NPS-28: CULTURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT GUIDELINE
A. Introduction and Objectives
Cultural landscapes are complex resources that range from large rural tracts covering several thousand acres to formal gardens of less than an acre. Natural features such as landforms, soils, and vegetation are not only part of the cultural landscape, they provide the framework within which it evolves. In the broadest sense, a cultural landscape is a reflection of human adaptation and use of natural resources and is often expressed in the way land is organized and divided, patterns of settlement, land use, systems of circulation, and the types of structures that are built. The character of a cultural landscape is defined both by physical materials, such as roads, buildings, walls, and vegetation, and by use reflecting cultural values and traditions.
Identifying the significant characteristics and features in a landscape and understanding them in relation to each other and to significant historic events, trends, and persons allows us to read the landscape as a cultural resource. In many cases, these features are dynamic and change over time. In many cases, too, historical significance may be ascribed to more than one period in a landscape's physical and cultural evolution.
Cultural landscape management involves identifying the type and degree of change that can occur while maintaining the historic character of the landscape. The identification and management of an appropriate level of change in a cultural landscape is closely related to its significance. In a landscape significant for its association with a specific style, individual, trend, or event, change may diminish its integrity and needs to be carefully monitored and controlled. In a landscape significant for the pattern of use that has evolved, physical change may be essential to the continuation of the use. In the latter case, the focus should be on perpetuating the use while maintaining the general character and feeling of the historic period(s), rather than on preserving a specific appearance.
2. Program Objectives
According to federal law and the NPS Management Policies, all cultural landscapes are to be managed as cultural resources, regardless of the type or level of significance. Cultural landscape management focuses on preserving a landscape's physical attributes, biotic systems, and use when that use contributes to its historical significance. Research, planning, and stewardship are the framework for the program. Research defines the features, values, and associations that make a landscape historically significant; planning outlines the issues and alternatives for long-term preservation; and stewardship involves such activities as condition assessment, maintenance, and training.
3. Cultural Landscape Categories
A cultural landscape is a geographic area, including both natural and cultural resources, associated with a historic event, activity, or person. The National Park Service recognizes four cultural landscape categories: historic designed landscapes, historic vernacular landscapes, historic sites, and ethnographic landscapes. These categories are helpful in distinguishing the values that make landscapes cultural resources and in determining how they should be treated, managed, and interpreted.
Historic designed landscapes are deliberate artistic creations reflecting recognized styles, such as the twelve-acre Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C., with its French and Italian Renaissance garden features. Designed landscapes also include those associated with important persons, trends, or events in the history of landscape architecture, such as Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Historic vernacular landscapes illustrate peoples' values and attitudes toward the land and reflect patterns of settlement, use, and development over time. Vernacular landscapes are found in large rural areas and small suburban and urban districts. Agricultural areas, fishing villages, mining districts, and homesteads are examples. The 17,400-acre rural landscape of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve represents a continuum of land use spanning more than a century. It has been continually reshaped by its inhabitants, yet the historic mix of farm, forest, village, and shoreline remains.
Historic sites are significant for their associations with important events, activities, and persons. Battlefields and presidential homes are prominent examples. At these areas, existing features and conditions are defined and interpreted primarily in terms of what happened there at particular times in the past.
Ethnographic landscapes are associated with contemporary groups and typically are used or valued in traditional ways. In the expansive Alaska parks, Native Alaskans hunt, fish, trap, and gather and imbue features with spiritual meanings. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve illustrates the strong interrelationship between the dynamic natural system of the Delta region and several cultural groups through many generations. Numerous cultural centers maintain ties to distinctive, long-established groups with ethnic identities.
The four cultural landscape categories are not mutually exclusive. A landscape may be associated with a significant event, include designed or vernacular characteristics, and be significant to a specific cultural group. For example, Gettysburg National Military Park is a historic site primarily significant as the scene of the 1863 Civil War battle. The park also includes historic vernacular farm complexes that existed at the time of the battle and a number of designed components added later to commemorate the event, including a national cemetery, roads, and numerous monuments.
The cultural landscape program focuses on landscapes listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Landscapes primarily significant for their ethnographic value are under the purview of the ethnography program; however, professionals from both programs may be involved in their documentation and treatment. (See Chapter 10 for guidance in managing ethnographic landscapes.)
