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The Legacy Program: A Model for Federal Agencies: Enhancing the Management of Natural and Cultural Resources 

12-09-2015 17:35

Legacy has come of age! Its champions are men and women from every military service and civilian defense agency who have joined together in a unique public-private partnership with communities across the nation. Today, the Legacy Resources Management Program stands as a model initiative--a shining example of enlightened federal leadership---the product of a new and progressive era of environmental consciousness.

With these words Senator Daniel K. Inouye, the sponsor of the Department of Defense`s Legacy Resource Management Program, greeted attendees at the first Legacy Regional Workshop in April 1992. Just eighteen months after its establishment it had already inspired many changes to the Defense Department`s management of natural, cultural, and historic resources under its jurisdiction. Created by the Fiscal Year 1991 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, the program continues to change the way the Department of Defense (DOD) protects the legacy of biological, geophysical, and cultural and historic resources on military installations Funded at $10 million in 1991, the program grew to $25 million in 1992 and to $50 million in 1993. It is currently programmed in the Defense budget through 1998. These funds, in addition to those budgeted through previous programs, are making environmental conservation and resource stewardship a reality.

The DoD has a long tradition of stewardship of both natural and cultural resources extending back to the War Department`s management of Yellowstone, Chattanooga Battlefield, and other national landmarks. During the last twenty years it has developed policies increasingly concerned with the protection of such resources on its military installations. The DoD`s responsibilities extend over approximately twenty-five million acres (about the size of Kentucky) that are divided into more than 200 large installations or bases and more than 1,000 smaller bases as well as bases in foreign countries managed under agreements with the host nation. Changes in the military mission also changed the use of much of this land. At the same time, with the expansion of urbanized areas and the increasing demand on other public land for recreational uses, DoD land is often the only location for some unique or sensitive biological habitats and for cultural resources that have retained their historic integrity. Threatened and endangered species extinct in other areas are found only on military installations; paleontological resources, stripped from other lands, are still intact; and cultural resources, including rock art, ancient prehistoric sites, and the remnants of our earliest historic communities still exist on DoD land.

Such installations as Fort Carson, Colorado, and Fort Huachuca, Arizona, are home to rare plant and animal species as well as geophysical and paleontological resources. Places associated with military history--Fort Sill, Oklahoma, F.E.Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Washington, for example--stand as reminders of our past. Other installations, such as Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, Fort Lewis, Washington, and Fort Hood, Texas, are developing policies and programs to ensure protection of places important to Native Americans. All of these installations are finding new ways through the Legacy Program to enhance the management of their natural and cultural resources while continuing to serve the needs of the modern military mission.

The Legacy Program, conceived by the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, recognizes that individual efforts must be given greater support and become part of a department wide conservation initiative. This was defined by nine legislative purposes that emphasize developing management programs, undertaking inventories, and identifying significant resources, including those associated with threatened and endangered species, Native Americans, and the Cold War. To accomplish these goals, Legacy devotes approximately ten percent of its funds to broad study areas and the remainder to demonstration projects. These are coordinated in the office of Sherri Wasserman Goodman, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environment Security. Staff support is provided by the Department of the Army`s Directorate of Environmental Programs (Conservation Division).

While the DoD has had policies to meet the requirements of natural and cultural resources laws and to develop installation plans, funding for this work has been scattered and insufficient. In a decentralized agency where almost all funds go directly to commanders of individual installations, economies of scale among installations or within a command were almost impossible to achieve. The Legacy program is making funds available that could be directed in new ways. This included funding "purple" activities--those that would support the DoD and all three of the military departments, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Even when projects are single-service or single-installation, they all have to meet the same Legacy criteria--to demonstrate stewardship, leadership, and partnerships in the management of natural and cultural resources.

The cultural resources component of the Legacy program, approximately forty percent of total program funding, focuses on activities that can best be accomplished by a centralized program to enhance decentralized installation management. As called for in the legislation, this includes development of DoD-wide plans, priorities, standards, and programs for consistent stewardship of cultural resources. The program also emphasizes the integration of cultural-resource management with other environmental and land-use programs, especially biological and geophysical resource management, at both the installation level and within geographic regions for specific resource types. It was this purpose that led to the Pacific Regional Workshop and, later, to the Texas Regional Workshop. Legacy also focuses the DoD on an intensive review of some specific topics that had not been addressed in the past, including resources associated with Native Americans, settler communities, and the Cold War. And beyond the DoD, there is emphasis on providing the public with more opportunities to benefit from the stewardship of these resources through new publications and information, increased access, and training and awareness programs. The Legacy model is calling for a combination of centralized funding and project selection in order to achieve program consistency, integrated management, and implementation of a conservation ethic throughout the Department.


