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New Clarity about our Next Steps

April 26, 2016:  During the week of November 16 to 20, 2015, the World Heritage Ohio Steering Committee hosted an “ICOMOS Advisory Mission” – a visit by Margaret Gowen, an archaeologist from Ireland and expert on the UNESCO World Heritage inscription process.  She toured all the earthworks that are part of our prospective nomination, joined by Stephen Morris and Phyllis Ellin of the US National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs.  The Mission was arranged at the request of ICOMOS officials, in order to provide us with clear direction on how best to position our efforts on site integrity, visitor experience, modern uses and preservation, and related issues.

The report from this visit affirmed strongly the world-heritage-worthiness of the earthwork sites, and advised specifically on what would likely be acceptable solutions to some of the management, protection, and visitor-experience problems we are dealing with. Following this report, we are now in discussions with the NPS-OIA about creating a specific, step-by-step process plan for solving these issues, and for completing the nomination dossier at the highest possible standard of quality. This plan (in the form of an MOU) is scheduled for completion by the end of 2016.

Steering Committee celebrates successful UNESCO visit

The World Heritage Ohio Steering Committee met for its quarterly meeting on April 25, 2015 to discuss progress on Ohio’s three World Heritage nominations, specifically its Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination.

The committee celebrated a successful visit by George Papagiannis of UNESCO, who visited Cleveland and Columbus in mid-April.

However, Papagiannis alerted the committee to a resolution that will be considered by UNESCO this summer. If approved, UNESCO would set a quota of 25 nominations to be considered in any year and require that nominations from nations that are not paying dues be moved to the end of the list of those being considered. We have been reassured, though, that this might not be approved.

Dean Alexander, Superintendent of the NPS’s Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, reported on a recent meeting with personnel at American Electric Power (AEP), during which they worked on a solution for the power lines at Hopewell Cultural Park in Chillicothe. These power lines impact the viewscape at the park – a problem that falls under both the integrity and authenticity of the site and our nomination’s protection and management measures. They discussed three possible solutions: moving the power lines off the property, moving them to the edge of the property, or burying them. WHO will consult with ICOMOS as to which plan is most appropriate for our nomination.

George Kane, Director of Facilities for the Ohio History Connection, is working with the Moundbuilders’ Country Club in Newark on a similar issue. The country club and its golf course occupy the space of the Newark Earthworks.

Steering Committee members reported that the Management and Interpretive Plans for the eight sites of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are moving closer to completion, and Serpent Mound’s is already finished. This document is required as part of the ICOMOS advisory process, after which a nomination may be pushed forward to the World Heritage Committee for final consideration.

Drafts of the Foundation Document for Hopewell Culture Park, as well as its Cultural Landscape Plan, its Environmental Assessments, and its Visitor Experience plan will be available to the public this fall.

Kathy Wyatt of the Friends of the Ancient Ohio Earthworks reported that about $2000 in donations was received at the Friends group’s fundraising event in Cleveland during Papagiannis’ visit.

Previous meeting of the WHO Steering Committee.