• 01/03/2021 6:17 PM | Emma Altman

    ACRA Community- 

    The use of scientific techniques like portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (pXRFis becoming more common in historical archaeology. Research focusing on how and why archaeologists use these techniques is important to ensuring the future effective and appropriate use of them. I’m currently an anthropology master’s student at the University of Idaho (under the advisement of Mark Warner), and my thesis research is focused on the appropriateness of the use of pXRF in historical archaeology.

    As part of this research, I’m interested in looking at grey literature (site reports and other documents) for historic sites that include the use of pXRF so I might understand the contexts that pXRF is currently being used inAny shared materials would not be reproduced in the thesis; all data would be analyzed in non-identifiable aggregate. In the unlikely scenario that I would like to include specific details, I will directly request permission from your firm.  

    If you or your firm have any documents or reports that you would be willing to share with me for this research project, please contact me at ealtman@uidaho.edu. 


    Emma Altman
    ACRA Student Member


  • 12/31/2020 2:18 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA is celebrating the work of its member firms through this new series highlighting 2020 projects. To be featured, submit your project here.

    Landing Strip - Google Earth Pro 2019

    FM 756
    Tyler, Smith County - Texas
    AmaTerra Environmental, Inc.

    AmaTerra Environmental, Inc. completed a historic structures resources survey for a 6.8 mile road widening project for TxDOT. The project included a survey of land originally owned by Bobby Manziel - the grandfather of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, all completed from the ROW. Subsequent research yielded a fascinating story that includes an appearance from heavyweight boxing great Jack Dempsey, the history of cockfighting in the area, and more. Read below for the full report!

    Camera facing north. NETROnline 1965.

    Property 10 is owned by the Manziel Family Rental Partnership with buildings located on two large parcels, 149 acres and 197 acres. According to the Tyler librarian, this land was owned by the grandfather of football Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel. The grandfather, Bobby Manziel, was notorious for cock fighting. Three different news articles verified the librarian's information with the exception that Bobby Manziel was the great grandfather of Johnny.

    Bobby Joe Manziel, born in Lebanon, immigrated to the United States and became a bantamweight boxer (Tedesco 2016). When Bobby retired from boxing, he borrowed money from heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Dempsey, to drill for oil. He had a successful well in Gladewater, Texas, around 1936 (Tedesco 2016). At the age of 33, he married 18-year old Dorothy Nolan in 1937 and settled in Tyler, Texas, where he purchased property outside the city limits then built a house (Tedesco 2016).

    In addition to his continued success in oil ventures, Bobby was interested in cockfighting, even though the sport was illegal in Texas. Bobby developed his own breed of birds aptly named Manziel greys and reds (Townsend 2013). Another enthusiast, Jay Goode, recalls fighting his roosters at the Dripping Springs pit in Waco, Texas. Jay stated he fought against some of the toughest cockers in the world, of which Bobby Manziel was one of the men he named (Goode 2001). He also had cattle, some of which were a gift from Richard Kelberg of King Ranch.

    During a 1956 interview, a reporter stated they could see Bobby's herd of Santa Gertrudis cattle and some 1,200 fighting gamecocks from the windows of the Manziel house. Bobby died four months after that interview at the age of 51 (Tedesco 2016). One of his pallbearers was the Texas State Attorney General.

    Camera facing north. NETROnline 1970.

    The Manziel's had seven children; their son Norman Paul, was the grandfather of Johnny Manziel. Norman's son was John Paul. John moved his family to Kerrville, Texas when Johnny was young. Dorothy passed away in 2003. The Manziel family still owns the property but based on the title, lease it out. Cattle are visible in the 2019 aerial photographs. The 1965 aerial photograph appears to have a collection of small structures, possible bird shelters and feeders, west of the house, which are no longer visible on the 2019 aerial photograph.

