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Cultural Stewardship

Projectile Point PhotoThe OHMVR Division (Division) recognizes cultural resources are non-renewable. To preserve and protect the more than 1,100 cultural resources located in the State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs), the Division employs archaeologists to inventory and record these resources.

When cultural resources are discovered in a SVRA, an evaluation of their condition and historical significance is required for compliance with state and federal environmental laws. Through this evaluation process, cultural resources determined to be a significant example of a local, state, or national event in human history are nominated to the National Register of Historic Places or the California Register of Historical Resources. The evaluation of cultural resources is one of the most important responsibilities for an archaeologist because it allows:
  • for the development of cultural resource management policy;
  • for the development of cultural resource management and protection programs;
  • to serve as a reference for the clarification and solution of cultural resource problems;
  • to serve as background information for planning projects in the park unit;
  • for assessment of environmental impacts on cultural resources; and
  • for development of cultural resource interpretive programs.

Mine Adit Photo Cultural resources can include archaeological deposits, standing structures, an old school house, abandoned mines, and historic orchards. They are commonly found in areas where an event took place in the past, such as a large complex mining operation or a seasonal prehistoric fishing camp.

Every archaeological site has the potential to provide us with an understanding of past cultures—where we come from, what it means to be human, and how we are all connected. Everyday archaeological sites are destroyed from either natural processes or modern development, thereby amplifying the need to protect and preserve the past when feasible.

Photo of a historic Olive OrchardNot only are Division archaeologists important to the preservation of cultural resources located in our SVRAs, but the entire OHV community also plays an important role in the preservation and protection of these resources. Active stewardship ensures Division resources are preserved, protected, and made available for public understanding and appreciation today and for future generations.

Division archaeologists work together with museum curators, state historians, environmental scientists, and members of the Native American community to research and document the history and prehistory of our SVRAs. An historical and archaeological understanding of the SVRAs has the ability to connect visitors with either their heritage or the ancestral history of different cultures. On a much greater scale, archaeology can also provide a better understanding of how events in the past are related to our future progression. 

Additional  information about Cultural Resource Management in California State Parks is available at the  Archaeology, History & Museums Division website.