Conservation planning can occur at the federal, state, municipal, or specific site level. Conservation planning may involve pro-active strategies which use a combination of documenting previously recorded sites and statistical modelling to project the likely distribution of sites to be recorded in the future, reactive strategies which employ methods of coordinating current development projects with the conservation of newly discovered sites, or retroactive strategies which attempt to salvage archaeological information after the partial destruction of sites. The majority of archaeological surveys involve a reactive strategy of conservation planning in which sites are identified, evaluated for potential significance, and preserved or mitigated in the event that complete preservation can not be reasonably maintained in the face of a proposed development. Government agencies and corporations at all levels, however, are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of advanced planning which can help to avoid or minimize environmental compliance issues, particularly where alternative design or development plans are available.
Archaeological surveys are typically phased for a number of reasons. From an academic perspective, it provides the opportunity to prepare relevant research designs as new sites are discovered and identified. From a cost perspective, the phased approach is a highly efficient method for reducing budgetary requirements given the unknown amount of work which would be required in the event that sites are found during the first phases of the evaluation sequence. Finally, from a planning perspective, the phased approach offers the opportunity to make early adjustments to final design plans, particularly helpful in cases where performed well in advance of the development phase or where there are severe budgetary constraints for the overall project.
In the event that potentially significant sites are identified during an archaeological survey, regulatory policies typically afford the development entity a choice of future actions based on the professional recommendations of the archaeological firm and as approved by the relevant review agency, including the in situ preservation of sites through "no build" or project redesign, acquisition of sites with preservation restrictions such as conservation easements, site preservation by incorporation into open-space or limited-use areas, minimization of effect through changes in construction or engineering methods, site documentation and burial or capping, or some degree of data recovery to mitigate the loss of potentially significant archaeological data. Ultimately, relevant compliance regulations and professional recommendations are constructed to allow a choice of future development action in the event that there arises a possible conflict between the preservation of cultural resources and the progression of the targeted development.
The coordination of government, development interests, the public, and even the mass media with respect to the disposition of historic or archaeological sites occasionally generates a considerable amount of controversy, particularly in the event that human remains are involved. The following list of projects includes those where archaeological surveys resulted in the successful coordination of project development and the appropriate conservation of cultural resources, as well as public education forums where the most sensitive issues regarding cultural resources are addressed by ACS.
- Public Addresses: Scientific Exploration versus Religious Freedom and
Spiritual Integrity -
- Identifying Historic Cemetery Boundaries: The Connecticut School for Boys Cemetery -
- Preservation Through Conservation Easements: South Farms -
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