Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Hopkinton, NEARA, and concerned neighbors protect a site

From Jeff in RI [note link at end]:

I first happened upon this site in Hopkinton, RI about 2010 or 11. At the time it was quite pristine and not generally known to many folks interested in this field of inquiry. When the owners of the property applied for a zoning variance, with the idea of building there, I along with many neighbors, friends and history buffs expressed our concern as to the future of this incredible site and the necessity of its preservation. To everyones benefit the Hopkinson Land Trust realizing the local significance of this site, stepped forward and made an offer for the property which was accepted by the owners. The place will now be safe for generations to come. Since the purchase in 2014, its pristine condition had remained intact. But on a recent visit, myself and some friends were rather chagrined (to say the least), to find almost every rock feature tagged with a hideous fluorescent orange flag. To me this was as good as a stick in the eye. Most of the pleasure and enjoyment of a walk in a place like this is teaching one's self to see these incredible structures and enjoy their connection and relation to one another in the natural environment. I would very much like the people responsible for these flags to come back and remove their trash. These flags are not in keeping with the spirit and nature of this place and inconsiderate of all future visitors. It is my understanding that this tagging was done back in late December or early January. I'm all for the study and surveying of sites like this but when you are done please take all evidence out with you. In other words, "Don't give away the whole store!" and "Leave No Tracks". Please see the attached article.

24 comments :

pwax said...

I agree about those orange flags. Who did that? They should clean up.

Curtiss Hoffman said...

The reason for the flags, which were left by Steve DiMarzo and his team who are producing a detailed inventory of the over 1,000 structures at the site, is to make sure that they do not count any structure twice. I'm sure that once they have finished - which will probably not be until the end of this month - that they will remove the flags. In fact, I will so advise him!

Anonymous said...

I see his (not hard to figure out who it is leaving this garbage behind) orange flags and ribbons everywhere I go now in the woods in Rhode Island. It is very frustrating to go hiking to enjoy the beauty of nature and to search for the past only to have orange plastic strewn everywhere, hanging from every tree and marking every stone structure. Not only that, but as Jeff points out, it is highly disrespectful, especially of Native sacred sites. Additionally, this person's trails of garbage lead everyone to objects that are better left discovered by those who care about them, placing them in less danger. I am not sure people would like it if you went into graveyards and tagged all the stone specimens you could find there in orange flagging. An inconspicuous and natural system of sticks could be used to do the same job, but inconspicuous is hardly this person's goal.

Larry Harrop said...

I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Leaving these flags over an extended period of months is an eyesore and is disrespectful. There are better ways of doing a site survey then leaving orange flags sticking out of every rock pile.
These people leave their flags here and then go home to a different state and never give it another thought. Meanwhile, Rhode Island residents out for a stroll through the woods are being distracted by this trash.

Steve DiMarzo said...

It is obvious all of you have the best way to document structures from what I am reading. These flags are there to help those of us not to duplicate documentation of structures. This site is still a work in progress with now over 820 structures now documented. The flags will remIn until every structure is finished whether it takes two weeks or two months, and once satisfied with our documentation, then and only then will the flags be removed.
If any of you have any questions, you can certainly contact me directly about any of this.

Curtiss Hoffman said...

I have copied several of these posts to Steve and told him to clean up his act.

Steve DiMarzo said...

It is easy to point a finger at those who you suspect of leaving orange ribbons behind but it is another thing to point out to those where these might be, so as to remove them if they do indeed belong to us. Again, the private email route would be the best way to handle unless you are content on showing everybody how concerned you are in being critical of others .

Steve DiMarzo said...

Gentlemen, one thing I did forget to mention was the fact that both Elaine Thomas, the deputy tribal preservation officer for the Mohegan Tribe, Loren Spears, the director of the Tomaquag Indian Museum and Lucianne Lavin the director of American Indian studies from Connecticut, have all walked the site in hope Valley where the flags were placed and none of them expressed horror, dissatisfaction or any negative comments concerning why the flags were there. If these professional people saw nothing wrong with the flags being placed there for specific reason, then their opinions are certainly worth more then your comments. However, once we have finished documenting this site, all the flags will be removed. These professional people understood that when they walked the site.

Noodlz said...

This is a fairly normal way to document and survey these structures. With over 800 features on this one site, the use of flags makes sense and as is normal operating procedure, when the survey is over the flags are removed. Really a whole post to complain about something not worth complaining about. These folks surveying are attempting to protect these features as well as study them. You're essentially calling out people that are on your side on this.

Jeff in RI said...

