Administrative History
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Although the organic legislation that established Pipestone National Monument emphasized its cultural features, the area also contained important natural attributes that required management. Since the establishment of the park, the Park Service integrated both kinds of resources management into the conception of its responsibilities at Pipestone National Monument. Resources management began long before a label existed for such activities. Initially it was a reactive, almost haphazard process; as a result of changes in legislation that began in the 1970s, the process became proactive and formal. That transition revealed many of the important aspects of the history of resources management at Pipestone National Monument and in the national park system.

Before the establishment of the monument, there had been rudimentary efforts to care for the quarries and their environs. While the quarries were under the nominal supervision of the Indian School, J. W. Balmer assumed responsibility for basic maintenance. He detailed students to clear weeds, maintain fields, clear brush from the creek, and perform the work necessary to keep the reserved area attractive. [1] Yet little was systematic about such an approach, and minimal planning went into the process.

After the establishment of the monument, the Park Service was limited by a lack of resources. Without a budget, any activities at Pipestone occurred because someone volunteered. Balmer, the first custodian and himself a volunteer, could do little without support. He received no budget or guidance for either interpretation or natural resources management, and as a result, simply continued the practices he began under Indian School administration. When Albert F. Drysdale replaced Balmer as custodian in 1940, he faced a similar predicament. He also lacked strong ties to the agency, a budget for resources management work, and the sense of direction that NPS training often instilled. [2] At its inception, resource management was reactive to a fault.

Widespread of the importance recognition of portraying Native American history, ethnography, crafts, and religion at Pipestone did not hasten the beginning of comprehensive cultural resources management. Work in the field was initially confined to issuing permits to quarry and maintaining features of the park such as the Nicollet marker. Regional office personnel solicited academic resources such as the Lithic Laboratory in Columbus, Ohio, which contributed a study of the properties of the Catlinite stone from which pipes were fashioned, but the agency had little more than that to commit to the development of any facet of the new park. [3]

Despite the lack of resources, the NPS strove to make clear the purpose and character of the national monument. In some instances, this led to the rejection of local attempts to assist the monument. At the beginning of the 1940s, the Park Service declined an offer from the county historical society to construct a building on the monument to house a collection of artifacts from the settlement era in southwestern Minnesota. The monument had been established to protect and interpret the quarries, NPS officials determined, not display local and regional settlement history. The first master plan at the monument, prepared in 1942, reaffirmed this goal, proposing that the interpretation at the monument and in its museum be limited to Indian pipes and customs, pipemaking, and the "specific" history of the area. Despite the need for development, NPS officials would not compromise on the character of the park. [4]

There were some early efforts at research to support cultural resources management and interpretation. Historian Hummel's preliminary historical development report in 1940, perhaps the single most important document of the first decade of the existence of the monument, laid out a clear direction for interpretation at Pipestone. The Lithic Laboratory study added a geological dimension to the story of Pipestone. Drysdale also began to collect information and photographs to prepare an interpretation pamphlet for the monument. Slowly, the background for an interpretation program began to take shape. [5]

Early natural resources management consisted of basic maintenance. Activities such as cleaning out brush, hauling hay bales in borrowed trucks, and starting efforts to eradicate undesirable species were common. Early in the 1940s, one plant, poison ivy, created a problem for Drysdale. He sought to eliminate it, but because it was native flora rather than an exotic, was forced to let it remain. Following that decision, the NPS expended significant effort to remove exotic plant species and restore the grasslands of the monument to the condition of the early nineteenth century. Policy changes led to new practices. By 1950, mowing for weed control decreased, and 2-4-D, one of the active compounds in Agent Orange and later discovered to be a carcinogen, was commonly used to spray undesirable plants. Sweet clover, assorted thistles, and after a policy change, poison ivy, were among the species eradicated. The program was successful, for native plant species such as Purple Gentian, a fall flower, and Foxglove, a spring bloom, returned. [6]

Most of the successes in weed eradication and species restoration occurred on the prairies. The quartzite ledges presented a different set of problems. It was a "back breaking and painstaking" operation, according to Lyle K. Linch, that remained a costly investment of time and resources. [7] The natural resources management goals of the Park Service at Pipestone and the resources it had to commit to such an objective were far apart.

