I am now an official site steward for the state of Arizona. My primary assignment is up at Agua Fria National Monument, but I’ll also be working on Ironwood Forest National Monument and Sonoran Desert National Monument.
The Arizona Site Steward Program is an organization of volunteers, sponsored by the public land managers of Arizona, whose members are selected, trained and certified by the State Historic Preservation Office and the Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission. The chief objective of the Steward Program is to report to the land managers destruction or vandalism of prehistoric and historic archaeological and paleontological sites in Arizona through site monitoring. Stewards are also active in public education and outreach activities.
I first learned about the program about a dozen years ago. I was wandering around the Superstition Mountains near Hieroglyphic Canyon and ran across a fellow hiker. We got to chatting a bit near the petroglyphs. He pointed out some vandalism, I showed some disgust, and he said that I should consider becoming a steward. I was interested in learning more, but never got around to researching it.
Fast forward to last year, when I got involved with the Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument. Two board members, Shelley and Trudy, are both site stewards, and through their involvement in the program, I decided to take the step and get involved. I completed the field training back in October, and then the classroom training in November, and received my volunteer agreements shortly thereafter. Well, the regional coordinator, Lila, brought me out to the monument and showed me a couple of pretty cool sites last week. I’m stoked about doing it.
While most site stewards have a particular site that they are assigned to monitor, Lila is going to let me wander around the monument a bit more. Given my work with the monument, it’ll be a good opportunity to get a broader view of monument impacts than just focusing on a single site.