On August 9-11th, Sarasota played host to the 3rd Tidally United Summit, organized by the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), a statewide organization that facilitates the conservation, study and public understanding of Florida’s archaeological heritage. This summit brought together archaeologists, historic preservationists, environmental scientists, and community leaders to discuss solutions to the threats posed by rising sea levels and climate change to heritage sites in Florida.

During the August 10th panel and speaker sessions, Historic Spanish Point’s own Garrett Murto presented on the erosion of the Shell Ridge Midden caused by rising tides. He discussed the need to stabilize the shoreline with native plant species to minimize the impact of rising tides and erosion to the shell midden, and prevent the endangerment of the White Cottage, Acorn Cottage, and Sunken Garden and Pergola that are atop the midden. Historic Spanish Point has begun collaboration with state and local archaeologists and environmental scientists to construct a plan for stabilization. On August 11th, Historic Spanish Point hosted the field day portion of the summit with over 30 attendees. The morning began with an introductory training to document at-risk archaeological and historic sites and was followed by a tour of the museum grounds. Unfortunately, the demonstrations for photogrammetry and cemetery preservation were cut short by lightning, but as they were huddled under the Gazebo, the participants expressed a desire to return to Historic Spanish Point for a longer visit.

Throughout the summit, several speakers proposed a variety of solutions to help protect Florida’s unique cultural resources. However, the topic that came to dominate the summit was the need for better documentation of historic sites and the effects of sea level rise. To address this need, the Florida Public Archaeology Network has created the Heritage Monitoring Scouts Program. The program is a citizen scientist engagement program, involving the public to help document vulnerable archaeological and historic sites. The program is integral to verifying site information and monitoring at-risk heritage sites since there are not enough trained archaeologists to consistently monitor all locations. Ideal scout volunteers are environmentally friendly and interested in Florida’s past, but anyone in the public can apply to be a Monitoring Scout. Along Florida coasts, not every heritage site can be saved or protected from rising sea levels and climate change, so the Monitoring Scouts are important to identify sites that can be saved and to record those that will eventually be lost. Garrett will be partnering with FPAN to bring several Heritage Monitoring Scout trainings to Historic Spanish Point in the coming year.

To find more information about the Heritage Monitoring Scouts or FPAN, please visit https://www.flpublicarchaeology.org/