I return to the climate crisis regularly because it affects me, my family, my community, my world. And yours.
At Archaeology Southwest, it affects our conservation goals.
This week, our friends at the Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance (LSPWA) presented me with a learning experience. It underscores that responsible environmentalists need to stay informed, listen to our specialist colleagues, and keep asking questions.
I was reminded that an environmentalist can question—and in some cases, must question—a project that claims to be a “renewable energy solution.”
The shift away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy demands new projects that produce and transmit solar and wind power. Transmitting that energy often requires new transmission lines.
Such lines are high-cost. And, environmentally speaking, they can be high-impact.
They are linear. They often cross remote country. And they may require dramatic miles of access roads for construction and long-term maintenance. Such roads can have major impacts to natural and cultural landscapes.
But if we want to solve our climate crisis, we need to accept tradeoffs—right?
I learned something important from our partners at LSPWA this past week. We are, of course, aware that solar and wind power production varies greatly over time and in intensity.
Thus, the lines (called tie lines) that carry such power from their source are not as “efficient” as main trunk lines that aggregate power from multiple sources and tend toward their full capacity.
The take-home? You want to keep lines from wind and solar production sources relatively short.
Our friends at LSPWA presented a very compelling critique of the SunZia proposal. The project would be a very long tie line to carry wind energy produced in central New Mexico to trunk lines in central Arizona. Although SunZia would carry renewable energy, its proposed route is very long, and it traverses sensitive lands of two key river systems: the Rio Grande in New Mexico and the San Pedro in Arizona. So, it’s doubly bad—it’s very long and it traverses sensitive landscapes. It does not make sense.
Archaeology Southwest’s comments focused on threats to cultural resources. That’s our wheelhouse.
But I learned the most from the critique provided by LSPWA. If you have the time and interest, please read the two critiques.
Environmentalists need to be savvy. It’s OK to insist that energy strategies are smart as well as renewable.
Thanks for reading—see you next week!
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. We really need your help if you want us to get the word out. Remember—it’s your word! And we really do want to share it. So, please submit news, events, video and podcast links, publication announcements, and other resources to this link for consideration. It makes it so much easier for us to bring you this news digest every week. Questions?
Megadroughts in the Distant Past
The American West is parched right now by extreme and persistent drought. That has a lot of people wondering what will happen if the rains don’t come and the water dries up. But if history has anything to teach us about megadroughts, it’s that they can pose a very serious threat to civilization. Doug Fabrizio with guests Jim Enote, Harvey Weiss, and Craig Childs for RadioWest | Listen Now >>
Heat and Crowds Lead to Adjustments at Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park will extend morning hours in the Wetherill Mesa area and access to Petroglyph Point and Spruce Canyon trails in response to increased visitation within the park and high daily temperatures. The number of tour tickets available at Long House will also increase. Beginning July 4, Wetherill Mesa Road and the gate at Petroglyph Point and Spruce Canyon Trailhead will open at 7 a.m. The Journal | Read More >>
Featured: The Cedar Mesa Building Murals Project
The ancient kivas and common living areas are adorned with intricate plaster murals and etchings. Some replicate the intricate patterns of yucca plants, others cotton textiles. They are an invaluable resource for learning about the ancestral Puebloan communities that occupied the area more than 700 years ago. They are also incredibly fragile. To study the murals and help protect them from looting, increased visitation and time, Tucson-based archaeologist Benjamin Bellorado embarked on a mission called the Cedar Mesa Building Murals Project, a partnership involving federal archaeologists with the Bureau of Land Management and the University of Arizona School of Anthropology and Laboratory of Tree-Ring Dating. Thomas Huck and Gillian Ferris, Earth Notes, KNAU | Read More >>
Audio is also available at that link.
