• 08/26/2019 4:19 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This post is authored by Emily Mueller Epstein, Principal Investigator/Lab Director at Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. and originally appeared on the CHG website.

    When people find out I am an archaeologist, I am sometimes asked, “Can you dig anywhere you want? Can you keep what you find?” The answer to both questions is always “no,” followed by a primer on state and federal cultural resources laws. Another question I get is “What do you do if you find a dead body?” When someone asks this question without providing any contextual details, I always answer “Don’t touch anything and call law enforcement!”

    In Michigan you are obligated to call the authorities if you believe you’ve found a dead body, or any part of one. The Michigan Administrative Code R325.8051 Rule 1 states “A person who inadvertently discovers a burial or parts of a human skeleton shall immediately notify the police authority of the jurisdiction where the remains are found.” The penalty for failing to contact authorities ranges from being charged with a misdemeanor (one-year imprisonment and up to $1000 fine) or a felony (five years imprisonment and up to a $5000 fine; MCL § 333.2841).

    There are several possible outcomes once law enforcement responds to the scene of discovery. Authorities may determine the bones wrapped inside, let’s say, a blue tarp are the carcass of a whitetail deer, remnants of hunting season. A report is filed, and the case is closed.

    In another scenario, authorities respond to the scene of discovery—for example next to a hiking trail in a park—and suspect the individual is human. Material evidence at the scene suggests the individual died recently (e.g., hiking boots, smart phone, and water bottle). The authorities on-site call the Medical Examiner’s office, which then evaluates the situation, decides the death is in fact recent, and proceeds with the death investigation.

    If, however, law enforcement or the Medical Examiner’s office suspects the individual identified near the hiking trail died a very long time ago, the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) must be informed so the SHPO archaeology team can assess the remains. From the Michigan Administrative Code R325.8051 Rule 1 “If preliminary inspection by the police authority indicates that the remains are those of a prehistoric or historic Native American, the state archaeologist of the Michigan history division, department of state, shall be immediately notified of the finding.”

    Others may ask me “Can you dig up a dead body?” According to then Michigan Attorney General Frank J. Kelley’s Opinion No. 6585, “The settled policy of this state is to preserve and maintain the burial places of the dead” (1989). Section 2853 of the Public Health Code (MCL 333.2853; MSA 14.15(2853) indicates a permit for disinterment and reinterment is required before disinterment of a dead body. Whether a burial is on state or private land makes no difference; a local health department or court disinterment decree is required before a landowner or excavator may disinter human remains, regardless of whether the disinterer is a scientific institution or society. Penalties, of course, exist for the violation of these rules.

  • 08/22/2019 3:15 PM | ACRA Lobbying Team

    This post is authored by John R. Welch, Director of the Landscape and Site Preservation Program with Archaeology Southwest. 

    U.S. Representative Thomas O’Halleran (D-AZ-1) took time out this summer to visit an important ancestral village site on White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) lands. On a warm afternoon, in the good company of WMAT Cultural Resources Director Ramon Riley, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Mark Altaha, and Archaeology Southwest CEO Bill Doelle, the Congressman heard directly from the site stewards. Riley told O’Halleran, “Apaches have taken care of these lands and places for many generations, since time immemorial. We were traditionally taught, ‘Díí nagoz’aani bidádin’ii’ le’,’ protect and respect places of power and history.”

    Riley and Altaha led the group off the beaten track, to a place that once provided homes for about a dozen families, the ancestors of today’s Zuni and Hopi tribes. O’Halleran and other visitors were saddened to learn that many of the old rooms at the village—still defined by sandstone and limestone wall stubs—had been excavated without authorization or proper scientific protocol. “Gravediggers!,” Riley sneered, saying, “It did not used to be like this, with people going around and digging up graves and stealing the things people were given to help them in the spirit world.” About 20 of the rooms that defined and surrounded the plaza, the ceremonial and communal center of the village, were unceremoniously dug out about 6 years ago.

