Vision

While manycompanies excel atCultural Resource Management (CRM), conventional archaeological practices alone are often at odds with the option for preservation.We witnessed how thebusinessofCRMat times conflicts with an important credo of archaeology, to preserve & protect our past. While our methods are designed to limit & mitigate impacts by development, CRM sometimes overlooks the impacts caused by the practices of archaeology itself.Native Americans have been aware of this seeminghypocrisy for some time since they see the same end result in any case, and do not care to distinguish whether that destruction comes from the developer or the archaeologist.

Unfortunately, the practice of using nondestructive geophysics methods is poorly understood by some in CRM and environmental management.We were once barred from from participating in an archaeology data sharing conference because geophysics data was not consideredrealdata since they were not artifactsof rock or bone.While a courageous few have sought tointroduce new ideas,thedisciplineof archaeology continues to guide the selection of archaeological best practices, even though that discipline had developed its methods during simpler times with far less at stake than the costs or pace of modern development. It is our opinion that these legacypractices are making CRM an obstacle, rather than a means tomitigate impacts by development, and at the very least, a stagnantsub-discipline of academic archaeology. We will remain mired in the practices of the past if we continue to pursue expensive labor intensive fieldmethods and operate seeminglyunaware of the evolving economic climate or their impact onthecultural resources that we're supposed to protect.

There is not enough known of past or modern land use practices like agriculture & land reclamation, or how subsequent erosion & sedimentation ratescan alter landscapes, artificially affectingsite detection, preservation and taphonomic processes. These important dynamics of past and modern land use practices can notbelearned without collecting the relevantgeotechnical data. A complete database should include as much negative information as positive information of cultural resources. Without such information, the CRM database is merely a collection of locations and assemblage descriptions, offering nothing new about the human use of the natural environment.

TREMAINEhaddecided to end these practices by developing nondestructivemethods to detect, map and characterize cultural resources that are obscured by grass or buried by soil. We have developed technologies to find buried landforms or the probable location of buried sites where we can not detect the site itself. Our Underground Survey Technology™ helps guide our fieldwork and informs clients with recommendations that are based on factsand not speculation. We continue to work with local State Historical Preservation Offices to accept testing andmitigation practices using geophysicsresults & sampling, rather than theoften useless surface survey or theblind&destructive archaeological test excavation.

Of course our methods are not a panacea, but when our archaeological and geotechnicalmethods are employed during the early stages of thedevelopment project lifecycle, we can protected cultural resources while also helpingour clients avoid the needless time, expense and limited value of archaeological surveys & excavations. While occasionallyunavoidable, the preponderance of evidence for CRM's failures is that current practices accomplish little to prevent workstoppages caused by new discoveries and by the sometimes frantic efforts to mitigate develop project impacts.

Except in rare circumstances of exceptional preservation, archaeology is still tooprimitive a science to recreate past lifewaysusing classificatory-descriptive and optimal foraging analyses alone. We must learn to work with extant sources, without judgement of their veracity, to find sacred places or places of important past events. Otherwise archaeology's only successful contribution to our heritage will remain limited to interpretations fromourperspective ofhistory.

We often forget that where possible,avoidanceisthe best form of mitigation.The following is an excerpt from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 40 CFR 1508.20.

Mitigation includes:

(a) Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action.

(b) Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree ormagnitudeof the action and its implementation.

(c) Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment.

(d) Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action.

(e) Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments.

John Lopez 2012