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Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
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4

Potential U.S. Partners

Throughout the workshop, many U.S. organizations and agencies were discussed as geoheritage actors, partners, or stakeholders. The summary below is not an exhaustive list but suggests the many roles that public- and private-sector groups play, or can potentially play, in furthering geoheritage objectives.

FEDERAL

Agencies across the federal government have programs that protect and promote geoheritage sites, as explored throughout the workshop. The national parks managed by the National Park Service are the most well known, but Tom Casadevall, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), also highlighted NPS’ National Heritage Areas, Scenic Byways, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Natural Landmarks across the country. Many, but not all, are managed (or at least promoted) by the National Park Service and commonly have a geologic component. Other federal programs that identify and protect geoheritage sites mentioned during the workshop included the Department of Transportation’s Scenic Byways, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Marine Sanctuaries, as well as land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Tim Connors, NPS, explained that the agency’s Geologic Resources Division works across the park system’s 423 units, which include parks, rivers, cemeteries, and more, to promote what they call “the world’s most magnificent rock collection.” The Geologic Resources Inventory (GRI) is a collaboration between the NPS’s Inventory and Monitoring and Geologic Resources Divisions.1 NPS also maintains an extensive website about geoheritage that includes an “unofficial register” of sites.2 Vincent Santucci, NPS, said 277 sites have fossils of some kind that span many eras. Governed by laws that include the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, NPS manages these resources for research, curation, and education, topics that are also important for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Representatives from other agencies discussed how geoheritage fits within their larger missions. Tim Stroope, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), described how geoheritage is managed as part of the Forest Service’s multiple use mandate. More than 1,000 special areas or features have been designated, with Mount St. Helens—part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest—as the most well known. Greg McDonald,

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1 The GRI provides geologic maps in GIS format and accompanying reports that summarize and draw connections between a park’s geologic resources and park values, including resources management issues, interpretive themes, and areas for potential future research. As the primary audience for the GRI products is the park staff, these products (especially the reports) are an opportunity to introduce and explore geoheritage concepts to staff members whose backgrounds may not have previously included them. See https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geologic-resources-inventory-products.htm.

2 See https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/americas-geoheritage.htm.

Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×

BLM, explained that geology is considered with his agency’s extractive activities in mining, oil, and gas exploration. BLM manages one-eighth of the country’s land mass, and, not surprisingly, many sites with geoheritage importance are on BLM-managed land and are provided with interpretive signage. Some sites are co-managed with the National Park Service.

Coastal geology is important, visible, and accessible, said Sarah Gaines, University of Rhode Island. She noted that NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries focus on biological resources but have criteria similar to those of UNESCO Global Geoparks. There are currently 15 National Marine Sanctuaries nationwide, many of which include such features as shipwrecks.

STATE AND LOCAL

With the U.S. pivot away from UNESCO Global Geoparks, said Mogk, the U.S. Advisory Group more fully recognized the role that state geological surveys play in geoheritage. Nelia Dunbar, New Mexico state geologist and planning committee member, agreed. “In the United States, state geological surveys play a critical role in highlighting the scientific and educational value of their state’s geology,” she said. “Geologists in state surveys are perfect translators who can make geology come alive in a range of different ways.”

A webinar and two focus groups focused on state geological surveys. The surveys vary widely in their structure, resources, context, partnerships, and stakeholders, according to William (Drew) Andrews, Kentucky Geological Survey. Despite the differences, he added, they share common goals of mapping, science, and service, and their missions position them as front-line practitioners of geoheritage (see also Box 2). “We already have geoheritage sites or have been doing this work, but some of us have not necessarily called it this,” he added, echoing a sentiment expressed by many of the participants. “We have a lot of room to share and exchange ideas.”

Mapping of state geological resources has historically been a fundamental task of all state surveys, noted Dunbar, and the maps can serve as a platform for geoheritage communication to the public. Thirty-two state surveys host interactive webmaps as a tool for communicating geoscience, and 15 of them have integrated, “layerable” interactive webmaps. “We would suggest that state surveys work toward developing geoheritage layers to enrich existing interactive maps,” Dunbar said. As another platform, about one-half of the surveys have created StoryMaps (images with associated text, referenced on a map using ArcGIS, a geographic information system application developed by Esri), said Steve Martin, Kentucky Geological Survey. “StoryMaps can link different levels of geoscience understanding and are a great alternative for sites that are difficult to access or are unsafe,” agreed Amber Steele, Missouri Geological Survey. She added that students or volunteers can help put them together although warned that they must contain high-quality content. In addition, sites highlighted must have adequate protection given the heightened attention to them.