    Mark Altaha offered some important history to the Congressman, explaining that “looting and grave digging was a big problem here on the reservation in the 1960s and 1970s. In the days before the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (1979) and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990), people hunted down the ancestral Hopi and Zuni sites and helped themselves. I guess you could say it was a sort of hobby, but the damage and desecration was terrible. Now we are seeing fewer incidents, but the damage is just as serious. It seems like the looters and grave robbers operating today are professionals. We have to be careful.”

    Riley and Altaha are part of a team working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Tucson-based non-profit, Archaeology Southwest. Bill Doelle, the leader of Archaeology Southwest, said “archaeologists, many of whom see places and objects mainly through scientific lenses, have contributed to the loss of connections between tribal communities and their ancestral sites. We archaeologists need to do more to understand community concerns and safeguard the lands and landscapes in keeping with local, and especially tribal concerns and preferences.”

    Congressman Tom O’Halleran ahead of Ramon Riley (right) and Bill Doelle (left) on the trail to a badly damaged ancestral village.

    Congressman O’Halleran was disappointed to learn that, “the same problem of looting we see in the Oak Creek Valley, on the Coconino National Forest, is also a concern on reservation land.” “I had hoped to learn that these criminals would at least have the respect to stay off tribal lands,” O’Halleran said. On the other hand, the Congressman voiced approval for the team’s work: “The federal government can’t solve every problem, and it is great to see the Tribe’s historic leadership in cultural and heritage conservation continue in this program to exclude grave robbing and artifact theft from the reservation.” “It is always gratifying to see community-driven partnerships that include tribes, federal agencies, and non-profits,” O’Halleran said, “I certainly support efforts to prevent, detect, and prosecute archaeological resource crime. We need more partnerships like this.”

    To report suspected looting activity, please secure your personal safety first, then promptly call 911 or 1-800-637-9152 to report the crime. A reward of $500 is allowed for information leading to a looting conviction.

  • 08/21/2019 5:03 PM | ACRA Lobbying Team

    This week, CRM professionals from ACRA shared their expertise with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). The ACHP had asked for public comments on its strategic plan, and ACRA members were keen to weigh in.

    In a substantive, 7-page letter, ACRA urged the agency to showcase best practices, expand its relationship with tribes, utilize new technology to assist in project planning, and more. Members of the Government Relations Committee were key to developing the points in this letter, and we are grateful they shared their expertise!

    Click here to read ACRA's comment to the ACHP regarding their strategic plan.

  • 08/20/2019 12:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA's Annual Conference is the premier networking event for the CRM industry - which makes it a great opportunity for students preparing for a career in CRM!

    This year's conference will be held October 24-27 at the Historic Davenport in Spokane, WA. For only $25, you get access to all 13 sessions of the conference, which cover a wide range of archaeological and historic preservation topics. You will get to hear and participate in discussions about bridging the divide between academic training and CRM employment, tribal views on CRM, and more. You can view the full schedule here.

    Another special event specifically for students is our new mentor lunch program. We have almost 40 seasoned CRM practitioners signed up to buy YOU lunch, provide career advice, and more. Spaces for the lunch are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Attending the ACRA conference could net you the connections you need to quickly get a job upon graduation, and your knowledge of industry issues could make you a more attractive candidate. Don't miss this opportunity to network with the leaders of the CRM industry - register today!

    Register for the ACRA Annual Conference

  • 08/16/2019 3:08 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    So often we go to a city for a conference or business meeting and spend our time three places: at the airport, in our hotel room, and in a conference room. We miss seeing the sites and soul of the host city, many of which have an incredibly rich and nuanced past. ACRA recognizes the need for a more robust visitation experience, and we strive to have outreach events at all of our conferences. For our 2019 conference in Spokane, the organizers have arranged several events to help you explore the city.

