AUGUST 12, 2015

Archaeology Center receives three grants for Site Protection

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CAMP VERDE – Archaeological site vandalism is an on-going issue, with four major instances of vandalism documented since 2012.  Earlier this year, the destruction of a prehistoric dwelling in the Sedona Uptown area received significant coverage in the local press as well as on social media.  In 2013, a large prehistoric village in Cornville was vandalized by pothunters who dug up a large area apparently looking for artifacts. A large hilltop pueblo owned by the Archaeological Conservancy in Cornville was vandalized in 2012.  Instances of graffiti and artifact collection have occurred repeatedly. 

While the U.S. Forest Service is responsible for the protection of the ancient sites in the forests, with over 2,500 sites in the Sedona/Verde Valley it is a task that is beyond the resources provided by Congress.  The need for on-going monitoring will become even more critical to site preservation as tourism increases as a result of the forthcoming National Geographic Geotourism program.

site watch logoThe mission of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center (VVAC) includes the preservation of archaeological sites.  Volunteer programs are an integral component of the VVAC’s operations.  In response to these acts of vandalism and the anticipated increase in visitation, the VVAC has developed the Verde Valley Site Watch program in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office. This program is based on, and in support of, the existing Arizona Site Steward Volunteer Program run by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office. The Center’s program will assist the Prescott National Forest and Coconino National Forest in archaeological site monitoring and public education that will involve other local groups and students in the preservation and appreciation of archaeology.

For many years, the Forest Service has relied on the State of Arizona’s Site Steward Volunteer Program to recruit and train site monitor volunteers who regularly visit their assigned sites and report on any vandalism.  However, the number of volunteers is inadequate and even though a site is regularly monitored, vandalism continues.  More is needed and the State program is in need of many more site stewards.

To support this new program, the Verde Valley Archaeology Center has received three Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) grants totaling over $10,000.  These grants were awarded by the ACF of Sedona, the ACF of Yavapai County and the ACF Boyton Canyon Preservation Fund.  These grants will support several components of the Verde Valley Site Watch program including:

100 New Site Stewards.  The primary focus of this program is to support the Site Steward Volunteer Program with the recruitment and training and retraining of site stewards.  The goal is to train 100 new site stewards in 2016.  The Center will engage existing hiking groups and clubs that often visit archaeological sites as a source of new site stewards. Site steward training will be held at the Center.

Public Awareness Campaign.  Center is developing a public awareness campaign through the use of:
• Preservation posters and rack cards at visitor centers and other gathering locations
• Public Service Announcements on local TV and radio stations
•  Weatherproof signage at archaeological sites encouraging respect for the sites and notifying visitors that the sites are monitored by site stewards and/or electronically
•  Additional electronic monitoring equipment for Forest Service law enforcement
•  Public Awareness talks at local clubs and associations
•  School Education Initiative.  Studies have shown that most graffiti at sites are not done by the visiting public but rather by local school age children. This will be addressed through:
•  High School and Middle School Poster Contest during the coming school year to develop anti-graffiti and preservation posters for display in schools
•  High School Outreach to provide presentations and/or exhibits on local archaeology and heritage

Executive Director Ken Zoll described the program as “a vital addition to the cultural resource and heritage management of these ancient sites.  It is our intention to provide public education programs that will promote, guide and provide the ethical foundation for responsible site stewardship by every resident of the Sedona/Verde Valley area.”

The Verde Valley Archaeology Center is located at 385 S. Main Street in Camp Verde.  Additional information on how to get involved in this program is available on the Center’s website at or by calling 928-567-0066.