The primary purpose of research on cultural landscapes is to define the values and associations that make them historically significant. Research findings provide information for management decisions and actions extending from the development of long-term plans to compliance with preservation law and maintenance, assist in determining appropriate treatment, and support interpretive programs. The following standards apply:
Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires the NPS to identify and nominate to the National Register all resources under its jurisdiction that appear eligible, including cultural landscapes. Historical areas of the national park system are automatically listed in the National Register upon their establishment by law or executive order, but landscape resources within them that contribute to their historical significance still must be documented for the Register.
Research and preliminary field surveys are conducted to determine the existence of cultural landscapes. Identifying the significant characteristics and features of a landscape involves understanding its physical modifications and use, along with any ethnographic values and affiliations.
Except for ethnographic landscapes, the initial identification of cultural landscapes occurs in historic resource studies. An HRS must contain enough information about the developmental history, evolution, and existing conditions of a cultural landscape to evaluate its integrity and define appropriate National Register boundaries. Based on the research and field investigations conducted, a historical base map clearly depicting all cultural landscape resources and a National Register nomination are prepared. Addenda to existing HRSs are appropriate to address cultural landscapes that were not addressed initially.
2. Documentation, Evaluation, and Registration
Documentation of cultural landscapes requires the use of primary and secondary sources; review and assessment of archeological records; and intensive field investigations to determine the extent and condition of historic and contemporary landscape features. Maps, plans, drawings, and photographs should be prepared as part of the baseline documentation.
Significance is determined by relating a landscape's history and existing characteristics and features to its historic context. The features, materials, patterns, and relationships that contribute to its historical significance must be present and have integrity. There may be more than a single area or period of historical significance for the landscape as a whole or for individual parts of it.
The integrity of a cultural landscape is judged by the degree to which the characteristics that define its historical significance are present. Because important aspects such as vegetation and use change over time, integrity also depends on how evident the general character of the historic period is and the degree to which incompatible elements are reversible. With some vernacular and ethnographic landscapes, change itself is a significant factor and must be considered in assessing their integrity. In a designed landscape, a specific feature or area may survive in better condition than other equally important features or areas. In this case, an assessment of integrity should focus on the role of the individual feature in the overall historic design and the degree to which it contributes to the integrity of the design. In a similar way, as vegetation matures, the change in tree canopy, scale, and massing may affect the overall character of the landscape. It is important to consider how such changes affect the landscape as a whole and the degree to which they impact or obscure it.
d. National Register Nominations
Cultural landscapes are listed in the National Register when their significant cultural values have been documented and evaluated within appropriate thematic contexts and physical investigation determines that they retain integrity. Cultural landscapes are classified in the National Register as sites or districts or may be included as contributing elements of larger districts.
e. Cultural Landscapes Inventory
The Cultural Landscapes Inventory (CLI) is a computerized, evaluated inventory of all cultural landscapes in which the NPS has or plans to acquire any legal interest. Its purpose is to identify cultural landscapes in the national park system and provide information on their location, historical development, character-defining features, and management. The CLI assists park managers in planning, programming, and recording treatment and management decisions. CLI forms, including maps, drawings, and photographs, are maintained in the support offices and parks.
For more information on documentation, evaluation, and registration see National Register Bulletins 18, 30, 38, 40, 41, and 42 and the Cultural Landscapes Inventory Professional Procedures Guide.
3. Cultural Landscape Report
A cultural landscape report (CLR) is the primary guide to treatment and use of a cultural landscape. Based on the historic context provided in a historic resource study, a CLR documents the characteristics, features, materials, and qualities that make a landscape eligible for the National Register. It analyzes the landscape's development and evolution, modifications, materials, construction techniques, geographical context, and use in all periods, including those deemed not significant. Based on the analysis, it evaluates the significance of individual landscape characteristics and features in the context of the landscape as a whole. Typically interdisciplinary in character, it includes documentation, analysis, and evaluation of historical, architectural, archeological, ethnographic, horticultural, landscape architectural, engineering, and ecological data as appropriate. It makes recommendations for treatment consistent with the landscape's significance, condition, and planned use.
A CLR's scope and level of investigation will vary depending on management objectives. It may focus on an entire landscape or on individual features within it. Before any decision regarding treatment of a landscape, Part 1: Site History, Existing Conditions, Analysis, and Evaluation must be completed.
A CLR includes the following:
Introduction contains the management summary, historical overview and context, study boundaries, methodology and scope of the project, and a summary of findings.