    Although Bobby Manziel was a notorious cockfighter and created his own gamecock breed, the structures associated with the gamecocks do not appear to be present when viewing historic aerial photographs. It is not known if Manziel organized gamecock fighting events on his property. Due to the lack of information, the historian was unable to fully evaluate the property for its historic use as a gamecock farm and therefore no recommendation is made for Criterion A.

    While Bobby certainly was an interesting man possessing both wealth and local importance, his only known significant accomplishment was developing a gamecock breed. There is no additional information providing evidence of whether that breed was pivotal to the industry in any way, nor is it an unusual hobby, although illegal. Based on the information so far known, Bobby's contributions fail to rise to the level necessary to be listed in the National Register, and therefore Property 10 is recommended not eligible for Criterion B.

    Because right of entry was not granted for Property 10, access to the property and the buildings was not available. Examination of use, material condition and determination of architectural integrity was difficult to determine based on the distance of the buildings from the ROW. The determination of resource types/uses was based on professional experience and may not be correct, particularly for 10e (slaughterhouse), 10g (mobile home) and 10f (barn) . Structures on the south parcel included the house (10a), brick entrance gate (10b), Quonset hut/equipment shed (10c), beef cattle barn (10d), barn (10f), barn (10h), and small stock pond (10n). Structures on the north parcel included slaughterhouse (10e), mobile home (10g), landing strip (10i) and associated buildings (10jkl), and large stock pond (10m). According to TxDOT's Historic Resources Toolkit, guide "South Texas Ranching", post-war buildings often used pre-manufactured metal buildings which were transported to the site whole or had to be assembled (Moore 2013: 4:53). The ancillary buildings are constructed of different materials; wood (10df), concrete block (10e), and metal (10c) which indicates some of the buildings may have been constructed before World War ii. Analyzing historic aerials, the extant buildings are located in a large circular pattern with a holding pen in the middle, atypical of the cluster pattern of work/agricultural zones. The buildings do not appear to display any noteworthy craftsmanship or construction methods and are typical examples and forms for their era and the region. The historian is unable to fully evaluate the buildings individually or as a collective whole and therefore no recommendation is made under Criterion C.

  • 12/30/2020 1:25 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    From the ACHP:

    On April 3, 2020, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation issued a blanket extension regarding the review under 36 CFR 800.12 of undertakings responding to COVID-19 emergency and disaster declarations. Three extensions were issued, the third of which was set to expire on December 31, 2020. Considering the likelihood of such declarations remaining in place into the foreseeable near future, and the ongoing need for federal agency responses to them, that extension is now set to expire on March 31, 2021.

    The press release is also on the ACHP website.

  • 12/29/2020 2:02 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA is celebrating the work of its member firms through this new series highlighting 2020 projects. To be featured, submit your project here.

    Discovery of USS Nevada
    Pacific Ocean
    SEARCH, Inc.

    SEARCH and their partner, Ocean Infinity, located USS Nevada (BB-36) 65 nautical miles southwest of Pearl Harbor at a depth of over 15,400 feet. USS Nevada is one of the U.S. Navy's longest serving battleships.

    The mission was jointly coordinated between SEARCH’s operations center and one of Ocean Infinity’s vessels, Pacific Constructor. Pacific Constructor set sail for a range of commercial tasks in the Pacific in early 2020, ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the global health crisis, the ship has remained at sea on a range of taskings.

    Dr. James Delgado, SEARCH’s Senior Vice President and lead maritime archaeologist on the mission, said:

    “Nevada is an iconic ship that speaks to American resilience and stubbornness. Rising from its watery grave after being sunk at Pearl Harbor, it survived torpedoes, bombs, shells and two atomic blasts. The physical reality of the ship, resting in the darkness of the great museum of the sea, reminds us not only of past events, but of those who took up the challenge of defending the United States in two global wars. This is why we do ocean exploration - to seek out those powerful connections to the past.”

    The project was featured in both National Geographic and the Washington Post. Be sure to check out these features for further project details!

