Monday, April 30, 2007

History Class in Session: Project Dusts off Ghost Town to Display the Past

[Source: Cindy Skalsky, Sierra Vista Herald] -- It isn’t every day in the 21st century that a ghost town is reclaimed. But Cochise County — with the help of an extraordinary number of federal and state agencies, local organizations and individual volunteers — will accept on Saturday the permanent gift of much hard work in honor of history. “I hope it’s a day like today,” said Jane Childress, amidst supervising the frantic finishing touches on the restored Fairbank Schoolhouse and the surrounding structures awaiting their own revival. “The sun is shining, the trails are clear, there’s water in the river, and it’s the peak of the tourist season,” smiled the archaeologist and Fairbank Townsite project manager employed by the Bureau of Land Management. Not to mention that the cottonwoods along the San Pedro are shimmering with the vibrant, take-a-lick-green of early spring.

Yet despite the array of activities planned to celebrate the schoolhouse opening and other improvements that have been years in the planning and doing, Childress asked a bit uncertainly, “We should get a good crowd?” Fairbank, located on Highway 82 just east of the San Pedro River, has long been available to explore from dawn to dusk. Beginning this weekend, there is a new focus and new importance to the formerly abandoned transportation hub of Arizona’s late 1800s. The school, built in the 1920s of gypsum block manufactured in Douglas, replaced an earlier structure from the 1880s that is believed to have burned down. The successive Fairbank schools served from kindergarten through eighth grade, and the student population likely never exceeded 45. To continue their education would mean traveling to the “big city” of Tombstone, some miles to the east on what was then a stagecoach route — now Highway 82. “I may have romanticized the West when I first got here,” said Will Fassett, an intern who arrived from the Student Conservation Association a year ago to assist on the project. “But even as a history major, I didn’t appreciate how tedious and careful the work would be and how no decision was made without completely thinking through every aspect.” As Childress summed it up, “There’s a lot of paperwork before there’s any dirt work.” Childress is proud the restoration has been as authentic as possible, keeping many original elements and reproducing those that couldn’t be saved.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Ed Honda.]

Bill Seeks to Protect Agua Fria, Other Sites

[Source: Joanna Dodder, Daily Courier] -- A new Congressional bill seeks to help protect public lands in Yavapai County and more than 800 other sites in the National Landscape Conservation System. The National Landscape Conservation System Act of 2007 aims to "conserve, protect and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological and scientific values." The U.S. Bureau of Land Management established the National Landscape Conservation System to recognize some of its special places. The bill would give congressional recognition to the 26-million-acre system and allow Congress to appropriate money directly to it. Four members of the House of Representatives, including Republican Rick Renzi and Democrat Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, introduced the House version of the bill Tuesday.

"Unlike the national parks, there's no guarantee that the Conservation System will be around five years from now," Renzi said in a press release from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which supports the measure. "These extraordinary places are being ruined by neglect, vandalism and misuse. Our action today recognizes the importance of protecting these lands forever." The Agua Fria National Monument (Monument petroglyph pictured), which sits next to Interstate 17 in southeast Yavapai County, is among those extraordinary places that people are abusing, said Scott Jones of the Sierra Club. Volunteers picked up literally tons of trash from just one monument site near the busy interstate on Earth Day last Sunday, Jones said. "People pulling off and tossing trash into a national monument is just unacceptable," Jones said. The 71,000-acre Agua Fria Monument contains one of the most significant systems of prehistoric pueblos in the Southwest. The Arrastra Mountain, Hassayampa River Canyon, Hells Canyon and Upper Burro Creek wilderness areas in Yavapai County also are part of the National Landscape Conservation System. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix Tries to Prevent Loss of Another Modern Bank

[Source: Margaret Foster] -- Built in 1964 as the First Federal Savings and Loan bank, the Washburn Pianos building was demolished on Mar. 21, two years after 15-year tenant Washburn Pianos moved out. Its owner, Houston-based SC Management, razed the concrete building, designed by Arizona architect Ed Varney, to make way for a bank and cell-phone store. "Everyone's very sad," says Jim McPherson, a member of the Arizona Preservation Foundation's board of directors. "It's the second mid-century modern down in two months." In Tempe, Arizona State University demolished another former bank, a gold-domed Valley National Bank designed by the Phoenix-based firm of Weaver and Drover, in February.

Now another Valley National Bank is on the chopping block (pictured). Designed by Frank Henry, the bank courtyard's concrete "mushrooms" will disappear to make way for Minneapolis-based Opus Corporation's "luxury villas." "Sometimes you have to have a loss to get people motivated and interested and understand what they've lost and appreciate that genre of architecture," says Barbara Stocklin, city historic preservation officer. "Now everyone's all activated to save [the Valley National Bank]. I think that's partially because of the Wasburn Pianos loss." Next month, the city will hold a public hearing on Opus' application to re-zone the Valley National Bank site. In the meantime, Stocklin says, preservationists are working to designate the building as a city landmark. "The re-zoning wouldn't lead to the demolition of the bank, but it would leave it more vulnerable," Stocklin says. [Photo source: Walt Lockley.]

Study Shows Marked Genetic Differences Between Three Populations of Chimpanzees

[Source: John Easton, Medical Center Public Affairs] -- The largest study to date of genetic variation among chimpanzees has found that the traditional, geography-based sorting of chimps into three populations—western, central and eastern—is underpinned by significant genetic differences, two to three times greater than the variation between the most different human populations. In the April issue of the journal PLoS Genetics, researchers from the University, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Arizona State University show there has been very little detectable admixture between the different populations. “Finding such a marked difference between the three groups has important implications for conservation,” said Molly Przeworski, Assistant Professor in Human Genetics and the College, and a senior author of the study. “It means we have to protect three separate habitats, all threatened, instead of just one.”

To unravel the evolutionary history to chimpanzees, the research team collected DNA from 78 common chimpanzees and six bonobos, a separate species of chimpanzee, and examined 310 DNA markers from each. They found four “discontinuous populations.” “We saw little evidence of migration between groups in the wild,” said Celine Becquet, first author of the paper and a graduate student in Przeworski’s laboratory. “Part of that could stem from the gaps in our samples, but we think most of this separation is genuine, a long-term consequence of geographic isolation.” The original boundaries between groups may have been the emergence and growth of rivers, such as the Congo River, which is thought to be about 1.5 million years old. “Chimps don’t swim,” Becquet explained. “For them, water provides a very effective border.” An ongoing loss of habitat has increased the physical separation between the three groups.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: John Mitani.]

Telescope Shows History of Universe

[Source: Daniel Cuda] -- More than 400 years ago Galileo took a telescope used by sailors and pointed it toward the sky. Now scientists are using that same idea with binoculars - very big binoculars. Ohio State scientists have collaborated with scientists from Italy, Germany and the University of Arizona to build a $120 million Large Binocular Telescope. The project, hosted by the University of Arizona, sits 10,500 feet high on Mount Graham in Arizona. The LBT is the world's largest and most powerful telescope. It has two 27.6-foot mirrors that work in tandem and have image correcting electronics. Its ability to produce high resolution images is unmatched by any telescope on Earth or in orbit, said Thomas O'Brien, a mechanical engineer on the Multi-Object Double Spectrograph project.