Part 1: Site History, Existing Conditions, Analysis, and Evaluation contains three primary sections:
Part 2: Treatment contains recommendations for treatment of the landscape based on the site history, existing conditions, and analysis; enabling legislation; applicable standards; and the proposed use as defined in planning documents. Recommendations are presented in a treatment plan and/or narrative guidelines. Cost estimates may be included.
Part 3: Record of Treatment documents the actual treatment with photographs, sketches, accounting data, and narratives outlining the course of work, conditions encountered, and materials used.
Appendices, Bibliography, and Index contain supplemental drawings, illustrations, maps, photographs, technical information, or other support documentation; a list of sources used in preparing the document; and references to material in the document, respectively.
The following standards apply:
1. Relationship to Park Plans
Cultural landscapes should be considered in all special resource studies for establishing new park areas. In existing parks, cultural landscapes often influence proposals in a park's statement for management, general management plan, development concept plan(s), resources management plan, and interpretive prospectus. Cultural landscape issues, such as historic land uses and the location and character of significant resources, should be considered in the development of all planning documents to avoid adverse effects on landscapes. Information in the Cultural Landscapes Inventory is generally adequate for a general management plan. A development concept plan should be coordinated with the preparation of a CLR and/or involve a historical landscape architect to ensure that development maintains the significant character and features of the landscape. The resources management plan should provide a format for documenting research and treatment requirements related to cultural landscapes as part of a comprehensive park cultural resource program. Appropriate siting of wayside exhibits and signs and techniques for cultural landscape interpretation should be addressed in the interpretive prospectus. In all park plans, the planning process itself is a fundamental tool for integrating information about and determining relationships among cultural landscapes and other resource types.
2. Decisions About Treatment
Information about the significance and integrity of cultural landscapes is required before making planning decisions about treatment and in many activities associated with park operations. For general management planning purposes, the historic resource study is the
primary document for determining significance and integrity. Before treatment of a landscape or its individual features, additional information regarding its significance, integrity, and condition is necessary. The CLR is the primary supporting document in this regard.
The following standards apply:
Because many parks were evaluated and documented for the National Register before cultural landscapes were recognized as significant resources, the National Register is an incomplete indicator of the presence of landscape resources. In Section 106 compliance, therefore, particular attention must be given to identifying and evaluating landscapes and their significant characteristics, features, and uses so that the effects of proposed undertakings on them can be adequately considered.
Actions affecting cultural landscapes, and thus requiring Section 106 compliance, fall into two categories:
Actions undertaken specifically for the management of a cultural landscape: The most common activity in this category that may affect the character or use of a cultural landscape is routine grounds maintenance, such as pruning and replacing vegetation, mowing grass, repairing fences, resetting and replacing paving materials in kind, and maintaining roads, paths, and trails. Although the work required to maintain a cultural landscape may not differ significantly from other park maintenance practices, many landscapes require special attention and treatment of various features. This especially is true in designed landscapes where the treatment, use, and maintenance of single features may profoundly affect the integrity of the whole.
Actions undertaken for other management purposes: Actions in this category can have significant adverse effects on a cultural landscape if not planned and carried out with consideration of its values. Examples include the construction of buildings and general work associated with site development; the addition or resurfacing of trails to meet accessibility standards; the addition of contemporary patios, fences, walkways, walls, utilities, and site furniture; and changes in use from open space to parking lot, visitor center, or maintenance yard. Although the impact of a single such action may be minor, the cumulative effect of successive actions may be adverse.
The following standards apply to actions affecting landscape resources:
Use is an integral characteristic of a cultural landscape and impacts the landscape both materially and spatially. In vernacular and ethnographic landscapes, significant patterns of land use may have varied over several generations, while in a historic designed landscape land use activities may be fixed. Contemporary use of a cultural landscape is appropriate (1) if it does not adversely affect significant landscape features, and (2) if it either follows the historic use or does not impede public appreciation of it.
5. Funding and Staffing
Because the NPS has only recently recognized cultural landscapes as a major resource type, funding and staffing for landscape research, planning, and stewardship are relatively limited. Parks should systematically evaluate their funding and staffing needs for landscapes and identify them in park resources management plans.
1. General Treatment
This section contains management standards that provide a broad philosophical base for the treatment of cultural landscapes. Treatment is traditionally divided into four categories: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. The standards should be used in evaluating proposed projects and in planning and executing all work.
