Will Newark Earthworks join National Park System? 6.25

Written by David Green.

The Ohio Historical Society Board of Trustees will consider a proposal requesting that the National Park Service assess management options for the Newark Earthworks at its June 27 meeting at the Ohio Historical Center. If approved, the study would examine the costs and benefits of management of the Newark Earthworks by the National Park Service and evaluate different ways that the site might be affiliated or become part of the National Park system, according to William K. Laidlaw, Jr., OHS executive director and CEO.

“In addressing concerns about access to and operations of the Newark Earthworks, an advisory group, made up of members of the community, local officials, Native Americans and archaeologists, recommended that the Ohio Historical Society explore the possibility of turning over management to the National Park Service in the best interests of the site,” Laidlaw said. “Requesting that a study be conducted would be the first step in that process.”

The Newark Earthworks is a complex that is 2,000 years old and at one time covered approximately four square miles. Scholars recognize it as the largest geometric earthworks ever created. Although much of it has been destroyed by more than a century of urban development, the most significant parts remaining are the Octagon, Great Circle and Wright earthworks. Together these three earthworks comprise the Newark Earthworks, one of 59 sites administered by the Ohio Historical Society.  Currently, the Newark Earthworks are being considered for the World Heritage List, which recognizes natural and cultural sites of significance to all peoples of the world.

“The Society does not currently have the resources to maintain and manage the site as it should,” Laidlaw said. “With the earthworks being considered for World Heritage status, the need for improved access will increase.”

According to Laidlaw, once the OHS Board approves the proposal, the National Park Service will be able to start its planning process for the study. However, any recommendations from the final study report would need approval from the OHS Board, the General Assembly and Congress before any course of action is taken, he said.

The Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, natural history and archaeology.  For more information about programs and events, go online at www.ohiohistory.org .

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