"It's a gigantic telescope," said Richard Pogge, a professor in the OSU department of astronomy and principle investigator for the MODS project. "It can gather light 10 billion light years away. It almost acts as a time machine." The LBT gathers light from such great distances that it will show how the universe looked in its infancy. The images will help scientists determine the distance, chemical composition, movement and temperature of faraway stars and galaxies, Pogge said. "The LBT helps us learn how the universe went from formless to a lot of clusters," Pogge said. "It will also help us understand how our own Milky Way Galaxy was formed." OSU scientists and engineers are currently working on two MODS, which will provide resolution and imaging for the LBT. The MODS will split light as it is collected and allow scientists to determine the chemical compositions, temperatures and other important information about distant stars and galaxies. "If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a spectrograph is worth a thousand pictures," Pogge said.

The MODS project is much larger than any previous astronomy department project. "The level of complexity, cost and overall physical size is much greater than anything we have worked on before," O'Brien said. Despite the MODS project being demanding and difficult for members of the department of astronomy, they are managing to have fun with it. "Since we are building the MODS for the LBT, and the color of it does not affect the function of the telescope, we are going to paint the sides scarlet and leave the frame gray," O'Brien said. Although the LBT will not be completely assembled until 2010, it received its first light Oct. 12, 2005 with one mirror and is currently capable to see using binocular light. [Photo source: Aaron Ceranski.]

'Amazing Earthfest' set in Kanab

[Source: Nancy Perkins, Deseret Morning News] -- An East Coast furniture craftsman who also lives part-time in Kanab is hoping a lot of people will attend Kanab's inaugural celebration of public lands next month. Dubbed the "Amazing Earthfest," the celebration was first conceived by Rich Csenge, who owns a pioneer home in Kanab's historic district. Among the events planned during the festival are a sunset photo clinic and nature walk at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (pictured), dinosaur talks and exhibits at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and a special bird display at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Angel Canyon. "We want this festival to appeal to everyone," said Csenge in a phone interview from his Maine home. "It's designed to appeal to every sort of recreation that people do nowadays, and we want the festival to focus on educating people about the landscape. It will be one of the finest opportunities for people to rediscover their relationship with the land."

The celebration is scheduled for May 21-26 in and around Kanab, with the emphasis on learning about and enjoying the public lands of the Colorado plateau located in Utah and Arizona. "There is somewhat of a disconnect between people and the land," Csenge said. "When I go into the natural world, I experience something of the creator in the creation that lies before me. That experience is somewhat lost in our modern society." The Kane County Office of Tourism is solidly behind the idea of the festival, said executive director "Cowboy Ted" Hallisey. "We have been wanting to do something like this for a while," he said. "I've always thought if we had an event that all the public land agencies could get behind, it would be very successful." Csenge said that he and his wife first experienced southern Utah several years ago. "We began learning about the parks and public lands here, and I came to the feeling that I'd like to share that with others," he said. "This festival will provide a gathering place to celebrate these amazing places. It's a way for people who haven't yet discovered it, to learn about it." [Photo source: Willie Holdman.]

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mesa Southwest Museum Director Wants Name Change

[Source: Gary Nelson, Arizona Republic] -- Mesa has one of Arizona's top cultural attractions in the heart of its downtown, but it's also one of the state's best-kept secrets. That's the view of those who want to change the name of the Mesa Southwest Museum, making it instead the Arizona Museum of Natural History. Museum director Tom Wilson is leading the charge, and he has at least one ally in City Councilman Rex Griswold. It's more than an ego thing, Wilson and Griswold said. Hard cash may be at stake, too. The city-owned museum lost half its budget and staff - $1.2 million and 12 positions - last year when Mesa slashed spending after voters rejected a property tax. Changing the name may give the facility a regional cachet and draw thousands more visitors, Wilson said.

"Right now just the name Mesa Southwest Museum is neither fish nor fowl," he said. "It doesn't really say we are one of the premier natural history museums in Arizona. We are sending an indeterminate and even confusing message to potential visitors." Changing the name, "would probably greatly increase our attendance" over the 131,000 who came last year, he said. "People would be better able to understand if they came to the museum what they'd be seeing here." He also thinks the museum would have a better chance of snagging grants if donors understood its mission. The museum has a statewide reach, Wilson said, with paleontologic investigations all over Arizona and displays featuring the region's fascinating biological and geological past. Griswold said Wilson approached him with the idea several weeks ago but was pessimistic the name change would fly. "I'll support any idea that's good for the residents," Griswold said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

City Council Approval for Low Income Historic Housing Program

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- On April 24, 2007, City Council approved a $150,000 earmark of 2006 Historic Preservation Bond funds for the 2007-2008 fiscal year to continue the Low Income Historic Housing Rehabilitation Program (LHHP). This program, managed by the Historic Preservation Office, provides income-qualifying grants to home owners to rehabilitate the exteriors of historic residences. Since December 2003, the HPO has successfully signed agreements with property owners on 13 LHHP projects, with nine (9) additional LHHP projects in the planning stages.

Lifestyles: Straw Determination

[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Tribune] -- Sometimes, following your conscience means having to endure the same unimaginative “Three Little Pigs” joke over and over again. Such are the travails of Tempe resident Beth Hoffmann, who fought the city for nearly a year to build her dream home, made of straw bales and earthen plaster. “When you feel that something is good, you can’t just back down — you have to pursue it,” Hoffmann said. By the time she succeeded, city officials were bringing their families around to show them Hoffmann’s unusual and environmental friendly home. But it wasn’t a desire for attention or a love of morality tales featuring anthropomorphic livestock that led Hoffmann to build her house of straw and clay. She wanted to take things most people discard or destroy and give them a new purpose. “I’m an Iowa country girl,” Hoffmann said, sitting on her back porch overlooking a modest vegetable garden and a row of fruit trees. “My parents were poor, and my mom was a saver, and I wanted to be a saver.”

Straw is the stem of a grain, which isn’t edible and is often burned in piles after the harvest, she said. Once pressed and shaped into bales, however, it becomes an excellent building material that’s sturdy and is neither flammable nor edible to insects. But that’s just the beginning of her home’s surprises, Hoffmann said. Its 2-foot-thick walls offer tremendous insulation from cold and heat. The electricity cost to cool her 1,200-square-foot home last July was just $18. In August, it was $14. In the winter, heated water is pumped through pipes underneath the tile floor to heat the home efficiently. “Plus you’re walking on warm tile,” Hoffmann said. Almost nothing that comes into contact with the house is wasted. A rooftop gutter system diverts rainwater into three barrels, where it is stored until Hoffmann uses it to water her garden. The house, designed by Hoffmann’s son, an architect who shares her interest in conservation, has a window in the bedroom closet so Hoffmann doesn’t have to turn on a light.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Lisa Olson]

Chandler to Honor Longtime Ranchers the Dobson Family

[Source: Chris Markham, Tribune] -- Chandler will honor several of its pioneers at the 23rd annual Pioneer Luncheon. Jan Dell, director of the Chandler History Museum, said the event honors past and ongoing contributions of the city’s founding citizens and families. One of those families, the Dobsons (pictured), will be among a handful honored as “citizens of history.” The farming and ranching family has been in the area since 1896, running cattle and sheep between winter ranges in Chandler to summer ranges in northern Arizona. The family has branched into other things, but the agricultural operation still continues today, said Carol Dobson, who along with her husband, Dwayne, will represent the family at the luncheon.

