The Texas Army National Guard’s Cultural Resources Management program was recognized with the 2022 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for Natural Resources for a large installation. It is one of the largest and most complex programs of its kind; blending collaborative partnerships and technological advances to effectively manage treasured archaeological, cultural and historic assets.
It has more than 34,000 acres with prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, cultural landscapes, documents, buildings, structures, American Indian traditional cultural properties, as well as previously collected artifacts from earlier archaeological surveys.
The Texas ARNG has an ongoing relationship with 16 consulting American Indian tribes, manages a 221-acre National Register Historic District, a National Register eligible Nike Missile Silo and radar site district, 52 National Register eligible buildings, six traditional cultural properties and almost 700 archaeological sites.
“The Cultural Resources Management program is both broad and complex, and it requires us to stay focused on our mission while actively engaging in close relationships with the many stakeholders we work with and serve,” said Richard Martinez, Texas environmental program chief. “The Cultural Resources Manager (CRM) is fully integrated into the TX ARNG operations and is a part of how we do what we do every day. That’s a key to our collective success.”
One of the more notable projects over the past two years has been the rehabilitation of Building 1 at Camp Mabry. The World War I-era building was essentially gutted to address structural problems and then rebuilt working with the Texas State Historical Preservation Office to ensure all historical standards were followed. The structure now serves as a centerpiece of a historic district at Camp Mabry and as the Adjutant General’s offices.
“We were able to preserve and transform a building that was nearly unsalvageable and convert it into a historic showplace, to preserve and celebrate our collective history,” said Dedra Dahl, Texas project manager.
Another notable collaborative effort involved an enhanced traditional cultural property survey throughout the state of Texas. Building on a successful track record of engagement with American Indian tribes, the revised and improved survey brought in tribal representatives for collaboration to better identify and delineate traditional cultural use areas. Along with these accomplishments, the Texas ARNG CRM also expanded partnerships for site monitoring and inventories with universities, drastically reducing costs for such services compared to private contractors. The site monitoring contract includes capability to bring tribal specialists to the training sites to monitor cultural resources or projects as needed.
On the technology front, the Texas ARNG was lauded for the introduction of a “photopoint database” for architectural and archaeological site monitoring that is linked to a geographic information system. The database, developed with a university partner, is being used to establish visual records of cultural sites to track impacts from fire, erosion or other disturbances.
Another effort that blended technology and collaboration to produce better outcomes involved the complex process of curating and managing cultural and archaeological assets. Texas ARNG is in the final stage of completing an overarching curation agreement to cover over 30 years of individual agreements related to 30 years of archaeological investigations across the state.
“Our Cultural Resource Management program goals are aligned with Texas ARNG’s goals – to put people first with proactive management to reduce cultural resource impacts, support readiness through efficient and effective stewardship, and communicate effectively with stakeholders ranging from the Native American nations, the State Historic office and the public,” said Kristen Mt. Joy, CRM.
“These efforts can pay dividends on multiple fronts. For example, historical preservation projects are planned to put preservation and modern requirements in balance, allowing modernization of existing facilities versus the extended time and costs to request and construct new ones.”