Project Educates People on Indigenous Connections to Wyoming’s Red Desert
Baldes’ tale paints one scene in a tableau of stories about Indigenous uses of the Red Desert, which is the ancestral land of tribes including Shoshone, Ute, Goshute, Paiute, Bannock, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Lakota and Crow, according to Citizens of the Red Desert, a coalition dedicated to protecting the Red Desert from large-scale industrial activities. In this vast and varied landscape, petroglyphs, ancient trading routes and other cultural sites offer evidence of tens of thousands of years of use and habitation. Led by Citizens for the Red Desert, advocates are pushing to educate modern-day users of the Red Desert about its full history. Katie Klingsporn at WyoFile | Read More >>
Commentary: Support the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act
The Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act—legislation that would halt abuse in the federal conservation easement program—was reintroduced today in Congress. And on behalf of the Land Trust Alliance and its nearly 1,000-member land trusts, I thank Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Steve Daines of Montana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Chuck Grassley of Iowa along with Reps. Mike Thompson of California and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania for making this happen. The time has come to safeguard taxpayers and ensure the continued viability and integrity of this successful program. Congress must pass the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act this year. Andrew Bowman for the Land Trust Alliance | Learn More >>
View the advocacy toolkit >>
Commentary: Save Archaeology Programs in the UK
Archaeology is in trouble. The U.K. government recently announced plans to cut its subsidy for English university teaching of the subject (along with many arts courses) by 50 percent because it is not part of the government’s “strategic priorities.” Education Secretary Gavin Williamson framed this in terms of encouraging more students to study subjects in the sciences rather than “dead-end courses that leave young people with nothing but debt,” implying he thought archaeology was among these courses. John Schofield in SAPIENS and The Conversation | Read More >>
New Mexico Highlands University Announces New Professional MA Program in CRM
NMHU presents an online/distance learning program for working cultural resource management (CRM) professionals and for those seeking CRM careers. The online professional master’s degree in cultural resource management prepares students who already work in CRM, or who plan to do so, for full professional CRM anthropological work in tribal, state, and federal agencies, as well as in the private sector and in not-for-profit organizations. New Mexico Highlands University | Learn More >>
Job Opportunity: NAGPRA Collections Specialist, Arizona State University
The School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University seeks to hire a NAGPRA Collections Specialist to assist with repatriation research and documentation. Archaeological collections at Arizona State University’s Center for Archaeology and Society Repository include materials collected by faculty of the former Department of Anthropology and materials donated to the Repository by private individuals. The collections of Arizona State University’s Center for Archaeology and Society Repository include over 300,000 catalog numbers of Native American archaeological and ethnological objects, primarily from Arizona. School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University | Learn More >>
Job Opportunity: Assistant Manager, Archaeological Records Office, Arizona State Museum
The Assistant Manager, Archaeological Records Office (ARO) is a University Staff position in the Arizona State Museum’s (ASM) Collections Division at the University of Arizona (UA). The incumbent assists the ARO Manager in supervising the operations of the Archaeological Records Office including the administration and implementation of the Arizona Antiquities Act (AAA; A.R.S. § 41-841 et seq.), compliance with all policies and procedures outlined by state and federal laws and Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) rules, and management of both paper and digital collections submitted to ASM. Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona | Learn More >>
Video: Chat with the Archaeologist: Paul Reed
After four very long years, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The BLM and BIA have halted the planning process that was rushed in 2020 and announced that it will extend into 2022. Paul’s research from 2020 in the 10-mile protection zone has revealed site clusters and communities that have yet to be protected by Federal action. In this presentation, Paul discusses new developments and the future of protection around Chaco Canyon. Chester Liwosz and Paul Reed fot the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project | Watch Now >>
Blog: The First Ice Cream in Tucson
Tucson and much of the rest of the Southwestern United States are undergoing record-breaking heat. In was hot in the past too, especially in early Territorial period (1856-1912) Tucson. One way to cool off was to find something cold to eat or drink, difficult in a place that did not have available ice. A somewhat remarkable entrepreneur was able to manufacture ice cream and sherbet in Tucson in 1875. Pieced together from newspaper articles, this is his story. Homer Thiel at the Field Journal (Desert Archaeology, Inc.) | Read More >>
Blog: Fifteen Pipes
Fifteen steatite stone pipes. The quantity—and then their quality—struck us as we opened the bag. Patrick Hager (my partner for the day), Jaye Smith (our team lead, and I were amazed. Our initial examination revealed fourteen greenish steatite stone pipes (most complete, a few broken, and some apparently works in progress) and one broken pipe made from an indeterminate type of volcanic rock. Val Freireich at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read More >>
Publication Announcement: Adventure Girl: Dabi Digs in Israel
Adventure Girl: Dabi Digs in Israel, written and illustrated by Janice Hechter. Alazar Press, 2021. Learn More >>
REMINDER: July 1 Webinar: Western Pawneeland
With Carlton Gover. When people think of Colorado Indigenous Nations, the Ute, Pueblo, Arapaho, Navajo, and Apache usually come to mind. However, rarely does the public realize that the Pawnee have a deep relationship to the Rocky Mountain Front Range and Western plains that spans over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The Pawnee have oral traditions that date back to the Ice-Age which potentially describes the Ice-Free Corridor, names for Colorado Front Range locations that hold sacred significance and hunting camp sites along the Western extents of the Platte and Republican Rivers. This presentation will cover the recorded oral traditions which tie the Pawnee to Colorado and Wyoming, the archaeological evidence for the extent of Pawneeland in the West, and the Euro-American accounts of Pawnees west of their core homeland in Central Nebraska and Kansas. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
July 8 Webinar: Patterns and Results of Large-Scale Cultural Inventories in Southeast Utah
With Ryan Spittler. The Cedar Mesa area of southeast Utah contains a dense concentration of well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites. Recently, Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants documented over 30 archaeological sites in Road Canyon, most of which have been documented for the first time. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Video Channel Roundup!
Have you missed any? We have! Get caught up at the YouTube channels of our partners and friends:
Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society
Arizona State Museum
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Grand Canyon Trust
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
Mesa Prieta Petroglyphs Project
Museum of Indian Arts and Cultures
Museum of Northern Arizona
Old Pueblo Archaeology Center
School for Advanced Research