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Author winterkjm
#361 | Posted: 1 Aug 2020 11:35 | Edited by: winterkjm 
I have serious doubts about White Sands National Park due to the military presence even with the new park designation.

Foundation Document - White Sands

"Cross-Boundary Management. Almost completely surrounded by US Department of Defense-owned lands, the monument works with the military to achieve mutually compatible goals that include management of the world's largest gypsum dunefield, visitor safety, and preservation of cultural values for the benefit of future generations. White Sands National Monument and White Sands Missile Range have a legally mandated cooperative relationship that ensures the long-term success of their divergent missions." Pg. 9

"Although the monument is located beneath the nation's largest military airspace and is bordered by military installations, this incongruous relationship enables a deeper understanding of the underlying mission that both institutions share in common: to preserve cultural values for the benefit of future generations." Pg. 10

"About 40% of the dunefield is located within White Sands National Monument, and the remainder located within the White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base." Pg. 12

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _IUCN MAY HAVE ISSUES WITH_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Gypsum Dunefield [Threats]
"Issues related to the proximity of the missile range include: elevated erosion, contaminated runoff, unexploded ordnance, and missile/debris retrieval efforts." Pg. 13

Paleontological Resources [Threats]
"Disturbances from military activity (missile impacts and associated recovery efforts)" Pg. 18

Conditions [Trends]
"Monument closures due to military testing, typically 1–3 times/week (in 2014, 90+ tests were supported by the monument)." Pg. 20

Soundscapes and Viewscapes [Trends & Threats]
- "Park impacted by noise related to military activity, primarily sonic booms and low fly-in jet aircraft."
- "Military infrastructure/installations impact viewshed experience (especially at Alkali Flat)."
- "Increasing light pollution from surrounding communities within 100 miles, US Highway 70, and Holloman Air Force Base."
- "Military activity increasing, currently 90+ military tests occur a year (often one to two tests per week) that require monument closure." (all on page 26)

Biological Richness and Diversity [Threats]
"Military impacts and associated debris from military operations can be found throughout the monument, the debris probably impacts biologic communities." Pg. 29

Cross-Boundary Management [Conditions]
- "Mandated cooperation with the Department of Defense (White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base)."
- "Park airspace is under military command and ownership." (all on page 31)

"Military Use and Impacts. White Sands National Monument is surrounded on three sides by land owned and managed by the Department of Defense, which poses a unique and sometimes challenging management condition for park staff. The Department of Defense helps to protect a large section of the dunefield from boundary encroachment, contributes to research activities, and helps protect the viewshed from within the monument. However, frequent closures of Dune Drive due to missile testing events limit visitor access, while sonic booms and vibrations may cause impacts on the historic structures. Other impacts include those to soundscapes and night skies, which can affect the overall visitor experience. In addition, there is the potential of destruction of dunes or structures by downed missiles and aircraft, and release of hazardous materials, which may impact wildlife and groundwater. To date, there are 350 documented crash sites within the monument. Unexploded ordnance can pose a safety hazard to those visitors, staff and researchers who access backcountry areas of the park. Finally, notable staff time is required to support ongoing military operations which affect park operations, including monument closures, educating visitors about closures, relationship building, crash impact site restoration and commitment to environmental regulations associated with the missile range (roughly 1–2 full-time equivalent staff per year)." Pg. 35

"Within the last 20 years, there have been 350 military mishaps within the monument, the most recent of which impacted access to Dunes Drive and landed only 2 miles from the monument's visitor center. With continuing flyovers, this risk continues, and therefore additional guidance on how to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of these crashes would enable the park to more effectively and efficiently respond to these events. This plan would include both rapid assessment and long-term rehabilitation efforts for impact sites." Pg. 36

Author Colvin
#362 | Posted: 4 Sep 2020 23:41 | Edited by: Colvin 
Just visited Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks and Serpent Mound today. Neither Tentative World Heritage Site was particularly crowded, likely due to Covid. Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks is still moving on with its process; a sticking point right now is that the Ohio History Connection is currently fighting in court to obtain a lease for the Octagon Earthwork at Newark, a recommended component of the nomination. The Octagon Earthwork is on the property of a country club, which holds the lease to the earthwork, and only allows public access four times a year. As for the Hopewell sites, I enjoyed both Mound City and the Seip Earthworks. There wasn't much to see at Hopewell Mound Group, which fell victim to generations of farming, with the mounds generally razed to near ground level.

At Serpent Mound, the docents were suggesting they might be added as a component to the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination. This is at odds with World Heritage Ohio, which states that Serpent Mound would be a separate nomination after Hopewell. The mound is rather spectacular to see.

Author Colvin
#363 | Posted: 14 Nov 2020 18:51 | Edited by: Colvin 
While spending a layover in Chicago on my train trip across the US, I took time to revisit the Early Chicago Skyscrapers, for which Kyle wrote an excellent review. As an update to some of his review that is current as of fall 2020, the interiors of The Rookery and the Monadnock Building are closed to visitors due to Covid. I'd been inside both on previous visits, and found the interiors impressive. Hopefully once Covid gets under control in the US (sadly, a tall order), these interiors will be open once more for visitors. On a more upbeat note, the interior of the Marquette Building, with its display on the history of Chicago skyscrapers, was open, and well worth the visit.

According to the sign on the front of the Auditorium Building, they are open on an extremely limited basis for public tours, as well as (for a heftier price) private tours for groups fewer than six people. This page has more details.

The interior of the former Carson, Pirie, Scott Department Store is open to visitors, but only because it has been remodeled into a Target store. The ornate steel facade at the corner entrance is still erect, as is the facade on the side entrance, which is currently closed. Interpretative signs can be found inside the corner vestibule, as well as next to the escalators and in the corner window on the second floor above the vestibule. Target maintained the interior columns with their intricate capitals, but they are unfortunately overshadowed by the shelving displays intrinsic to Target's formulaic design.

As Kyle noted, the remaining buildings are not open for visitors, regardless of Covid. For anyone interested in a photo of two of the proposed nominations next to each other, I can recommend the view of the upper floors of the Old Colony Building and the Fisher Building from the park next to the Fisher Building. Unfortunately the Chicago Loop elevated rail line makes it more challenging to view and compare the lower stories of the buildings.

I think the Early Chicago Skyscrapers is one of the best sites on the US TWHS list, and I look forward to it being inscribed someday.

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