The following standards apply to all treatments:
Preservation maintains the existing integrity and character of a cultural landscape by arresting or retarding deterioration caused by natural forces and normal use. It includes both maintenance and stabilization. Maintenance is a systematic activity mitigating wear and deterioration of a cultural landscape by protecting its condition. In light of the dynamic qualities of a landscape, maintenance is essential for the long-term preservation of individual features and the integrity of the entire landscape. Stabilization involves reestablishing the stability of an unsafe, damaged, or deteriorated cultural landscape while maintaining its existing character. The following standards based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties apply:
The following additional standards apply:
Rehabilitation improves the utility or function of a cultural landscape, through repair or alteration, to make possible an efficient compatible use while preserving those portions or features that are important in defining its significance. The following standards based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties apply:
Restoration accurately depicts the form, features, and character of a cultural landscape as it appeared at a specific period or as intended by its original constructed design. It may involve the reconstruction of missing historic features and selective removal of later features, some having cultural value in themselves. The following standards based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties apply:
The following additional standards apply:
Reconstruction entails depicting the form, features, and details of a non-surviving cultural landscape, or any part thereof, as it appeared at a specific period or as intended by its original constructed design. Reconstruction of an entire landscape is always a last-resort measure for addressing a management objective and will be undertaken only upon specific written approval of the director after policy review in the Washington office. The following standards based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties apply:
The following additional standards apply:
2. Biotic Systems Treatment
This section contains standards addressing the special issues related to the treatment of biotic systems. Virtually all cultural landscapes evolve from and are dependent on natural resources. In many ways, the dynamic qualities inherent in natural systems are what differentiate cultural landscapes from other cultural resources. Plant and animal communities associated with human settlement and use are considered biotic cultural resources and can reflect social, functional, economic, ornamental, or traditional uses of the land. Within a cultural landscape, biotic cultural resources are recognized either as a system or as individual specimen features that contribute to the landscape's significance. For example, the preservation of a single tree in a historic designed landscape may be critical to the integrity of the overall design. A herd of a historic variety of livestock may have similar significance in a historic vernacular landscape. In contrast, an entire woodland may have significance, so that preserving the ecological processes of the system rather than individual trees or animals becomes paramount. In all cases, consultation with natural resource professionals is necessary to determine appropriate protection and management strategies for biotic cultural resources.
General standards for managing vegetation in a cultural landscape are followed by specific standards and guidance for managing specimen plants, vegetation systems, pests, and endangered species. (Additional guidance for management of biotic resources is found in the Natural Resources Management Guideline [NPS-77].)
a. Specimen Plant Management
Specimens include both individual plants and aggregations of plants that have distinct, unique, or noteworthy characteristics in a landscape such as individual trees and shrubs, ornamental plantings, perennial borders, gardens, and orchards. In some cultural landscapes, it is important that specific types of plant materials and the location, shape, and form of these materials be retained and perpetuated based on their historic character and significant values. The primary considerations in managing specimen plants are to ensure their health and vigor and, if appropriate, provide for propagation of the next generation. Perpetuation of historic genetic material is especially important when cultivars are rare or unavailable. The following standards apply:
b. Vegetation Systems Management
In managing vegetation systems, the overall pattern of vegetation is the primary concern. Elements of pattern include height and general scale and the size and juxtaposition of areas with different vegetation. Exact configurations and plant species can vary as long as the overall pattern is retained. Forests, woodlands, woodlots, and most agricultural lands are examples of vegetation systems. The following standards apply:
c. Pest Management
A pest is defined as a population of organisms that interferes with the accomplishment of management objectives. Integrated pest management (IPM) involves taking steps to prevent pest problems, monitoring to detect when a pest population reaches a predetermined threshold level considered unacceptable, and using a combination of approaches to control pests in a manner that will be most effective, safest to people, and most environmentally sound. (For additional information on IPM see the Natural Resource Management Guideline.) The following standards apply:
d. Endangered Species
Federally or state-listed threatened or endangered species must receive utmost protection. They may be considered "specimens" within the cultural landscape system. (For additional information on endangered species, see the Natural Resources Management Guideline.)
3. Inventory and Condition Assessment Program (ICAP)
ICAP, a module of the Maintenance Management (MM) program, assists in planning for the maintenance and major treatment of cultural landscapes through an inventory and condition assessment of their features. ICAP generates annual inspection forms and other reports, develops a preventive maintenance program, and uploads data into the park MM program.