The luncheon also will honor this year’s pioneers of the year, whose names have not yet been released. “It’s for those who have lived here 50 or more years and have made a significant contribution to the city,” Dell said. The event also will feature a presentation on Chandler’s history from 1938 to 1950 as well as displays on the outstanding women of Chandler and previous pioneers of the year. But most of all, it will be a chance for residents to remember what Chandler was like before Intel and Motorola, Carol Dobson said. She said she misses the camaraderie that came with knowing many others in the once-small community. “I think that’s probably the biggest thing I miss,” she said. “But other than that, it’s gotten to be a nice city.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Friday, April 27, 2007

This Day in History

April 27, 1521 : MAGELLAN KILLED IN THE PHILIPPINES. After traveling three-quarters of the way around the globe, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan is killed during a tribal skirmish in the Philippines. Earlier in the month, his ships had dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebu, and Magellan met with the local chief, who after converting to Christianity persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighboring island of Mactan. In the subsequent fighting, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.

In 1494, Portugal and Spain settled disputes over newly discovered lands by dividing the world into two spheres of influence. A line of demarcation was agreed to in the Atlantic Ocean--all new discoveries west of the line were to be Spanish, and all to the east Portuguese. Thus, South and Central America became dominated by the Spanish. Other Portuguese discoveries in the early 16th century, such as the Spice Islands of Indonesia--made the Spanish jealous. Magellan proposed sailing west, finding a strait through the Americas, and then continuing west to the Moluccas, which would prove that the Spice Islands lay west of the demarcation line and thus in the Spanish sphere. On September 20, 1519, Magellan and his crew set sail from Spain. Magellan sailed to Brazil, where he searched the South American coast for a strait that would take him to the Pacific. At the end of March 1520, the expedition set up winter quarter at Port St. Julian.

On October 21, he finally discovered the strait he had been seeking. The Strait of Magellan, as it became known, is located near the tip of South America. It took 38 days to navigate the treacherous strait. Magellan was the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic. His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named "Pacific," from the Latin word pacificus, meaning "tranquil." By the end, the men were out of food and chewed the leather parts of their gear to keep themselves alive. On March 16, 1521, the expedition reached the Philippines--they were only about 400 miles from the Spice Islands. After Magellan's death, the survivors sailed on to the Moluccas and loaded the hulls with spice. One ship attempted, unsuccessfully, to return across the Pacific. The other ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Seville on September 9, 1522, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.

Phoenix Falling?

[Source: Craig Childs, High Country News] -- Growing faster than any other population center in the nation, Phoenix is balanced on an environmental tightrope. Thirty new skyscrapers are proposed for downtown alone, while metastatic sprawl carves up surrounding desert. At the moment, there is a robust water supply — for greater Phoenix alone — but the city’s water-wealth has created a growing inequity in the state. Even while Phoenix has become Arizona’s solitary Green Zone, depending almost entirely on water imported from mountain reservoirs and the Colorado River, it is having its own problems, whole pieces of land subsiding into falling water tables. Phoenix seems either on the verge of unparalleled success or catastrophic failure. At this point, it might be hard to tell the difference between the two.

This is not the first time unchecked growth has filled the Valley of the Sun. If you lift the rug of Phoenix, buried directly below you will find the remains of an ancient city, a Neolithic version of Phoenix. The first communities appeared in the low basin of the Salt River 3,000 years ago, as shown by remains recently discovered under the new Phoenix Convention Center. From there, prehistoric settlements took an escalating course of empire, filling the basin to overflowing. They sprawled all the way south to Tucson, while satellite communities appeared even north of Flagstaff. They grew until they were no longer able to sustain themselves. Then, their civilization fell.

They are known as the Hohokam, a Pima word meaning “all used up.” The doubled first syllable accentuates the sentiment, telling of a people that completely burned itself out. When Anglo settlers arrived shortly after the American Civil War, they found a desert studded with grand adobe ruins, vestiges of an inexplicable culture. They called their new settlement Phoenix, imagining themselves rising from the ashes of a lost city.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo illustration by Ben Garrison.]

Taliesin Employment Opportunity

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation seeks a vice president/campus planning, restoration, and development to lead the creation and execution of a master plan for the buildings, land, and infrastructure of both Taliesin and Taliesin West. The Himmelfarb Group is managing this search for this newly-created position to be located at the foundation’s headquarters in Scottsdale. We are looking for a senior manager with the ability to lead an assessment of the foundation’s stabilization, preservation, and space needs. The ability to lead the subsequent development and realization of a master plan for restoring, managing, and developing new facilities on both campuses is equally important.

The vice president will have a minimum of 20 years’ relevant experience that includes executive-level experience at a scale and complexity relevant to this position. An advanced architecture, engineering, or other appropriate degree is required; additionally, an MBA or other advanced management degree is preferred. An understanding of and deep commitment to Frank Lloyd Wright’s principles of organic architecture and to the foundation’s mission is, of course, critical. Salary for the position is low to mid $100’s depending on salary history and experience. Additional information including salary can be found on The Himmelfarb Group website, or by calling Meghan Strubel at 708-848-0086.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Celebrating the History of Jerome

[Source: Barbara Yost, Arizona Republic] -- As a boy, Lewis "Pete" Douglas loved to visit his grandfather, "Rawhide Jimmy" Douglas, at his sprawling mansion in Jerome. Grandpa would take the boy deep into the family copper mine, the United Verde Extension - which the boy did not love. "It scared me a lot," said Douglas, now 82 and working in oil and gas exploration in Denver. The Douglas family is as much a part of Arizona history as the mines around Jerome and their namesake Douglas, in southeastern Arizona. The mines once netted millions of dollars from copper, silver and gold. Although James Douglas was a wealthy man who built Jerome's magnificent Douglas Mansion (pictured), he "was most proud of being a rancher and an Arizonan," his grandson said.

The mansion, now open as Jerome State Historic Park, is headquarters Saturday for festivities marking the 50th anniversary of Arizona State Parks and celebrating the tough little town on Cleopatra Hill. Saturday's all-day program, Mining, Minerals and Mucking, is a tribute to Jerome's mining past, with a schedule of storytellers, exhibits, demonstrations and music. The grand re-opening of the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum, which includes a new mining tunnel and mock-up of an old brothel, also happens Saturday. It's a lot of excitement for a town with a population of about 500. Considerably more people - 15,000 - populated Jerome during the mining boom in the first half of the 20th century. But thanks to tourists captivated by panoramic views of the Verde Valley, Jerome is thriving. "Jerome still retains a lot of that late-1800s and early-1900s ambience," said Nora Graf, park ranger with the Arizona State Parks in Jerome.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona State Parks.]

Cities ponder history projects for Arizona Centennial

[Source: Jessica Coomes, Arizona Republic] -- A gunfight re-enactment and repairs to Hunt's Tomb (pictured) could be among the history projects that will be popping up across Arizona in the coming five years. Representatives of communities throughout the state rallied Thursday at Papago Park and started brainstorming how they could memorialize their chunk of Arizona history. Many now will form local commissions and design projects in time for the state's 100th birthday on Feb. 14, 2012. "This celebration is going to be an opportunity for us to highlight for our young people what Arizona has," Senate President Tim Bee said. The projects will come as the face of Arizona continues to change with new homes, developments and residents.

