News from OAC

First OAC Scholarship Winner Selected

 Georgia Fenton, a Wright State University anthropology student from Fairborn, Ohio is the 2012 winner of an Ohio Archaeological Council Field School Scholarship award.  Georgia, who is enrolled in this summer’s Wright State University field school at the Moorehead Circle at Fort Ancient State Memorial, was awarded a $750 scholarship.  Georgia says she has been drawn to archaeology ever since middle school, and is excited about the opportunity to participate in this year’s field school.  A big thanks to Jeff Reichwein and Shaune Skinner of the OAC Field School Scholarship Committee, and to all those who so generously donated to the fund.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Bob Genheimer

President-elect and Chair of the Field School Scholarship Committee

 

OAC Government Affairs Committee Report

State Legislation/Issues

HB 501 Adena Pipe, Official  State Artifact.  The OAC sent a letter of support to the sponsor of a bill naming the Adena Pipe the state artifact.

HB 512 Land Conveyances (Seip Mound to NPS).  The OAC sent a letter of support to the sponsor of a bill conveying Seip Mound State Memorial to the National Park Service. 

SB 181 Implement Certain Recommendations of the Ohio Legislative Commission on the Education and Preservation of State History.  In December 2011, the bill passed the Senate and was sent to the House.  On January 24, the OAC testified before the House State Government and Elections Committee supporting the bill.  Among other things, the bill creates a task force to develop recommendations revising Ohio’s cemetery laws, including abandoned cemeteries and unmarked burial sites.  One of the members of the task force will be an archaeologist.  The bill also repeals the Ohio Historical Society’s (OHS) State Registries of Archaeological Landmarks and Historic Landmarks, two defunct programs, and creates an Ohio history license plate, proceeds from which will fund grants to local historical organizations in Ohio for exhibits and increasing public access to collections.  For the first four years following enactment, the primary focus of grants must be on the Civil War.  The House State Government and Elections Committee has not acted on the bill, and OHS does not think it will be considered until the lame duck session in November or December, meaning passage during the 129th General Assembly is problematic.

Oil and Gas Drilling on State Land.  Enactment of last year’s biennial state budget included provisions permitting oil and gas development on state land, except for nature preserves.  The law authorizes the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission (OGLC) to write rules governing oil and gas development on state land.  In these rules the OGLC can, if they chose to do so, require that studies to identify important archaeological sites be conducted before oil and gas development occurs.  Larry Wickstrom, Chief of the Division of Geological Survey, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), serves as Chairperson of the OGLC.  The Governor has yet to appoint the other four members of the OGLC: two representing the oil and gas industry, another with expertise and finance or real estate, and another representing a statewide environmental or conservation organization.  The rule-making procedure in Ohio is quite complex.  If you are interested in learning about it consult ODNR’s Rule Making Guide http://www.registerofohio.state.oh.us/pdfs/rmg/RMG_1501_20101124.pdf and/or An Overview of Administrative Rule-Making Procedure in Ohio http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/membersonly/127rulemaking.pdf.”

Last fall, the OAC sent editorials to a number of Ohio newspapers concerning the need to identify important archaeological sites before oil and gas development occurs, some of which were published.  The intent of these efforts was to raise public awareness about this issue.  Soon thereafter, Mr. Wickstrom contacted the OAC after reading some of the editorials and receiving an inquiry from a state legislator who had been contacted by OAC Board member Andy Sawyer.  Mr. Wickstrom indicated that ODNR was working on the matter and he assured us that protection and preservation of archaeological and historical resources on state land is being addressed.  He invited the OAC to meet with him on December 9.  At the OAC’s request, ODNR also invited OHPO to the meeting.  Literally at the last hour, the meeting was cancelled by Mr. Wickstrom, and despite numerous attempts by the OAC and OHPO to reschedule the meeting, it has not occurred.

Similar rebuffs were experienced by other non-industry organizations.  On April 9, the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club sued ODNR to obtain draft lease and best management practices (BMPs) documents ODNR was developing in consultation with the industry.  Soon thereafter, ODNR released drafts of the documents to the Sierra Club.  The OAC received copies from the Sierra Club and we have reviewed the documents.  Recently, we met with OHPO to discuss the documents.  We view the documents as a place to begin a discussion with ODNR about establishing adequate measures to identify and protect important archaeological sites on state land from industry impacts.  While the BMPs recognize cultural resources and places of “historic or archaeological value,” they need revision with the input of the OAC and OHPO.  We have contacted ODNR requesting a meeting to discuss the draft leases and BMPs, but have not received a reply.

OSM-ODNR/OHPO Programmatic Agreement (PA) for Abandoned Mine Lands in Ohio.  In December, the OAC submitted a new round of comments to the U. S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, ODNR, and OHPO concerning their draft PA.  On January 10, 2012, OSM replied that they will send us a final version of the PA and an explanation of how they responded to our comments.  We have not received the final version or their comments to our concerns.