    • Thursday afternoon’s workshop includes a walking tour of a historic hydroelectric facility in downtown Spokane as well as exploring one of many wonderful cafes in the area for refreshments
    • Friday’s presentations commence with a ceremony from a Spokane tribal leader to welcome all to the area
    • The slate of sessions begins with a narrative on the prehistory and history of Spokane, including a presentation by The Historic Davenport staff on the multi-million dollar restoration of our historic venue; and
    • Saturday evening starts with a bus tour of Spokane with a presentation by local guides to highlight important area landmarks and concludes with our awards social at Barrister Winery, housed in a circa 1906 automobile warehouse.

    The full Schedule at a Glance, inclusive of sessions and events, can be found here.

    The 2019 ACRA Conference will be held October 23–27, 2019. Rooms for the reduced rate of $149.00 at our venue, The Historic Davenport, are going fast.

    This is the premier CRM event of the year and an incredible opportunity to come hear the latest on our industry and meet new business partners. Register today!

  • 08/14/2019 2:49 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Architectural historians: what hazards do you face besides leaning buildings? Now is your chance to make an impact and educate the broader CRM industry about the health and safety issues architectural historians face in the field!

    ACRA’s Health and Safety Committee is looking for new members to add some perspectives from the above-ground side of our business – archaeologists have their heads buried too deeply in the ground! Members of this committee work on developing best practices for industry safety, both in and out of the field. Chair (and incoming President-Elect!) Daniel Cassedy is committed to building a committee with cross-disciplinary representation to ensure that all ACRA members have a say in ACRA's health and safety initiatives.

    Getting involved with a committee is one of the best ways to maximize your ACRA membership. Please contact Dan Cassedy or comment below if you are interested in getting involved!

  • 08/08/2019 11:35 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As a part of our new partnership with NAEP, ACRA members are eligible to receive the member price for NAEP webinars. See below for information on an upcoming webinar on NEPA policy, and access the discount code here.

    The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) will host the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Case Law Update webinar on Thursday, September 5, 2019.

    This webinar will review substantive National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) cases issued by United States Courts of Appeals in 2018. The implications of the decisions and relevance to NEPA practitioners will be explained.

    About the Speakers:

    Michael Smith

    Michael is a Senior Environmental Practice Leader for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) with GEI Consultants in Sacramento, CA, at one of the nation's leading geotechnical, environmental, water resources, and ecological science and engineering firms. His current work focuses on providing project and program management, technical analysis and review, policy development and review, and training and education focused on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance for some of the nation's and California’s most complex and controversial projects. He frequently provides training and strategic advice for NEPA and related environmental compliance requirements as an adjunct faculty member at numerous educational institutions. He has served as a Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) headquarters Office of Water and Office of Federal Activities in Washington, DC.

    Pam Hudson
    Esq., Dep't of the Navy, Office of General Counsel

    P.E. Hudson, Esq. is the Counsel, Department of the Navy Office of General Counsel, at Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering and Civil Engineer Corps Officer School at Naval Base Ventura County, California. She has 17 years of NEPA experience and 34 years of federal agency experience. The focus of her practice is environmental law and planning, and specifically NEPA; she also develops and teaches courses involving NEPA, environmental planning and impact analysis, and environmental law, with a special emphasis on coastal and ocean resources, to federal employees. She has published 13 federal agency, academic, and peer-reviewed articles on environmental planning and impact assessment since 2013.

    ACRA members can join this webinar for the NAEP member price ($75) - click here for the discount code.

    To register and view more details, please visit the event website.

  • 08/07/2019 2:02 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    All 50 states in the US use hydroelectric power in one form or another. Has your firm worked on or wanted to bid on a hydroelectric relicensing project? Do you understand the nuances of the traditional vs. integrated licensing processes? How about the difference between a FERC Boundary and a traditional APE? What is a PAD and how is a Study Plan prepared for cultural and tribal resources? What is the ex parte process? 

