Plan Aims to Protect Denali Highway Cultural Resources

The state is out with a draft plan to protect cultural resources along the Denali Highway.  The plan is aimed at ensuring artifacts, like spear points, fire pits and other evidence of ancient cultures that used the area aren’t destroyed by recreational use or resources development. State archeologist Richard Vander Hoek says the Tangle Lakes area on the east end of the Denali Highway has a long history of habitation.

Vander Hoek says there’s also archeological evidence in the area from 4,000 years ago and more recent times.  The Tangle Lakes Archeological District encompasses the best known hot spots, but a lot remains undiscovered.   Current uses of the broader area include hunting, off roading, and other recreation, as well as placer mining and mineral exploration.  Vander Hoek says the area’s thin soils provide minimal protection for cultural resources, especially on high points where ancient hunters likely surveyed the landscape for caribou or other game.

Vander Hoek says the Cultural Resource Management plan brings together what’s at risk and the strategies and regulations used to protect it, but does not propose anything new.  He says many agency people don’t know much about archeology and how to deal with it, and the plan is designed to answer their questions. The draft plan is out for public comment through September 8.

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