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SOHO Takes Leadership Role

Matches National Trust Grant to Catalyze the
Protection of Cultural Sites

SOHO matched a $4000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to develop a tool kit of methods to protect cultural resources on land bought for natural resources preservation.

The need for this preservation tool kit became apparent with the passage of over $10 billion in California water and park bonds in the past four years. The bond monies have been or will soon be used to purchase or preserve 1,000s of acres of land statewide for park or water resource purposes by both public and private agencies. Because the ballot measures focused primarily on park and water resources, preservation of important cultural resources that may be present on natural resource-rich land or on adjacent property is infrequently or inadequately considered.

This presents an enormous lost opportunity to preserve natural resources in tandem with cultural resources and provide for permanent protection of both through easements or other means. Time is of the essence as decisions are being made daily on how to allocate billions in State bond funds along with millions in private matching funds. It was for that reason that Bruce Coons, SOHO's executive director, submitted the grant request on SOHO's behalf.

The project, which was endorsed by officials of the National Park Service, the Trust for Public Land, California State Parks and the Archaeological Conservancy, among others, will create a toolkit of methods for land trusts and other natural resource conservation practitioners to permanently protect cultural resources on lands bought for open space preservation. Models will be presented and resource materials referenced.

In a letter in support of the project, John Foster, Senior State Archaeologist and Manager of Cultural Resource Acquisitions for the California State Parks system said, "Most land conservation entities have little understanding of the nature and preservation needs of cultural heritage resources. In fact, in some cases, evidence of human imprint on the landscape, even from ancient times, is seen as degradation from a pristine environmental setting, a blight on nature."

Bob Flewelling, Senior Project Manager for the Trust for Public Land (TPL), also supported the proposal, stating "a large percentage of TPL's conservation projects in California (and throughout the nation) contain cultural significance. Enabling us to work with our partners to assist them in expanding the scope of the natural and cultural open space conservation vision to include protection of cultural resources should make a significant impact on the future of cultural resource preservation."

In announcing the award, Holly Harrison Fiala, director of the Western Office of the Trust, said, "SOHO's proposal was selected from among a large number of qualified applicants competing for a limited amount of funds." Project funding was made possible by an anonymous gift to the National Trust's Western Office to support preservation projects in the Western United States. Since SOHO's goal is to provide land trusts that are usually focused on the preservation of natural resources, with the background and tools needed to also protect the cultural resources on a given site, the Board of Directors voted to provide the entire $4000 to meet the grant's matching requirement at its meeting on May 3, 2004.

Though SOHO's main area of focus is San Diego and Imperial Counties and Baja California, it has provided the financial support for a tool, which will have state and nationwide influence. This groundbreaking project will serve as the pattern for other private, nonprofit, or governmental agencies as they work to preserve natural and cultural resources. The project will be carried out by archaeologist and SOHO Board member Dr. Susan Hector and Ann Van Leer, a real estate broker specializing in the protection of natural and cultural resources. Contact Hector at shectorsd@cox.net or Van Leer at annvanleer@san.rr.com for more information.

2004 - Volume 35, Issue 3

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