Fort Indiantown Gap's stellar Cultural Resources Management program blends architectural and archaeological resources, regulatory and community partnerships, and extensive community outreach to protect precious cultural resources in Pennsylvania. The only live fire, maneuver military training facility in the state covers more than 17,000-acres and supports the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat and the 28th Infantry Division, the largest and most deployed units of their kind in the Army and Air Guard.
When cultural resources manager Rita Meneses first arrived 10 years ago to begin balancing cultural resources preservation at Fort Indiantown Gap with its important training mission, she settled in to her new job and started to establish contacts.
"My first priority was to get to know everyone and let them know I was working with them and not against them," Meneses said. "No one knew what a cultural resources manager was or what they did, what the laws were and the trouble our installation could get into if we didn't do the right thing with our precious legacy and resources here at Fort Indiantown Gap. It's worked out well for us."
All of the activities on the installation are designed to enhance the quality of training lands, not only for environmental resources but for Soldier training as well. The CRM program's success is accomplished through proactive and early planning with other installation team members and is fully described in the Installation Cultural Resource Management Plan.
National Guard, Army Reserve, active Army, Navy and Marine units, and law enforcement as well as Air Force Guard units swell the training lands and facilities users to more than 230,000 personnel each year. More than $150 million in construction has been executed over the past several years, and partnership and coordination with regulators is a key component of the CRM program. Partnerships leverage funding and expertise, expand the program's capacities and have been a great part of the program's success.
The CRM program achieved several milestones over the past two years:
• completion of the historic Range House renovation with donated resources,
• rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of 21 World War II-era barracks,
• renovation and preservation of a monument to Soldiers fallen in Iraq,
• protection of excessed armories,
• support of a large-scale former munitions range remediation,
• development of a regulatory memorandum of agreement guiding conveyance, and
• employment of university student interns.
The Pennsylvania Army National Guard's CRM program directly supports its mission by ensuring all projects and training are coordinated and conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, Meneses said. Whether it is site compliance issues or public outreach programs, the team strives to demonstrate environmental stewardship to on- and off-post audiences. Fort Indiantown Gap not only makes history but, at the same time, preserves history every day.
"One of our biggest cultural resources program challenges is ensuring the historical sites, structures and landscapes, and Native American sites are preserved for future generations while reaching a sustainable balance between new missions," said Meneses. "This place is like a Disney World for historians. Not only is the local history interesting, but the military history is phenomenal."