CEDAR MESA — Volunteers from Friends of Cedar Mesa along with School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration staff spent a day working to protect the spectacular Cave Towers archaeological site at the head of Mule Canyon on Cedar Mesa in San Juan County.
The archaeological site was built and used by the Ancestral Puebloan people, likely between A.D. 1000-1300. The dramatic site includes towers, kivas and other structures, and is located on school trust lands managed by SITLA.
The site has seen a significant increase in visitation, and SITLA is implementing a plan allowing continued access while at the same time protecting the site. The plan sets aside specific camping areas and uses signs to inform visitors about the importance of protecting the archaeological resources.
“While we want the public to experience this incredible ancient site, we also want them to understand its value and be part of protecting this site for future generations,” SITLA Lead Archaeologist Kenny Wintch said in a press statement.
SITLA staff and 24 volunteers from Friends of Cedar Mesa installed 500 feet of buck-and-rail fencing Sept. 19 to mark parking and camping areas. Two informational and interpretive kiosks were installed, along with metal fire rings to support responsible camping.
The group also cleaned up 200 pounds of charcoal, broken glass and trash within the archaeological site boundaries.
“With this project, SITLA shows true commitment to proactive stewardship of one of the most visited sites in the Cedar Mesa area,” said Josh Ewing, executive director of Friends of Cedar Mesa.
“Friends of Cedar Mesa looks forward to a continuing partnership with SITLA to preserve this remarkable archaeological site for Utah’s school children and all Americans to be inspired by in the future.”
Cave Towers is located on a section of land held in trust for Utah’s public school system, one of many such sections granted to the state of Utah upon statehood in January 1896.
School trust lands are managed by SITLA to provide financial support for public education in Utah. Stewardship of trust lands for long-term revenue production is a significant component of the SITLA management plan.
Since 1994, SITLA has generated in excess of $1.5 billion and been involved in numerous transactions and projects that have protected more than 560,000 acres of Utah land, an area equivalent to the combined acreage of Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion national parks.
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