Ohio Underground Damage Control Prevention Coalition.  The OAC continues to participate in the OUDPC.  The Coalition is a working meeting/group, with a number of subcommittees who are reviewing existing laws in Ohio and similar laws elsewhere.  The Coalition’s goal is to revise Ohio’s utility protection laws (ORC 153.64 and 3781.25 - 32) making work around utilities safer for everyone, and establishing tough penalties for violators.  A draft bill may be introduced in the next month or so.  Al Tonetti is representing the interests of the OAC/archaeologists in the OUDPC. 

Remember that anytime and anywhere in Ohio that you plan to disturb or penetrate the ground with hand or mechanical tools, for any reason other than agricultural activities that does not exceed 12 inches in depth, be it an archaeological or other activity, before disturbing the ground you are required by law (ORC 3781.25 – 3781.32) to call the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (811) at least 48 hours, but no more than 10 days, excluding weekends and Holidays, so utilities can mark their underground lines, if present.  This will not change in the bill to revise the law.  However, new and tough penalties, perhaps $1000 per violation, are likely to be part of the bill.        

Statehood Day.  Another organization reserved the Statehouse atrium on Statehood Day 2012, so the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) held Statehood Day at OHS on March 1, 2012.  OHS intends for Statehood Day to return to the Statehouse in 2013. 

History Fund (Income Tax Checkoff).  One recently successful outcome of Statehood Day was the passage of the Ohio Income Tax Check-off supporting a history (broadly defined) grant program to be administered by OHS, now called the History Fund.  The income tax check-off appeared on your 2011 Ohio Income Tax forms.  So far, approximately $130,000 has been donated to the fund from 15,000 Ohio taxpayers.  You do not have to receive a refund to contribute.  Planning is well underway designing the grant program.  Al Tonetti is representing the interests of the OAC on the planning committee (handout distributed).    

 

Federal Legislation/Issues

Section 106.  Eastern Corridor and Village of Zoar.  The OAC is a consulting party to the Eastern Corridor Multimodal Project, Clermont and Hamilton counties, and to the Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam, Dam Safety Modification Study, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, two federal undertakings with high potential to affect important archaeological resources.  On behalf of the OAC, President-elect Bob Genheimer attended information meetings.  Bob summarized the meetings and projects in his report to the members.

Section 106 of National Historic Preservation Act may be threatened in 2012 and beyond.  Section 106 requires that Federal agencies consider the affects of their projects, called undertakings, on archaeological and historical sites listed in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).  This includes undertakings on federal land and other public and private land when there is a federal undertaking, such as a construction project using federal funds or a privately funded construction project requiring some type of federal permit, such as a permit to place fill into wetlands or navigable waters.  In the name of streamlining and job creation, the House of Representatives is passing legislation exempting certain projects and types of projects from complying with Section 106 and other federal laws and regulations.  More is expected.  Although Congress’ regulatory problems are primarily focused on the EPA, many environmental regulations are being scrutinized.  Although no Congressperson has called for the outright repeal of Section 106, and a frontal assault is unlikely, the integrity of the Section 106 process is threatened.   

Three recent examples:

H.R. 4348, Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II.  Of great concern in this bill are regulatory streamlining provisions that permit both acquisition and sale of properties without National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, categorically exempting railroads and federal projects in response to emergencies or disasters from Section 106 review, and allowing Section 106 to be used as a substitute for 4(f) review.  Exempting compliance with Sections 106 and other federal laws identifying and protecting important archaeological sites is dangerous public policy because doing so may then become the norm, not the exception.  The House and Senate established a conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of transportation funding reauthorization.  They hope to work out their differences within three months.

H.R. 1505, National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.  On October 5, 2011, the House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 1505.  This bill, now before the full house, exempts the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from complying with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Archeological Resources Protection Act, the Antiquities Act, NEPA, and more than 25 other federal laws when accessing federal land or building infrastructure, including fences and roads, within 100 miles of international land and maritime borders of the US.  A distance of 100 miles from Ohio’s maritime border with Canada covers most of the northern third to half of Ohio, including federally controlled areas of Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Lake Erie.  Ohio’s only member on the Committee, Rep. Johnson (R), voted yes.  A companion bill has not been introduced in the Senate. 

HR 1904, Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act 0f 2011.  This bill passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.  Among other things, it transfers 2,400 acres of public land to a privately owned mining company without assurances that cultural resources on the land will be protected pursuant to NEPA and Section 106 of NHPA.

According to the Society for American Archaeology, most archaeologists in the U.S. today work for private-sector cultural resource management (CRM) firms.  CRM is a billion dollar a year industry employing many thousands of people.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2011, employment for anthropologists and archaeologists is expected to grow by 28 percent, driven by growth in the management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry.  CRM firms, in addition to helping preserve and protect our cultural heritage, are in the forefront of the heritage tourism business, one of the few bright spots in these troubled economic times. 

The last time the integrity of Section 106 was severely threatened was in 2005, when Republicans in the House tried to limit Section 106 to historic properties currently listed or determined eligible for inclusion/listing in the NRHP, i.e., there would be no more Phase I surveys to identify historic properties.  This effort was defeated by a coalition of forces outside of and within Congress, but 2012 and beyond looks to be a very different and difficult time for environmental and similar laws and regulations in Congress.  The archaeological community nationally, statewide, and at the local level, needs to prepare itself for what may come.  Waiting may not save Section 106 this time around. 

