User Story: ShoreZone and Archaeology in Southeast Alaska
March 5, 2014
Dave Richards, a volunteer with the Forest Service out of the Ketchikan/Misty Fjords Ranger District, is in his 12th season working with archaeologist Martin Stanford. In the summer they do Cultural Resource Inventory and Monitoring via sea kayak, going slow to see things from up close but also to travel (as much as possible) as the natives did in the past.
About 6-7 years ago, they started using the ShoreZone data site as part of their pre-trip planning. “It’s a way if you will to "see" where we would be going, before we got there” says Dave Richards. “ShoreZone allowed us to see beaches for possible camping locations (and remember, good beaches for us to camp at might also be good beaches for natives in the past), as well as see physical structures that might be located in the tidal areas”. He adds, “Seeing things pre-trip from the air in the tidal areas is the key, as then we are able to plan and adjust our routes and schedules to investigate potential sites”.
Pre-planning surveys and site visits are a couple of the main uses of ShoreZone. It allows scientists, recreationalists and response planners to “visit” an areas coastline via photo and video before ever setting foot (or kayak) there. Identifying landing areas, plotting safe harborage locations and searching for other desired coastal attributes can all be done using ShoreZone….and sometimes you can find much more.
The accompanying photo is just such an example. Shown in this actual ShoreZone survey photo are numerous historical stone fish traps and weirs (highlighted by added arrows). “If we had not known about it from using ShoreZone, we might have passed by at a high tide and not know it was used in the past as an active native fishing location”, says Richards when describing the photo.
Once the site was identified via the ShoreZone photo an exact location was pinpointed with the attached geo-referenced coordinates. During the ensuing visit to this archeological site, in addition to the visible stone weirs and traps, the team was also lucky enough to find a stake from a stake weir that was pulled for carbon dating and found to be between 540-650 years old.
This research team was made aware of ShoreZone after a presentation at the Discovery Center in Ketchikan. “The Center director had seen the presentation and thought Martin might find the site useful in our investigations” recalls Dave, “It has been that for sure”.
If your organization, agency, department or school would like to take part in a ShoreZone presentation or workshop please contact Darren Stewart at The Nature Conservancy, 907-865-5711.