Category Archives: Archaeology

Friends of Burney Falls State Park & Friends of Castle Crags State Park 2019 Annual Report

From Catherine Camp, President, McArthur Burney Falls Interpretive Association:

We are fortunate in our supporters and staff indeed. 2018 was challenging for so many of our friends and neighbors with fires and smoke for most of the summer months. Our parks remain beautiful and safe and your support has allowed us to maintain the interpretive and educational activities that are a part of many visitors experience.

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Visitor Center and Interpretive Activities

The Visitor Center, open April through October, continues to be an inviting stop for many visitors to the park, more than 20,000 in 2018. The Center provides displays and hands-on activities about the geology, animal and plant life and cultural history of the area. In addition, weather and daily interpretive activities are displayed and hard-working camp host volunteers help visitors plan their time in the Park. These hosts are knowledgeable about the park and, in many cases, have returned again and again. The Park’s Interpretive Association offers special thanks to Cheryl Fish, Dave and Gloria Peavy, Ed and Judy Adams, Mary Babin, Ozzie and Theda Neighbours, Randy and Kathy Van Noort, Rick and Carol Pate and Mike and Gwen Coleman. The Park experience would not be the same without these folks who love the park!

Visits to the Park begin at the entrance kiosk with the annual Visitor Guide that provides park history, a park map and information about interpretive and program activities. The Park Association, Friends of Burney Falls, funds the production of the newspaper.

26 canoe trips, funded by the Kelly’s Wishes Foundation and the Association, took nearly 300 visitors on tours of Lake Britton, with opportunities to see turtles, otters, eagles and other abundant bird species. Thanks to the Foundation, we were able to add two new canoes this year, and hope that we can expand the number of these very popular guided trips.

Bird walks are now a regular park activity, thanks to viewing telescopes and binoculars provided by The McConnell Foundation and Kelly’s Wishes Foundation. The local Wintu Audubon Society helped the Park update its bird list, and led a Society walk in the spring. They were just in time to see the arrival of the Black Swifts that nest in the falls, along with warblers, vireos, chickadees, woodpeckers, swallows and mergansers. The park was also hosting an active eagle nest and an osprey nest with two chicks during this late May walk. Organized bird walks served nearly 30 visitors; in addition, ten individuals checked out binoculars for their own exploration and additional visitors used the small bird and native plant library in the Visitor Center.

The Park offers a self-guided Discovery Challenge program, printed in the Visitor Guide. Over 1500 visitors completed the challenge and were awarded the 2018 Discovery Challenge embroidered patch of Burney Falls. In addition, the formal Junior Ranger program offers the opportunity to participate in activities and crafts.

Regular interpretive activities include hikes, crafts, singalongs, interpretingo games and Dutch oven cooking demonstrations. Campfire presentations are as much a part of camping here as marshmallows: 13 campfire evenings included four presentations by Shasta Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, giving campers a chance to see and learn about live owls, hawks and eagles. This year, Camp Host Ed Adams created a new presentation, StarWatch, giving campers a tour of the heavens through telescopes. StarWatch was held on 5 nights in the summer, but despite its popularity, it was cancelled in August due to the smoke from nearby fires.

Interpretive staff provided ten presentations to school groups who visited the Park during the year. Nearly 500 youngsters walked the trails, explored the plant and animal life, and learned some of the history of the area.

Heritage Day

Nearly 1000 Park visitors enjoyed Heritage Day in October. This community event explores life in the 1870s in the Intermountain area. Local volunteers share their history and expertise with Mountain Man exhibits of tools and implements and opportunities to participate in candle-making, beading, weaving, pine-doll making, cross-cut sawing, branding wood discs, rope-making and target knife-throwing. Attendees made fresh apple juice with a hand-cranked press and helped prepare Dutch oven apple crisp. The day was enlivened with the music of Old Time Fiddlers and wagon rides with Wagon Ponies.

