management practices are in place and most individuals are relatively comfortable with what’s happening on the property.
Overall on landscape issues, from our perspective, is important to stay as close to the existing National Register bulletin as possible when we’re trying to identify and define these properties.
Utilize the recognized landscape characteristics that are already identified also, the land use, spatial organization, the natural environment, and the cultural traditions and I think that you more study those with a property that you have, the clearer the boundaries and all the other issues come in. They gel for you. Yes, in the beginning, you don’t really understand or know where to go with it but the more work you put into it, the more it becomes obvious where those boundaries and those issues fall out from that.
You try to manage the politics as best as possible but at some point, you just need to make a decision and move forward with the nomination and we’ve seen that in several of these types of properties that we can’t make everyone happy and that education and outreach to our local communities and that just can’t be under-estimated about the National Register.
I would like to suggest that in this work that the Parks Service considers doing formal workshop for consultants that they could get a certificate of some sort because we don’t see that our contracting community thinks about this on a day-to-day basis as much as they could; that when they’re out doing inventory, they’re not thinking about landscape. They’re thinking about sites, buildings, objects, those kind of things and that the landscape is not at the forefront of their thought process.
Possibly more education to that community would help. Most of our contractors are archeological consultants and they’re just not thinking in this realm on a day-to-day basis.
Barbara Wyatt: Thank you Brian. Those were good examples for us to see, and I do want to say that I think that Wyoming is doing such a good job at both collaboration with federal agencies and with tribes, and also the spirit of diplomacy that they take into many of these very challenging projects. The Drift is an amazing nomination, an amazing resource and the public involvement in that is not to be underestimated as an important factor in the success of that nomination, so thanks for sharing that with us. Thanks for your last points too Mary. I hear what you’re saying about the consultants and I’m sure that many of our colleagues out there would agree that this is something we need to do more of. When we get to figuring out where we’re going with everything we’re hearing, I think that will certainly be on our to-do list. Does anybody have anything they’d like to ask Mary and Brian? We are running over, but I think Drift in and of itself could be a great discussion. You’ve also brought up some other good sites too Mary. Anybody have anything to say, or are you too weary?
Nancy Brown: Nancy Brown here. I just wanted to say that having recently reviewed the draft of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, I really believe that adding cultural landscape architects or historical landscape architects to the Secretary’s Standards is going to help get the attention of those consultants who haven’t at all been focused on that because we’re going to be able to point to that and say we want somebody with these criteria. Overall, I just want to say that today has been terrific. You all are absolutely inspirational in the work that you’re doing, and I’ve come away with lots of good ideas.
Betsy Ingleheart: This is Betsy Ingleheart. I’d like to reinforce what Nancy Brown said about historical landscape architects, and that landscape historians should be in there. There’s precedent for the parody between historical architects and architectural historians in the standards. I do all of the work in the Northeast Region through contracting, and one of the requirements is experience with preparing documentation for cultural landscapes. I don’t go so far as to say historical landscape architect or landscape historian per se because I think it would limit our pool when we need a team of expertise here, but I do ask for demonstrated experience. Mary, I don’t know if you have the leeway to write that into your contracts or advise people to write that into their contracts as you undertake that work.
Mary: Well, we do not do many of those contracts, but we don’t have a lot expertise locally or regionally in this topic. I think having our consultant community be more educated is the first step. It’s more likely, if they’re more educated, it’ll be more likely it will happen than if we require a specific expertise to be hired for a project. BLM manages most of the permits, almost all of the permits in Wyoming. They could add it to their requirements or I think adding it to SOI Standards is the first start. But having them be more aware about landscape issues really makes more change faster.
Barbara: I think that’s a good point. Nancy and Betsy, I think you raise a very good point, and there are certain parts of the country that might be a bit challenged by that. But I think it also could go the way of some contracts where you’ve got a lead historian who subcontracts with a, let’s say an archaeologist. So maybe there would be some opportunities for that kind of collaboration too, so we do get that imprint.
Doug Harris: This is Doug Harris, Narragansett Tribe again. I really applaud you, Mary, for the work you all have done with Medicine Wheel. It has inspired many people to take a second look when tribes say, this place is ceremonial and significant to us. The work that you all did with the Forest Service in developing a protection plan there is to be applauded and I think that pulling together the tribes of a region, even if you’ve got twenty-eight of them, to hear their voices about why a place is significant and then following through on that is, it almost … well, we thank you for your work and here in Rhode Island, we’ve been doing work with the Rhode Island Historic Commission. If a Battlefield mapping grant needs to be done to identify ceremonial landscapes of historic and cultural significance to the region’s tribes, both post-European contact and pre-European contact. We thank you for the inspiration that you all provided there at Medicine Wheel.
Mary: Thank you.
Deanna Beacham: This is Deanna, and I would really like to just underline everything that Doug just said because I think we’re actually kind of lucky here along the Eastern Coast in that we have the National Park Service Northeast Region in particular that seems to be very aware of the concepts of cultural landscapes and how they need to be addressed. I’m just in awe of how well you’re managing in Wyoming, and that work that you’ve done is just very inspiring.
Barbara: Deanna, thanks for echoing all this praise we’re heaping on Wyoming. Well deserved, but I wonder Deanna, would you please tell everyone about your affiliation and maybe just a few words about the indigenous cultural landscape team.
Deanna: Well, yes. I knew you want me to make a presentation Barbara, and I don’t really want to go into very much length now because we’ve really gone over the call. I would be happy to talk about it at another presentation session, maybe when we talk about tribal matters.
Barbara: Yeah, yeah. No, I didn’t want the presentation, but just tell them the affiliation. I think a lot of them don’t know this exists, and …
Deanna: Probably a lot of people don’t know it exists. You’re absolutely right. The indigenous cultural landscape is a concept that crafted out of an attempt to talk to environmentalists that were working with land conservation issues in the Chesapeake Bay area. It was adopted into a comprehensive management plan by the Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Park Service. We’ve now got a national team of federal agency and state agency and tribal members, other people working on the idea and primary a conservation and heritage education and heritage tourism concept. Not so much as something that was meant to be any kind of legal construct or worked into Register, but it does fit into the mind-expanding work that Barbara and the rest of the team working on the National Register Landscape Initiative are doing. We’re stretching the boundaries in more than one way, getting people to think in terms of indigenous perspective in the East as well as the West.