Modeling the Effects of Grassland Restoration on Archaeological Sites in the Northwestern Coconino National Forest

Presenters:  Daniel Garcia and Annie Lutes, SWCA Environmental Consultants

The Arizona Game and Fish Department intends to restore historic grasslands by removing piñon-juniper across the northwestern portion of the Coconino National Forest to improve habitat for pronghorn antelope. The 89,000-acre study area also is home to hundreds of heritage sites of undetermined NRHP-eligibility. Restoration has the potential to impact these sites, however all impacts do not necessarily result in adverse effects. On the other hand, deferring restoration leads to fire and other impacts that can result adverse effects. This session explores a case study in modeling site probability and exploring how restoration techniques may not diminish aspects of integrity.

The study described presents a methodology for assessing the effects of grassland restoration activity over large geographic regions and recommends a cost-effective approach to identifying areas of likely archaeological sensitivity without large-scale field efforts. This approach is applicable to federal and state land managing agencies as well as to private landowners and lessees who need to conduct vegetation management in culturally-rich areas.