At the national level, the Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, Preservation Action, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, the American Cultural Resources Association, and other organizations will be prominent in any contest for Section 106.  At the state level, the efforts of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office and the Ohio Archaeological Council will be prominent.

 

OAM 2011 Poster Takes Second in SAA Competition

 The 2011 Ohio Archaeology Month poster was awarded second prize in a national competition sponsored by the Society for American Archaeology.  The award was announced at the business meeting of the SAA during the recent national conference in Memphis, Tennessee.  N'omi Greber accepted the award on behalf of the OAC. 

The images and donations essential to the production of the OAM2011 poster and brochure were kindly shared by: Eastern National Park and Monument Association, Hardlines Design Company, Heritage Education and Research Services, Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, The Mannik & Smith Group, Inc.,The Ohio Historical Society, Martha Potter Otto, Karen Leone, Glenwood Boatman, Elizabeth Hoag, Anne Lee, Nancy White, David Klinge, and Bill Pickard.

The OAM 2011 poster and brochure design were created and donated by It-Designs.

 

Identifying Grand Challenges in Archaeology

This NSF-funded research project seeks to identify a suite of "grand challenge" problems of broad scientific and social interest that can drive cutting-edge research in archaeology for the next decade and beyond. We are soliciting discipline-wide consideration of these challenges in order to determine what investments in computational infrastructure by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) would be most likely to effect scalar transformations of our ability to address major problems in archaeology, and in science more broadly. The results of this effort will be published and disseminated on the Web.

“Grand challenge” is a term used to mean "a fundamental problem in science or engineering." For example, in archaeology a grand challenge might be: “Understanding the origin, timing, routes, and demographic dynamics of the peopling of the Americas." In this sense, grand challenges would not include disciplinary challenges with respect to the practice of archaeology, such as changes in financial and legal frameworks. While the current project will use the grand challenges identified here to argue for investment in computational infrastructure, others may find them useful in arguing for funding, policy, or other changes.

This first stage of the research seeks professional perspectives on the major scientific challenges facing the discipline. Following a synthesis of the results, we will return to the community to rank the challenges that emerge most clearly from this initial call. Two project workshops will then explore the data and modeling requirements of highly ranked grand challenge problems to develop a formal argument for major NSF investments in computational infrastructure for archaeology. Computational infrastructure includes improved data acquisition tools for the field and laboratory, digitization of existing data, documents, and reference collections, improved ability to discover, access, and integrate digital data and documents, tools to facilitate modeling and visualization, and training and community building necessary to exploit this infrastructure.

The survey generally takes from 2 to 10 minutes and is completely anonymous; no personal identifying information will be associated with the individual responses. No benefit or disadvantage will accrue to respondents, from NSF or any other entity. You may exit the survey at any time.
 

Ohio Statehood Day 2012

 In commemoration of Ohio’s founding, the Ohio Historical Society and its partners, including the Ohio Archaeological Council, invite you to join a broad coalition of history advocates on Thursday, March 1 at the Ohio History Center in Columbus beginning at 9:30 a.m. As part of the celebration at the Ohio History Center, admission to the general public will be free on March 1.

Statehood Day is a celebration of Ohio and its history, as well as a legislative advocacy event. This year’s event will be a celebration of the persistent efforts of Ohio history advocates. For example, just in 2011 the Ohio General Assembly approved:

  • The OHS income tax check-off. The state’s 2011 income tax form will allow taxpayers receiving a refund on their state taxes to contribute a portion of their return to the Society. OHS will, in turn, use these contributions to create a new competitive matching grants program for history-related projects throughout Ohio.
  • The state historic tax credit program that was initiated in 2006 was made permanent, with up to $60 million being authorized in annual credits to be awarded to qualified rehabilitation projects throughout Ohio. This successful program is administered as a partnership among the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, the Ohio Department of Development and the Ohio Department of Taxation.

There are more successes to celebrate, and other legislative priorities to work on.

To register ($25 for lunch and to participate in Statehood Day activities) and for more information about Statehood Day 2012, see www.ohiohistory.org/statehoodday.


 

In Memory of Lost Colleagues

During 2011, OAC members learned of the deaths of four colleagues: Kent Vickery (June 1, 2011), Kevin Gibbs (August 28, 2011), Tony DeRegnaucourt (October 17, 2011), and Julie Quinlan (November 2, 2011).  Each made contributions that help us to better understand and appreciate archaeology, and, especially Ohio archaeology.  Though no disrespect or offense is intended, it is with humility that I write this remembrance knowing that I likely overlooked someone or omitted something.  Perhaps each of us can take time this week to raise a toast and thank colleagues near and far, living and no longer with us, for their friendship, comradeship, and efforts to make archaeology better for all of us.

(Note:  Kent Vickery, Kevin Gibbs, Tony DeRegnaucourt, and Julie Quinlan were all former members of the OAC.)

Latest News

by Tina Hartman on October 3, 2017
by Erica Schneider on September 21, 2017
by Andrew Sawyer on August 7, 2017