LANL releases cultural artifacts plan

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Plan to help streamline, identify, protect sites on property

By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos National Laboratory has released its Cultural Resources Management Plan, a plan designed to streamline the process of identifying and protecting cultural and historical sites on its property.
The plan is the end result of an agreement with the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Concerning Management of the Historic Properties of Los Alamos National Laboratory on how to manage, preserve and protect the sites.
Without the agreement or the plan, the numerous sites would bog down LANL’s work efforts.  
“Absent (the agreement), routine operational tasks such as mowing and facilities maintenance would be subject to six- to eight-week project approval timelines through the (NNSA) Field Office and from the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO),” LANL’s Cultural Resources Management Plan said.
Spread out over the 40 square miles of the Pajarito Plateau, Los Alamos National Laboratory has about 1,886 known sites of cultural and historic value.
The sites range from places where arrowheads and stone tools were found – dating between 9500 BC to 5500 BC – to buildings and sites from the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.
Many of these sites are “behind the fence,” or closed to members of the public who do not have security clearance.
However, some of the artifacts found at the sites are on display at the Bradbury Science Museum at its Environmental Research and Monitoring Exhibit. Access can also be gained to some of the sites through the augmented reality, smartphone app Los Alamos: “Secret City of the Manhattan Project,” and LANL’s website at lanl.gov.
The report also mentioned plans to strengthen its ties with county historical and recreation sources, such as the county’s extensive trail system, especially since Los Alamos County is now home to the newly created Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
“For example, LANL has integrated treatment of historic trails and Homestead-era roads on
The county has appreciated LANL’s efforts.
“We collaborate on projects and share information such as the placement of trail markers and signs. I have shared the county’s Trails Network Plan and our new signage plans with the working group to get their feedback,” said Eric Peterson, the county’s Open Space specialist.
“I appreciate their support and the open lines of communication we have regarding trails, which connect county and LANL property – we are all working toward the same goal of advocating for responsible stewardship of these open spaces,” Peterson said.
The county hopes to work more with the lab to enhance the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
“We appreciate and respect the partnerships that we have with both LANL and the DOE. They have been integral to our efforts to launch the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Los Alamos,” Park Project Manager Linda Matteson said.
She also said the county has been working closely with LANL to increase public access to the historical and cultural sites that are off limits.
“These partners along with the National Park Service are working diligently to prepare for future public access to the DOE owned sites that are behind the security perimeter. This successful partnership also created and published a brochure specifically for the new park.  We also worked closely with LANL to support the new Los Alamos: Secret City of the Manhattan Project app, which offers a virtual glimpse into the days and times of the Manhattan Project,” Matteson said. “The new app is directly benefiting our tourism outreach and education efforts to promote the park. More recently, we have been working with the Historical Society and LANL on revisions to the downtown historical walking tour, which includes updated signage.”
The report also goes into great detail about the recent establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and the sites that are included within the park’s boundaries, but still aren’t allowed to be accessed by the general public. They include facilities at LANL Tech Areas 8 and 16 such as the “Gun Site” and “V-Site” facilities where parts of “Little Boy” atomic bomb were designed and where components of the Trinity device were built.  
Also included in the park’s boundaries are the “Slotin Building.” The building was the site of a nuclear accident that killed Louis Slotin, a physicist and chemist who accidentally set off a fission reaction. The accident resulted in a historical overhaul of safety protocols at the laboratory.  
The plan also lays out a 10-year “road map” for LANL as far as caring for and preserving the cultural and historical sites.
Priority No. 1 is to identify more sites and develop a plan to manage them, while work goes on at the laboratory.
The second priority will be to support the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
“Restoration, repairs and stabilization of Manhattan Project National Historical Park properties are necessary,” the report said. The third and fourth priorities will be about implementing an updated plan on how to go about monitoring and protecting the sites and developing a standard process for evaluating an archaeological site’s significance.
The full draft report can be found at eprr.lanl.gov.