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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance ?

CPAA is a coalition of professional archaeologists, historians and conservation advocates who believe archaeological and historical resources are irreplaceable and invaluable, and that these resources are at increasing risk due to commercial development, recreation and governmental budget constraints. The coalition was created to advocate on behalf of those resources, working to preserve their intrinsic scientific, educational and historic values for future generations.


Who created CPAA?

CPAA evolved from several years of discussion between Utah state archaeologist Kevin Jones, Utah Museum of Natural History curator Duncan Metcalfe, historian Steve Gerber and Jerry Spangler, an archaeologist, writer and long-time advocate of archaeological preservation. While working in the pristine Range Creek Canyon area of eastern Utah, they became increasingly concerned with the growing threat to cultural resources on public lands. They have campaigned to deter those threats through research and public education.


Why is CPAA needed?

The threat to archaeological resources is not limited to one area or region. Archaeological resources are found on millions of acres of state and federal land across the western United States. Most public lands have never been comprehensively investigated for their archaeological potential, and most archaeological sites have never been formally documented. Although state and federal laws are designed to protect significant cultural resources, the development of public lands in the American West has resulted in unprecedented impacts. CPAA provides analysis of those impacts that is independent of government bureaucracies or natural resource development interests. As an independent entity, CPAA works cooperatively to minimize conflict.


Is CPAA a conservation group?

CPAA believes unequivocally that cultural resources constitute an important component of the Western landscape, and it is dedicated to conservation, preservation and protection of those resources.


What does CPAA do?

CPAA works cooperatively with governmental entities and non-profit organizations, assisting them with archaeological analyses that can assist in the preservation of cultural resources for future generations. This includes, among other things, determining whether or not development projects on public lands have adequately complied with cultural resource protection laws, analyzing the potential for unknown and unstudied archaeological sites that could be lost through development, and conducting quality research into site degradation that can assist land managers and public officials to determine appropriate strategies to protect threatened resources. CPAA also works to involve the public in decisions by government agencies affect archaeological and historical resources.


How can scientific research protect resources?

The scientific research potential is limitless. Studies are currently underway to examine the relationship between site vandalism and road access to better assist land managers in determining where new access routes should or should not be built, and whether certain routes should be closed or re-routed. Science can be used determine the impact of dust and dust-reducing chemicals on the erosion of rock art along existing routes, the rate of illegal artifact collecting on sites with unrestricted public access, the erosion impacts of pinyon-juniper chaining on buried archaeological deposits, and the impact of seismic activities on prehistoric architecture.

How is the research funded?

All science research is funded through project-specific research grants from scientific and educational organizations, and from contributions by friends of CPAA. Other conservation components of CPAA are funded through grants from foundations, nonprofit organizations and public and private entities that share CPAA’s vision.


Does CPAA initiate lawsuits?

The role of CPAA is to provide expert analysis based on sound scientific research, not to engage in litigation. However, it is possible CPAA experts could be called to testify to their findings in lawsuits initiated by other organizations.


The Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance is a non-profit organization created under the laws of the state of Utah

(Internal Revenue Service 501(c)(3) charitable organization).

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