The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.
Camp Naco lies in the valley of the San Pedro River of southeastern Arizona, between the Huachuca Mountains and the Mule Mountains. Set some 300 feet from the wall that now runs along the border between the United States and Mexico, its adobe buildings bring to mind an unsettled decade at the beginning of the twentieth century when Mexican revolutionaries, striking mine workers, lawless bandits, and a World War I intrigue between Germany and Mexico dominated the political landscape. During the greater part of its history, the camp was home to rotating troops from the 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers.”
At the beginning of March, the Federal Register announced that the Department of the Interior is proposing changes to the rules that govern the nomination of properties to the National Register of Historic Places. While the changes claim to “implement the 2016 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act,” they reach far beyond the intent of that legislation in limiting the existing public process and other safeguards for historic landscapes.
Three aspects of the proposed rules are of special concern:
It would give more weight to the objections of larger property owners over the weight of a simple majority of property owners in objecting to listing historic districts. This would in turn have an unfair negative impact on those owners of smaller historic properties who would not be eligible for the historic property tax advantage.
It would give Federal agencies unilateral control in determining what properties are eligible for the National Register by eliminating the role of the Keeper of the National Register in Section 106 consultations.
It would permit a Federal agency to eliminate consultation with State Historic Preservation Offices and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices if so desired.
These changes will negatively impact landscape professionals who work in the area of historic preservation.