    This year's conference workshop, Water Over the Dam: "WERC-shop” on Federal Hydroelectric Project Relicensing, will answer these questions and more, helping you understand the special procedures of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing. Held from 1:00 - 5:00 pm on Thursday, October 24 before the welcome reception, the WERCshop will provide background to firms unacquainted with the process and will explore several of the more complex topics for those more familiar with relicensing.

    The WERCshop may feature an expert panel composed of Industry Project Managers, Tribal representatives, CRM practitioners, and the Washington DC FERC archaeologist (pending federal budget approval!). Following the hydro relicensing roundtable, we will visit the beautiful Spokane Falls for a tour of Avista’s historic Post Street Substation in downtown Spokane.

    Lower Spokane Falls

    This workshop will provide you with the background and tools to conduct CRM studies for FERC relicensing. The workshop organizers will address/provide:

    • An overview of FERC licensing and relicensing
    • Discussion of the three FERC processes
    • An acronym list
    • A discussion of FERC’s scheduling requirements
    • Preparation of the Project Application Document (PAD)
    • Preparation of maps with FERC Boundary and/or APE
    • Tribal and Technical Working Group meetings
    • Creation of Study Plans
      • Cultural Resource Study Plans
      • Tribal Resources Study Plans
    • Study Plan Implementation
    • Technical Reports for Cultural Resources and Tribal Resources
    • Other types of reports that may be necessary.
    • Native American issues
    • Historic Properties Management Plan (HPMP) Development
    • When is the HPMP prepared? (Ex Parte considerations)
    • What is required?
    • What is FERC’s Review Process?
    • Who Prepares the EIS?
    • Ongoing consultation
    • Scheduling
    • HPMP Implementation
    • Where to get more information and a CD with useful documents

    Don't miss your chance to participate in this exciting opportunity - reserve your spot in the conference workshop as a part of your conference registration today!

  • 08/01/2019 4:38 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    You may have heard of the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia. Since its earliest iteration in 1968 (then known as the Geochronology Laboratory), the team at CAIS have been working as scientific detectives for years, conducting investigations on behalf of industry partners, universities, government agencies and researchers, including UGA faculty and students.

    Now ACRAsphere readers can get a deeper look at the work taking place inside this innovative lab with exclusive access to this piece originally published in UGA's Research Magazine.

    In spring 2014, a skull was scheduled to be auctioned in Hagerstown, Maryland. It had been found on a farm about two miles north of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, near a barn that served as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. But public reaction to auctioning a soldier’s remains was strongly negative, and the skull was withdrawn and donated to the Gettysburg Foundation.

    The foundation planned a soldier’s burial for the skull, but first they turned to the Smithsonian for verification. Based on its appearance, Smithsonian anthropologists immediately suspected that the skull was far older than presumed and sent a tiny piece of tooth to CAIS for testing. Using radiocarbon dating, Speakman discovered that the skull was about seven centuries old. Carbon and nitrogen isotope testing suggested that the “soldier” ate a diet of mainly corn, and based on oxygen isotopes, he probably originated in southwestern New Mexico or southeastern Arizona.

    “Oxygen is a really good indicator of temperature. As you move farther north, water evaporates differently,” Speakman says. “By looking at isotopic ratios of oxygen, we can identify northern and southern movement.”

    This kind of expertise is why the Smithsonian brought its question to UGA.

    When first established in 1968, the Geochronology Laboratory focused primarily on radiocarbon dating, especially in marine-based research. The stable isotope lab was established in the 1980s and focused mainly on the authentication of natural materials and food ingredients, an aspect of the lab’s work that continues to thrive. However, the lab's expertise, capabilities, and technical services have continually expanded since then - thanks in part to the stewardship of CAIS director Jeff Speakman:

    Speakman joined CAIS in 2011—from the Smithsonian—and became director the next year. In 2016, the center expanded its physical footprint to 24,000 square feet and also enhanced its capabilities. When Speakman arrived, CAIS had three instruments capable of measuring stable isotopes, and now it has 22, more than any other lab in the world. The staff has nearly quadrupled in that same period, growing from 13 people to around 50. About 20 percent of those are scientists, who have their own research projects and often are affiliated with other campus departments, and the rest are postdocs, students and support staff.