Preserving history in the midst of development is crucial in Florence, which has about 6,000 residents and is expected to have as many as 25,000 in five years, Mayor Tom Rankin said. "One of the biggest things for me as mayor is to get the new people to hang on to our heritage, let them become part of our heritage," Rankin said. He said he is mulling the idea of recreating the social lives of early residents with re-enactments of barn dances and box suppers, in which women make picnics, and men bid on the meals, and the winners get to eat with the cooks. Rankin also said he has ideas of parades and a re-enactment of the town's only gunfight. All of that could draw people in to visit the town, he said. Phoenix City Councilman Greg Stanton said he already is on a committee with representatives from Scottsdale and Tempe, and they are talking about how to improve Papago Park in time for the centennial. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

APF hosts workshop "Historic Preservation in the Southwest"

Mark your calendars! The Arizona Preservation Foundation, in cooperation with the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office and New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, will host this full day workshop, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 26 at the Hon-Dah Resort and Conference Center in Pinetop-Lakeside. Detailed presentations will describe the programs offered by the preservation offices. Discussions will cover
  • Historic preservation incentives, including grants and tax benefits;
  • Current issues of concern in the Southwest;
  • Historic preservation plans; and
  • Preservation questions involving private property rights, advocacy, economic benefits, and interaction with federal and state agencies.

The session will also provide information on issues facing preservation advocates in the Southwest including:

  • The State Registers - what are they and what do they do? have they failed or succeeded? recent successes and losses, benefits and differences in the programs; partnerships;
  • Identifying partners to increase state register nominations in small communities and rural areas;
  • Increasing community awareness about the need to protect cultural resources through Site Watch/Site Steward programs.

Cost: $30.00. Make checks payable and mail to: Arizona Preservation Foundation, P.O. Box 13492, Phoenix, AZ 85002. For more information, contact the Arizona Preservation Foundation by phone (602-258-1920) or e-mail.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Historic Designations for Phoenix

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- On April 16, the Historic Preservation Commission initiated HP zoning for the following historic properties identified as significant by the City’s recently completed Phoenix Hispanic Heritage Study:

1. Grant Park [southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Grant Street, 714 S. 2nd Ave.] 2. American Legion Post 41 [northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Sherman Street, 715 S. 2nd Ave.] 3. Harmon Park [northeast corner of 5th Avenue and Pima Street, 1425 S. 5th Ave.] 4. Phoenix Housing Authority, [Southeast corner of 3rd Avenue and Yuma Street, 1301 S. 3rd Ave.] 5. Betania Iglesia Presbiteriana [southwest corner of 3rd Avenue and Pima Street, 305 W. Pima] 6. Sotelo-Heard Cemetery [east of northeast corner of 12th Street and Marguerite Avenue] 7. Sacred Heart Church [east and south of 16th and Hadley Streets, 801 S. 16th St.]

Monday, April 23, 2007

Building Restrictions may Face Court Test

[Source: Rob O'Dell, Daily Star] -- Midtown neighborhoods surrounding the University of Arizona want the city to approve a controversial neighborhood-preservation zoning overlay to protect them from the "minidorms" invasion. But a group of property rights advocates in Tucson and statewide contend the overlay zone will be something else: a potential test case for Proposition 207, a ballot initiative passed last year requiring governments to compensate landowners if government land-use rules lower their property values. After continuing a public hearing on the neighborhood protection zone in March, the council will hold a study session on the issue. Final action is expected after a public hearing next week.

The consideration of a zoning overlay would begin if more than 25 percent of the property owners in a neighborhood petition for it. That would start a public process that includes several public hearings and a council vote. The neighborhood has to justify why it wants certain requirements on development, such as height restrictions and minimum yard sizes. But Richard Studwell, a property owner in the Jefferson Park Neighborhood, said those types of restrictions would not allow him to build guest houses on his properties, limit his properties to one-story and restrict the size of any house on his properties.
"All those are more restrictive things and they're taking value away from my property," Studwell said. Clint Bolick, a senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute, agreed, adding Tucson and the neighborhood protection zones "could be the first major Prop. 207 lawsuit." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

New rule may help Native American tribes reclaim artifacts

[Source: Kevin Livelli, Columbia News Service] -- It's been nearly a dozen years since museums and federal agencies had to notify American Indian tribes about artifacts in their collections that might have been stolen from or lost by the tribes. But a new federal regulation may make it easier for the tribes to identify such objects. It was a hot and arid day in Pecos, N.M., when the elders and leaders of the Jemez Pueblo tribe welcomed an outsider into the fold: archaeologist William Whatley. Wearing colorful headbands, the old men sat down on the ground with Whatley. Then they began drawing images in the dust--images of bones, masks and pottery that had gone missing or been looted from the tribe. The elders implored Whatley to use his scientific knowledge to find the objects and help return them to the tribe. Not an easy task.

That was nearly 20 years ago. Now, for other tribes searching for lost or stolen items, the process may get a lot easier. In mid-March, the Department of the Interior's National NAGPRA program, which helps carry out the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, announced a regulation requiring museums, universities and federal agencies in possession of Native American art and artifacts to provide new lists of their inventories and to share them with all federally recognized tribes within six months. The rule, which takes effect April 20, marks the first time in a dozen years that museums and federal agencies have had to share with tribes what's in their collections. This process may uncover many items missing for years, and it may make encourage tribes to start making repatriation claims to get their artifacts back. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Layers of history found at mission dig

[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- Archaeologists are having a field day with their trowels, scraping away layers of dirt just outside what was the outer wall of Mission San Agustín. Three weeks of excavation uncovered 2,000-year-old arrowheads. They were found a few feet from the first mission-era American Indian home discovered in Tucson, and they were only a few feet away from a 1930s barbecue pit. "I can't think of anywhere in the United States where you have this layer cake of cultural change," said Michael Brack, project director at Desert Archaeology, which is conducting the dig.

It's believed the Tucson area ranks as the longest continuously inhabited region in the United States, stretching back for at least 4,000 years. But the site at the west end of Mission Lane presents the first evidence of so many historical eras in one spot going back 2,500 years. That could expand another 1,000 to 1,500 years as Desert Archaeology digs another 2 to 3 feet. The dig precedes reconstruction of the Mission San Agustín, the centerpiece of Rio Nuevo's Tucson Origins project, in which the mission's adobe convento and chapel should start taking shape in October. Hundreds of artifacts, from intact 2,000-plus-years-old clay bowls to remnants of a 300-year-old rib dinner, are being removed. The site will be filled in again to preserve the footprints of dozens of structures that vanished hundreds of years ago. This includes 20 round-pit houses from 2,000 and 2,500 years ago and a small, single-room rectangular house built by an American Indian family a few feet outside the mission wall. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Santa Cruz Valley right for heritage designation

[Source: Our Opinion, Tucson Citizen] -- Granted, we can't expect miracles from the proposed Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area. But we can expect considerable progress, as demonstrated by the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Act of 2000. There, wetlands are being restored along five miles of the Colorado River, providing a rare shady glen of willow, oak and tall grasses beside the river. A historic theater has been restored, a 1920s hotel is being renovated and a public-private partnership plans an $80 million riverfront development. The Santa Cruz Valley area would be twice as big, at about 3,325 square miles, encompassing the entire watershed, which is most of Pima and Santa Cruz counties.
Ranchers, farmers, business promoters, environmentalists and government officials have collaborated for more than four years on this plan, which was initiated by the Center for Desert Archaeology.