Yet the embryonic natural resources management activities at Pipestone suggested that the monument was different from many other historic parks. Because it preserved Native American history and ethnography and descriptions of the appearance of the area at the time of contact existed, managing the natural resources of the monument took on an importance not then characteristic of historic areas in the system. The setting was important to the story of Pipestone, forcing a prescient kind of management of natural resources at a cultural park area.

The appearance of the energetic and idiosyncratic Linch led to the first comprehensive efforts to standardize resources management at Pipestone. Nature trails, improved access to exhibits, and the recreation of a typical section of prairie characterized his early efforts. Such activities were instigated at the park level and executed with little more than concurrence from the regional office. As was typical of the era, superintendents such as Linch were expected to handle every aspect of research and management. Although possessing a biology degree, Linch set himself the task of completing basic archeological research at the monument in the winter of 1948-49. Regional office archeologist Gordon Baldwin planned to guide Linch, who expected to perform an archeological surface survey of the park, a task not beyond the scope of an interested amateur. [8]

But Linch's unique approach to history and prehistory had already come to the attention of the regional office. His flair for the dramatic made him suspect among the professional staff, and his adherence to unusual kinds of interpretation threatened his credibility with his superiors. They were unlikely to allow him to perform significant cultural resources work. In an effort to assure that NPS standards were maintained, archeologist Paul Beaubien from the regional office went to survey Pipestone in June 1949. Regional office officials put Linch's training to work in another way. Instead of the archeological survey, he completed "A Preliminary Study of the Geology of Pipestone National Monument." [9]

Linch also had important ideas for natural resource management. In 1950, he proposed removing trees on the quartzite ledge in an effort to replicate the vista of the 1830s. The woody character of modern grasslands evident in the 1940s was anachronistic. The grassy plains described by people like Catlin had become wooded. Historical evidence suggested that as a result of fire in the historic period that had been suppressed since the Anglo settlement of the area, cyclic broadcast fire would have created a pattern of prairie regeneration that the modern distribution of trees did not reflect. Linch marshaled historical evidence that indicated fewer wooded areas as late as the end of the nineteenth century. Observers such as Philander Prescott, George Catlin, C. A. White, and William Henry Holmes all reported treeless quartzite ledges. Photographic evidence from the 1920s that showed a lack of forestation supported Linch's contention, and he proposed that the Park Service remove the timber from a 200-foot section of the rock outcropping to better emulate the vista reported by historic observers. [10]

This was an important tactical decision that required higher-level input. While the Park Service recognized restoring landscapes as an objective, such action had many potential negative consequences. People familiar with a place often resented such a move, for the "historic" setting they remembered was different than the one the Park Service sought to reconstruct. In some parts of the country, an action like this smacked of federal insensitivity to local concerns. It had to be handled with some tact and sensitivity.

At Pipestone, a number of the important members of the community supported the idea of clearing the vista. Winifred Bartlett, Dr. Walter G. Benjamin, and Edward Trebon all remarked on the problem to Linch, lending credence and effectively countering any local opposition to the idea. Regional officials agreed that the proposal was a good idea. Archeologist Beaubien insisted that a landscaper, not Linch, remove the trees to assure that "someone competent to judge the consequences" evaluate the range of cutting undertaken."

This suggestion reflected a growing recognition within the agency that some park-level resources management decisions required greater sophistication and knowledge than usually existed in the field. By the early 1950s, agency officials recognized that Pipestone was more than just a few quarries, and had a range of issues associated with the management of the surrounding prairie. The regional office asserted control over what was to become an important category of decisions at the monument.

The decision to supervise the superintendent also reflected the style of resources management current in the agency in the 1950s and early 1960s. Throughout the two decades, cultural and natural resource management proceeded in a reactive manner. As problems were identified, they were addressed, particularly in conjunction with updating of the master plan for the area, which occurred about every seventh year until 1965. Most often, the lack of support for projects at places such as Pipestone meant that the important decision-making passed to the regional office level. The parks had neither the staff nor the expertise to prepare a comprehensive vision. As a result, park officials provided support and information for the planning process, but were not in a position of leadership in it.

