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Florida Archaeological Site Stewardship Programs

The Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research has developed three site stewardship programs: The Site Stewardship Agreement, The Stewardship Volunteer Program, and the Sitewatch Program. Each of these programs depends upon the cooperation of landowners, private citizens, non-profit organizations and the State.

Site Stewardship Agreement

The Florida Site Steward Agreement is modeled after stewardship registry programs in states such as Kentucky, North Dakota, and Tennessee. By signing the steward agreement, a property owner agrees to notify the State prior to initiating activities that may have a negative impact on the site or to report destructive acts such as dumping, unauthorized digging, or environmental degradation. The Site Stewardship Agreement includes a statement of commitment by the State to provide guidance and technical assistance in site preservation. The agreement may allow regular site visits by a state archaeologist for the purposes of evaluating the site and the success of the agreement, and to offer assistance in site management. 

The first Florida Site Steward is Mr. Bemis Smith, who owns the Edmund Lee Cemetery. Mr. Smith is interested in cleaning the cemetery, locating its burials, and erecting an historic marker for public interest. In mid March, staff went to Bradenton, Florida, to award Mr. Smith a certificate and plaque for his participation in the Program. Lee family members were there for the presentation along with the local media.

Stewardship Volunteer Program

Bureau of Archaeological Research initiated a volunteer program for the maintenance and protection of archaeological sites and historic buildings designed to complement the Florida Site Steward Agreement. Volunteers can be used on any site in need of stewarding. The State's role in this initiative is to assist property owners and land managers in coordinating site volunteers. Site Steward Volunteers have the opportunity to assist professional archaeologists in various site maintenance activities. They may commit to a long term monitoring agreement, involving site visits every few months to record damage or any other management concern.

A volunteer project at the state-owned Velda Mound site in Tallahassee includes management, clean-up, and maintenance. Volunteers are shown here trimming and removing vegetation from the site.

Sitewatch Program

The Sitewatch Program is a volunteer-based initiative that establishes individuals or groups as site monitors. Monitors formally agree to regularly visit and maintain a site. Monitors routinely fill out a site monitoring form to alert the site owner and Bureau of Archaeological Research of site management needs. The monitors indicate on the form what the managment concern is (looting, tree fall, trash dumping, etc.), and the form is then sent to the owner. Typically, the owner and the site monitors will work together to maintain the site. 

The Florida Anthropological Society (FAS) is an organization made up of non-profit organizations throughout the state that raise awareness of archaeology and archaeological site protection.

Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee (P.A.S.T.) has assisted the Bureau of Archaeological Research with the Volunteer Program and the Sitewatch Program.