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Kinder Morgan, Ruby Pipeline-Utah

Industry Award-Private Sector Winner, 2014

Ruby Pipeline LLC, now Kinder Morgan, Inc., constructed the 675-mile-long Ruby Natural Gas Pipeline from southwestern Wyoming to southern Oregon from 2010 to 2011. Ruby went above and beyond the basic legal requirements for addressing impacts to significant archaeological and historical sites under Section 106, and exceeded that goal by funding both successful scientific research and outreach efforts that will continue to educate and entertain the public for years to come. Alpine Archaeological Consultants, Inc conducted all archaeological work along the Ruby Pipeline within Utah (182 miles), documenting 135 prehistoric and historic sites, including a number of sites associated with the historic Transcontinental Railroad. 

Portions of the research design and treatment plan focused on general efforts designed to mitigate the overall impacts of pipeline construction on the entire corpus of archaeological and historical resources documented during the project. These mitigation efforts fell into two categories: 1) increasing scientific knowledge of the project area in ways that went above and beyond simple salvage archaeology, and 2) public outreach and education. 

The measures falling into the first category involved three unique studies. The first was the development of a new method for generating source-specific obsidian hydration chronologies in the region, using several hundred obsidian artifacts recovered during the project. The second was a paleoenvironmental study completed by Western GeoArch Research, LLC and the University of Utah’s Department of Geography that involved the analysis of a deepwater core from the Great Salt Lake collected during the Global Lakes Drilling (GLAD) Program. The third study also focused on cutting-edge paleoenvironmental research; it was conducted by Dr. David Rhode of the Desert Research Institute of Reno, Nevada and comprised the collection and analysis of packrat middens and a freshwater lake core. The study was explicitly designed to fill pertinent late Quaternary data gaps in the region. Collectively, these three scientific studies have provided exciting new information for archaeologists and paleoecologists working in the region and represent major contributions to Late Pleistocene and Holocene research in the northeastern Great Basin. None of the studies were explicitly required for simple compliance with the law. 

Perhaps even more exciting than the studies noted above, Ruby also funded a four-pronged public outreach and education effort as part of the project. The first was the design and production of 16 new state-of-the-art interpretive signs to be erected along the Bureau of Land Management’s Transcontinental Railroad National Back Country Byway in the Great Salt Lake Desert. The second was the production of an interpretive multimedia DVD that incorporates video, photographic stills, narration, computer animations, and music to tell the story of the project and summarize the project findings in a fashion accessible to the public. The DVD has been distributed to public schools, museums, and archaeological and historical groups throughout northern Utah. The third outreach measure was a presentation to the public focusing on the landscape use of the Transcontinental Railroad; the presentation was given to a standing-room-only audience in Brigham City, Utah in February 2014. The fourth and final public outreach measure will be a scholarly article focusing on the same topic as the public presentation. The article has been submitted to the journal Utah Historical Quarterly and is currently under review. Like the scientific studies described above, none of the public outreach efforts were explicit legal requirements.

This award is given to a client of an ACRA company, in the private sector, which has shown a commitment to preservation of cultural resources above and beyond what is required by regulations.


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