Background

Zion National Park’s mission is to preserve the dynamic natural process of canyon formation as an extraordinary example of canyon erosion and to protect and preserve the valuable cultural, geologic, and biological resources while providing safe, sustainable, and cost-efficient access for visitors’ experiences and enjoyment. In addition, the park aims to educate both visitors and the general public about this exceptional environment.

Zion National Park, in Utah, contains evidence of at least 8,000 years of human occupation by Archaic, Ancestral Puebloans (known by archeologists as the Virgin Branch of the Kayenta Anasazi and Parowan Fremont), Southern Paiutes, and Mormon settlers who arrived in the 1860s.

Rock art is a fragile, non‐renewable resource that provides a tangible connection to the past. It is continually impacted by environmental forces, resulting in the deterioration or complete loss of elements. Without adequate baseline documentation and condition assessment data, park management cannot measure the degree or rate of natural and cultural impacts to rock art. In addition, public interpretation produced from baseline documentation enhances visitor understanding of and appreciation for rock art.

Zion National Park does not have consistent and detailed baseline documentation and condition assessments of prehistoric rock art sites and historic inscriptions. In addition, most of the known rock art sites need updated.  The park requires the preparation of archaeological documentation and analysis of all of the park’s sites with prehistoric rock art, rock modification, and historic inscriptions. This project will encompass fieldwork, archival/historic research, and a records search. The project will address the following objectives:

  • Documentation of prehistoric rock art, historic inscriptions, and rock modifications (including: archaeological site recording, site updates, condition assessments, fuels assessments, new GPS locations/shape files, and individual rock art element documentation
  • Conduct tribal consultation with 17 associated tribes to learn the significance of these sites, their perspectives on management and treatment, and to learn what they wish to be shared for visitor education.
  • Completion of a prehistoric rock art analysis and conservation recommendations by a rock art specialist
  • Develop a report including a rock art and historic inscription cultural history, management strategies, preservation recommendations, scientific interpretation, and tribal consultation summary

To support these objectives, the National Park Service (NPS) has contracted Aspen CRM Solutions to work with NPS and document and assess the listed cultural resources.

The Aspen CRM Solutions team is made up of three individuals:

  • Emily Brown, archaeologist and project manager
  • David Lee, rock art specialist
  • Jeff Brown, historic preservation and GIS specialist

Tribal Consultation

There are 17 federally recognized tribes known to have ancestral and shared lands within, and proximate to, the Zion National park area. Additional tribes may have associations with the area through relationships with other groups, the existence of trail networks, resource-gathering locales, or in other ways.

The Process

Aspen CRM Solutions will facilitate tribal consultation.  The 17 affiliated tribes will be invited to attend two consultation meetings (dates and times to be determined), and two site field visits in Zion National Park. The goal of consultation is to communicate and discuss various topics including:

  • Significance of rock images
  • Perspectives on management of sites
  • Perspectives on treatment of sites
  • Determine what, if any, information or details tribes wish to share with visitors regarding these sites
  • Obtain information about ongoing consultation regarding the sites
  • Any other information tribes wish to convey to Zion National Park to facilitate culturally sensitive and information management and treatment of such sites

The Report

The material collected will be compiled into a confidential report that will be submitted to the Zion National Park. It will contain the following:

  • Background and archival information related to the span of rock art and historic inscriptions in the park and region.
  • Synopsis of recorded rock art, rock modifications, and historic inscriptions at Zion
  • Summary of all the completed archaeological documentation
  • Recommendations for management strategies to protect sites form human and natural impacts
  • Monitoring recommendations and schedule
  • Rock art research and scientific interpretation
  • Conservation and treatment recommendations
  • Tribal consultation summary

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