Press Release | Washington, DC | April 23, 2018

National Organization Touts Preservation Success at Hopewell Culture

Roughly 75 percent of Hopewell Culture acquired and protected by now-threatened Land and Water Conservation Fund

As part of National Park Week, the National Trust for Historic Preservation will join several Ohio state partners in highlighting the successful preservation of important Native American ceremonial grounds at the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (NHP) in Chillicothe, Ohio. The key role of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)--a federal program set to expire in September, 2018--in preserving the site’s integrity will be highlighted at an event at the Mound City Group Visitor Center on April 24.

The press and public are invited to attend a short program followed by a hike to the Hopeton Earthworks.

“Once threatened by agricultural practices such as ploughing, encroaching development and even gravel mining, multiple world-class earthwork sites have been permanently protected by the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., vice president, government relations and policy for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Thanks to this program, visitors can now experience the nearly 2,ooo-year old engineering accomplishments of Native Americans in the region and better understand their sacred ceremonial customs and deep relationship to the land.”

“In its first year of existence, we found ourselves in a position to purchase the Hopewell site, unquestionably one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the United States,” said Paul S. Gardner, Midwest regional director of The Archaeological Conservancy. “The situation was critical: the owner was already parceling the property for residential building lots and the purchase price was challenging. Fortunately, the availability of LWCF allowed the National Park Service to promise to purchase the site and ensure its preservation.”

“Hopeton Earthworks and Hopewell Culture National Park preserve and share with the public a key part of the incredibly rich heritage of American Indian peoples in Ohio,” said Jennifer Aultman, World Heritage project coordinator, Ohio History Connection. “World Heritage designation will honor these ancestors of today’s American Indian people, bringing them long overdue recognition, and will benefit the local community by enticing visitors to come to Ross County to connect with this rich past. We are so grateful that the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped preserve these awe-inspiring places for the benefit of all humanity.”

Since 1990, four of the six units of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park have benefited from land acquisition funded by LWCF: Hopeton Earthworks, Hopewell Mound Group, High Bank Works, and Seip Earthworks. In total, approximately $2.8 million in LWCF funds have enabled the addition of more than 900 acres to the park—representing about 75 percent of the its current acreage.

Event Details

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Light lunch and presentation
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Easy hike to Hopeton Earthworks led by National Park Service archaeologist Dr. Bret J. Ruby.

Representatives from partners including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Archaeological Conservancy, Heritage Ohio, World Heritage Ohio, and The Nature Conservancy will offer perspectives on the role LWCF played in creating the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park and on efforts underway to designate the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks a World Heritage site.

The event is free but advance registration is requested by contacting estewart@savingplaces.org to ensure ample parking or a trailhead shuttle.

BACKGROUND ON THE HOPETON EARTHWORKS

The Hopeton Earthworks site is a large Hopewell culture (100 BC -- AD 500) ceremonial center located along the Scioto River in Ross County, Ohio. It includes a large circular enclosure, 1,050 feet in diameter, attached to a square about 900 feet across. Originally, the walls were 12 feet high, but years of agricultural cultivation and weathering have reduced their height to less than five feet. Archeological investigations have been extensive, and confirm its relationship to Mound City Group located across the river. Hopeton Earthworks, a National Historic Landmark, was incorporated into the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in the 1990s and opened to the public in 2016. Local efforts are now underway to name Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks—including the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, the Newark Earthworks State Memorial, and the Fort Ancient State Memorial—to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

BACKGROUND ON THE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established by Congress in 1965. The Act designates that a portion of receipts from offshore oil and gas leases be placed into a fund annually to support federal land acquisitions in parks, forest and wildlife areas, as well as matching grants to states and local governments for the acquisition and development of outdoor recreation areas and facilities. LWCF also funds American Battlefield Protection Program acquisition grants, which provide funding to states, local communities, and nonprofit partners to acquire threatened battlefield lands. Many of America’s most significant historic and cultural landscapes have been permanently protected through LWCF, including Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado. This key federal program will expire on September 30, 2018 unless Congress acts to reauthorize it.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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