Cultural, Historical, Geological, and Paleontological Resources

Human and natural resources which have intrinsic value based on their age, heritage, scientific or other intangible significance.

Related resource topics for county planning include the following:




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Resource Information

This topic for county resource planning is concerned with resources that have intrinsic value based on their age, heritage, scientific importance, or other intangible significance. However, these resources also highlight the unique character of the local setting and may contribute toward attracting businesses and tourism.

Cultural resources include archaeological sites, standing structures (e.g., buildings, bridges), and even places of importance that are more than 50 years of age. Many historical and cultural resources are very sensitive and protected by law; however,  it is important to remember that all cultural sites are not important or significant, and that those not considered as such would not be adversely affected by any planned projects.

Use the cultural data (Archaeology Sites, Historic Districts, Cultural Resource, etc.) to identify areas of the county that have significant cultural resources.

Geologic resources include fossils (paleontological resources) that are defined as the remains, traces, or imprints of ancient organisms preserved in or on the earth’s crust, providing information about the history of life on earth. The Utah Antiquities Act (UCA 9-8-404 et seq.) protects significant paleontological resources and applies to all paleontological resources that are on or eligible for inclusion in the State Paleontological Register. Other regional geologic resources of significance include Timpanogos Cave National Monument and thermal springs in Midway.

Geology is also important in resource planning to highlight unique geologic features and sights as well as identify potential hazards to development, including:

      • Faults
      • Landslides/rockfall potential
      • Soil liquefaction potential (temporary loss of soil strength and stiffness during an earthquake or other applied stress)

The Utah Geological Survey (UGS) provides technical information and assistance regarding earthquakes and geologic hazards.

Use the geological data (Geology, Landslide, Faults, Paleo Sensitive Areas, etc.) to understand the geologic resources within the county.

Best Management Practices

The following are examples of goals and policies from existing county plans and federal land management plans that could be included or modified for county resource management plans.

Cultural and Paleontological Resources

      • Manage cultural, historic, and paleontological resources to allow research and/or interpretive activities, when possible, while protecting significant attributes of units from natural or human-caused degradation [1].
      • Cultural resources (which include historic and prehistoric sites, artifacts, structures or locales) will continue to be inventoried and evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Such evaluation will consider the impacts of any proposed project to cultural resources in the affected area. Stipulations will be attached as appropriate to assure compatibility of projects with management objectives for cultural resources [2].
      • Fully integrate the Heritage Program into land and resource management [3].
      • Evaluate the need to adopt a local ordinance that would require, at a minimum,
        • documentation prior to demolition or alteration of any structures, sites or landmarks
        • identified in the heritage preservation inventory. If measures beyond documentation
        • are implemented, consider development of funding sources and/or incentives for preservation [4].
      • A survey should be conducted to identify heritage amenities.Identified amenities should be of high priority for preservation through relocation,
        adaptive reuse, preservation in place, facade easements, conservation
        easements, or other methods [5].
      • Utah County should establish a county registry or utilize any existing county registry for those important historic sites which are not included on the National Historic Register [6].

Geologic Hazards

      • Critical Slopes: Slopes of thirty percent or more are declared to be critical areas because there is a high probability that onsite and downslope property damage and water quality, fisheries and wildlife habitat deterioration may result from their development. Revegetation difficulties are compounded by the Basin’s short growing season, making the reclamation of disturbed slopes more costly, and long term success of reclamation may be difficult. Development that accelerates the erosion of soil, and thereby contributes significantly to the sedimentation of stream corridors, should not be allowed [5],[7].
      • Avalanche Tracks: Development layout and design should avoid areas which may be adversely affected by avalanche tracks. All known avalanche tracks are declared to be critical areas because of the high probability that development in such hazardous areas may result in property damage, damage to public utilities and roads serving the development, and possible injury or loss of life [5].

Economic Considerations
      • Cultural, historical, geological, and paleontological resources are often connected with tourism and recreation. For example, the Utah Geological Survey has created a GeoSites online interactive map to help people explore Utah’s geological sites.
      • Historic buildings and districts provide character, a sense of stability, and a unique marketing angle for businesses; thus, community planners can draw upon local historic resources to stimulate economic development [8].

A study by the Utah Heritage Foundation found that, “Utah benefited by $717,811,000 in direct and indirect spending by visitors to Utah heritage sites and special events, and $35,455,268 in investment that stayed in Utah rather then sent to Washington, D.C. because of projects that utilized the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit” [9].

Impact Considerations - Cultural Resources
When planning changes to the landscape of a county, a valley, a river, a mountain, or even a parcel of land, it is important to take into consideration the potential effects that the projects may have on cultural resources within those locations. The following brief discussion will provide some understanding of the potential effects to significant cultural resources. Because the application of the laws and regulations for cultural resources are complex and can be difficult to understand, it is usually a good idea to consult with a professional archaeologist or architectural historian concerning how to proceed with a particular project.

