Rock Art Site Steward

San Antonio Valley

 

Could This Really Be Our Government at Work?

By Joy Greenberg

Despite the unseasonably high heat of the day, several of us VWA Members had the good luck to participate in this year's Site Steward Training Workshop where we were treated to a day of enlightening and inspiring information by program developers and Los Padres National Forest Archaeologists Janine McFarland and Steve Horne. The Site Steward Program is part of "Partners in Preservation," a public outreach plan, which, as just about everyone knows, the USFS desperately needs, due to the general perception of it as being just another tightly red-taped bureaucratic behemoth, set up primarily to subsidize logging, grazing, and other "agricultural" endeavors at the expense of Joe Q. Public.

 

•••••Like many other products of the 60's who came of age during the Vietnam War, I have long engendered a cynical distaste for the government, including the muttering of epithets whenever a vehicle with the tell-tale hexagonally contained "E" is encountered. Although my suspicions regarding the Forest Service were prompted by my environmental activist uncle in Texas, who has been regularly suing the USFS for years, they have been enhanced dramatically by the negative image which has surfaced lately in the press. It seems that NO ONE likes the Forest Service! And it's truly not their fault. They just happen to be caught in the midst of the perennial fight between the citizens and the government, one aspect that makes our country so wonderful.

••••True to the government's notorious affinity for documents, Janine also passed out mounds of papers, including info about The Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Managing Rock Art Sites in the LPNF, The Native American Graves Protection Act, and The Joint Resolution for American Indian Religious Freedom.

 

•••••Next, Steve crash-coursed us through a lesson in archaeology of the area. More mounds of paper, including 21 pages on LPNF pre-history, The Legal Background of Archeological Resources Protection, and a copy of The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Whew! This team was nothing if not well-prepared for their gig. I even learned some new words, including "cupule," which is what they call the small indentations that were incised, often in intricate designs, by the ancient petroglyph artists.

•••••Finally, I wish to compliment (and I never thought I'd be doing this to a government agency!) the Forest Service for offering this program to the public. As an advocate for the arts and conservation, I seek ways to contribute to the preservation of public lands. As a science and art teacher at a small private school in San Luis Obispo and mother to three teen boys, I strive to engage my students and children in meaningful interactions with their environment. I look forward to finishing the training so that I can begin my stewardship of local rock art sites and help to impart important civic responsibilities like this to our younger citizens.

•••••Steve and Janine must also be commended for representing the Forest Service so well. It was a pleasure to observe a positive, constructive side to the USFS which, unfortunately, I have rarely encountered before. They should be thanked for providing the public with this opportunity to work in such a cooperative capacity with our government. This can only do wonders for its public image, and may even, along the way, convert a few anti-authoritarian types like myself to "the cause."

Joy Greenberg, a teacher, artist and active environmentalist, lives in Atascadero, CA.

If you want more information about the Environmental and Cultural Site Steward program, please drop us a note.

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