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Front Page » May 27, 2004 » Local News » Nine Mile Placed on Nthp Endangered List
Published 4,151 days ago

Nine Mile Placed on Nthp Endangered List

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Sun Advocate community editor

Earlier in the week, the National Trust for Historic Land Preservation named Nine Mile Canyon as one of the top 11 endangered sites in the United States.

The national organization has named more than 160 places that the group feels are losing character or are in danger of being destroyed.

Nine Mile contains many historic sites, including petroglyphs, stagecoach stations, settlers cabins, ranches and iron telegraph poles installed by the 19th century Buffalo Soldiers.

The application to be placed on the list was submitted by a landowner in the canyon. Many of the local interested parties sent letters of support for the application.

"The Nine Mile Coalition did not submit the application," indicated Pam Miller, who is part of the group. "What we are hoping is that this listing will entice the national office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to stand up and take notice of the fact that the local BLM developed an interpretive plan years ago. But they haven't been able to implement it because of lack of funds. Maybe this will help bring some money their way to enact the plan."

The NTHP has considerable political clout and putting Nine Mile on the list has brought the issues involving the canyon into the national spotlight.

"Nine Mile Canyon is where the first Americans left an indelible record with their beautiful images," pointed out Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Land Preservation

"We want to increase the public's awareness of the fragility of these culturally significant sites and the importance of protecting and honoring them," continued the organization's president.

The Native American cultures that inhabited Nine Mile Canyon starting more than 1,700 years ago left rock shelters, granaries and rock art throughout the canyon area. The canyon is a combination of federal, state, county and private ground and it contains one of the highest concentrations of prehistoric rock art in North America. The petroglyphs and pictographs are attributed to the Archaic, Fremont and Ute people.

In a press release about the selection, the NTHP reported "this renowned area is now threatened by increased tourism, recreation and demands for domestic energy production. Although previously developed for oil and gas, the area is under increasing pressure by burgeoning demands for energy which could transform the historic landscape into an industrial zone with heavy industrial trucks rumbling through the narrow canyons in close proximity to fragile Native American rock art."

The release went on to state "a sustainable balance between increased tourism, energy development and cultural-resource protection must be found or these irreplaceable cultural and historic resources will be lost forever."

According to the NTHP, while a listing does not ensure the protection of a site or guarantee funding, the designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country. Sites however are not limited to ancient or natural sites but also include many other kinds of places. Some are in rural areas, while others are in urban surroundings. The list is as diverse as America is wide.

This year's 11 sites include Columbus Circle in New York City's Central Park; the Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, Calif. where the famous horse Seabiscuit was raised and lived out his life; the Bethlehem Steel Plant in Bethlehem, Pa. the place where modern steel making first began; the Elkmont Historic District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn. where historic buildings are going to be torn down; tobacco barns in Southern Maryland where they are threatened by disuse and destruction because most farmers there do not grow the plant anymore; the Madison-Lenox Hotel in Detroit, Mich. which is targeted to be torn down to build a parking lot; the Historic Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Ill. which is slated for demolition; the George Kraigher House in Brownsville, Texas that was designed by famed architect Richard Neutra is deteriorating at a rapid rate; and finally the entire state of Vermont which the trust says is being degraded by big box stores moving in and ruining small villages and long time businesses.

In recent years the trust has been largely or partly responsible for stopping a freeway project in California that threatened historic homes, saving a bridge in St. Augustine, Fla. and having it rehabilitated and stopped the strip mining of coal in Arizona where that activity would have destroyed traditional cultural property.

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