Cultural resource management (CRM) is the term used to describe the process of dealing with archaeological and historical resources. Archaeological sites are areas which contain physical evidence of past human occupation or activity. Historical sites are any sites or structures over 50 years in age–the historic period in the United States is dated to Columbus’ arrival in 1492.
Archaeological and historical sites represent a direct physical link with our heritage. Landowners of properties which contain archaeological or historic resources are, in a sense, stewards of our past. Unlike natural resources, which–given time–can often be reproduced or reestablished, archaeological and historical sites are non-renewable resources. Once destroyed, the information they contain relevant to our history is irretrievably lost, and the physical link to the past is significantly diminished.
In Florida, cultural resources include Native American archaeological sites which may date as far back as 10,000 B.C., archaeological sites from the European and American settlement of the state in the 15th century to the 20th century, historic structures and other cultural features such as culturally modified landscapes, roads, railroads, canals, cemeteries, and sites with religious, spiritual or ethnic significance.
As the southeast continues to grow and expand, potentially valuable archaeological and historical resources are being impacted. Federal, state and local regulations often require identification and management of these resources.