    USS Nevada’s History

    USS Nevada had an extraordinary service, spanning three and a half decades. She was launched in 1914, and performed escort duties for valuable convoys headed to the British Isles. At the end of WWI she escorted the ocean liner George Washington, carrying U.S. president Woodrow Wilson to attend The Paris Peace Conference. In WWII, on 7 December 1941 in the attack on Pearl Harbor, USS Nevada was the only battleship to get underway but, having been struck by five bombs, finally sank in nearby shallow waters. During this action 60 of her crew were killed and 109 wounded. Following salvage operations she soon re-joined the war effort, sailing to the United Kingdom to take part in the D-Day landings, amongst other European operations. She then sailed to the Pacific, arriving off Iwo Jima in February 1945 and played an important part in the invasion of Okinawa. After WWII, USS Nevada was assigned to be a target ship in the first Bikini atomic experiments in 1946, which she survived. Finally, in 1948 she was used as a gunnery practice target. Unable to be sunk by the ships using her as a target, she finally went down having been hit by an aerial torpedo on 31 July 1948.

    Additional information on this fascinating project can be found at searchinc.com and oceaninfinity.com.

  • 12/23/2020 4:20 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    A new year brings new opportunities for growth, and that includes growth within diversity and inclusion in the CRM industry. We are planning to unveil numerous projects addressing this issue in the new year, including sessions as a part of the ACRA webinar series. In the meantime, we wanted to shared two webinars of interest to CRM professionals  that have been announced by other organizations for 2021. Read more about these sessions below!

    Unsettling the Past: Radically Reimagining Archaeological Knowledge
    January 13, 2021 - 4:00 pm EST

    For decades, Black and Indigenous archaeologists have rightfully called for a radical reimagining of how archaeology interprets and understands the past. The formulation of archaeologies by, for, and with Indigenous peoples and informed by Black feminist experiences are a testament to the desire of scholars to create a field rooted in decolonial and liberatory praxis. These decolonial interventions work to unsettle the past—reveling in the human complexity of Indigenous and Black life. This panel, comprised of leading Indigenous and Black archaeologists and artists, focuses squarely on the continued work of scholars who are helping to decolonize Black and Indigenous pasts by reshaping how archaeological knowledge is created.

    From the Margins to the Mainstream: Black and Indigenous Futures in Archaeology
    March 2, 2021 - 4:00 pm EST
    Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies

    The eighth webinar to emerge from CIAMS's collaboration with the Society of Black Archaeologists (SBA) and Indigenous Archaeology Collective (IAC) is entitled, "Climate Change and Landscape".

  • 12/22/2020 1:51 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    As a year none of us will forget (try as we might) comes to an end, a flurry of activity in Washington and Wilmington, DE, carries a mix of good and not-so-good news for the CRM industry.

    In DC, Congress has reached agreement on a $908 billion COVID relief package, which both chambers passed on Monday, sending it to the President. The good news: the plan includes $325 billion in small business relief with a new round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. And it sets aside $12 billion for minority-owned and very small businesses. The plan also would provide $600 stimulus checks to many individuals and children and a $300 weekly unemployment insurance boost.

    More good news: The bill also blocks an inadvertent tax increase on small business in 2021. When Congress created the PPP last spring, they allowed for loan forgiveness if certain conditions were met; they also specified that the proceeds from forgiven loans would be exempt from gross income. But the IRS subsequently ruled that business expenses made via a forgiven loan would not be tax deductible like other ordinary business expenses. What’s more, the IRS said that businesses could not deduct 2020 expenses even if they had yet to receive loan forgiveness, but expected to in 2021.

    The practical effect of the IRS decision would be that millions of companies could face as much as a 37-percent tax increase when they file their 2020 taxes – including many firms that had their PPP loans forgiven without knowing their expenses would not be deductible. A nasty tax surprise like that would hit companies right as COVID-related lockdowns and work stoppages threaten to increase as coronavirus infection rates climb.

