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Field School at Prince William Forest Park: Documenting Cabin Camps 2 and 4

A group of children on a ranger-led hike near the Pyrite Mine trail.
A group of children on a ranger-led hike near the Pyrite Mine trail.

During the summer of 2018, four students from the University of Mary Washington participated in a field school to document two cultural landscapes at Prince William Forest Park: Cabin Camp 4 and Cabin Camp 2. The field school was coordinated by Michael Spencer, Associate Professor & Director of the Center for Historic Preservation at the University of Mary Washington, the Cultural Landscapes Program staff of the National Park Service National Capital Region (NCR), and park staff.

The field school provided students with practical, hands-on experience while helping the NPS to complete Section 110 documentation of these Prince William Forest Park cultural landscapes. Over several weeks, students documented existing conditions of landscape features using photographs, forms for data collection, and GPS equipment. Their work serves as baseline documentation for developing Cultural Landscape Inventory (CLI) reports.

The partnership was established through a Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) agreement. CESUs provide research, technical assistance, and education to federal land management and environmental agencies and their partners. The field school was the pilot effort of this type for the National Capital Region Cultural Landscapes Program (CLP). It was modeled after the Acadia Field School that was managed by the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation and modified to meet the needs and resources of the park and the region.

The NCR was committed to finding a field school method that worked for both the National Park Service and the University of Mary Washington. As the project developed, the partners adjusted processes and protocols in response to what worked and what didn’t. The outcomes of these decisions and the lessons learned by the CLP staff, UMW faculty, and students shaped the 2019 field school and will serve as a model for future iterations of the field school.

Read the full story on the National Park Service website.