In addition to the individuals who share their skills, the Burney Lions Club, Leos Youth Organization and Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River provided parking assistance, food sales and the staffing of numerous activity booths. Many community folks have been helping put this heritage-themed day on for more than 30 years.

Castle Crags State Park

Castle Crags State Park suffered extensively from nearby wildfires this year, and was closed for many days due to smoke. In addition, park staff were called upon to assist in the fire suppression tasks, and Interstate 5 was closed for an extended period of time.

Despite this shortened time, the Association provided a Visitor Guide to 8000 park visitors. The Park provided 10 evening programs and awarded more than 250 Discovery Patches to campers and day visitors who completed the nature challenge. The remodeled gift store area provided visitors with opportunities to enrich their visit, and the funds from this activity, along with the sale of firewood and recycling, supported the educational and interpretive activities.

Social Media

More than 300,000 visits were logged in to www.BurneyFallsPark.org this year. The web site has continued to add content to support visitor experience in the Park.

Castle Crags State Park now has its own website, established this past year. The site logged 4,000 visits this year. Take a look at the activities and sights at http://www.CastleCragsPark.org

We also publish a periodic e-newsletter to keep our park friends up-to-date on the latest happenings at both Burney Falls and Castle Crags State Park. If you would like to receive the newsletter, please let us know at either web site above.

Financial Report

In spite of the months of fires and smoke that reduced park visitation, we had a very good year. Gross revenues of $89,364 included generous donations from the Delong-Sweet and the Kelly’s Wishes Foundations.

54% percent of 2018 revenue supported:

  • Interpretive Program expenses (36%)
  • Administrative costs (5%)
  • Restricted and rollover funds for 2019 (13%)

46% of 2018 revenue provided purchase of Visitor Center sales merchandise and the firewood production

Distribution of Net Revenues of $47,915

Firewood and Visitor Center Sales provided over half of the net revenue at 61% of funds earned, returning profits of 44% and 38% respectively. Recycling, advertisement sales, donations and foundation grants provided the other remainder revenue.

Distribution of Interpretive Program Expenditures -$31,747

  • Printing of the Visitor Guides for both parks – 20%
    Contribution to Park Interpretive Specialist position – 47%
  • Supplies for interpretive activities: hikes & canoe excursions, bird walks, campfire talks, discovery Quest Challenge & Junior Ranger and school presentations. – 15%
  • Volunteer Support for camp hosts and recycling programs – 3%
  • Heritage Day Festival including activity supplies for candle making, saw bucking and branding, Dutch oven cooking & apple pressing; wagon rides and Old Time Fiddlers. – 10%
  •  Canoe program repair and purchase of new canoes – 5%
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Filed under Archaeology, Burney Falls

BLM hosts archaeology teach-in at Pit 1

On Saturday October 17, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a free public archaeology day at BLM campground at Pit 1 just off Hwy 299 between Fall River Mills and Burney. The event was sponsored as part of California Archaeology Month.

BLM archaeology event

BLM archaeology event

Archaeology month is a national program designed to increase the public’s knowledge of our country’s  past.  Each state chooses a month to provide educational materials and hold events in schools and for the public to increase awareness of our archaeological past. The Society for California Archaeology sponsors California Archaeology Month in October.

In Northeastern California, BLM field offices for the Redding, Eagle Lake, and

Applegate districts cooperate to hold a public archaeology day each year. The events are held in a different location rotating between the three offices.

More than a dozen archaeologists, archaeology technicians, and interns from BLM, the US Forest Service (USFS) and Conservation and Land Management (CLM) volunteered there time, knowledge and expertise at this year’s event.

Archaeologists David “Jack” Scott, Devin Snyder and Jennifer Rovenpera came from the Applegate Field Office, accompanied by archaeology technicians Aimee VanHavermaat-Snyder, Christine O’Neill, Jenna Matthews and Lowell Thomas.

Archaeologists Sharynn-Marie Blood and Marilla Martin came from the  Eagle Lake field office. Sharynn Blood is the Program Lead for Cultural Resources at Eagle Lake. The Redding BLM field office was represented by archaeologist Eric Ritter.

