What are Cultural Resources?
Cultural resources can be defined as the physical evidence or a place of past human activity. Sites, objects, landscapes, structures can all be cultural resources. A cultural resource can also be a site, structure, landscape, object or natural feature of significance to a group of people traditionally associated with it.
These resources provide the community with a tangible connection to its history and heritage. Federal, state, county, and City of Redmond regulations protect cultural resources and provide direction for their management.
Archaeological resources provide tangible evidence of past human cultures. In the United States, archaeological sites are typically characterized as pre-contact (before the arrival of Europeans) or historic (after the arrival of Europeans).
There are many types of archaeological resources but the most common are artifacts and features.
- Projectile points
- Shards of glass
- Trash pits
Historic structures are typically over 50 years old (by national and state standards and 40 years by King County standards) and either in use or capable of being repaired for use. Examples of historic structures are found throughout Redmond. The more common types of historic structures include houses, barns, bridges, and roads.
These resources may be important even if they do not appear architecturally distinguished or well cared for.
SEPA requires that historic structures are considered regarding their eligibility prior to potential demolition. Planning and Community Development staff can assist with this process including submittal to the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for a determination of eligibility for listing in any historic registers.
Cultural landscapes are settings humans have created in the natural world. They reflect the ties between people and the land. Examples include cattle ranches, formal gardens, pilgrimage routes, and village squares. Cultural landscapes have elements of the landscape integrated with built features and structures.
For example, important features on a cattle ranch would include the pastures, hedgerows, and fence posts as well as barns or residential structures.
A cultural resource, often a place, is significant for its association with various aspects of a living community, including:
- Cultural practices
- Social institutions
Examples can include a hillside used for berry gathering or a village square where traditional artistic and economic activities have been continuously carried out for generations.
Some resources may fall into several of these categories. For example, Snoqualmie Falls is considered a traditional cultural place to the Snoqualmie Tribe but also has historic structures related to its use for hydroelectric power generation by Seattle City Light. There are both historic and pre-contact archaeological sites located in the vicinity of the falls.
Activities That Can Harm Cultural Resources
Cultural resources can be damaged in many ways. Demolition of a building or destruction of buried archaeological materials through digging or trenching are common ways resources are affected by human activities. However, there are many intangible elements in addition to the physical features that are important to consider.
For example, dust from the use of equipment during construction or the frequent noise of vehicles could impact the use of a traditional cultural place by an Indian tribe.
Laws Governing Cultural Resources
In Washington State several laws protect shipwrecks, archaeological sites, Native American graves, and abandoned historic pioneer cemeteries and graves, regardless of the current state of maintenance.
- Indian Graves and Records Act (RCW 27.44)
- Archaeological Sites and Resources Act (RCW 27.53)
- Archaeological Excavation and Removal Permit (WAC 25-48)
- Abandoned and Historic Cemeteries and Historic Graves (RCW 68.60)
- Aquatic Lands (RCW 79.90.565)
- Archaeological Sites (RCW 42.56.300)
In addition, the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), the Shoreline Management Act (SMA), the Forest Practices Act (FPA), and Governor’s Executive Order 05-05 require government agencies to consider cultural resources during the environmental review process.
Cultural Resources Management in Redmond
A citywide Cultural Resources Management Plan (CRMP) regulates and guides private and public ground disturbing activities in the context of protecting and preserving cultural resources. The CRMP includes a combination of regulatory and guiding documents, and has been developed through the lens of significant input from signatories to a Memorandum of Agreement, affected Indian tribes, project stakeholders, the community, and City leadership:
- Procedures encourage early consideration of cultural resources management requirements and communication with the affected Indian tribes and the WA Dept. of Archaeology and Historic Preservation;
- Tools foster landowners’ stewardship and provide the appropriate guidance for projects to proceed;
- Predictability supports project proponents’ opportunity to calculate risks and contingencies into project planning and feasibility; and
- Permit conditions align with known sites and high probability areas.
Managing Cultural Resources on Your Site
(For developers and property owners)
Prepare in advance of application for development. Please contact Planning and Community Development staff with questions.
Consider Existing Structures
Use the Historic Structure Reconnaissance and Photography Guide to collect information about existing structures that were originally developed 50 or more years in the past. This step is taken for all structures over 50 years of age, regardless of their condition. The information is provided to the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for recording and for assessing a structure’s possible eligibility for listing on historic registers (WAC 197-11-960). The information does not prevent demolition of a structure.
Refer to Historic Preservation for information on nominating your property for landmark consideration, listing on the local Heritage Resources Register (RZC Appendix 5), and to qualify for Heritage and other grant programs.