Connecting the Dots: Integrating Cultural and Natural Resource Management In The US

Michael Heilen & Jeffrey H. Altschul

Landholding agencies in the United States are under increasing pressure to integrate cultural
and natural resource management approaches at a landscape level and to do so earlier and
more comprehensively in planning processes. How to integrate management practices is
poorly understood, however. An impediment to integration is that the laws, methods, and
tools used in cultural and natural resource management differ significantly. Natural resource
management protects or rehabilitates habitats and ecosystems that support endangered
species, while cultural resource management focuses on identification and protection
of individual sites. Agencies need to shift the focus from managing sites to defining
cultural landscape elements and their relationship to natural resource management units
and concerns. We suggest that agencies use archaeological predictive modeling, resource
classes, and paleoenvironmental and cultural historical information to geospatially define
cultural landscapes, predict resource distributions and values, and identify opportunities and
protocols for collectively managing cultural and natural resources. As the United States faces
increasing deregulation and limited preservation funding, we believe an integrated approach
will be critical in preserving and protecting both cultural and natural heritage.

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