The Historic Property Preservation Database (HPPD) is a computerized database containing technical information on the treatment of cultural landscapes and historic and prehistoric structures. It is used to develop work procedures for ICAP and MM, including skill requirements, work consideration, material and equipment selection, and work instructions. The HPPD also provides information for more intensive treatments such as rehabilitation and restoration.
(For additional information see the ICAP Reference Manual and Computer User Manual.)
NPS fee ownership and occupancy of a cultural landscape provides park managers the greatest flexibility. However, when the integrity of a landscape can be maintained and long-term management objectives realized with the property held or occupied by others, acquisition of less-than-fee interests or special use agreements should be considered. (For further information see Director's Order 27, "Historic Property Leases and Exchanges," the Special Park Uses Guideline [NPS-53], and the Park Planning Guideline [NPS-2].) The following standards apply to the acquisition and control of lands containing or contributing to a cultural landscape:
a. Acquisition of Lands and Interests
b. Leases and Agreements
c. Adjacent Lands
5. Destruction or Neglect of Cultural Landscapes
No cultural landscape listed in or potentially eligible for the National Register or listed in the Cultural Landscapes Inventory will be destroyed or deliberately neglected without review by cultural resource specialists and approval by the regional director. If a potentially eligible landscape has not been evaluated for the National Register, the state historic preservation officer will be consulted. If it is determined, in consultation with the SHPO, that the landscape does not meet the National Register criteria, destruction or deliberate neglect may occur. In some cases, neglect is the appropriate action to protect archeological resources and the natural resources and processes that may have cultural or ethnographic value.
Before a landscape eligible for the National Register is destroyed or allowed to deteriorate, it must be documented in accordance with Section 110(b) of the National Historic Preservation Act, and the documentation must be accepted by the Chief, HABS/HAER Program.
6. Special Issues
Cemeteries in parks may have significance as repositories of the remains of individuals having local, state, or national importance; as places associated with historic events or figures not interred therein (e.g., Gettysburg National Cemetery for its association with Abraham Lincoln); or because of individual structures of high artistic or architectural merit. In addition, some cemeteries are significant cultural landscapes because they represent a type of burial ground (family), because they typify a broad social movement or pattern (the slave burial ground), or because in plan and execution they were seminal designs (early examples of the "rural" cemetery movement) or works of important designers. The following standards address treatment of park cemeteries, including those in private ownership.
(For further information see the National Cemeteries Guideline [NPS-61].)
b. Circulation Systems
In many parks, the roads, parkways, and trails are significant historic circulation systems. A circulation system may constitute a cultural landscape in and of itself, such as Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, or it may be an integral feature of a cultural landscape. Key features of circulation systems, such as topography, bridges, headwalls, retaining walls, culverts, and views, are important to defining the overall character of the landscape. The following standards apply:
Earthworks are linear or geometric landscape structures built for military, industrial, agricultural, ceremonial, or aesthetic purposes. They include fortifications, water impoundment and control structures, early field boundary ditches and berms, burial mounds, grass garden ramps, and raised beds. Because of their composition, earthworks are constantly being impacted by a variety of natural forces. The long-term preservation of earthworks commonly requires an appropriate vegetative cover that may differ from the historic material. The following standards apply:
(For more information see the Earthworks Landscape Management Manual and Earthworks Landscape Management Field Handbook [full citations in Appendix K].)
d. Monuments, Memorials, and Landscape Remnants
Monuments and memorials are defined as structures and included in the List of Classified Structures. They are often significant components of cultural landscapes and may be cultural landscapes in their own right. The siting, orientation, plantings, paving materials, roads, and pathways designed as an integral part of a monument or memorial should be considered part of the feature and managed as a whole. In addition, remnant objects may have cultural value as landscape features. Their treatment should be developed in collaboration with a historical architect or curator.
At battlefields and other military sites, artillery pieces need to be evaluated in terms of their relationship to the historic landscape. A piece of ordnance may be part of a planned memorial design and significant as a structural feature of the landscape or it may be strictly an interpretive device without site-specific significance. If the ordnance is fixed in position it is defined as a structure; if it is not fixed it is defined as a museum object and may be part of the museum collection. In both cases, the relocation of artillery pieces should be evaluated based on their significance in the context of the overall design of the historic landscape.