News: Class equips Corps employees with tools to safeguard nation’s historical treasures
Story by Mark Rankin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Some of the nation’s most valuable historical treasures are located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lands right here in the Nashville District. Preserving and protecting these significant resources is so essential that Corps employees recently received specialized training that equipped them with the tools necessary to safeguard archaeological sites.
A team headed by Charles Louke, an instructor from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, provided specialized archaeological resources protection training to Nashville District park rangers and essential Corps personnel during a training class March 21-25, at the J. Percy Priest Lake Resource Managers Office.
Instructors from the National Park Service, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, spent the week teaching and giving an overview of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, which included information about archaeological resources, looting behavior, crime scene investigations and field damage assessments.
In 1979, Congress passed ARPA, which provides federal agencies with the ability to prosecute violators of this regulatory statute with criminal and civil penalties.
Corps officials said the class was necessary because the Nashville District is steward of thousands of archaeological sites on approximately 96,000 acres of land. The training provided Corps staff with the knowledge and experience to work with law enforcement partners and to gather evidence when historical sites are disturbed that can lead to successful prosecutions.
Corps Archaeologist Valerie McCormack said, “The Cumberland River Valley is rich and prehistoric and historic archaeological sites including Paleo-Indian sites dating to 12,000 years ago, American Indian villages, early European exploration and settlement sites, and Civil War encampments and battlefields.”
McCormack added that these resources represent the nation’s heritage that belongs to all Americans. “The information contained within archaeological sites is often the only information regarding these past peoples and cultures,” she explained.
During the class, Corps archaeologists and park rangers discussed opportunities to raise public awareness and how they could share the nation’s heritage and the importance of preserving and protecting historical resources.
“This is a great class that will help park rangers in particular while we are in the field,” said Park Ranger Sondra Carmen from the Dale Hollow Lake Resource Manager’s Office. “This is a great opportunity for us to ask questions, interact with our archaeologists, and learn correct procedures before we get in the field to process a real site.”
The students also participated in field training where they applied what they learned from the experts in the classroom. Professional instruction and practical application provided students with the skills and knowledge to protect and preserve historical resources, and how collect evidence and interact with law enforcement partners when historical resources are disturbed.
Other Corps staff members that attended the training were Mike Looney, Lake Barkley resource manager; Tracy Durrough, security specialist; Kathryn Firsching, Office of Counsel; Kelly Wannamaker, Real Estate Office specialist; and Andreas Patterson, acting chief of Natural Resources; Park Rangers Michael Kuntz, Dean Austin, Brian Mangrum, Courney Wilson, Robert Davis, Charlie Leath, Gary Bruce, Chris Cantrell, Kenny Claywell, James Gregory, Greg Nivens, and Brant Norris; and Archaeologiests Kyle Wright and Mitzy Schaney.