This year I am fortunate to have the chance to help keep an eye on sites in Cedar Mesa through a public stewardship program. I want to share some of the highlights of the information that I learned on how to participate and how to protect sites.
The public stewardship program is an organization that protects historic areas. The trail stewards are assigned with different ruins to visit and to care for. Trail stewards get an app to record the changes to the ruin. These changes could vary from animals, humans, and/or weather. If you happen to see a shard pile you must scatter the shards. If you post any pictures on social media, try not to revel your location.
Visit with respect – These are some rules for keeping the sites you visit beautiful. These rules are standard for the program, BUT these rules should be the standard for anyone exploring ancient places.
- Leave all artifacts: Keep discovery alive so the next person can share the experience. It’s illegal to remove or take any artifacts, including historic trash, from public lands.
- Don’t touch rock art or make your own: Vandalism of petroglyphs and pictographs erases stories of ancient and destroys the experience for future visitors.
- Steer clear of walls: Historic and prehistoric structures can be easily damaged. Please refrain from touching leaning, standing or climbing on any structures.
- Guide children though sites: Archaeological sites are not playgrounds. Please teach children respect. Keep a close eye so they don’t get hurt or accidentally damage cultural and natural resources.
- Know where pets are allowed: To prevent digging and erosion, pets are not allowed in archaeological sites. Please make sure pets are leashed and kept away from the site.
- Camp and eat away from archaeology sites: Camping, fires and food can damage the archaeological remains and also spoil the view for other visitors. Remember to pack out all waste.
- Don’t build cairns: Keep the landscape natural by leaving only footprints. Cairns can increase impacts on sensitive sites and are some times mistakenly constructed with artifacts.
- Don’t disturb fossils or bones: Leave fossils, dinosaur bones, tracks and other paleontological remains where you find them so future visitors and scientist can learn from them.
- Don’t bust the crust: Stay on existing trails and routes to protect the living soil. Once stepped on, this fragile crust takes years to regrow.
- Use rubber tipped hiking poles: A rubber tip prevents your hiking pole from scratching and scarring rock art on the ground surface.
- Pay your fees: It may not seem like much, but your smallfee helps support important monitoring, enforcement and amenitieslike toilets.
- Don’t build fire rings: Remember to check when and where fires are allowed. Where fires are allowed, use existing fire rings or bring your own fire pan instead of making a fire out of rocks.
- Enjoy archaeology without rope: The use of climbing gear like ropes to access sites is illegal. This protects archaeology from damage caused by falling rocks and looting
- GPS reveals too much: GPS point often-lead uneducated visitors to sensitive sites. When posting online about you trip, remove all references to location
- Go to the bathroom away from sites: …Because no one likes finding use toilet paper. Bury human waste and pack out toilet paper.
- Leave grinding in the past: Re-grinding in slicks and grooves the finish left by those who created them.
- Stay on designated roads: Use existing roads when traveling to cultural sites. Driving off-road can create new routes on top of fragile archaeology and eco systems.
- Historic artifacts aren’t trash: Leave historic artifacts like rusted cans right where they are. They help interpret the past and show how people lived.
S: Stay away from hazardous situations, structures, people, and wildlife.
M: Monitor the weather- both before you go and on the field.
A: Be Aware of your surroundings.
R: Retreat from active looting or other unlawful activity.
T: Travel safely- dress appropriately, carry essential supplies in your vehicle and daypack aka a whole lot of water.
I hope that you get out, explore, but remember the rules, so that we can continue to learn more about the past!