Congress designates National Heritage Areas to recognize a cohesive, distinctive landscape with natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources spawned by human activities and shaped by geography. In short: It's a special place. Surely our valley qualifies for this description. Our residents include descendants of prehistoric people (American Indians), of Spanish colonists from the 1600s, of Mexicans who settled here before it was part of the United States and of 19th-century pioneers.
The backdrop for that deep historic and cultural blend ranges from mountains to valleys to the unique Sonoran Desert, with flora and fauna of the most extraordinary biodiversity. Our heritage area would be only the third in the West, after Yuma and the Cache la Poudre area in Colorado. But it would be the largest Western heritage area yet and, dare we say, the richest in diversity of landscape, culture, history and recreation. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Saturday, April 21, 2007

This day in history

April 21, 753 B.C.: ROME FOUNDED. According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Romulus and his twin brother, Remus, founded Rome on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants. Actually, the Romulus and Remus myth originated sometime in the fourth century B.C., and the exact date of Rome's founding was set by the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro in the first century B.C. According to the legend, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia, the daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa. Before the birth of the twins, Numitor was deposed by his younger brother Amulius, who forced Rhea to become a vestal virgin so that she would not give birth to rival claimants to his title. However, Rhea was impregnated by the war god Mars and gave birth to Romulus and Remus.

Amulius ordered the infants drowned in the Tiber, but they survived and washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, where they were suckled by a she-wolf until they were found by the shepherd Faustulus. Reared by Faustulus and his wife, the twins later became leaders of a band of young shepherd warriors. After learning their true identity, they attacked Alba Longa, killed the wicked Amulius, and restored their grandfather to the throne. The twins then decided to found a town on the site where they had been saved as infants. They soon became involved in a petty quarrel, however, and Remus was slain by his brother. Romulus then became ruler of the settlement, which was named "Rome" after him. After Romulus, there were six more kings of Rome, the last three believed to be Etruscans. Around 509 B.C., the Roman republic was established.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

$1 million needed to save Marist building

[Source: Rob O'Dell, Daily Star] -- The minimum price to save part of Tucson's history and something unique to Southern Arizona: $1 million. That's the cost estimate, in a "Final Historic Structure Report" done by the city, to stabilize the more than 90-year-old Marist College Downtown, at the northwest corner of the St. Augustine Cathedral square, and just to make it structurally sound. Where the money would come from, however, remains a question. Diocese of Tucson officials say the church doesn't have the money. And while a majority of the City Council supports doing something, there is no agreement to put up the cash.

The three-story adobe walls are beginning to crumble and a corner of the building, which fell off during the 2005 monsoon, remains covered by a tarp that swings in and out with the wind. The $1 million would make the building whole by repairing the holes, building a steel skeleton inside for stabilization and removing the current outer shell and replacing it with a more compatible plaster that would better repel water, the report says. Renovating the interior to make it usable would be another $1 million to $2 million. Marist, which housed a Catholic school from 1915 to 1968, is the only three-story adobe in Southern Arizona, and maybe in Arizona, said John Shaheen, diocese property and insurance director. Shaheen said the diocese would like to sell or give the building to the city, a nonprofit organization or a private developer because the church can't afford to fix it.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Peg Price.]

Monday, April 16, 2007

Senate recommends $15 million for historic preservation grants in Louisiana

[Source: Heather MacIntosh, Preservation Action] -- On March 29th, the Senate approved their version of a supplemental war spending bill which included $15 million in Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) grant money for preservation activity in parts of Louisiana damaged by the 2005 hurricanes. The funds would be provided to State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) for grants supporting the, “preservation, stabilization, rehabilitation and repair of historic properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, [and] for planning and technical assistance.”

County allocates last of '97 funds for open space

[Source: Erica Meltzer, Daily Star] -- Pima County will use the last $5.9 million in 1997 open-space bonds to pursue the purchase of land on the Northwest Side and on Tumamoc Hill (pictured). The biggest portion — $4.3 million — is designated for three parcels totaling 64 acres near the Tortolita Mountains. Conservationists have long complained that the county had passed on ecologically sensitive but expensive land on the Northwest Side in favor of cheaper, less threatened land on the outskirts of the metropolitan area. Further complicating the issue, the Northwest parcels identified in the 1997 bond issue were state trust land. The state abandoned the Arizona Preserve Initiative — a plan to protect some state trust land — due to concerns about its constitutionality, and two ballot measures aiming to change state trust land rules failed in November 2006. The parcels now targeted for purchase all are privately held and can be bought if the county and the owner can agree on a price.

The parcels — one 40 acres, one 20 acres and a 4-acre parcel connecting the two — are located partly in Marana and partly in unincorporated Pima County, south of Camino de Mañana and west of Camino de Oeste, next to already-conserved land. Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, supports adding the parcels under the bond issue. "If something big comes up like this, it can really add value, especially if it's adjacent to other conserved land," she said. Earlier this year, Campbell and others urged the county Board of Supervisors to buy four small parcels on the Northwest Side, the largest of which was just 13 acres. The county bought two of the parcels — its first purchases on the Northwest Side using 2004 bond money. The remaining open-space money will be used to pursue more of the Los Morteros archaeological site, near Silverbell Road and Linda Vista Boulevard, and to protect 350 acres on Tumamoc Hill, west of Tucson. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Promoting local heritage

[Source: Blake Morlock, Tucson Citizen] -- With the support of an array of businesses and historians, southern Arizona's congressional representatives are expected to unveil today a bill that would establish 3,300 square miles of national heritage area, albeit with no federal protection. U.S. Reps. Gabrielle Giffords and Raúl Grijalva, both Democrats, were to introduce legislation to create the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area. The Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, the group pushing for the federal designation since 2003, has raised $132,000 for an area that straddles the Santa Cruz River from Marana south to Nogales. It would include seven protected landscapes, a half-dozen cultural sites and five municipalities - Nogales, Sahuarita, Tucson, Oro Valley and Marana - spread through two counties. Heritage areas are eligible for up to $10 million in federal money over 15 years to pay for projects that promote historical identity. They do not impose any restrictions on property rights or create new protections for the environment.