At Pipestone, this translated into park-level work on specific issues. In cultural resources management, research into the historic activities of the monument continued throughout the 1950s, and in 1960, an administrative history was written that focused on acquisition of the land that became the monument. [12] In natural resources management, the patterns of the 1940s and early 1950s continued. Most efforts involved eradication of exotic plants species and efforts to reconstruct earlier vistas.

As was true service-wide, by the middle of the 1950s, MISSION 66 and its capital development programs dominated attention at the national, regional, and park levels. [13] Facing the onslaught of visitation limited the effectiveness of response in other areas. At one- and two-person park areas, of which there were many, the work power to do more than service visitors and plan MISSION 66 developments did not exist.

At Pipestone, the museum and its exhibits were the major accomplishments of MISSION 66. As was typical at the monument, the plans for a museum were in place long before the agency had the resources to implement them. The first proposals dated from the immediate postwar era and included a museum room in a larger administrative center. The 1952 master plan highlighted the lack of a museum, but it was not until the MISSION 66 process began that a comprehensive museum prospectus was assembled. [14]

The prospectus was a galvanizing document that planned a future in cultural resources management for the monument. It proposed a many-faceted museum that would augment the existing trailside exhibits and lend some sort of comprehensive story to interpretation at Pipestone. Its authors, former superintendent Harvey B. Reynolds and archeologist Paul Beaubien, envisioned a range of exhibits that explained the geology of the area, the distribution and properties of catlinite, the history of quarrying at the monument, Native American practices of smoking and the importance of the calumet, Native American living patterns and lifestyle, the commercialization of the quarry, and the cultural history of contact between Europeans, their descendants, and Native Americans. The importance of pipestone and the pipes in literature were also part of the plan. A 600-square-foot exhibit room for the display was recommended. [15]

The exhibit room in the MISSION 66 visitor center was a major triumph for the monument. It laid the basis for modern cultural resources management at Pipestone. No longer would interpretation be limited to a one-wall museum in the contact station, a few trailside exhibits, and a guide pamphlet. Instead a substantial effort to explain the meaning of the monument that used historic and prehistoric artifacts, required professional management, and allowed for the protection of cultural resources replaced more limited earlier efforts. The MISSION 66 program for Pipestone made the monument equal to the standards of the time.

The nature of natural resources management changed shortly afterward. By 1960, a revolution in natural resources management within the agency had begun. With its roots in the nascent ecological thinking of the 1930s, a new enthusiasm for scientific management of natural resources took hold. Many of the practitioners were trained scientists who had begun to assume positions of leadership in the NPS. They brought a different understanding of science as well as a new set of goals with them, and sought to apply the latest in scientific thinking to park management. The Wildlife Management Advisory Board's 1963 report, better known as the Leopold report after its chairman, A. Starker Leopold, pointed the way toward a new approach to natural resource management. A national park area should, in the words of the report, "represent a vignette of primitive America." [16]

At Pipestone, the Leopold report merely reflected existing practices. In this respect, Pipestone's unique theme, short visitation season, and remote location helped protect the monument from the commercialization that characterized some park areas. While other park managers worried about the impact of visitation during the boom of the postwar era, Linch had planned the removal of exotic and ahistoric flora and timber in an effort that anticipated the direction of the Leopold report. In the 1960s, the limited kind of resources management that the staff at Pipestone could provide coincided with the new dominant currents of thinking in the agency.

Similar changes had begun in the presentation of history. By 1963, after the debut of How the West Was Won, a full-length feature movie epic of westward expansion that modified the traditional view of a great and glorious westward quest, a different picture of Native Americans began to emerge among the public at large. No longer were they mere obstacles to progress and civilization, savages to be tamed by the progress of civilization. Instead they had begun to become historical characters with ideas and values of their own. This resulted in greater sensitivity to Indian themes in the Park Service and a stronger effort to present the many dimensions of native cultures in a comprehensive fashion.

The new museum at Pipestone quickly became outdated as the cultural presentation of Native Americans changed. The museum had been conceived and designed during the 1950s and it reflected the standards of the time. As the cultural current in the nation changed, the interpretation of Native American culture and life in the museum exhibits became anachronistic.

