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How Stan’s Airboats and Buggies Help Preserve Native American History

It’s not often someone gets to participate in the preservation of Gulf Coast history. But Stan’s is proud to play a role in helping some of our clients conduct the archaeological surveys needed to make sure excavation and other wetlands work doesn’t disrupt the traces of Native American civilizations lying deep beneath the marsh.

As you probably already know, Stan’s offers airboat transportation for folks whose jobs lie deep within the swamps. Sometimes, before these jobs can begin, companies must conduct a land survey or series of soil tests to ensure any digging won’t interfere with historically significant Native American sites.

Sometimes these tests are conducted by cultural resource management firms made up of archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians committed to preserving the prehistoric and historic archaeological record. This work could include taking soil samples for radiocarbon dating or field assessments of suspected historic sites, among other things.

Native American Sites

Much of this testing is prompted by the Section 106 process (NHPA). This includes both federal undertakings by agencies such as the New Orleans District, Corps of Engineers, the FHWA, FEMA, and the National Park Service, as well as non-federal projects that require federal permits, particularly wetland permitting (404 Permits) or that involve federal funding.

First, let’s get into some background.

Many historic sites are being forever lost to the Gulf as rising seas and saltwater intrusion eat away at Louisiana’s coastline. Experts say two sites like this are lost each year. Additional loss of these sites can occur when pipeline companies and other operators don’t perform their due diligence to address environmental and historical concerns before starting construction.

“Before you dig anywhere, you have to have an archaeological survey, whether it’s to build a house or a pipeline,” says Stan’s co-owner Liz Todd. This “due diligence” consists of the appropriate archaeological surveys and soil samples, and Stan’s amphibious personnel carriers and airboats are what get these crews out to the hard-to-reach sites where they conduct these tests.

As mentioned, these historical considerations extend to government agencies—not just oil and gas and construction companies.

For example, The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of actions they are funding.

These agencies usually develop an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or an Environmental Impact Study (EIS). Additionally, FEMA is required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to take into account the impacts of its activities (including demolition, repair, and reconstruction) on historic properties before work begins.

Any proposed project that might impact archaeological sites (such as relocating a utility, road realignment, a material borrow area for construction, or preparation of debris staging, stockpiling, or burning sites) must be reviewed before starting work.

Any activity that disturbs the ground, including post-disaster cleanup within a right-of-way, has the potential to affect archaeological resources.

Additionally, major federal projects often include private activities in which the government does not act directly but which require a federal permit. These might consist of large-scale dredge and fill activities. Some projects call for a consultation with appropriate state, federal, and/or tribal regulatory entities before digging on the project can begin.

Here at Stan’s, we believe that cultural resources management should be practiced in accordance with the same high standards we bring to all our wetlands services. Our trained operators and fleet of marsh transportation equipment can handle all the environmental aspects of the field survey and permitting process, including:

  • Route alternatives analysis
  • Soil studies
  • Culture resource/archaeological survey and analysis
  • Threatened/endangered species studies
  • Agency consultations
  • Environmental field studies
  • Permit application preparation
  • Support for agency negotiations and public meetings

Our responsibility is to make sure your team gets the accurate tests you need to prepare the reports and recommendations required before work can begin. Contact us today to learn about how we can help with your archaeological survey needs.

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