"Properly handled, this is one of those feel-good, everyone-wins situations," said Nan Stockholm Walden, a lawyer for Farmers Investment Co., which owns Green Valley Pecan Co. The idea is to direct tourists and residents from one landmark to another and promote a cultural identity, said Jonathan Mabry, chairman of the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance. "This is a way to connect people to this place," Mabry said. The landmarks are as diverse as the support. The area includes the San Xavier Mission (pictured) and the Titan Missile Museum. Supporters range from the Tucson Audubon Society to the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. No opposition has organized against the proposal. Most Heritage Areas are in the East. Only three are west of the Mississippi River, including one in and around Yuma. Yuma officials caused some rancor when they imposed restrictions on property rights within the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area immediately after it was established. Walden attributed the problem to overzealous city employees rather than provisions in the legislation creating the heritage area. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Meeting with American Legion Post 41 on historic designation

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- Representatives from the Phoenix HP Office met with the Commander and Adjutant with the American Legion Post 41, 2nd Avenue and Grant Street, to discuss historic designation for the American Legion Post which was recently identified as historically significant by the Hispanic Historic Property Study. Representatives from the American Legion Post 41 indicated support for the historic designation. (The HP Office has coordinated separately with Parks and Recreation Department staff regarding the historic designation given that the American Legion Post 41 land is city-owned, but provided to the American Legion via a long-term lease agreement.)

Also discussed at the meeting were preservation issues pertaining to the adjacent Duppa Adobe, a historically designated ca. 1895 adobe agricultural building in severe disrepair. The HP Office has agreed to hire an architect to perform a preliminary condition assessment of the building and to make recommendations regarding its reuse. Following the completion of this assessment, the HP Office plans to coordinate with Parks and American Legion Post 41 to seek public input from the Grant Park neighborhood regarding a possible reuse plan for the building.

Casino money could help revive ancient Indian ruins

[Source: Gary Nelson, Arizona Republic] -- Someday soon, you may be able to stroll through a relic of Mesa's ancient Indian past, thanks to money from modern Indian casinos. Mesa plans to ask the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community for $600,000 to fund the first phase of developing the Mesa Grande ruins as an educational and tourist destination. The city made the same request last year, but was rejected. But Jerry Dillehay, city grants coordinator, said recent political changes on the reservation, and Mesa's efforts to cultivate friendship with the tribe, may reverse that outcome.

Mesa Grande is the remains of a Hohokam settlement believed to date to 1300, lying directly west of Banner Mesa Medical Center at Brown Road and 10th Street. The site is fenced off and only a modest historical plaque, inside the fence, offers a hint as to what the site is about. Mesa has owned the property for 20 years but never had the money to develop it. The $600,000 grant would pay for trails, interpretive signs, restrooms and shelters, according to Tom Wilson, director of the Mesa Southwest Museum. Shelters also would be built to protect the ruins themselves, which now lie exposed to the wind and rain. The ultimate goal, Wilson said, is an enclosed visitors center.

That the money could come from Indian gaming is the result of Proposition 202, which Arizona voters approved in 2002. In exchange for letting tribes expand their casino operations, the law requires them to bounce some of their profits to the state, cities, schools and nonprofit entities. Mesa has snagged $2.3 million in gambling money since 2003. Some went to schools and nonprofits, but $1.2 million has gone to city projects. The Mesa Grande project is among 18 potential gambling-funded projects that Dillehay outlined this week to the City Council. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tubac Resort makes list of historic hotels

[Source: Associated Press] -- A southern Arizona resort is one of the newest members of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America. Tubac Golf Resort in Tubac (pictured) is among six new members announced today. The others are the Skirvin Hilton and Colcord Hotel, both in downtown Oklahoma City; the Sofia Hotel in San Diego; Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; and the Jumeirah Essex House in New York. The new selections bring the program's total membership to 213 hotels, representing 39 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Shaffer The Gallery At Tlaquepaque opens a new space in Sedona

Celebrating their anniversary in the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, S J Shaffer, along with Director Nancy Powell, has moved to a larger location. With this move they have welcomed in one of the legends of the Southwest, artist and oil painter, Maria Sharylen. Sharylen's paintings (pictured) are alive with the people and the customs of the Southwest. She is recognized for her deep palette of crimsons, magentas and cerulean blues. Sharylen's paintings have been exhibited in several museums and held in important collections nationally and internationally. She was the president and founder of the American Academy of Women Artists (retired), and the co-founder and president of The Other Side of the West, Desert Caballeros Museum, in Wickenburg, Arizona. The museum exhibit traveled for four years throughout the country. She has been in many art magazines including Phoenix Home & Garden, Cowboys & Indians, and Southwest Art, to mention a few.

Along with Maria Sharylen, they have welcomed into the gallery internationally known, contemporary Navajo artist, Shonto Begay, an illustrator and painter. Born in a hogan in Shonto, Arizona, to a Navajo Medicine Man and his mother, a Navajo weaver and sheep herder, Begay became interested in drawing at a very young age. His paintings executed in acrylic, Begay's expressionist canvases often draw comparisons to Vincent Van Gogh. Each painting is built by a complexity of simple brush strokes that are applied like a visual chant. Begay's paintings have been exhibited in The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, The Phoenix Triennial Exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum, and American Indian Contemporary Arts Museum in San Franisco. Begay has also done many murals for the state of Arizona. Begay is also an illustrator of children's books and does speaking engagements all over the country.

At Grand Canyon skywalk, controversial twist on eco-tourism

[Source: Steve Friess, Christian Science Monitor] -- Anita Wells shuffles cautiously up to the edge of the glass floor and then stops short. The view before her of the Grand Canyon thousands of feet below causes her to tremble. "Oh, I can't do this," she moans. But Ms. Wells and her sons have arrived at 6:30 a.m. on this snow-flurried spring morning to be among the first tourists to step out onto the horseshoe-shaped bridge. And so, with her son Adam's prodding, Wells takes her first few steps gingerly. She feels a comforting sturdiness beneath her in the three-inch-thick glass. Then, minutes later, she's smiling and laughing at the far end of a structure cantilevering off the West Rim of the world's most famous chasm. "I was really nervous about doing this, but my boys wanted to so I figured I should try something new," says Wells, who is on a road trip from Atlanta with her 21-year-old twins. "Once I got out there, I got used to it, and then it was kind of a charge to be doing this."

Almost overnight, the glass-and-steel oxbow protruding out over the lip of the Grand Canyon has become one of the world's most unusual curiosities. Part high-wire act and part window into the womb of the Earth, the structure represents a new and controversial twist on the budding eco-tourism movement. The Hualapai Indians, who consented to allow investors to build the $30 million Skywalk on their land, hope it draws thousands of visitors a year and brings a lift to their isolated reservation 120 miles southeast of Las Vegas. They're counting on it to create jobs and provide much-needed revenue for the 2,000 tribal members spread across 1 million acres of Arizona. But critics, including some tribal members, consider it an affront to one of the world's most hallowed pieces of earth. "I'm not trying to denigrate their need, but this is designed to provide a thrill of being able to walk over the edge," says Robert Arnberger, a retired superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park. "I dislike the motivation behind it."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo Source: Rob Schumacher.]

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Indian museum provides look at politically incorrect Smoki People

[Source: Emily Seftel, Arizona Republic] -- It's not every day that you stumble across a museum in which the story behind it is as interesting as the collections within it. If you visit the Smoki Museum of American Indian Art and Culture, however, that's what you'll find. That doesn't detract from the museum's collections. Those who enjoy Native American craftsmanship will find plenty in the displays of artifacts, pottery, baskets and more. But what sets the museum apart is the exhibit adjacent to the main gallery: "And Then They Danced: Cross-Cultural Reflections on the Smoki People."