Changes in federal law also compelled a more aggressive approach to resources management. The Wilderness Act of 1964, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Clean Air Act of 1970, and the rest of the range of environmental legislation that emanated from the Johnson and Nixon administrations mandated specific actions by the Park Service. [17] Resources management became an increasingly sophisticated process that was driven by directives outside of the agency. This required a new kind of labor-intensive compliance as paperwork started to increase.

These changes gradually filtered down to Pipestone National Monument and spurred a move towards more thorough planning of resources management activities. No longer did initiatives begin at the park level. Park superintendents generally responded to directives from above that required some kind of evaluation of a range of situations at the monument. Among the efforts initiated in this changing climate were John Sigstad's archeological research in 1965 and 1966, which sought to determine the age and distribution of pipestone from the monument, and the controlled burning program to regenerate historic grasslands that began in 1973.

Controlled burning was a management step of tremendous significance. Although Native Americans utilized fire for a variety of purposes, it had been the age-old enemy of Euro-Americans settlers. Suppression efforts across the northern plains began with white settlement and were usually complete by the 1890s. Yet there were environmental consequences, the most severe of which was demonstrated in the periodic vast fires that swept large timbered areas across the continent. In the most severe of these, entire communities succumbed to fire, and millions of acres were burned. In the summer of 1910, more than five million acres of American national forests burned despite the fact that fire suppression plans already existed. More than fifty years passed before scientists recognized that suppression only delayed the onset of fire and changed its character into something far more difficult to control. Nonetheless, suppression became the dominant mode of fire control as farms and towns developed across the plains, necessitating a semi-permanent state of local nervousness during dry seasons as well as brigades of volunteer firefighters. [18]

The Park Service was heir to the tradition of fire-fighting, and many among its first two generations of employees in the West felt a personal hatred for fire. Some lost friends and coworkers fighting fires in the course of their careers and could not conceive of anything positive resulting from a fire. In the Park Service, as nearly everywhere else in the federal natural resources bureaucracy and the West, fire was anathema. [19]

Yet by the early 1970s, the value of fire as a resources management tool began to become apparent. Fire had the ability to reshape landscapes, transforming the visual and ecological character of the physical environment and often providing a new and broader range of management options. Across the nation, it had been a primary technique of pre-Columbian people. Natural fire, usually resulting from lightning, also had transformative qualities, and NPS scientists quietly began to consider controlled burning policies in an effort to assess its impact.

At Pipestone, the controlled burning program began as a result of a series of coincidences. An accidental fire in 1971 removed significant amounts of woody vegetation, enabling the spread of prairie grass to previously wooded areas. Since the late 1940s, the NPS desired such a result. Efforts at cutting timber such as those initiated by Lyle Linch were mere stopgap measures that addressed the consequences rather than the causes of the increase in timber. Grasslands more closely fit the historic descriptions of the quarry and its environs, and controlled fire proved to be the most efficacious way of achieving a better mix of prairies and woodland. Beginning in 1973, burning was conducted in the spring, with each of six management units in the park fired on a four- to five-year rotation. Yet no burning occurred on the quartzite edges or along Pipestone Creek, suggesting the limitations of natural resources management in park area reserved for cultural purposes. [20]

Management issues that had to be addressed as a result of changing legislation included preservation and use of the quarries at Pipestone. Beginning in the 1960s, historic preservation took on increased importance in the federal system. New laws that required evaluative procedures became part of the code of federal regulations, and the NPS struggled to fulfill another in the seemingly endless set of directives governing federal activities. In compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Park Service filed a request for clearance of ongoing quarrying at the monument. This compelled the Section 106 compliance process, which meant that quarrying would have to be evaluated for its impact on the historic resources of the monument.