    As ACRA President Nathan Boyless and Society of American Archaeology President Joe Watkins said in a letter to Hill lawmakers last week, “As the pandemic continues to exact a toll on the nation’s economy, small businesses need additional support, not a massive tax bill that runs counter to the original intent of Congress in creating the PPP loans.”

    Thankfully, Congress listened to ACRA, SAA and a host of other business groups, and the COVID relief package clarifies that expenses incurred via PPP loans that are forgiven will still be tax deductible.

    The emerging package is not all good news, however. Plans to provide additional financial relief to state and local governments was dropped, due to disagreements between the parties on liability protections for companies. The lack of state and local relief means that governments across the country will face potential budget crunches without any additional federal help. For State Historic Preservation Offices, tight state budgets can mean layoffs or cutbacks, which in turn hurts their states’ ability to facilitate Section 106 reviews, support sites on the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic Tax Credit Program. State and federal aid will have to wait until next year.

    The COVID relief package is being welded to a $1.4 billion bill to fund government agencies and operations for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which runs until next September. That plan also carries some good news for preservation: the Historic Preservation Fund, which underwrites a range of preservation activities, including supporting State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, will receive more than $25 million than in the previous fiscal year. The Fund is paid for by royalties from oil and natural gas on the federally owned lands; while the Fund can legally receive up to $150 million per year, Congress normally provides less. In fiscal 2021, Congress will provide $144 million, closer to the full amount than ever before. Lobbying efforts by ACRA and other historic preservation advocates has made an enormous difference.

    Meanwhile, a short Amtrak ride from the nation’s capital, President-elect Joe Biden continues to fill out his Cabinet and senior positions. On Thursday, it was revealed that he has selected New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland as his Secretary of the Interior.

    Haaland would make history as the first Native American head of the Cabinet agency that oversees, among other things, programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and territorial affairs. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people, and she has long advocated for the preservation of historic and sacred land. As NBC News reported, “In 2016, when she was the chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party, she traveled to the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota to show solidarity with the demonstrators. She also led an effort as her state's party chair to divest the party from investments in Wells Fargo, over the bank's ties to the pipeline.”

    Haaland became one of the first two Native American women ever to serve in the House (along with Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) when first elected in 2018. In the House, Haaland served as Chair of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee and was a member of the Historic Preservation Caucus. If confirmed she will take over an agency that has faced numerous challenges in recent years, including low staff morale due to personnel decisions that have forced some longtime staff to relocate or leave government service.

    As 2020 comes to a merciful end, federal policymakers confront a long to-do list in the new year, including ensuring speedy distribution of the COVID vaccines, reviving the economy, addressing the climate crisis, coming to grips with racial inequality and lowering the temperature on the country’s partisan passions. Last week’s negotiations on the COVID relief package show that, even in a difficult political climate, it’s still possible to get some things done. And that may be the best news we can get.

  • 12/21/2020 3:23 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team
     ACRA Action Alert

    Yesterday the Senate passed the African-American Burial Grounds Study Act (S. 2827). We need you to send a message to your Representative today and ask them to support passage of a House version of the bill.

    The legislation directs the National Park Service to study ways to account for and preserve historic African American cemeteries and burial grounds, and to develop ways to provide grant opportunities and technical assistance to local partners to research, identify, survey and preserve these burial grounds. It is based on legislation (H.R. 1179) introduced in the House in 2019 by Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), which has the support of members from both sides of the aisle.

    Taking action takes just one minute - simply find your legislator here, and use the draft text below to craft your message. Feel free to personalize/amend the text to fit your experiences!

    Congress needs to vote on this before it adjourns, which could be as early as today - make your voice heard NOW!

    Draft Message

    Dear Representative:

    As a cultural resource management professional and a constituent from [town/city], I urge you to support the African-American Burial Grounds Study Act, a bill that will help protect and preserve African American burial grounds.

