Heritage Stewardship Enhancement Program

The Heritage Stewardship Enhancement (HSE) program was developed in 2004 to ensure the Northern Region meets its legal responsibilities for cultural resource stewardship and protection as required by federal historic preservation law, agency policy, and regional programmatic agreements with the Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO) and the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).

The HSE program enhances stewardship capacity through project collaboration, partnerships, leveraging of federal funds, volunteerism, and public participation. HSE projects must derive substantial resource, scientific, educational, and public benefits. The HSE award process is also competitive. 100% of HSE funding must be directed to the project. All HSE projects are described in annual reports to SHPOs and Congress.

Photo of the B-D NF charcoal kiln restoration.

HSE is unique to to the Northern Region. It has received national recognition for its innovation and creativity, and is positively described in the 2008 National Trust for Historic Preservation report: The National Forest System: Cultural Resources at Risk (page 25). HSE regularly receives praise from state SHPOs and preservation constituencies.

HSE funds are used to: renovate historic buildings for public use; stabilize and protect vulnerable archaeological sites; inventory and monitor cultural resources in special areas (wilderness); conduct scientific and historical investigations that increase knowledge; and implement public interpretation and education projects.

Photo of workers in the Helena Horse Thief Cave exploration.

Since 2004, more than 110 forest and grassland projects have received HSE funding, totaling 1.9 M dollars. Partnership contributions, including cash, in-kind donations, and volunteer hour contributions, have easily doubled or even tripled project capacity for most projects. The Passport in Time volunteers and the Northern Region Historic Building Preservation Team (also unique to the region) have been integral to HSE project success.

Photo of the IPNF Avery Creek cabin during restoration.

HSE funding and volunteers defray the cost of stabilization-restoration of historic cabins in the highly popular recreation rental program. Cabin fee receipts, in turn, support routine maintenance at Judith Guard Station (Lewis and Clark NF), Morgan Case Homestead (Lolo NF) and many other historic rental cabins and lookouts. The Charter Oak Mine (Helena NF) and the Custer Trail (Dakota Prairie National Grasslands) are popular interpretive attractions thanks to HSE. Archaeological survey of ice patches atop the Beartooth Plateau (Custer NF) has yielded incredibly rare artifacts documenting early human presence in North America. Our picture of Chinese life on the Western frontier is substantially enhanced thanks to a multi-forest HSE project.

Photo of the Lolo NF Chinese life heritage program dig.

Without the HSE budget emphasis, stewardship projects would be difficult to implement due to limited heritage program funding and capacity, and the strong press of competing compliance priorities. For this reason, the Northern Region's heritage program is strongly supported by SHPOs, the ACHP, tribes, and other historic preservation interests because of its emphasis on stewardship, protection, and public benefit.

Photo of the Helena NF Geoarchaelogical investigations.

Related Links:

The Path Less Traveled: Montana Preservation Roadshow

R1 Historic Preservation Team