As the ramifications of the new laws became clear, the Park Service sought to develop a program to administer new responsibilities. In response to the amended National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Nathaniel Reed, assistant secretary of the interior with responsibility for national parks, orchestrated a Park Service response. The appointment of Robert M. Utley, former chief historian of the agency, to the position of assistant director for park historic preservation confirmed that the agency planned to regard its preservation responsibilities in a serious manner. An experienced NPS professional, Utley worked to help the agency get over what he referred to as its "psychological hangover from MISSION 66" and recognize that in law, preservation came before development and visitor services. As Utley worked to stress this different and seemingly foreign set of objectives, he struck the very strong chord of preservation sentiment that lay just below the surface of the agency. [21]

Among those interested in exploring the legal and cultural ramifications of the new mandate was Roy W. Reaves, III, a former archeologist at Pipestone who served as executive order consultant in the NPS offices in Denver. Reaves noted that the practice of quarrying at the monument had not been reviewed by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), a violation of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and Executive Order 11593, which mandated compliance. [22]

The problem was complex. Two different pieces of law contradicted each other. The new set of historic preservation laws mandated a review of adverse impacts on historic resources, which clearly encompassed quarrying. If the NPS sought to stop this adverse impact, it would violate the organic legislation of the monument, agreements, understandings, and other similar legally binding stipulations. If it did not address the problem, the NPS would fail to be in compliance with its own regulations and those of the secretary of the interior and the president. [23] Compliance with the terms of the historic preservation laws was a seemingly insoluble dichotomy.

Reaves advocated "doing the right thing by the cultural resources of the monument." He recognized that the stone itself had long been treated as the primary resource at the monument, superseding the value of the history, archeology, and ethnology of the quarries. Reaves argued that the ethnological character of the monument was its outstanding feature, for it was what made Pipestone unique. It merited inclusion as a resource in the study of the characteristics of the monument. This approach gave the Park Service a way to present a case to avoid its dilemma. If quarrying was a part of the resource protected at Pipestone, even the removal of the stone could not be considered an adverse impact. [24]

Following Reaves' lead, the NPS undertook the Section 106 compliance process to legally determine the fate of quarrying. In practice, there was no doubt that the quarrying would continue. Its sanction could withstand any legal challenge, and as many within the NPS pointed out, curtailing the activity would have been a public relations disaster that could have done vast damage to NPS relations with Native Americans. [25] But Park Service officials needed approval to continue their congressionally sanctioned programs.

The NPS began to implement its compliance activities. Regional officials dug out John Sigstad's archeological study of the monument, performed in 1965 and 1966, to use as its compliance inventory. The Midwest Archeological Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, an arm of the NPS, agreed that Sigstad's work was a thorough inventory, and Acting Chief Adrienne Anderson noted that the quarrying had enough historical importance to mitigate the adverse impact of the activity. Park Service officials offered the management expertise of the agency and its continued supervision and administration of the quarry and its use as a remedy for the situation. With this potential resolution, the NPS approached the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office to get the concurrence of that agency. Initially, state officials did not respond, but in phone conversations, NPS personnel secured their agreement. [26]

Receiving the comments of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation was the next step. As soon as ACHP officials received Reaves' memorandum, they requested an NPS investigation to determine if ACHP comment was required. The Park Service regarded the impact of quarrying as adverse, necessitating a response from ACHP. Yet in October 1976, more than one year after the NPS began to evaluate its actions at Pipestone, the ACHP had not yet heard from the NPS. With a little prompting from ACHP officials, the Park Service quickly produced initial documentation. [27]

The reticence on the part of the Park Service resulted from a natural fear of dealing with a new agency that had the power to behave in a capricious manner. The 1974 directives changed the rules within the Park Service for administering historic and cultural resources. In the view of agency officials, the ACHP was an unknown factor. The NPS had offered a potentially damaging assessment of its legally mandated activities at Pipestone. Although the ACHP had only the right to comment, if it disagreed with the contention that quarrying was a significant historic activity and its impact could be mitigated through careful management, the Park Service faced a complex legal situation at Pipestone.

