Setting a course for a sustainable landscape
Before I started as science coordinator, I certainly couldn't have answered that question. Over these last few months on the job, though, I've gotten a better feel for what cultural resources are and the many ways they influence conservation decisions. First, a definition: "Cultural resources are resources important to cultures". This is my favorite definition and the one given by Daniel Odess (Assistant Associate Director for Cultural Resources, National Park Service) at the most recent steering committee meeting.
What does that mean? That includes things like huntable populations of waterfowl, fishable streams, clean water, and access to natural resources in addition to historic resources like shell mounds, buildings, and shipwrecks. The biggest stressors we all face (population growth, climate change, sea level rise) can affect cultural resources in similar ways as natural resources. Plus, if you're a manager making a conservation decision, you probably already have to think about cultural resources.
Many of you may be used to thinking of certain cultural resources as barriers to getting things done. However, one particularly interesting statement by Daniel Odess at the steering committee meeting was that they realized that we all have to make difficult choices and cannot protect everything. This gave me hope that the SALCC can provide a valuable way for natural and cultural resource professionals to work together for conservation.