Archaeological sites on public lands throughout the West represent thousands of years of human adaptation to unique Western environments, with each site and every artifact unfolding answers to the mysteries of how prehistoric humans lived in concert with their ever-changing environment, and how human survival in this harsh region depended upon man’s ability to understand, respect and recognize the limitations of that environment. In short, archaeological resources represent non-renewable resources that offer insights into our own survival on this remarkable landscape. Yet these same irreplaceable resources are being lost at an alarming rate under the combined weight of oil and gas development, irresponsible off-road vehicle use, increased recreational use of public lands and the persistent problem of vandalism and looting.
The Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance (CPAA) seeks to protect and preserve human landscapes of national significance by working collaboratively with governmental entities, industry, private land owners and conservationists. Our approach to cultural resources protection is solution based. We do not obstruct development but rather we encourage more responsible development. We encourage federal officials to embrace more enlightened management of cultural resources for their long-term protection. And we work closely with the conservation community to foster recognition that rich human landscapes are also part of our national heritage.
As identified by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in a 2005 policy statement, natural and human landscapes found on public lands are interrelated, and the preservation and management of these values should be integrated to ensure that cultural values are afforded equal consideration. Utah-based CPAA is the only non-profit organization (IRS 501c3) working on the Northern Colorado Plateau that is singularly dedicated to the preservation of the human past, from the traces of the Ice Age hunters who roamed the canyon country 12,000 years ago to the isolated homesteads and ranches of the nineteenth century dreamers.
CPAA represents the formal creation of an advocacy organization comprised of individuals who have informally worked to preserve cultural resources over the past several years. These efforts have been focused primarily on assistance to other non-profit organizations, as well as preservation-oriented research and working with legislative and regulatory officials to protect sensitive landscapes. We also work closely with industry to develop and implement better business practices that will result in greater protection of cultural resources.
CPAA is directed by Jerry D. Spangler, a registered professional archaeologist who also manages the day-to-day activities of the organization and is answerable to a 15-member board of directors, all with considerable non-profit, business or scientific credentials. In addition, CPAA is advised by an ad hoc group of archaeologists, historians, environmental scientists, businessmen and attorneys who have pledged their assistance to CPAA, each with a specialized expertise that can further the CPAA mission.
CPAA is dedicated to advocacy through sound, legally defensible science that can be utilized to minimize and potentially eliminate damage to cultural and environmental resources that are threatened by various activities on public lands. And as registered archaeologists working under state and federal permits, CPAA researchers have access to archaeological records and site-specific data not otherwise accessible to the public � information that is critical to defining the human and environmental landscapes at risk.
Through sound scientific research, CPAA examines the degradation of archaeological sites as it relates to road access, unrestricted public visitation, illegal collecting, ORV trails, seismic activities, the cumulative effects of oil and gas development, and other issues related to public access. CPAA also assists public and private entities in the development and implementation of strategies to protect sites of local, regional and national significance, and provide technical assistance to those entities seeking the protection of cultural resources through legal designations. CPAA also works with private entities seeking to develop legal leases on public lands to ensure that their impacts on cultural treasures are minimized.
CPAA also believes that public education on the importance and fragile nature of cultural resources is critical to the preservation of these sites for future generations. The organization is committed to the dissemination of information that informs the general public as to threats to cultural resources, educates them as to the significance of these resources and the ethics expected of all who visit these treasures, and assists in the training of professionals in archaeological preservation. This strategy utilizes a combination of internships, newsletters, monographs, peer-reviewed publications, Internet databases and other multi-media approaches.
CPAA assists non-profit organizations by conducting technical reviews of Section 106 compliance reports required for actions on federal lands, initiating formal and informal surveys on behalf of non-profit organizations seeking baseline data on the nature and importance of cultural resources, analyzing previous research to determine the scope and significance of cultural resources, and assisting in the development of scientifically based responses to proposed actions on public lands. CPAA also assists American Indians and tribal governments in the assessment of archaeological resources significant to native traditions, heritage and way of life; institutions of higher education with archaeological research projects that foster public appreciation for past peoples, places and events; government and private entities in the development and implementation of long-term strategies to protect sites of local, regional and national significance. And some of our most loyal partners have been industry officials, who seek to implement business practices that foster cultural resource protection.