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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.

Steering Committee reflects on advocacy efforts

Nearly twenty World Heritage Ohio Steering Committee members met on January 23 for their quarterly meeting between stakeholder organizations in this process. During these meetings, members discuss completed tasks and future projects that move Ohio’s future World Heritage sites closer toward inclusion on UNESCO’s list.

Five members reflected on their trip to Washington D.C. in December. During this time, they met with congressional staff to resolve the problem of the U.S. not paying membership dues to UNESCO, which could adversely affect the chances of Ohio’s sites for nomination. The goal is to push for a limited waiver that would allow the U.S. to pay a portion (est. $700,000 annually) of the dues to UNESCO, specifically designated for the work of the World Heritage Committee.

While they were in Washington, these members also consulted with George Papagiannis of UNESCO and Suzanne Dixon from the National Parks Conservation Association, both of whom have been helping with the Steering Committee’s efforts. The five members also attended the annual ICOMOS Gala.

Representatives from the Newark Earthworks Center at The Ohio State University submitted a proposal to the committee to bring American Indians to the earthworks sites and to solicit their participation in the process. They encouraged the Fort Ancient State Memorial and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park to do the same.

George Kane of the Ohio History Connection reported that a site management plan for Serpent Mound is in development, informed by a stakeholder meeting and future consultation with Native American tribes in Oklahoma. The goal is to have the plan approved by the Ohio History Connection’s board in June.

Friends of Ancient Ohio Earthworks will host a fundraising event at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on April 14.

The Steering Committee’s next meeting is set for April 24.