What is the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance?
CPAA is a coalition of professional archaeologists, historians and conservation advocates who believe archaeological and historical resources are irreplaceable and invaluable, and that these resources are at increasing risk due to commercial development, recreation and governmental budget constraints. The coalition was created to advocate on behalf of those resources, working to preserve their intrinsic scientific, educational and historic values for future generations.
Who created CPAA?
CPAA evolved from several years of discussion between former Utah state archaeologist Kevin Jones, Natural History Museum of Utah archaeological curator Duncan Metcalfe, historian Steve Gerber and Jerry Spangler, an archaeologist, writer and long-time advocate of archaeological preservation. While working in the pristine Range Creek Canyon area of eastern Utah, they became increasingly concerned with the growing threat to cultural resources on public lands. They have campaigned to deter those threats through research and public education.
Where Does CPAA Work?
Our area of expertise is the northern Colorado Plateau. We are currently working on major projects in the Tavaputs Plateau of eastern Utah, the Grand Staircase of southern Utah, archaeologically rich San Juan County of southeastern Utah, and the Escalante River/Kaiparowits Plateau region of south-central Utah. We also on occasion conduct research in western Colorado and northern Arizona.
Why is CPAA needed?
The threat to archaeological resources is not limited to one area or region. Archaeological resources are found on millions of acres of state and federal land across the western United States. Most public lands have never been comprehensively investigated for their archaeological potential, and most archaeological sites have never been formally documented. Although state and federal laws are designed to protect significant cultural resources, archaeological sites in the American West are experiencing unprecedented impacts degradation. CPAA provides analysis of those impacts that is independent of government bureaucracies or natural resource development interests, and we offer strategies to help protect them. As an independent entity, CPAA works cooperatively to minimize conflict.
Is CPAA a conservation group?
CPAA believes unequivocally that cultural resources constitute an important component of the Western landscape, and it is dedicated to conservation, preservation and protection of those resources. On one hand, we work closely with industry to foster greater protection. On the other, we work closely with conservation groups.
What does CPAA do?
CPAA works cooperatively with governmental entities and non-profit organizations, assisting them with archaeological analyses that can assist in the preservation of cultural resources for future generations. This includes, among other things, determining whether or not development projects on public lands have adequately complied with cultural resource protection laws, analyzing the potential for unknown and unstudied archaeological sites that could be lost through development, and conducting quality research into site degradation that can assist land managers and public officials to determine appropriate strategies to protect threatened resources. CPAA also works with industry to foster a preservation ethic within the constructs of corporate policy.
How can scientific research protect resources?
The scientific research potential is limitless. Studies are currently underway to examine the relationship between site vandalism and road access to better assist land managers in determining where new access routes should or should not be built, and whether certain routes should be closed or re-routed. Science can be used determine the impact of dust and dust-reducing chemicals on the erosion of rock art, the rate of illegal artifact collecting on sites with unrestricted public access, the erosion impacts of pinyon-juniper chaining on buried archaeological deposits, and the impact of too much recreation on prehistoric architecture.
Is CPAA Opposed to Off-Road Vehicles?
No. ORVs are a legal and enjoyable way to experience public lands. But CPAA is opposed to irresponsible use of off-road vehicles. The minority of recreationists who ignore advisories to stay on established trails are causing irreparable harm to archaeological sites. CPAA also strongly encourages federal land managers to investigate OHV routes for possible damage to archaeological sites before they designate them as official routes.
How is the research funded?
All science research is funded through project-specific research grants from scientific and educational organizations, and from contributions by friends of CPAA. Other conservation components of CPAA are funded through grants from foundations, nonprofit organizations and public and private entities that share CPAA’s vision. We cannot continue to advocate for the protection of these resources without your financial support.
Does CPAA initiate lawsuits?
CPAA does not initiate or participate in any lawsuit. The role of CPAA is to provide expert analysis based on sound scientific research, not to engage in litigation. However, it is possible CPAA research could be used in lawsuits initiated by other organizations.
Can I volunteer on CPAA projects?
Yes! CPAA routinely uses volunteers to help us fulfill our mission. To participate in our field projects, you must be in good physical condition and possess a willingness and acumen to actually help with the research. For more details, contact the executive director through this web site.
How else can I assist CPAA?
Of course, cash contributions are the lifeblood of our ability to conduct our research. You can also make a contribution of goods and services to the CPAA general store where friends of CPAA can purchase them. In the past, artists have donated their amazing creations and businesses have donated a variety of things, from books to outdoor gear. The proceeds from the sale of these items all go to support our mission.