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Integrating Cultural Resources into Regional Conservation Planning

A collaborative research project sponsored by the Appalachian LCC, the National Park Service, and Penn State University (PSU) is integrating cultural resources, such as historic bridges and Civil War Battlefields, into landscape conservation planning and design.
Integrating Cultural Resources into Regional Conservation Planning

Research is testing an approach for integrating cultural resources, such as historic bridges and Civil War Battlefields, into landscape conservation planning and design. Photo by NPS.

The goal is to address the major stressors of land-use conversion associated with energy expansion, urbanization, sprawl, and impacts of climate change on cultural resources that society values.

The PSU research team led by Dr. Tim Murtha, began work by conducting pilot studies in Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2016-2017. The team investigated relevant resources, data requirements, and opportunities to identify the best process for integrating cultural resources into landscape planning and scaling up local results to apply to the entire Appalachian LCC 15-state geography. Some of the key work accomplished so far include:

  • Development of a comprehensive geospatial library relevant to cultural resources for the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Review of state and local comprehensive planning documents for an analysis of policy related to cultural resource management, preservation and planning.
  • Assembling of available data for test modeling Pennsylvania pilot study and then completing around 270 million test models for identifying landscape-scale conservation priorities for Pennsylvania
  • Developing a comprehensive geospatial library relevant to cultural resources for the state of West Virginia.
  • Comparing and analyzing data sources and resolution with particular attention paid to evaluating data quality and coverage for PA and WV.

 

Work to date in the pilot studies of Pennsylvania and more recent comparisons to West Virginia indicate that there are important topics to study to best integrate cultural resources early on in the natural resource planning process. The team is examining twelve cultural resource themes in these pilot studies and each theme has produced fascinating results. The results of this ongoing research will be integrated into an Open Science Framework over the next several weeks, in addition to producing three manuscripts in preparation for peer review as well as several invited presentations in the upcoming months.  Researchers will participate at the Tennessee River Basin Network meeting in August with University of Maryland researchers conducting a current ecological assessment (Report Card) of the Basin to explore possible integration of cultural metrics into the Report Card.

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