Under the broad study area known as the Cultural Resources Program Development Task Area, a partnership was established between the DoD, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. Together this team examined the DoD`s past record in historic preservation and then developed a strategic plan for the future. Under the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 202(A)(6) authority, the Advisory Council reviewed the activities of the DoD and the military departments and identified many inconsistencies in their compliance with preservation laws. Three workshops led by the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers explored subjects and activities to be considered by the DoD in its cultural-resources program. These included command attitude, treatment of historic documents, modification of historic landscapes, destruction of Native American and settler sites, and decision making processes. Finally, in the summer of 1993, with the assistance of CEHP, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based preservation policy firm, these parties and other members of the Cultural Resources Task Area team, which included a number of subject matter experts under contract for this Task team, working with the Defense Cultural Resources Council, a technical advisory group within DoD, developed a strategic plan for department wide cultural resources management.

The strategic plan, Defense and the Cultural Heritage, identifies ten policies to be adopted by the DoD and the military services in order to ensure stewardship of the cultural resources on land under the jurisdiction of the DoD. The ten areas are: compliance, consistent terminology, management support, coordination within the DoD, integration with biological and earth resource management, planning systems, inventories and data management, international responsibilities, public interest, and partnership opportunities.

The plan identifies a series of actions necessary to eliminate current deficiencies and institutionalize a balanced program. These include training in the compliance process for all installation managers and conservation awareness for all DoD employees and installation visitors, review and improvement of audit systems, and guides to legal issues. Basic to all actions is the need for consistency in definitions, particularly of cultural resources, in all DoD documents and in the interpretation of these resources for the public. Other actions include development of job descriptions and performance standards, coordination with the DoD of all cultural-resource activities, development of standard planning principles for cultural resources management plans, standard operating procedures for inventory systems and data management, and procedures for addressing international management concerns. Finally, actions are identified for increased use of cultural resources by the public and enhanced cultural-resources management through partnerships.

A similar approach is being taken with the other two task areas that focus on cultural resources: Native Americans and Settler Communities and the Cold War. In both cases an action plan was developed in cooperation with the National Park Service and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers that identifies specific tasks for the DoD to undertake in order to meet its stewardship responsibilities.

In the case of Native Americans emphasis is being place on coordinating the DoD`s response to their concerns. A very important part of this is developing mechanisms to ensure that installation commanders and DoD decision makers are aware of Native American interests in cultural resources on DoD property. This is especially important since almost fifty percent of tribal leaders are veterans, and Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives are employed at all echelons of the Defense Department. In the. case of settler communities, workshops are being conducted to explore the relationship of the latest scholarship to the identification of a new suite of historic contexts for this important class of resources. Through the work of this task area, the DoD is identifying its stewardship responsibilities for those cultural and related biological and geophysical resources, traditions, documents, and artifacts, burials, and history of previous occupants of land now under the control of the DoD. Additionally, demonstration projects are addressing a number of specific topics.

A different Task Area is the Cold War History Study. This working group is addressing the dilemma of how the DoD should manage places and documents made significant between 1947 and 1989 that may be demolished or lost by the time they can be determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Under various treaties some of these places have already been demolished without recordation. In other cases significance is unknown because documents are still classified or owned by defense-industry contractors. Added to this is the daily alteration of many places to peacetime uses. The findings and recommendations of this study were reported to Congress in September 1993.


From the beginning of the Legacy Program, cultural-resources demonstration projects have been selected to explore many of the issues now identified in the strategic plans. With the conclusion of the FY 93 funding, Legacy will have funded more than 200 cultural-resource demonstration projects. The projects range in scope from the protection of a single artifact to national inventories and from $1,500 to more than $1 million. All of them must show either new approaches to preservation or involve cultural resources not previously included in the department`s activities. The projects are monitored and the results will be evaluated. Information from those that will make a lasting contribution to stewardship of the resources, leadership in management, and partnerships that enhance project activities and benefits will be published.

Demonstration projects have been selected that emphasize the development of DoD-wide or regional information that installations could use to more effectively carry out their individual cultural-resource requirements. For example, a historic context for military construction from 1790 to 1940 was prepared by R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates of Frederick, Maryland. It can be used by installations in statements of significance for nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. The overview is divided into four time periods (1790 to 1860, 1860 to 1890, 1890 to 1918, 1918 to 1940) and five themes (transportation, communications, medicine, education, and technology). Another project designed to provide information to many installations is the Central and Northern Great Plains Archaeological Overview. This project, directed by the Arkansas Archaeological Survey and the University of Arkansas, is bringing together a team of leading archaeologists, bioarchaeologists, and computer specialists to synthesize the archaeological records from eleven states and establish a knowledge base that can be used by all land managers. Both projects will substantially reduce the costs to individual bases in the development of inventories and cultural resources and historic preservation plans.