Steele, presenting on behalf of her focus group, identified common challenges that state surveys have in undertaking geoheritage initiatives: limited funding, time, and staff; lack of shared terminology about geoheritage site projects; and the need to communicate with increasingly diverse professional networks and the general public. Advantages including existing collaborations, the existence of such sites already (even if not labeled as geoheritage), and a huge inventory of samples, photos, slides, and other materials. One of the state surveys’ most

Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×

important tasks, she pointed out, is to inventory and prioritize sites. Christopher Higgins, California Geological Survey, suggested that “when proposing or conducting any geoscience projects, routinely consider geoheritage principles, and, if feasible, develop companion products from these projects that can be used for educational purposes, both informal and formal.”

A suggestion in both state survey focus groups was to find ways to share and collaborate across the state surveys. Mike Conway, Arizona Geological Survey, suggested a state survey geoheritage group that meets quarterly, geoheritage sessions at GSA and other conferences, and a dedicated space on the American Association of State Geologists (AASG) website to share resources. Similarly, Steele said that a working group within AASG for geoheritage could amplify legitimacy for geoheritage efforts, create opportunities to pool funds, establish a common language, oversee inventories of state sites building on the NPS framework, and help in establishing metrics to evaluate the success or impact of geoheritage sites. Since funding is always an issue, in addition to individual state fundraising initiatives and partnerships, the group had ideas for state surveys to collaboratively develop proposals to submit to the National Science Foundation (NSF), other federal agency grants (especially the “broader impact” provisions in applications), other state agencies (such as transportation or public works), tourism groups, industry, and geoscience societies.

NONGOVERNMENTAL GROUPS

“It is important to develop geoheritage partners,” said Conway. “There are the ‘usual suspects’ such as the National Park Service, GSA, but there are many others,” including geoscience societies; state geological societies; historical, mineral, and natural sciences museums; mining and mineral companies/communities; hiking and climbing clubs; state and local tourism agencies; conservation and environmental groups; civic groups; local radio and television stations; and science festivals and fairs. Ken Foote, University of Connecticut, suggested to look for partnering programs, that is, programs that already have built relationships with possible people and groups. There is perhaps too much of a sense that only places like Yellowstone or Yosemite qualify, when so many other places demand attention.

Other partners mentioned throughout the workshop included other geoscience professional societies, such as the American Geosciences Institute, American Association of State Geologists, Geological Society of America, American Institute of Professional Geologists, Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, National Earth Science Teachers Association, and State Geological societies. Working with other academic disciplines, whether within institutions or through professional societies, also came up several times, with cultural and physical geography, history, ecology, and the arts all mentioned as examples. Yolonda Youngs, California State University, San Bernardino, suggested that the American Association of Geographers could present an opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Amateur fossil and gem groups represent another opportunity, said Brennan Jordan. Several focus groups noted the success of citizen science, such as in birding and meteorology, as a model to involve the public.

Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×
Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×
Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×

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Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×
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Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×
Page12
Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×
Page13
Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×
Page14
Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×
Page15
Suggested Citation:"4 Potential U.S. Partners." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26316.
×
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Next: 5 Education And Research »
America's Geoheritage II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America's Natural Legacy: Proceedings of a Workshop Get This Book
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America is endowed with places that embody a rich geoheritage, from sites where indigenous people subsisted for millennia, to mines that furnished the raw materials that built U.S. industry, to mountain ranges and river gorges with unparalleled recreational opportunities, to field sites where students can truly understand a geological process, to places of aesthetic or spiritual value, and many more across all states and territories. In order to assess the status of geoheritage and the activities of its practitioners in the United States in light of social, political, and environmental changes over the past ten years, the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine convened a series of virtual webinars and a workshop. From September to December 2020, a Distinguished Speakers Webinar Program composed of eight webinars provided an overview of geoheritage initiatives, as well as focused presentations on geoheritage related to federal and state lands, cultural heritage, education, research, and economic development and geotourism. In January 2021, 101 land managers, state geologists, educators, researchers, and members and staff of professional societies and nongovernmental organizations participated in a virtual writing workshop to aggregate and organize community input on strategies and best practices in developing geoheritage sites across the United States. The participants were divided into focus groups that roughly aligned with the topics explored in the fall 2020 workshops. The groups worked synchronously and asynchronously over the course of a week, then presented their ideas in a plenary session. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussion of the webinars and workshop.

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