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Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

Protecting Archaeological Sites

Chapter 5: Preservation Commission Operations, Page 6 of 6

Preservation Commissions and Archaeology | HPC Training | Wisconsin Historical Society

Archaeological sites are primarily protected at the federal level, so traditionally local commissions have had little authority over these historic resources. However, concern about archaeological sites is growing, and many commissions are increasingly being called upon to protect them.

Including Archaeological Sites in Preservation Planning

To better protect archaeological sites, commission members should include these sites in the community's preservation plan. Archaeological site protection should also be included in land use plans and zoning, development, and building permit processes.

Commission members should consult a professional archaeologist to develop the archaeological component of the preservation plan and public policies affecting archaeology. If your commission anticipates dealing with archaeology on a regular basis, it should seek a professional archaeologist to serve as a commission member.

Tips for Considering Archaeology in Planning
  • Protect archaeological sites through local registers and historic districts
  • Include an inventory of known archaeological sites in your preservation plan that contains information for judging the probability of the presence of sites as well as criteria for determining their significance
  • Clearly define the review process concerning archaeological sites and stick to the established procedures so developers are less likely to make the process more difficult
  • Require any projects concerning archaeological sites that come before the commission's review to be conducted by a qualified professional archaeologist
  • Address the archaeological review of site development as early as possible to avoid delays
  • Make sure enforcement rules are clearly defined and effective, and consider adding a clause that states, "No permits will be issued until an archaeological report is reviewed and approved"