Well, when are you going to finish then? They've been ruining the view for 2 months and counting now. Did you get permission from anyone to do your survey. Are you even a local resident? There should be protocols for activities like this. Signed and posted permission from the owner (in this case the Hopkinton Land Trust) with a clear start and finish date so your "study" doesn't go on and on infinidum and leaving the site in a pristine state. So in consideration of other people that would like to walk the property, get a move on ..... and leave no tracks.

Noodlz said...

I think you're confusing me with someone who is working on this survey. I am not. However, through a lot of hard work, some the folks you're angry at were able have these stone features protected under the National Historic Preservation Act. However, as with anything with the federal government there are certain standards that must be met and as a result these things take time. As for permission....permission is always saught and granted before this type of survey. They couldn't do it without it.

Noodlz said...
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James Gage said...

The documentation of the site is being done by a team from RI Chapter of NEARA. The documentation is being coordinated with Harvey Buford, Chairman of the Hopkinton Conservation Commission, and Rick Prescott of Hopkinton Historical Society. The site contains over 850 structures making the flagging necessary to avoid duplication of documentation. Yes, the flags will be pulled once the project is wrapped up in the next couple of months. The documentation is being done for a site report being filed with the RI State Archaeologist Office. I ask everyone to be patient while we complete project which so far has required hundreds of volunteer hours to carry out.

James Gage

Steve DiMarzo said...

First of all, to Jeff in RI, having an attitude is not going to hurry up our documentation, which we will try to finish up by the end of this month depending on the weather.

In fact, I will post here when that day does in fact arrive, so as to put all at ease once again. We are doing everything by the book and taking every precaution,so as to do no "HARM" to any structure that we are documenting.

We had been asked by the Town of Hopkinton, in particular the Conservation Commission and the Historical Society, to document this entire 14 acre parcel of land which they purchased in order to preserve and protect these precious structures. I commend the Town for their vision and willingness to save this sacred area. Again, we honor our commitment to the Town to document every strucutre here, no matter how long that might take us. This is why flagging is needed especially when we have over 850 structures documented to date.

I understand everyone's concerns here about getting rid of the flags once we are done, but being critical of our efforts to do the right thing here isn't going to get us to move any faster in trying to do the best and most thorough job we can here for the Narragansett Tribe, the Town of Hopkinton, the State Archaeologist and other dedicated researchers, who are interested in our work here.

Right now the site report for this particular site is almost 400 pages long, so as one can see, documentation takes time, effort, lots of hard work, accuracy and precision. Not to honor our commitment to do the very best job here for the Town of Hopkinton or the Narragansett Tribe would be abdicating our responsibility as stone structure researchers. We will not do that for anyone, not even for our most vocal critics and detractors. We will not hurry our documentation for anyone, but be assured, we will try our best to be finished by the end of this month, again weather permitting.

As was mentioned above, I will entertain any and all email comments away from this post on my gmail account, so as to keep this blog focused on discovery and on the true reasons it was conceived/developed for in the first place.

Many thanks to those like James Gage and others, who understand this complicated process of documentation and the need for accuracy, precision and detailed information in order to truly understand exactly what is here at this historic site.

Steve

Terry J. Deveau said...

Personally, I think it is remarkable and a very positive outcome that we can have a dialog about this topic here on this blog. People express concerns about a procedure, and people responsible for the procedure explain it, and so all parties become better informed about what each other is doing and how it impacts each other.

Probably we can come up with a better procedure than physical flags. Personally, I don't use them. In a lot of my surveys I'm looking for things less definite than distinct stone piles, so flagging wouldn't help much. Instead, what I do is turn on the track-recording feature of my GPS. I survey everything I come across along that track. Later (that same day, or days, weeks, months later) I will survey a parallel track, or a crossing track, but I pull up the previous tracks on my GPS display, so I can be sure I'm both not duplicating what I surveyed before, and that I'm not leaving too wide a gap between tracks that would leave things unsurveyed.

It also allows me to keep track of how many km I've surveyed in the particular area.

Jeff in RI said...

Steve,
You don't have to give me a lecture about this site, I was there long before most folks knew about this place and I was at the original planning board site inspection. I recall the state archeologist calling them field clearing piles. The site presently is a mess. I invite anybody to go see it for themselves, I'm sure they will concur. You could have marked each feature with those hunter's night bright red dots, unobtrusive and it does the job that you need accomplished. Maybe the next time you do a site survey you'll be a little more considerate of the other people, who have just as much right to examine the site as you do.

Noodlz said...

