From First Americans to Euroamericans
— Archaeology and History of the WIS
Historic Preservation and the WIS 57 Project
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
requires federal agencies to take into account the effect their projects might have on historic properties such as buildings and
archaeological sites. Archaeological and
historical investigations of the WIS
57 corridor were conducted according to NHPA
regulations and procedures.
These procedures, referred to as the Section
106 process, involve the following:
· Identification of historic resources
· Evaluation of affected resources
· Determination of historic significance
· Avoidance through redesign when possible
· Mitigation of significant sites that cannot be
57 archaeological investigations began in 1992 and continued through 2008. Results
· 107 archaeological sites identified
· 78 archaeological sites tested
· 38 sites considered significant
· 30 sites avoided by rerouting the highway
· Mitigation of eight sites that could not be
Phase I: Identification Process
This phase involves a review of records and background material to identify previously recorded historic and prehistoric sites in the vicinity of the study area. Fieldwork included pedestrian reconnaissance of the WIS
57 corridor to identify previously
reported sites as well as unreported site locations.
Phase II: Evaluating Significance
Identified sites must be evaluated to assess the significance of the site if they are likely to be disturbed by project actions. Both hand and machine-aided excavations may be used in this process. If the
investigations suggest that the site is potentially eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the site is considered significant.
Phase III: Data Recovery
Not all significant archaeological sites or buildings can be preserved. When such properties are affected by responsible development, the Section 106 process allows for various means of mitigating or lessening the effect of disturbance. However, because archaeological sites are non-renewable resources, those that cannot be conserved need to be carefully recorded before ground-disturbing activities begin. Mitigation of archaeological sites typically takes the form of large-scale, controlled excavations. These data recovery projects are often complex and time consuming. As a result, unless the affected site is very small, most data recovery plans are designed to sample a site rather than excavate it completely.
Archaeological monitoring of the construction process is sometimes conducted in culturally sensitive portions of a project area. During the WIS
57 Project, archaeologists monitored ground disturbing activities
to guard against incidental disturbance of human remains. "Archaeological monitoring requires close cooperation among WisDOT
, contractors, and archaeologists.
(All images UWM-ARL 2012)
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