Blood explaining local flora

Blood explaining local flora

The USFS was represented by archaeologists Adam Guitierrez from the Almanor Ranger District, Alden Neel from the Hat Creek District, plus archaeology technician Jake Martin from Eagle Lake District.

Two CLM interns from the Alturas Office, Jaileem Merced, and Nate Collison also staffed the event.

The Pit River Tribe also supported the event and several members of the Payute tribe from Surprise Valley also came to participate.

VanHavermaat-Snyder from the Eagle Lake field office helped to organize this year’s event. She said, “This event was really important for us as we wanted to give the public the opportunity to experience archaeology hands-on.”

Vanhavermaat-Snyder explaining the event

VanHavermaat-Snyder explaining the event

The day began with a downpour of much needed rain, but the organizers were undaunted. They set to work building a willow-branch frame for a traditional Northern Payute no-bi and putting up canopies under which to host educational displays for seven stations of “hands-on” learning.

Payute elder observes building of willow frame for a no-bi

Payute elder observes building of willow frame for a no-bi

The stations were designed so the trained archaeologists and botanists could provide adults and children with a fun, informative experience of archaeological skills, Native American culture, and local flora.

Scott taught people to hurl use an atlatl

Scott teaching Lisa to hurl an atlatl

Shortly after 10 a.m., the rain stopped and visitors began to arrive. Activities included building a traditional Northern Payute no-bi, artifact excavation, atlatl-throwing, acorn-grinding, rock-art, tule-weaving, flint-knapping, working with bone tools and bone identification.

Acorn grinding

Acorn grinding

Excavation skills were focused on modern-made artifacts. Visitors were advised that if they found an old artifact they should not deface it or remove it from the site. Removing an artifact from a site destroys it’s provenience and thus decreases it’s archaeological value. In order to fully understand the significance of an object it is important to know its context and location.

Manlla Martin teaching excavation

Teaching excavation skills

The Martins helped to explain techniques of digging and sifting for artifacts.

sifting

Sifting

One fun event was rock painting. There are numerous sites in Northern California where rock pictographs are found. The  language of rock painting is not yet fully understood. Interpretation may involve elements of communication, artistic expression, story telling, and shamanic symbolism. Although some symbols may be universal, others are related to specific tribal nations, historical periods and geographical locations. Therefore, the insight and understanding of tribal elders and cultural officials is essential to penetrating the veil of the past.

Rock-painting

Rock painting

Another fun and challenging exhibit was flint-knapping. Using a heavy rock, one strikes a piece of obsidian at an angle to cause the obsidian to splinter into pieces which can then be further chipped with bone tools such as deer antler to produce arrowheads, knives and other tools.

Flint-knapping

Flint-knapping

Meanwhile construction of the no-bi continued as mats of tule reed were added to the willow frame.

BLM members proudly standing by an almost-done no-bi

BLM members proudly standing by an almost-done no-bi

One of the delights of the day was meeting such an interesting group of people hosting the event. To give a few examples, Rovanpera, who spent most of the day working on and explaining the no-bi, did her master’s thesis working at a site that was thousands of years old in Northern Minnesota. Ms. Martin worked for her thesis on a site in the Caribbean. Dr. Scott has worked on several excavations in Mexico. Thomas is a musician as well as an archeology technician and thus complements his scientific training with an artist’s intuition. Botanist Merced hails from Puerto Rico and was happy to help me improve my Spanish as we talked.

Jen Rovanpera with no-bi sign

Rovanpera with no-bi sign

Everyone who attended brought their own knowledge and experience. As the day passed, conversation buzzed at each of the booths stringing together pearls of wisdom with practical experience to create a friendly bond of understanding.

Speaking of stringing things together, every child who attended received a bead at each station. When they left they had a nice little bracelet symbolizing the fruit of their accomplishment.

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Filed under Archaeology, Pit River, Pit River Area History, Pit River Country Events, Pit River Tribe