A new archaeologist has started with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch to preserve Fort McCoy’s history and more.Ryan J. Howell started as the on-staff Fort McCoy Garrison archaeologist in November. His duties also require him to serve as the installation cultural resource manager and Native American coordinator.Officially, his job description states, he “administers all aspects of the Fort McCoy Cultural Resource Management program. Responsible for the identification, evaluation, management, and protection of archaeological and historic architectural resources on Fort McCoy. Serves as subject matter expert, coordinator, and mission support for Native American tribal government liaison and interaction needs.”Howell said he’s happy to be at Fort McCoy, where there is a very culturally rich program.“Fort McCoy has a great number — more than 300 — archaeological sites representing a diverse history that includes 11,000-year-old Native American arrowhead quarries and effigy mound sites to pre-World War I Army training camps, such as Camp Emory Upton,” Howell said. “It’s a real privilege to help meet and support the Army’s mission to protect, preserve, and educate the garrison and general public about these resources. I also look forward to the challenge of using creative cultural resource management techniques to help support training and the primary garrison mission while still protecting the resources.”Fort McCoy has had decades of archaeology work done on the installation. Howell said he appreciates the work of those who were at the installation before him.“The Army has supported nearly 40 years of annual archaeological survey and excavation on post,” Howell said. “This has really provided an amazingly detailed view into the diversity of the past Native American, military, and farm/homestead history of Fort McCoy’s landscape. There is probably no other upper valley drainage along the Mississippi River that has been so thoroughly studied for archaeology and history.” Howell, a native of Southwest Wisconsin, said he has been around the world supporting archaeology efforts.“I have done archaeology all over the world for the last 30 years or so,” Howell said. “Places I have been working include pirate sites in the Caribbean to Inuit and Aleut sites in the Bering Sea. But Southwest Wisconsin is my home, and I always return to it. I earned my graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison, and my first post-graduate job was working at Fort McCoy for the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education program in 1999. Since then, I have worked for UW-La Crosse, for Native American tribes, and in the private sector for construction and engineering companies that had to avoid damaging cultural resources in their projects.”The DPW’s Natural Resources Branch has some very well experienced staff members, in addition to Howell. He said he’s looking forward to being part of the team.“The Natural Resources Branch at Fort McCoy is incredibly strong in terms of experience and teamwork,” Howell said. “I think that shows in the number of Army installation awards that have been won by the program and the fact that nearly all of the staff members are considered experts in their fields, and are often sought out by outside agencies like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their expertise. I am looking forward to the challenge of managing and supporting cultural resources at a similarly high level of skill and performance for the Army.”Howell said he’ll be supporting the NRB staff as they highlight natural and cultural resources for the post during the annual Armed Forces Day Open House every May. He said there also will be other events that he’ll support to bring awareness about culture and history to the Fort McCoy community and the public.“In addition to the annual open house, we will likely be doing some programming for Native American Heritage Month every November as well,” Howell said. “I also have some ideas about getting active service members and military family members involved in volunteer/fun archaeological digs in the Pine View Recreation Area that I hope to explore more with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation personnel and others.”(The Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch contributed to this article.)