The flags are unobtrusive. I don't work with Steve and his crew, but when documenting these features the flags often have shorthand codes, what type of feature, a catalog number etc. So these flags contain info as well as marking the feature. This is important in the study as GPS in the woods isn't always accurate, so a physical marker containing the features information is necessary. Especially when these features are mapped, which requires follow up and revisiting the features so having this info marked at the feature without damaging the feauture is necessary. They're placed in the ground next to the feature. They don't harm the feature or anything around it, and, once again, they're removed when the survey is over. So, in a few weeks, there will literally be nothing to complain about. Much ado about nothing IMHO.

Noodlz said...
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Mark Starr said...

Noodlz,
I don't think the complaint is that the flags hurt the objects, but that it is rather annoying to find orange marking Native stonework throughout Rhode Island. I'm sure Steve and crew will now remove their handywork on this particular site, but I just went to revisit a large site to see if he had removed last year's flags. Not having GPS coordinates for the site, I simply followed the flags right to it (plus a number of other sites). I also brought back the four beer cans and food wrappers from this cool new party site. Public lands are not our private play grounds - there is enough plastic scattered in the woods as it is. Perhaps placing two broken twigs on the north side of every cairn you can't remember is a little more considerate? That way, if you don't get back there, others won't notice. (I realize this particular site may be an exception given the density) Like the others, I want to get away from plastics when I go into the woods.

Steve DiMarzo said...

As was stated above, if Native represtatives, who walked the area with me found nothing wrong with the flags and never espressed concern that they were there, knowing that once we had finished our documentation that we would remove them, then that is the authority I am responsible to.

Look, I appreciate everyone's concern about "flagging" and hopefully, we will be finished by the end of the month and then, no one will have a complaint.

I am always looking for ways to refine our procedures for the work we will do in the future in the field. I don't anticipate using flags again, unless we encounter another large area with stone structures. In fact, this has been the only place where we have used flagging at all and that was because of the density and numbers of stone structures here.

To date we have documented over 5,300+ stone structures in and around RI with numerous site reports of what we have documented having been sent to the 5 Native tribes that we are working with; 2 in CT, the Mashantuckets and the Mohegans, the Narragansetts in RI, and 2 in MA, the Mashpee Wampanoags and the Aquinnah on Marthas Vineyard. They take all of our information in the form of site reports, which are produced and filed by James and Mary Gage, 2 wonderful hard working historians with 20 years experience.

So, as one can see, we take our documentation seriously and will do all we can to assist and aid the Native tribes and allow them to detemrine for themselves exactly what is here. Only the Native tribes know what they are looking at and we should give little weight to what State Officials might say about what they think is here.

So, Jeff in RI, this conversation is more than about you and what you want and more about what is best for the Native Tribes and their concerns. If they have no problems with our methods, then that says it all, as far as I am concerned here.

Steve

Noodlz said...

This method of study was developed over time and works. As stated, the flags usually have writing on them for cataloging purposes. Plastic is necessary because the weather will erase the info otherwise. As I've also stated this is standard operating procedure and vey common and as has been stated. The flags will be removed. No one is being denied access to the site so if Jeff and others would like to study more there is nothing stopping them. Folks that do these surveys are very aware of maintaining a sense of confidentiality because the features can't be guarded. You all are literally on the same side on this topic, but splitting hairs over methodology. As I've stated I don't work with Steve and his crew, but this type of surveyance prvoided detailed and accurate info about the stone landscape. Once data is collected respectfully it can then be studied more in detail. (I.e. looking for alignments that mark celestial happenings etc). This info would then be made available to folks like yourself who want to know more. So, once again. This is a complaint where none is needed. The fact that the state archaeologist dismissed the features as clearing piles shows there absolutely was a need for an in depth study. Most of this work is extremely underfunded and relies on volunteer hours. So, bear with them.

Noodlz said...
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Jeff in RI said...

Steve
This conversation certainly isn't about me. It's really about being considerate of others and in fact about the stone features themselves. If you'll read the header at the top of this blog it states "a balance is needed between keeping them secret and making them public". I hope that in the future your surveys won't continue to take on the appearance of a carnival and be a little more discreet.

Steve DiMarzo said...

Jeff, we have been very considerate of these structures and their protection and hopeful preservation by documenting ALL of them. You may not like our methods, but as I have said many times, the native representatives had no problem with the falgs and knew once we had finished, they would be removed. Look, I understand your specific concerns and in a little while all the flags will be picked up.

It has only been due to the volume and density of these structures, where an accurate method of recording them was necessary and this is why we used the flags. Could we now in hindsight have found a better way, very possibly. Thanks for your input and concern.

Steve