Some sort of memorandum of agreement was the likely solution. In response to the NPS, the ACHP offered a proposal that moved toward an accord. The ACHP disagreed with the Park Service, for it did not regard quarrying as an adverse impact. Quarrying was the principal reason that the monument was reserved, and ACHP officials recognized the importance of the activity and believed that the Park Service should continue to encourage quarrying in the future. They also expressed concern about the loss of information that resulted from continued quarrying and recommended a resources management plan to address such questions. [28]

Yet there were some aspects of the comments of the ACHP that disturbed the Park Service officials. Such areas usually reflected an intensive and expensive degree of management that the NPS regarded as more effort than necessary. In one example, the ACHP report noted the importance of the tailings piles of quarried and discarded pipestone material as a source of information. ACHP officials suggested an ongoing program of research into this and other areas as part of the mitigation process. They felt this would add measurably to knowledge about the quarries. NPS officials regarded such ongoing activities as costly and unnecessary. Prior archeological studies by Beaubien, Sigstad, and Reaves did not reveal stratigraphic information in the tailings piles, nor was any other evidence of ordering apparent. The Park Service previously compiled more information than the ACHP was willing to recognize, and implementation of the suggestions of the ACHP seemed likely to deprive the park of resources necessary for the management of other aspects of the monument.

The two agencies had different focuses. In an ironic maneuver in the aftermath of Utley's contention about the importance of preservation, NPS officials reminded the ACHP that they had other responsibilities as well. The perspective of the two differed as well. The NPS regarded historic activities as more important, while the ACHP wanted more effort expended on evaluating modern cultural resources practices. [29]

The difference in opinion sprung from an obvious inconsistency in the position of the NPS. Although the Park Service insisted that ongoing quarrying activity was the most important facet of cultural resources management at Pipestone, its response suggested that in fact, historic quarrying was the primary value of the monument. NPS officials stressed mitigation for the reopening of areas of historic quarrying, with lesser emphasis on the cultural resources related to modern activity. The ACHP suggested a route, though expensive, that elevated modern quarrying to a position of prominence at the monument.

The result of this disagreement moved the Park Service toward a systematic kind of resources management at Pipestone National Monument. By November 1977, NPS officials had not heard from the ACHP and assumed ACHP acquiescence to the counterproposal the Park Service offered. The NPS proceeded with research to determine the extent of pipestone deposits and their distribution at the monument as a prelude to resources management planning. ACHP officials were willing to accept a resources management plan as a Section 106 compliance document, and the Park Service assembled what became the catalyst for another change in the philosophy of resources management at the monument. [30]

The debut of the resources management plan for Pipestone in 1981 revealed that management priorities and procedures had again changed. Included in the document was an overview and assessment of natural and cultural resources management needs, project statement and programming sheets, and an environmental assessment. In natural resources management, the plan suggested that basic research had been accomplished and present needs in interpretation, management, and preservation were being met. Some problems, such as the appearance of domesticates such as stray cats and dogs and occasional other feral animals, had no easy solution, while a major issue, water pollution, was beyond agency jurisdiction. Cultural resources management presented a different range of management issues. Further archeological research was necessary, as was a "general museum exhibit overhaul," not the first time that the inadequacy of static interpretation at the monument attracted attention. The plan served as a means to develop long-range programming for Pipestone, as well as to summarize and evaluate the goals and objectives of prior activities. [31] It was a watershed, the first comprehensive look at resources management practices and plans at the monument.

It also inaugurated a new style of resources management. The resource management plan took precedence over any individual project, centralizing goals and driving every facet of research and resource management. Resources management plans became common throughout the agency in the late 1970s, and they had vast impact on the way parks functioned. Priorities and revisions of lists of significant needs came to replace ad hoc management throughout the system.

The change in policy and process required that staff members acquire different skills than their predecessors. Park officials began to search for people who could implement the programs they recommended in their management plans. Some parks were able to secure permanent resource management either by hiring new personnel or converting existing staff through retraining. At Pipestone, funding from the Natural Resources Preservation Program [NRPP] for a comprehensive prairie management and exotic species eradication program supported only a temporary staff member, Denise Boudreau. Ecologist Gary Willson of the regional office designed the program in coordination with Boudreau. The park tried unsuccessfully to find permanent funding for Boudreau's position, and she left the NPS in 1991. In September 1991, Willson transferred to a global climate change coordinator position at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The departure of the two primary people involved in the natural resources management program created a large gap for Pipestone. The regional office recognized the value of the work accomplished by Boudreau and Willson and coordinated the recruitment of Pamela Benjamin, a natural resources management specialist from the service-wide training program. In the spring of 1992, she arrived at the monument. The regional office also agreed to fund the program until it became permanent. [32]

