The current Government shutdown in the USA caused by the political dispute over President Trump’s demand for funding for a wall along the US border with Mexico is having significant negative effects on the historic environment and nature conservation of the ‘treasured’ National Parks system, as well as related agencies falling within the realm of the Department of the Interior.
During this shutdown 80% of the employees of the NPS have been furloughed, leaving only skeleton staff mainly for policing and security.
It has been reported that the National Parks Service is losing $400,000 per day by not collecting admissions revenue where parks and heritage sites charge, quite apart from wider revenue lost from concessions, campgrounds, retail and hospitality. There have been widespread reports of significant human health, pollution and threats to nature and ecosystems, with sanitation sites overflowing and litter not being collected. Questions have also been asked on why sites have been left accessible, rather than simply closing the various NPS units/sites altogether.
Maintenance backlogs and acute maintenance/management issues are building due to the impact of weather at this time of the year also. It is not a pretty picture – foremost for the dedicated NPS staff who are not being paid, many of which are trying to keep things going on a voluntary basis, secondly for the long-term damage being done to the natural and cultural resources of the Park System which has been heralded as “America’s Best Idea”, and thirdly for the unfortunate political circumstances whereby the environment (in its broadest form) comes low down in the pecking order when Government faces a crisis.
Journal summary: Conservation Bulletin was formerly published twice a year by Historic England (& prior to 2015 English Heritage) and circulated free of charge to more than 5,000 conservation specialists, opinion-formers and decision-makers. Its purpose was to communicate new ideas and advice to everyone concerned with the understanding, management and public enjoyment of England’s rich and diverse historic environment. 75 editions were produced between 1987 and 2016. The publication has been replaced by the corporate Heritage Calling blog https://heritagecalling.com/ and by a series of online Heritage Debates https://www.historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/debate/
Publisher: Historic England (formerly English Heritage)
Journal type: Professional journal (archived and no longer in production)
Journal summary: Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites (CMAS) was launched in 1995 and focuses on both theoretical and practical issues in heritage site management and conservation. Peer-reviewed papers from around the world report on new thinking and best practice in site management and conservation. CMAS also publishes short comments, conference, book and website reviews, and lists relevant new publications.
Topics covered include:
- Cultural, social, ethical and theoretical issues in archaeological site management and conservation
- Site management
- Historical documentation and condition reporting
- Site deterioration and environmental monitoring
- Preventative conservation, including reburial and protective sheltering of sites
- Building materials analysis and treatment
- Restoration and reconstruction of buildings
- Visitor management and sustainable tourism
- Site interpretation
- National and international legislation and charters
Access: Subscription; some open-access articles
Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed
Journal summary: Building Conservation Journal is published bi-monthly and distributed as part of the Building Surveying Journal internationally to RICS members, including the Building Conservation Forum.
The journal aims to help conservation experts with the technical and professional aspects of their day jobs. It includes articles ranging from the value of heritage, traditional materials and new research techniques, to interviews with leading conservation professionals, reports on key projects and conservation management issues.
Publisher: RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors)
Access: Open-access; print subscription via professional membership
Journal type: Professional journal
Military bath-house, Vindolanda during conservation © David Gill
The military bath-house at Vindolanda lies on the northern side of the excavated vicus outside the west gate of the fort. The bath-house was one of the first structures to be excavated by the Vindolanda Trust as it was felt that it would provide visitors with something to see and therefore would generate income for the site. This was undertaken over two seasons in 1970 and 1971.
This view from the mid 1970s shows the view across the bath-house looking south towards the replica stretches of the stone and turf walls. Note the placing of a seat within the bath complex to allow visitors to look across the excavations. The conservation was undertaken by a team from the Department of the Environment.
This same view, some 40 years later, shows the present display of the bath-house taken from the viewing platform. Note how the grass has been replaced with gravel.
Military bath-house, Vindolanda © David Gill
Signage at Dumbarton Castle © David Gill
The Governor’s House at Dumbarton Castle was in a state of restoration during a visit in 2015. But Historic Scotland had provided an information panel about the use of scaffolding over time.
Entrance to King George’s Battery at Dumbarton Castle © David Gill
King George’s Battery was created in 1735.
Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill
Bury St Edmunds Abbey was placed in State Guardianship in 1955. Signs indicating different parts of the abbey and the precinct were placed around the remains (e.g. crypt, crossing, lecture room). Visitors were discouraged from climbing the walls. Similar signs can be seen at Kirkham Priory, Hadleigh Castle and Pickering Castle.
Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill
What appears to be a pre-Ministry sign threatened those who damaged the walls with prosecution. However workmen from the Ministry had assisted with the consolidation of the ruins in 1928 and these signs may date to this phase (and see also Brough Castle).