Thursday, August 20, 2015

Archeological Site Stewardship Training is Valuable Trail Tool

The evolution of a well-trained and multi-disciplined volunteer OHV trail workforce is both impressive and important.  In the 21st Century, it has become a critical tool and force-multiplier for land management agencies to utilize in taking care of recreation facilities.

In many areas, highways, roads, and OHV/OSV trails overlay historic routes used by Native Americans and early pioneers to travel cross-country or for trading goods and services.  Because of their history, these trails and nearby areas have significant archeological value.

Kyburz Petroglyph Open to the Public

Three good examples of historic pioneer routes are the world famous Rubicon Trail, the Mormon Emigrant Trail, and the Henness Pass (Kyburz) Trail.  Segments of said routes provide important OHV and/or OSV opportunities.


QWR believes that trail volunteers have an increasingly important role to play in assisting Forest Archeologists as stewards to monitor cultural sites.  Trail volunteers are equipped to travel long distances and can access remote archeological sites under supervision by the Forest Archeologist.

Recently, Don Amador took the California Archaeological Site Stewardship Program (CASSP) Volunteer Workshop held on the Eldorado National Forest.  QWR believes this training is important for engaged trail volunteers because it expands their ability to assist the agency in managing OHV recreation as it relates to protecting archeological resources.

The volunteer training is managed by CASSP.  It received a 2014/2015 grant from the California OHMVR Division because it is an innovative partnership program designed to assist federal land management agencies balance the statutory requirements to protect cultural resources with their responsibility to sustain long-term OHV opportunities on public lands.

Through services provided by CASSP volunteers, agencies have been able to maintain OHV opportunities that would have been restricted in order to protect cultural resources. CASSP training workshops and CASSP volunteers also help agencies to educate the public about environmental responsibility, safety, and respect for private property. CASSP has become a critical element in conserving significant historical and prehistoric cultural resources.

According to the grant application, CASSP workshops and volunteers enhance existing OHV opportunities in three ways: helping to keep trails open, improving the visitor experience by providing information about the prehistory and history, and increasing communication, education, and understanding among different groups.

Historically, the management response has often been to close trails or restrict OHV opportunities. By monitoring and protecting archaeological and historical resources, CASSP helps maintain a balance between protecting cultural sites and responsible OHV recreational use of trails and OHV areas. Also OHV site stewards serve as role models and inform other off-highway vehicle users to follow the designated trails, ride responsibly, and remember to ride safely. As a result, the cultural resources, agencies, and volunteers all benefit.

With intense wildfires burning out important trail areas on National Forests throughout California and the West, QWR believes that post-fire trail rehabilitation efforts lends import to the CASSP training since wildfires often burn vegetation or trail delineators that protect archeological and cultural sites. 
QWR looks forward to incorporating the CASSP training into its ongoing trail stewardship module.

Big thanks to all of you trail volunteers out there that are already doing a great job!  Also, helmets off to the CA OHMVR Division for funding this grant in partnership with Region 5, USDA Forest Service.

To find out more about the CASSP training go to:

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