Pipestone accomplished much research in both cultural and natural resources management during the 1980s. Without a park archeologist, basic fieldwork fell to the Midwest Archeological Center of the NPS, located in Lincoln, Nebraska. The center provided field archeological work, excavating the bones of a large mammal found during trail work, monitoring capital development work such as the installation of underground powerlines, and performing in lieu of a park archeologist. This model had become common throughout the agency. Prior examples included the Navajo Lands Group, which provided the smaller park areas of Navajoland with archeological and maintenance support, the Western Archeological and Conservation Center in Tucson, which provided archeological work after the demise of the Navajo Lands Group in 1983, and the Submerged Cultural Resources unit in Santa Fe, which handled much of the underwater archeological work throughout the agency. Such entities spared small park areas from supporting a permanent staff member in a field they did not need on a full-time basis.

Because of the increased demand for specialization at the park staff level, contract work became an important part of the resources management process. These studies became the basis for a significant portion of resources management decision-making. A prairie management study by Roger Q. Landers, Jr., of Iowa State University, revealed that most of the trees at the monument dated from the beginning of fire suppression about 1880 and recommended that the Park Service continue to use fire to manage wooded areas of the monument. By burning even the area near the circle trail, Landers believed that the monument could move towards presenting a natural setting similar to that described by early Anglo-American observers of the area. The program had gained much ground since Landers' previous work in 1975 and even more since Lyle Linch began to think in that direction in 1950. Further work published in 1986 by Donald A. Becker outlined the actions necessary to restore a vegetation scene that resembled the historic period at Pipestone. In addition, Becker identified stream and prairie wetland degradation as the most critical resources management problem at the monument, with extirpation of native prairie plants a close second. The remedies for these problems required long-term commitment of agency resources at the regional office-level and the cooperation of other agencies as well as short-term measures that reflected the capabilities of the staff at the monument. [33] Yet the research itself was directed toward developing an ongoing strategy to manage long-term issues. From an overall perspective, such work promised solid management for the future.

Work in other areas also continued. An evaluation of the Catlinite resources of the monument in 1980-81 yielded information about the distribution and quantity of pipestone within the boundaries of the monument and identified eight sites with high potential to contain large deposits of the stone for future quarrying. A mineralogical characterization of the material in 1991 added new perspective, filling gaps in scientific knowledge and asking new questions about the nature of pipestone. [34]

Cultural resources management also underwent a similar process of standardization in the 1980s. While more issues process to be addressed, new directions suggested that the comprehensive planning process would also encompass even the peripheries of cultural resources management. Inadequate museum interpretation remained a primary issue. The 1971 interpretive prospectus recommended comprehensive changes but had never been implemented. The story told in the museum had become an embarrassing anachronism, and park staff anxiously awaited funding to revise interpretation. In addition, a new collections management policy was drafted in 1987 in an effort to establish collecting policy, set goals and limits for collecting, and enhance the procedure for describing the object categories in the collection. By 1988, the park had a new scope of collections statement that established clear boundaries for the monument. [35]

With direction established through the planning process, new priorities for the monument had been developed. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, archeology was low on the list for Pipestone and seemed likely to remain there for the foreseeable future. There was no park archeologist, and the Midwest Archeological Center, which had responsibility for archeology in the Midwest Region, was inundated with the needs of new park areas. In comparison to other parks in the region, Pipestone had been thoroughly studied. As a result, despite a long-term need for additional field work, particularly in the northern part of the monument, the archeological component of cultural resources management had been delayed. In an effort to achieve some progress in this area, the park sought cooperating agreements for field research with accredited universities. [36]

By the early 1990s, the climate in which natural and cultural resources management occurred had come to reflect the professionalism of the Park Service. Resources management had become a sophisticated, science-based field that helped allow for standardization of management practices at Pipestone. In a future of limited allocations, careful management of natural and cultural resources will become an increasingly important responsibility for park staff. As they are required to do more of the management with less financial support, policy recommendations in planning documents will become increasingly important ways of programming the future needs of the monument. But if the experience of the museum at Pipestone is indicative, even the most worthy of programs may take a very long time to implement.

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Last Updated: 21-Aug-2004