Economies-of-scale are also a goal of the Archaeological Collections and Curation Assessment Project, which is assisting installations in meeting their legal requirements (36 CFR 79 and NAGPRA) by identifying the location and condition of all collections of archaeological materials that were recovered from sites on DoD land. A team of highly trained professionals at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District is now completing a review of all collections in California, Oregon, and Washington. To date over [to be provided by fax] have been inspected. This, like the other projects, will be expanded to include all appropriate states and military bases.

The regional concept that led to the Hawaii Workshop has been tried not only in terms of get-togethers, but also in sharing information and management issues. The Navy followed this approach for an inventory of all cultural resources in the Pacific under its control, including Guam and Hawaii. The success of this regional approach and the Legacy regional meeting held in Honolulu has led to a new effort to coordinate both biological and cultural-resource management programs in the Pacific with DoD partners. Called the Pacific Environmental Leadership Effort (PELE, after the Hawaiian goddess), a coordinator for the DoD will work directly with The Nature Conservancy, which will serve as the coordinator of the DoD`s partners` interests. Through these two points of contact the Legacy program is encouraging a permanent dialogue on mutual stewardship of cultural and natural resources.

Many of the demonstration projects are being undertaken and coordinated by the Triservices Cultural Resources Research Center, part of the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories (known as CERL) in Champaign, Illinois. Legacy projects at the Triservices Center include the development of information management systems, archaeological inventory survey standards and cost-estimating system, historic military structures documentation standards, maintenance and repair guidance, and a model for integrated management of natural and cultural resources. The Center was also the host to the Cultural Resources Data Management Workshop in July 1992, which brought together more than seventy professionals to explore computer applications for cultural resource management. As a result of the workshop, the Legacy Program is helping to establish a Technology Transfer Center in collaboration with the National Park Service`s National Technology and Training Center within the Triservices Center. This will provide a clearinghouse for information and technical assistance on the use of technology to enhance stewardship.

In contrast to the projects with wide application, numerous specific issues needed attention. One of the most serious was the treatment of historic buildings whose repair costs exceed the allowable percentage of replacement costs. Also of concern were historic buildings whose original functions are no longer appropriate to the military mission. At Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, a rare complex of buildings associated with turn-of-the century martial music is being restored and adapted for use for administrative functions. The buildings sat vacant since a fire in the late 1960s, but will once again be a working part of the Infantry Post parade field. At the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Bancroft Hall, the barracks designed by Ernest Flagg, is one of the largest surviving BeauxArts buildings. Neglected architectural components are being carefully studied in order to restore the ceiling and skylights to their original appearance. Attention is also being given to buildings associated with settler communities on land now part of DoD installations. At the U.S. Air Force Academy special attention is being given to the William A. Burgess House, one of the only remaining log cabins from the original settlers of Colorado. In Alaska the Navy is helping preserve a chapel in Adak and the Army is working with citizens of Delta Junction to preserve a Sullivan Roadhouse, a sled-stage resting facility on the Donnelly-Washburn Cutoff of the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail.

Under the Cold War Task Area, for example, demonstration projects have been started to explore in greater depth some Cold War issues and to implement the recommendations of the History Study. Under the guidance of the Air Force projects include nuclear weapons collection management, surveys of Cold War structures (including testing laboratories, weapon assembly facilities, missile silos, launch pads, hospitals, and communications systems) on installations, support to declassification projects, conferences and exhibits to increase information about the DoD`s role in the Cold War, and a preservation feasibility study of a Minuteman II Launch Facility.

Other themes include underwater archaeology and shipwrecks surveys; World War II history; historic building maintenance guides, cost analysis and training; rock art; settler communities; archaeological site detection, stabilization, and interpretation; inventory and management methodologies; and public information, museum, and exhibit materials. Projects under these themes range from HIPROTECI, an intrusion-detection device developed by Lawrence Livermore Laboratory working with the University of California, Riverside, to be used to detect vandals at archaeological sites to stabilization of a prehistoric town in Georgia; from the restoration of early hangars at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, to oral history on the development of the space program at Edwards Air Force Base in California; and, from documentation of AfricanAmerican sailors in the Civil War to a survey of a Civil War battlefield. Publications vary from Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are: An Ethnohistorical Study of the African-American Community on the Lands of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, 1865-1918 to Automation Tools for Cultural Resource Managers, conference papers assembled by the Water ways Experiment Station, Corps of Engineers. The projects reflect the range of cultural and historic resources on Defense land and, therefore, touch on almost every topic in historic preservation and cultural-resources management. Each year a list of the demonstration projects is provided in the DoD`s "Report to Congress."