It's fairly easy to overlook this part of the museum because it's housed in a small room in back. But don't give it short shrift, because it provides the fascinating history of the Smoki. If you walk too briskly through the room, you'll miss the key piece of information on the placard at the front; namely, that the Smoki People weren't Native Americans at all, but a group of White men wearing Indian costumes, body paint and makeup. The Smoki date back to 1921, when financially strapped Prescott faced the possibility of having to cancel its annual Frontier Days Rodeo. A group of local businessmen staged a "Way Out West" show, which they hoped would raise enough money to save the rodeo. The show played to popular notions of cowboys and Indians, and one of the acts was the Smoki Snake Dance. Performed by the businessmen, the dance imitated the sacred Hopi Snake Dance.

The first performance was a rousing success, and the Smoki People were born. The fake tribe's popularity grew. The Smoki formed a women's auxiliary, which took charge of costume design and fabrication. After two years as part of the Smoki, a woman could shed her "maiden" status and become a Smoki Squaw. Children also became involved and received costumes and wigs made of black yarn. The social aspect of the organization appealed to many, and, after a few years, most Prescott residents were affiliated in some way with the Smoki. The group opened its permanent museum in 1935. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

This day in history

April 6, 1896 : OLYMPIAD REBORN. On April 6, 1896, the Olympic Games, a long-lost tradition of ancient Greece, are reborn in Athens 1,500 years after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. The first recorded Olympic Games were held at Olympia in the Greek city-state of Elis in 776 B.C., but it is generally accepted that the Olympics were at least 500 years old at that time. The ancient Olympics, held every four years, occurred during a religious festival honoring the Greek god Zeus. Initially, Olympic competition was limited to foot races, but later a number of other events were added, including wrestling, boxing, horse and chariot racing, and military competitions.

With the rise of Rome, the Olympics declined, and in 393 A.D. the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games as part of his efforts to suppress paganism in the Roman Empire. With the Renaissance, Europe began a long fascination with ancient Greek culture, and in the 18th and 19th centuries some nations staged informal sporting and folkloric festivals bearing the name "Olympic Games." However, it was not until 1894 that a young French baron, Pierre de Coubertin, proposed reviving the Olympics at a conference on international sport. 79 delegates from nine countries unanimously approved his proposal. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was formed, and the first Games were planned for 1896 in Athens, the capital of Greece.

Camelback East Village Planning Committee Meeting

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- On Tuesday April 10, HP staff attended the Camelback East Village Planning Committee (VPC) and provided information on the city’s current planning efforts to identify and protect historic post World War II properties. The VPC had requested this update in light of the recent demolition of the Washburn Piano Building (pictured) that was recently demolished at 20th and Camelback Streets, and the newly filed rezoning case potentially affecting the 1968 Weaver and Drover designed bank building at the southeast corner of Camelback and 44th Streets. The VPC voted to establish a subcommittee to come back to the VPC in April with a resolution regarding preservation of post World War II properties. There were approximately 40 persons present at the meeting on this item, with three individuals speaking. [Photo by Elgin MacMillan.]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Saving the ranchlands

[Source: Arizona Republic] -- Arizona's cowboy-and-cattle heritage is vanishing as subdivisions and "ranchettes" take over grazing land. Fortunately, there's a growing push to save some remnant of ranching. And a growing understanding that this open space is more than a picturesque backdrop. The grasslands are vital to maintaining our wildlife habitat and water supplies. Sunset magazine recently included Pima County and Arizona Open Land Trust among its "champions of the West," an annual environmental award, for their work in preserving a pair of ranches. The non-profit land trust helped in negotiations with the family that owned the Santa Lucia Ranch and Rancho Seco, which lie southwest of Tucson in the mesquite-dotted Altar Valley.

Pima County supervisors in 2005 approved $18.5 million to buy 9,500 acres at the ranches, plus acquire grazing rights on 27,000 acres of federal and state trust land. Family members have a lease to continue running cattle there, while the county will monitor the health of the rangeland. What's the alternative? Consider the nearby Sopori Ranch. It was sold just a year earlier - to Phoenix-based First United Realty, which is now selling lots in a subdivision there. It's a question of math. A long-term drought is pinching cattle operations. Developers, meanwhile, are offering big bucks for ranchland, which they turn around and sell as "ranchettes" in parcels of 5 acres to 40 acres. Inheritance taxes can add to the pressure. Families may be divided on whether to cash in, and those who want to keep the land often lack the money to buy out the others. Splitting up ranches can impose costs on everyone else. Fragmenting the landscape makes life harder for wildlife. Building homes in these rural areas means more wells, contributing to a drop in water tables, and more septic systems, which can threaten water quality. Serving far-flung residents puts a strain on county resources. Hanging onto ranches isn't a fuzzy sentimental notion but a practical strategy in the nation's fastest-growing state. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Museum gives Anderson a stage

[Source: Srianthi Perera, Arizona Republic] -- In school and at college, Lisa Anderson tried out her passion, acting in Broadway musicals, and soon found out that the theater stage wasn't her calling. It was anthropology. But as keeper of Mesa's history at the Mesa Historical Museum, Anderson remains in the limelight. "It's the history of the community that teaches us of the path where we're going as a community," she said. Anderson attended Mesa Community College and finished her bachelor's degree in anthropology at Brigham Young University. She received her master's degree in anthropology and museum studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Since taking the reins from Tracy Wagner as the executive director in January 2005,Anderson, 38, has established a board, developed a board structure, broadened the scope of the museum to attract new audiences and rejuvenated efforts to preserve the two historical buildings that house the museum and its 80,000-piece collection. Despite challenges, the museum was progressing, until cash-strapped Mesa stopped the annual funding in July 2006 that was the museum's backbone since its inception 40 years ago. It has been a struggle since. What we do here is extremely important. It's just as important as continuing the city utilities," Anderson said. "A museum of our size, and with our collection, needs to be funded at a much higher level than we were operating at even before the crisis hit. Even keeping at that pace, losing the city money was critical for us." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A past worth preserving

[Source: Richard Moe] -- This May the nation celebrates the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown as the first permanent English settlement in America. It was a consequential event in 1607, to be sure, but we shouldn’t confuse it with the beginning of the American experience. For thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived, there were people on this continent who represented highly developed civilizations and who were proficient in art, architecture, agriculture and astronomy. These were the first Americans, and their story is also part of our common heritage. The most significant evidence of this legacy is here at Chaco Canyon, in the remote desert of northwestern New Mexico, where Native Americans a thousand years ago built a huge complex of great houses, pueblos of exquisite stonework whose rooms sometimes numbered in the hundreds. They built roads that were as wide as 30 feet and extended up to 60 miles to ease trade, ritual and communication. They created, in effect, an empire.

