The Southeast Archeological Center just learned that the Byrd Hammock Preservation Project was chosen as the Southeast Region’s Hartzog Park Volunteer Program Award winner! The efforts of park VIPs and SEAC’s very own Andrew McFeaters, Thadra Stanton, Jeff Shanks, and Mike Russo of the National Historic Landmarks and External Contracts program have been officially recognized. As regional winners they go on to compete nationally.
Wish them the best of luck in the next round of competition
Former director George B. Hartzog, Jr. (1964-1972) and his wife, Helen donated funds to the National Park Foundation in commemoration of the efforts of volunteers. The Hartzog Award uses part of those funds to recognize the exemplary contributions of volunteers, groups, and park VIP programs.
The Byrd Hammock Archeological Project is multi-agency undertaking that began in the fall of 2014 and continued through the summer of 2015. It was made possible through a partnership between four government agencies, two non-profits, two civic groups, 21 volunteers, four students from Florida State University, five students under Dr. Rebecca Saunders from Louisiana State University and four interns from the Student Conservation Association.
By the end of the summer of 2015, the project had opened 28 excavation units and over 250 shovel tests. Two local newspapers and one local television news station ran stories about the project. In addition, tours and outreach opportunities were provided to civic groups, home school groups, and Boy Scout troops.
The project has led to the protection of the site which will soon be connected, via a spur trail, to the Florida National Scenic Trail, managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Today SEAC is working on nominating the saved site as a National Historic Landmark with our VIPs performing much of the necessary lab work for our excavated materials. Once the materials have been analyzed, they will be curated by the Florida Division of Historical Resources.
Here’s a bit of the back story
SEAC learned early last year of three properties, part of an archeological site listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located next to our DOI sister-agency the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, that were in danger of development. Together with the Refuge, SEAC jumped into action to preserve the site with the help of our VIPs. To begin with, the VIPs helped survey the properties with shovel test excavations, defining the extent of the site’s buried components. Then they helped conduct a laser transit survey to create a map of the site to present to the Refuge.
The Refuge was interested in purchasing the property after seeing the map…but could not afford to do so immediately. SEAC turned to the Archaeological Conservancy, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to acquiring and preserving archaeological sites discovered on private land. They agreed to purchase the site on the condition that they be provided with an archeological survey report in short order that would allow them to identify only those portions of the properties that contained parts of the prehistoric site. This would allow them to parcel off and negotiate for purchasing two of the three portions of the site needed for preservation. With the help of our VIPs, SEAC undertook an immediate survey and provided the requested report to the Archaeological Conservancy, who purchased two of the critical parcels.
But one part of the site remained to be obtained for preservation. Once again we turned to our VIPs. To demonstrate to the owners of the property that the site was worth saving and encourage the family that a donation to the Refuge should be considered, our VIPs worked with two universities, Florida State University and Louisiana State University to conduct large-scale excavations at the site. Presented with the results of the Volunteer project, the family donated 160 acres of property, including the greater part of the Byrd Hammock site, to the St. Marks Refuge Association!
All told, the volunteer hours for the project amount to more than 2,500!
Interested in volunteering at a National Park? Find more information here!
Interested in an internship with the Student Conservation Association? Find more information here!
Did you know
SEAC Compliance division’s newest addition,
cut her teeth in the Southeast as an SCA intern?
And more about