- Associated Press - Monday, May 19, 2014

Telegraph Herald. May 18, 2014.

Greater care required for Effigy Mounds

There aren’t many tourist attractions that date back to 500 B.C. Just a fraction of those that do are here in the United States. We’re lucky to have one of these precious places right here in northeast Iowa.

It would seem to go without saying that such a place would demand to be handled with great care and attention. Yet that is not the kind of stewardship that Effigy Mounds National Monument has been given.

Last week, the National Park Service released a 723-page transcript of its internal investigation detailing a decade’s worth of failures on the part of former Effigy Mounds National Monument staff to comply with resource protection laws. More than 75 structures were built - elevated boardwalks, decks and a machine storage shed, among other things - without first securing the federal clearance required.

It’s incredibly troubling that the caretakers, the very people charged with tending this truly sacred ground, had so little regard for the protocols involved with preserving its historical value.

With more than 200 mounds - some shaped like bears and birds - Effigy Mounds is one of the largest intact prehistoric mound groups in North America. Established in 1949, the national park sits three miles north of Marquette, Iowa, on 2,526 acres in Clayton and Alamakee counties. About 100,000 people visit the park annually. Somewhere along the line, park staff became more concerned about the visitors’ experience than the preservation of hallowed ground.

Staff added the boardwalks and widened paths in attempt to make the area more accessible. While the intent was without malice, the result is still troubling. When it comes to preserving historic sites, there is a balance to be struck between creating accessibility and maintaining the integrity of a pristine historic area. Specific guidelines have been established for national parks to address that very concern, yet the protocols in place were not followed.

This isn’t just a park. It is a sacred burial ground for as many as 12 Native American Indian tribes. The mood should be a contemplative one. The trails might be narrow and uneven, but it is an area that is meant to be left free of development as much as possible. To disturb that atmosphere was not just improper but offensive to the tribes’ descendants.

It’s equally disappointing that the missteps were allowed to continue unchecked for years. Now that the investigation has been made public, elected officials and citizens alike must hold the caretakers accountable for rectifying the wrongs done at Effigy Mounds.

Iowa has exactly one national park. We ought to be able to do a better job taking care of it than this.

___

Fort Dodge Messenger. May 17, 2014.

Meddling may cause waste

As chairman of a special U.S. Senate committee investigating logistical aspects of how the U.S. was conducting World War II, then-Sen. Harry Truman made it clear he was not out to second-guess generals and admirals. His mission, Truman said, was merely to ensure they had the tools they believed they needed.

Story Continues →