The Control Network

The importance of protecting our ancient heritage is ever growing. The amount of damage that exposed sites face in the wake of climate change is astonishing. Here on San Juan Island we see this first hand. The archaeology here is much different than what I have been use to. In the Texas desert everything is pretty well preserved and for the most part, especially in the rock shelters, are protected from most environmental factors, but here on the island everything is threatened. Many archaeological sites boarder the coastlines here. Climate change has caused wave action to pound against the coastal banks more violently than before. This leads to chunks of archaeological land to fall into the water and are swept away with the tides. In some areas this has completely destroyed a site, leaving behind exposures of glacial drift, a type of sediment dropped from the last glacial maximum, containing no archaeological material. Our project is to set up a surveyed control network along the coastline to help monitor the erosional rates of the island in the future. The way we are going about this is in my opinion a little archaic, but that’s because the park doesn’t have enough funding for more advanced technology.

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We are setting up rebar along the back end of the slope line of the banks and measuring the top slope, mid slope, and bottom slope. We hammer the rebar until it’s flesh with the ground. Every five years the next team will come back use a metal detector along with our documented papers and images to find the rebar and take the measurements over again.  

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Some of the sites we are working on have logistical problems and physical ones too. One site Cattle Point had large bramble bushes that covered the slope side. We had to crawl through them getting stung by stinging nettle, attacked by blackberry bushes and thistles. It was hardcore! Another site, English Camp had many undercuts to it’s banks along with heavy tourism.  In total we have 18 sites to set up our control system! It’s pretty cool though, to be able to work next to the water and the weather up here is perfect! We have been working long hours anywhere from 9-11 hour days. Recently things have been calming down. We have to catch up on compliance paperwork. The past week we have been in the office taking care of that. DSCN0473 DSCN0474 We don’t work weekends though! This is the time that I get to explore the area. This past weekend my housemate and I went to Vancouver, British Columbia! As soon as we crossed over the US boarder it was a bit chaotic. We panicked a little when we saw the Km/hr instead of mph which it took a second to register the fact my car had km/hr too! Our cell phones weren’t working even though we called out providers and added the international option to the phones. After we got to our airbnb and figured out where to go and fixed our phones, we wasted no extra time. We went to Lynn Creek State Park and dined in the famous Gastown district.

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Unfortunately, the museums were closed so we had to skip those. The next day we went to lighthouse park in west Vancouver and hiked some more. We only spent one day in Canada, but I’ll be back for sure on my way to Colorado for the workshop. On the way down we stopped in Bellingham, Washington and did some more hiking.

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We caught our Ferry back to San Juan Island around 8:20pm and barley made it back to watch the 4th of July Firework show! 4th of July is a big deal over here. The island gets about 10,000 people per year for the parade and festivities. The fireworks were beautiful, reflecting off the water.

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Oh! I also forgot to mention that we bought fireworks at an Indian reservation before getting on the ferry. Both my roommate and I didn’t know that they weren’t allowed on the island and apparently neither did our friend whom we shot them off with after the firework show. Needless to say the police department told us to stop immediately! Oops! I’m so use to fireworks in Texas that it never crossed my mind they’d be banned from the island. The police were very understanding about it and let us off the hook. They even said our show was pretty good too!

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