    African American burial grounds are a vital part of our nation’s heritage. They are the resting places of countless freed slaves, civil rights champions, military veterans, community leaders and beloved family members, many of whom were blocked from being buried in White cemeteries. Many African American burial sites lack any official record or database. Many of these sites have been neglected and abused, effectively erasing the memory of countless Americans whose history deserves to be told.

    The African-American Burial Grounds Study Act (S. 2827) directs the National Park Service to study ways to account for and preserve historic African American cemeteries and burial grounds, and to develop ways to provide grant opportunities and technical assistance to local partners to research, identify, survey and preserve these burial grounds. It is based on legislation (H.R. 1179) introduced in the House in 2019 by Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), which has the support of members from both sides of the aisle.

    I urge you and your colleagues to pass a House version of the Senate bill before adjourning for recess.

  • 12/21/2020 2:30 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    THREE Questions is a blog series highlighting ACRA member firms and their experiences in the CRM industry. The questions are inspired by ACRA's prioritized strategic outcomes, and the series is a great opportunity to highlight your firm. This can lead to potential new collaborations with other firms, increased networking, and more!

    We like to feature members from all CRM disciplines, firm sizes, and more - and now we want to feature YOU! Simply answer the 3 questions here and send us a photo.

    You can increase the profile of your firm by answering just 3 questions - submit yours now!

    Answer 3 Questions Now

  • 12/18/2020 12:02 PM | Mike Metcalf

    Editor's Note: The Institute for Heritage Education is an opportunity for individual firms to support heritage education. ACRA is currently working on programs that complement IHE's work at an organizational level, including partnering directly with universities. Look for big announcements on these programs in early 2021.

    Dear Colleagues,

    As a cultural resources management professional you know the importance of alternative mitigation strategies and public participation when designing Treatment Plans. In fact, more engaged communication with and inclusion of the public remain important goals supported by the profession, as well as being codified in regulations.

    The Institute for Heritage Education (IHE) is a new, 501(c)3 heritage-focused non-profit dedicated to furthering the inclusion of all types of heritage studies in educational curricula (https://www.heritageeducation.org). Metcalf Archaeological Consultants (Metcalf) joined the board of IHE not just because we support the Institute’s goals, but because we have seen the success of inclusion of programs like Project Archaeology in our Treatment Plans. IHE’s mission is to provide and support education that helps people understand and appreciate their own cultural heritage and the cultural heritage of others. Its specific purposes are to:

    1.  Support established and new cultural heritage education programs and projects by providing funding, curriculum development, professional development, consultation and continuity of leadership as needed to help make those efforts sustainable and optimally effective.
    2. Provide materials and professional development opportunities for cultural heritage educators, including classroom teachers, museum educators, cultural resource interpretation specialists and youth group leaders.
    3. Contribute to the professionalization of cultural heritage education.

    IHE exists because of the passion of Jeanne Moe who was the long term program lead for Project Archaeology. She and a small group of volunteers provided the groundwork and seed money to get the organization started, and IHE awarded 11 small educational grants in 2020. We are asking for contributions from cultural resource management companies because IHE’s goals align with critical needs for the industry to demonstrate the relevancy of CRM to native communities and the general public. Metcalf will be donating to the organization and offering volunteer support from our team to help it achieve its goal for financial stability, and we will be personally donating as well. We are asking you and/or your firm help IHE reach its fundraising goal of $25,000.00 for 2021.

    A thriving IHE will be a perfect conduit for communicating the importance of the work we do to a wider, more engaged and critical audience. Embedding cultural heritage into education ensures continued interest and support for heritage programs.

    Thank you for joining our appeal,

    Mike Metcalf

    Becca Simon

    IHE Board of Directors

  • 12/18/2020 11:45 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    On January 27 and 28, 2021, the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) is holding a FREE Virtual Conference, and ACRA members and other CRM professionals are encouraged to attend!

    Under the theme of "Resilience in a Changing Environment," the program includes a session on tribal engagement and uniting tribal voices, a presentation and Q&A on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a listening session, and more. 

    You can register now on the NATHPO website. We hope to see you (virtually) there!

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