Cultural resource success at Fort Hunter Liggett
By Kathy Alward, USAEC ContractorApril 30, 2020
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. -- The largest Army Reserve installation and the 7th largest of all U.S. Army installations by land, Fort Hunter Liggett is located in the Santa Lucia Mountains along the central coast of California.The Fort's land resembles 20 percent of the world’s terrain on almost 165,000 acres of diverse and remote land that serves as a valuable training environment for constantly changing mission requirements. FHL is committed to protecting the installation’s heritage in both current and future missions without interruption to training.The FHL Cultural Resources Management Program successfully manages historic properties that are up to 8,000 years old, with more than 700 recorded archeological sites, three historic properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places and an additional four historic private in-holdings properties that are considered while planning Army actions.“Resources include Native American village sites, burial grounds, and pictographs; Spanish Mission-era structures; 19th century mining camps; historic ranch sites and cemeteries; and historic Army training sites,” according to Lisa Cipolla, FHL Cultural Resources Program manager, who went on to say, “The CRMP is dedicated to supporting the military mission by addressing compliance with federal preservation laws, managing cultural resources in support of training, and seeking to protect our nation's heritage through good stewardship practices.”FHL serves as a Strategic Readiness Platform for every branch of the military, including Active, Reserve, and National Guard units, state and federal agencies, and foreign allies. The CRMP prioritizes cultural resource projects within the FHL mission and successfully coordinates with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security and the Directorate of Public Works. CRMP is involved in all levels of planning for immediate and future missions for cultural resource compliance with historic preservation laws.Army Total Force Readiness was supported at FHL in FY19 when a closed maneuver area was opened after the implementation of a pilot mitigation strategy for capping an archaeological site to support heavy vehicle maneuver. As part of a programmatic agreement with the California State Historic Preservation Office, FHL is able to continually open more maneuver area as additional survey, testing, and mitigation is conducted. “Thanks to the successful implementation of the PA and mitigation with Integrated Training Area Management the amount of previously closed maneuverable land has been opened up to increase training capabilities for further support of the Army Total Force Readiness,” said Liz Clark, FHL Environmental Division Chief.The CRMP Team monitored the capping of two archeological sites in the Mission Road Re-alignment construction project that successfully preserved the integrity of the sites and allowed for improvement of the main road leading into the installation.CRMP has evaluated 15 historical structures that are more than 50-years old and assisted with renovation plans for an historic hotel listed on the NRHP that supports Soldiers and families on post.Sights within the Maneuver Areas are a focus as 26 archeological sites were evaluated for eligibility for listing on the NRHP and over 200 sites were monitored and successfully implemented the PA for off-road heavy vehicle maneuvers. Through collaboration with the US Army Corps of Engineers, Construction and Engineering Research Laboratory, FHL was test site for a Defense Legacy Grant, a project that is developing a new method that will reduce time and costs in conducting archeological field studies.CRMP communicates with local Salinan tribal members regularly, because FHL is their ancestral homeland. For many years FHL has coordinated with members of the local Salinan community to visit Stony Valley, an ethnographically documented sacred place, for ceremonial and educational purposes.Also in 2019 a database of detailed inventory was developed to upgrade the condition of the existing archaeological collections and more than 9,000 artifacts were repackaged to meet federal curation standards and catalogued into the inventory.FHL cultural awareness and education is achieved through several methods including assistance with helicopter tours for visiting military VIPs citing the landscape, history and capabilities of FHL. Awareness and appreciation for FHL cultural history is also included in the Newcomer’s Welcome Packet to new Soldiers and families.Community relations at FHL was exhibited at an educational event. The CRMP Team provided a talk on the Gil Adobe structure listed on the NRHP and met with the descendants of the Gil family. The CRMP Team also provided an interview for the local public radio station covering the history of the Hacienda, a historic building that was constructed by William R. Hearst that is of cultural significance and is used for community events on the installation. More information about the hacienda can be found in an interview with Cipolla atwww.kcbx.org/post/issues-ideas-tour-historic-hearst-ranch-headquarters.CRMP shares their success stories through several avenues to include participation with the Installation’s Integrated Strategic and Sustainability Planning and sharing with other Army Reserve installations and readiness divisions.