While the Legacy program has generated a large number of reports, meetings, brochures, and other products, a connection must be made between them and DoD personnel. This was recognized at the beginning of the Legacy program by a small group of wives of senior officers who were concerned about the preservation of the nearly 10,000 historic quarters that they and other military families occupy. Working together with a contractor, they produced the first Historic Military Quarters Handbook. Starting with the presentation to Mrs. Colin L. Powell, the wife of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and an occupant of historic quarters at Fort Myer, Virginia, the illustrated brochure has been placed in every historic quarters to help its occupants "understand how Congress, the Department of Defense, your individual facility`s commander, and you can work together to maintain the historic integrity and well-being of your quarters." Starting as part of the cultural-resource initiative, but soon established for the total program, the Education and Training Initiative will examine how training and awareness programs can be directed toward instilling the conservation ethic and improving the stewardship of DoD`s Legacy resources. Supporting this direction was the Senate Committee Report for the Defense Appropriations Act, 1992, which called for a plan to train all DoD personnel by 1995. Projects are under way to produce training videotapes, guides for commanding officers, curriculum materials for special groups (such as military lawyers), information on the benefits of cultural resources, and an illustrated booklet, Cultural Resources in the Department of Defense. If this can be accomplished, the Legacy message will have reached more than four million people.


From the outset, Legacy sought to expand through partnerships with other agencies, nonprofit organizations, and universities. In addition to partnerships with the National Park Service, the Advisory Council, and the National Conference of SHPOs, Legacy has entered into partnership projects with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Building Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of South Carolina, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Project Judaica Foundation, and, through the National Park Service, the city of Golden, Colorado, a certified local government (CLG). In several cases, partners have begot partners as local groups have participated in specific, local Legacy activities.

Through these partnerships the value of the Legacy activities has increased, particularly in projects for which services have been volunteered. At Fort Norfolk, Virginia, built in 1811, the Norfolk Historical Society, a Legacy partner, not only involved its members in the protection of the early-nineteenth-century fortification, but also convinced its contractor to donate its labor in order to dedicate more of its Legacy project funds to materials. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, Legacy projects combined all levels of funding and labor, including volunteers, to protect places where the combination of endangered species and historic sites made the places especially significant.

In fact, the purpose of the National Trust`s project in the Mountains/Plains regional office, is to prepare a handbook on how local historic preservation groups and military bases can work together. This program had its official debut at the National Preservation Conference in St. Louis. From this the National Trust is moving into doing more with DoD. Under the leadership of the Mountain/Plains regional office, the National Trust has been working with ulturalresource managers at installations as an advocate for the historic resources. During the last year the Legacy coordinator of the National Trust established active partnerships with twenty installations of the Army, Navy, and Air Force; assisted cultural-resource managers in establishing better internal communications networks; participated in DoD cultural-resource management training; established active partnerships with other Legacy coordinators; and identified specific ways in which the National Trust can facilitate the stewardship of cultural resources and the development of partnerships on an installation level.


The cultural-resource component of the Legacy Program is defining a comprehensive and long-range commitment by the DoD to stewardship. It is ensuring that there is the same high level of dedication, initiative, and effective doctrine for cultural-resource stewardship that there is in its mission of national defense. Legacy program activities are showing the DoD how its mission can include the defense of our heritage on a daily basis at installations all over the United States and in many foreign countries. Additionally, it is a model for other federal agencies on balancing centralized, regional, and decentralized activities to achieve the greatest management and economic efficiencies and the greatest preservation and social benefits.

Within two years the Legacy program has provided a range of new tools that give cultural resources a more balanced position in land-use and military decisions. It is providing opportunities to apply new ideas, methods, technologies, and procedures to improve the quality of historic preservation. It is making the history of many parts of this country more accessible. Through the training and awareness initiatives, the Legacy commitment will be conveyed to all the members of the military, civilian personnel, their families, and visitors to military installations--a continually changing population consisting of more than five million people at any one time. Accessibility to history and cultural traditions is also accomplished by reaching out to the community of citizens concerned with cultural and natural resources and inviting them to work together for environmental conservation. Opportunities abound for integrating the enjoyment and knowledge of cultural resources with the lives of our citizens. Additionally, economic benefits are occurring through the creation of many new jobs and improved skills. In cultural resources alone, Legacy has generated at least 100 new professional-level jobs as well as numerous part-time opportunities outside of the federal government. Nevertheless, in the ultimate analysis the lasting value of the Legacy Program will come from the way it shaped the commitment by the Department of Defense to the care of the environment it protects.

Publication Date: September/October 1993


#Army Corp of Engineers

Author(s): Constance Werner Ramirez

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