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Work Underway To Identify Cultural Resources In Fire Zones

Brian Bull

Researchers at the University of Oregon are helping to make sure cultural resources in the path of this September’s wildfires aren’t further damaged in the clean-up efforts.

The fires destroyed thousands of homes and nearly leveled several Oregon towns. The blazes also swept through sites of cultural significance, from before and after Oregon became a state.

Now, a team from the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History is mapping out those sites to help crews avoid damaging them in their clean-up efforts.

Julia Knowles is an archaeologist who heads up the museum’s research lab. She said the goal is to protect culture sites like burial grounds and other signs of early human habitation. “There are sites along all of the rivers that have been known for years," she said. "We just don’t know how much damage was sustained by the fire.”

Knowles says the scope of the project is unlike any she’s ever worked on. The team is focusing their efforts on the state’s ten largest wildfires.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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