A well-trained landscape maintenance staff is a valuable asset to an historic site. In contrast, an uninformed crew can jeopardize a landscape’s historic character and irreversibly damage historic features. Through its partnerships in 2009, NCPTT developed a training video, conducted a hands-on workshop, and hosted a round table discussion. Each of these efforts contributed to the practical knowledge of site-sensitive landscape maintenance practices.

Filming of the video "Replacing Trees in Historic Landscapes"

Filming of the video “Replacing Trees in Historic Landscapes” at Magnolia Plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana

In cooperation with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation and the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, NCPTT produced the instructional video “Replacing Trees in Historic Landscapes.” The nine-minute video includes two tree-planting demonstrations. Both demonstrations illustrate planting techniques appropriate for sensitive archeological sites. Each method minimizes excavation, which helps to protect subsurface resources. On-camera personalities include narrator Charlie Pepper, deputy director of the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, and Cane River Creole National Historical Park maintenance personnel Ron Bolton and Johnny Batten. The video can be ordered or downloaded from the NCPTT website.

NCPTT partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Town of Brookline Division of Parks and Open Spaces to host a cemetery landscape preservation workshop at the Old Burying Ground in Brookline, Mass. Twenty-nine participants, including municipal planners, public works foreman, cemetery commissioners, landscape architects, archeologists, and preservation consultants learned the basics of proper cemetery maintenance.

Cemetery Landscape Preservation Workshop participants

Participants at the Cemetery Landscape Preservation Workshop held in Brookline, Massachusetts, July 29-31, 2009.

Workshop topics included all the relevant information maintenance workers would need to care for an historic cemetery landscape: history of American cemetery design, cemetery preservation planning, mature tree care, invasive vegetation removal, monument cleaning, and iron fence care. The majority of the participants were municipal employees, either directly or indirectly involved in historic cemetery management. As a result of the workshop, these communities are in a better position to make informed planning and maintenance decisions for their cemeteries. A highlight of the workshop was the behind-the-scenes tour of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass. Cemetery staff demonstrated maintenance techniques and guided participants through their monument conservation facility.

In August, NCPTT partnered with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation to host a roundtable to discuss the creation of a historic landscape preservation maintenance curriculum. The meeting was held at the Hampton National Historic Site in Towson, Md. Participants included historic site managers, grounds supervisors, cultural resource managers, landscape architects, and horticulturalists from within and outside the National Park Service.

Roundtable participants Susan Dolan, Iris Gestrum, and Kirk Cordell

Susan Dolan, Iris Gestrum, and Kirk Cordell at the roundtable held at Hampton National Historic Site, September 1-2, 2009.

Lively discussion among the fifteen participants resulted in the first steps towards understanding and identifying the unmet training needs of field staff responsible for the day-to-day preservation of historic landscapes. Of particular interest is the need to convey to maintenance crews the difference between traditional landscape maintenance and maintenance of historic sites —the ‘why we do things’ differently approach. Next steps include identifying existing training resources and development of a core curriculum.

Eight participants contributed audio interviews during the roundtable. Each shared their interest in participating in the discussion and discussed the need for landscape preservation maintenance training. Incorporated into a podcast, the audio provides a record of issues and goals discussed during the roundtable. The podcast is downloadable from the NCPTT website.

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