    The lab now measures carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, deuterium and sulfur isotopic signatures in environmental and biological samples. This information can be used to track animal migration patterns and ocean temperatures, help reconstruct ecosystems, monitor pollution or test products’ authenticity. In addition to radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analysis, CAIS researchers perform tests including elemental analysis, bio-based product testing, natural product authenticity, and organic and inorganic analyses.

    Since 2012, CAIS has conducted research for more than 450 universities, government agencies, nonprofits and industry clients, as well as hundreds of campus-based researchers, processing more than 1,000 analytical requests from UGA faculty and students. In 2015 alone, the center analyzed approximately 68,000 samples, with the stable isotope lab processing about 75 percent of those.

    CAIS Director Jeff Speakman

    And CAIS doesn't just process samples - they are also involved in education and outreach both students and the larger community:

    CAIS assistant research scientist [Alice Hunt] has always been passionate about empowering others. Before starting graduate school, she served as a humanitarian aid worker in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After arriving at the center as a postdoc in 2013, she conducted science-related outreach and education activities in the Athens community in her free time. When Speakman found out, he encouraged her to make it part of her job.

    Hunt focuses primarily on two audiences, pre-K through 12th grade and undergraduate students, sometimes working directly with students and sometimes providing resources for teachers. For example, Hunt wrote a curriculum for high school on dropping the A-bomb and radioactive decay.

    “Not every teacher is comfortable leading a class on radiation physics,” she says.

    Hunt also spearheaded the creation of a bilingual English/Spanish comic book series. The first issue covered radiocarbon dating; Hunt wrote a curriculum to accompany it and is working with the Georgia Department of Education to make it available statewide.

    And these are just some of Hunt's efforts: from working with the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation on a program that gave guidance for how to be a STEM major in college to designing a suite of interventions to help UGA students taking freshman chemistry, Hunt and the CAIS team are committed to helping people find their inner scientist.

    To learn more about CAIS, including details on some of its innovative projects, click here to continue reading.

    This post is sponsored by the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia. ACRA members are eligible for a 10% discount on radiocarbon dates - click here for the discount code.

  • 07/31/2019 3:34 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Readers can now find relevant news items compiled all in one place! In our CRM Firms in the News series, we feature recent mentions of ACRA member firms and their projects across the country. Was your firm recently featured in a news article or on social media? Send it to us to be included in our next volume of the series!

    • ACRA member firms use their expertise for more than just specific projects - many even provide guidance to their community through local media. Charissa Durst of Hardlines Design Company, which specializes in historic architecture, does just this in the Canton Repository in this recent article on repairing and preserving older homes.
    • Casey Campetti of ACRA member firm AECOM has been helping the Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohican Indians on a fascinating project in their ancestral community in western Massachusetts, where historical researchers believe George Washington prepared a ceremonial ox roast in 1783 to honor the Mohican soldiers who fought on the side of the American Revolution. Read more in the Berkshire Eagle!
    • New South Associates manages the Veterans Curation Program, whichprovides employment, vocational training, and technology skills to veterans seeking to improve their access to the mainstream job market. The VCP's Augusta lab (they have lab locations across the country) was recently featured in the Augusta Chronicle - click here to read more about this fascinating program.
    • CRM companies assist in all different kinds of historic preservation in their communities. Read about how Dovetail Cultural Resource Group is helping with the relocation of a slave auction block in Fredericksburg, VA on Fredericksburg Today. Be sure to watch the YouTube video linked in the post to hear the details of the plan to move it!

Become an ACRA member to get exclusive benefits including vendor discounts, premium access to online learning opportunities, and much more.

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