Chaco Canyon today is a collection of magnificent ruins whose archeology tells us as much as we know, which is not enough, about these mysterious people. A unit of the National Park Service, the canyon is as well preserved and interpreted as an underfinanced budget allows. Unfortunately, other significant archeological sites nearby are increasingly at great risk. Most of these are also on public lands, largely those of the Bureau of Land Management, which has a bifurcated and inherently conflicted mission to both preserve and exploit the resources entrusted to it. With ever increasing pressure for oil and gas drilling on these lands, coupled with greater access by off-road vehicles that can go nearly anywhere and when unmanaged can do great harm, more and more of our heritage on these lands is in danger of being obliterated. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

This day in history

April 9, 1959: FIRST ASTRONAUTS INTRODUCED. On April 9, 1959, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduces America's first astronauts to the press. The seven men, all military test pilots, were carefully selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury, America's first manned space program. On October 4, 1957, the USSR scored the first victory of the "space race" when it successfully launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into Earth's orbit. In response, the United States consolidated its various military and civilian space efforts into NASA, which dedicated itself to beating the Soviets to manned space flight. In January 1959, NASA began the astronaut selection procedure, screening the records of 508 military test pilots and choosing 110 candidates. An initial battery of written tests, interviews, and medical history reviews reduced the number of candidates to 32.

The final 32 candidates traveled to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they underwent exhaustive medical and psychological examinations. One candidate was eliminated. The remaining 31 candidates then traveled to the Wright Aeromedical Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, where they underwent the most grueling part of the selection process. For six days and three nights, the men were subjected to various tortures that tested their tolerance of physical and psychological stress. Among other tests, the candidates were forced to spend an hour in a pressure chamber that simulated an altitude of 65,000 feet, and two hours in a chamber that was heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of one week, 18 candidates remained.

From among these men, the selection committee was to choose six based on interviews, but seven candidates were so strong they ended up settling on that number. After they were announced, the "Mercury Seven" became overnight celebrities. The Mercury Project suffered some early setbacks, however, and on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth in the world's first manned space flight. On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. NASA continued to trail the Soviets in space achievements until the late 1960s, when NASA's Apollo program put the first men on the moon and safely returned them to Earth.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Legislators want money to preserve southern arizona land

[Source: Associated Press] -- Two Arizona lawmakers are planning to propose legislation this month that would provide money for wetlands and historic preservation for a piece of southern Arizona land. U.S. Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords want to establish the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area. Giffords and Grijalva are still working out how much of the region will be included, but a group supporting the legislation has asked for more than three thousand square miles. The area would run east of the Tucson Mountains and west of the Rincon Mountains, stretching from the Pinal County line to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Put a price on priceless

The stalactites at Kartchner Caverns and the quail at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge have something in common. Inadequate budgets are threatening them. Two of Arizona's premier systems of recreation and preservation are at risk. Our Arizona State Parks agency has developed a huge maintenance backlog, because budget cuts have forced it to use up capital funds for everyday operating expenses. Our eight federal wildlife refuges are losing 16 percent of their staff. It's part of a national cutback by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to make up for shortfalls in funding. In both cases, we risk long-term damage from shortsighted penny pinching.

The colorful formations at Kartchner Caverns State Park depend on constant moisture. But pumping from the park's wells is jeopardizing the water supply to the cave, a geologist warns,especially in this time of drought. We can eliminate the risk if the park hooks up with the city of Benson's water line. But that would require laying six miles of pipe at a cost of $3.4 million. With its border location, the Buenos Aires refuge already has to pour resources into dealing with the impact of illegal immigrants, drug traffickers and law enforcement activities. Forty percent of staff time goes into fixing fences, repairing erosion from foot traffic and picking up vast quantities of litter (fortunately with volunteer help). [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Fry cemetry preservation update

[Source: Amanda Baillie, Herald/Review] -- Volunteers trying to preserve one of the few remaining historic sites in the city have now raised more than $5,000. Thanks to a $500 donation from Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, coupled with contributions from members of the community, the Fry Pioneer Cemetery Committee received more than $1,100 in August. Its fund now stands at $5,310.22. The money is being raised to help buy the burial site, located north of Fry Boulevard between Sixth Street and Seventh Street, which is owned by a member of the Fry family, now living in California. It is home to at least 200 graves of the early settlers of Sierra Vista and contains the Fry family plot.

The committee also has applied to have the graveyard placed on the list of Arizona Historical Sites. A packet, which includes letters of support from local residents who have relatives buried in the cemetery, as well as from members of the Fry family and Gov. Janet Napolitano, has been sent to the State Historic Preservation Office in Phoenix. “This sacred property is significant for its association with local and state history, and it illustrates the positive interaction of European-American settlers with Hispanic and African-American natives and immigrants in the development of the state of Arizona,” said committee chairman Tom Shupert in a letter to Kathryn Leonard, National Register coordinator. “This human burial ground merits the respect, reverence and protection of Sierra Vista, Fort Huachuca and surrounding communities — actually the entire state of Arizona.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Museum of Northern Arizona announces the 2007 heritage program

By providing a deeper insight into the Hopi, Navajo, and Hispanic cultures living on the Colorado Plateau, the Museum of Northern Arizona's three Heritage Program festivals continue to foster communication and the exchange of ideas between cultures by offering an in-depth mix of art, music, performances, and Heritage Insights presentations. Authentic expressions of cultural traditions and the voices of knowledgeable educators join together, creating a community of cultural understanding and a forum for dialogue.

The next festival, the 74th Annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture, is Saturday June 30 and Sunday July 1. More than 50 artists travel from the Hopi mesas to share with visitors their lifeways and artistic creations. Visitors gain insight from carvers, painters, jewelers, potters, quilters, and basket and textile weavers against a backdrop of cultural presentations, storytelling, music, and dancing. Take a taste of piki or Hopi bread baked in outside ovens. Watch Hopi pottery being shaped, painted, and traditionally fired. Walk the Museum's Rio de Flag Nature Trail with a Hopi medicine woman. Take part in insightful discussions about the Hopi values of humility, cooperation, respect, balance, and earth stewardship

[Photo: Traditional Hopi dancers from the Lomayaoma Dance Group. Photo by Betsey Bruner].

Save transportation enhancements funding for historic preservation

Transportation Enhancements funding - federal transportation dollars set aside for local projects - has been a powerful tool for communities to fund projects that enhance historic places. This program utilizes federal highway funding for new and non-traditional activities that enhance the community benefits of transportation investments, and six of the twelve approved activities involve historic preservation. For 15 years, hundreds of communities have used the enhancements program for downtown streetscape projects, visitor centers, historic preservation projects, and hike and bike trails. However, the program is in jeopardy.

In 2006, the Federal Highway Administration rescinded a portion of un-obligated highway funds requiring each state to return part of their federal transportation funding to the federal government. Many states adopted a balanced approach to returning the funds, but some chose to do this in a disproportionate manner by drastically cutting their Transportation Enhancements funds. On Monday, March 19, 2007, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an order to states requiring them to return an additional $3.47 billion in transportation money. Within 30 days, your governor will decide how to apply this cut to your state's transportation budget. For more information on the Transportation Enhancements program, please visit the National Trust website.

Natural gas wells planned for Chaco area

[Source: The Associated Press] -- The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state Land Office has put on hold drilling leases for a company that plans two natural gas wells south of the Chaco Canyon visitor center. The Land Office initially approved the leases for Denver-based Cimarex Energy Company. But then it received about a dozen phone calls from people concerned about the drilling. Land Office spokeswoman Kristen Haase says the leases are on hold while the Land Office's archaeologist reviews possible impacts. Chaco Canyon was a major center of Puebloan Indian culture between A-D 850 and 1250. It's a World Heritage Site and a beloved destination for campers, photographers and history buffs.