When considering plans for alterations to the landscape, it is important to remember that there can be, and sometimes are, archaeological sites, historic sites, and standing structures in those locations that may be of importance to many people. This is true despite the fact that the resource may not look interesting, may be in disrepair, or even, be collapsed or in ruins. The history and importance of a location cannot always be easily interpreted. This makes it important to consult a cultural resources professional, whether it be one in a federal or state agency or a consultant. The Utah Public Policy Lands Coordination Office, which issues permits for archaeologists who work in Utah, maintains a list of permitted archaeologists. It can also be helpful to consult the State Historic Preservation Office website for guidance and regulations for the state. Yet another source is the American Cultural Resources Association webite where capable consultants are listed who are qualified to work in Utah, as well as other parts of the country (ACRA is a national trade association of private cultural resources companies).

Types of Cultural Resources
Cultural resources include archaeological sites, standing structures (i.e. buildings and bridges), and even places of importance that are over 50 years of age. There are many different types of cultural resources that could be encountered in the counties located along the Wasatch Front. It is important to remember that all cultural sites are not important or significant, and that those not considered such would not be affected by any planned projects. Following is a list of cultural resource types that are often found in the Mountainland Association of Government (MAG) counties of Utah, Wasatch and Summit. This list is not exhaustive, but it may help in providing perspective about the kinds of resources which may be important and could be adversely affected by project planning. Knowing the potential for affecting cultural resources in various settings can be of great help early in the planning process so that they can be taken into account or the project planned around them.

Very Rural, Desert or Mountain Settings

In places such as Utah Valley, Heber Valley, in higher valleys or even in the high mountains, archaeological sites will be the most prominent of all cultural resources. Depending upon the presence of fresh water sources and other resources of value to both prehistoric and historic peoples, the following kinds of sites can be expected:

Prehistoric sites:

  • lithic scatters or chipping stations
  • campsites
  • villages
  • rock art
  • processing sites
  • quarry sites (where rock materials were acquired for making tools)

Historic sites:

  • cabins
  • mines
  • railroads
  • industrial sites
  • roads/trails
  • small, isolated town sites
  • transmission, telephone and telegraph lines
  • pipelines for water, gas or petroleum products

Rural Settings

This type of setting includes rural areas where small towns exist, where subdivisions may be planned, where developed recreation sites may exist, where orchards exist or other agricultural activities take place:

Prehistoric sites:

  • similar types of sites as listed above
  • even larger village sites if permanent water sources are present and elevation is below 5,000 ft or so

Historic sites:

  • similar types of sites as listed above
  • town sites
  • agricultural activity sites
  • canals and ditches
  • farmsteads
  • fences
  • orchards and associated buildings and other features

Urban Settings

In these locations a wide variety of sites can be found and, depending upon their age, history and integrity, they may be quite important. In urban settings, buildings, structures, historic landscapes, and urban detail might be expected. Although remnants of agricultural elements from earlier time periods might also be present. Linear sites, such as old transmission lines and pipelines, would be reduced in number or not visible.

Prehistoric sites:

  • similar types of sites listed above, though usually highly disturbed, destroyed,  or not visible

Historic sites:

  • dense occupation with both commercial and multifamily residential structures in downtowns, single family residential structures in suburban areas, though sometimes remnants remaining in downtown areas
  • industrial sites, sometimes densely spaced
  • remnant farmsteads, fences, orchards, other agricultural features
  • railroads
  • considerable infrastructure features including sidewalks, signs, signals, street lights, power lines, fire hydrants, and many other visible features


Impact Considerations

In planning, it is important to consider the nature of potential impacts from proposed projects. Obviously, those types of projects involving considerable earth moving or structure demolition will have the most impact on archaeological and standing structure sites. During the planning phase of work, it is not necessary to undertake archaeological or standing structure surveys, though obtaining guidance for potential cultural resources impacts is essential. The first step is to contact the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). This office can help in the planning process and provide information about whether there are known or expected cultural resources existing within the project area. This information is not always complete. It depends upon whether the entire project area has been previously inventoried for cultural resources. Engaging a cultural resources firm at this point can also be very useful. They can apply their knowledge and expertise to the project and provide some sense of what types of sites one can expect to be there and provide an idea of the possible density. They can also carry out a literature search of the area through the SHPO database which will provide the planning team with the best information available prior to finalizing a plan or project.      

If a project is subject to federal or certain state agency oversight, it is important to seek guidance from the lead federal agency (leading or heading up the project) or state agency. The most commonly consulted agencies, with their contact information, are listed later in this document. Once a plan or project is finalized, it is likely that a pedestrian cultural resources survey will be necessary. This pedestrian inventory usually consists of the project footprint, usually with a buffer area around it. This inventory involves engagement of qualified archaeologists and, depending upon the types of sites expected to be encountered, those qualified to record and evaluate architecture (usually architectural historians). In the State of Utah, survey involves walking the entire project area in parallel transects spaced no wider than 15 meters (30 ft) and recording and evaluating all prehistoric and historic sites 50 years old or older. It also involves recommending whether located sites are significant or important. The professional doing the inventory evaluates sites discovered and recorded for eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The following websites provide a listing of all listed National Register properties in Utah: American Dreams, Inc. and Wikipedia. A report and site forms are prepared and submitted to an agency whose specialist will agree or not with the consultant’s recommendation. Should a site be determined eligible to the NRHP by a federal agency, it is called a Historic Property. If a project is subject to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Section 106 requirements, either the historic property will need to be avoided or some type of data recovery undertaken to mitigate the adverse effect (destruction or even a minor impact) on the site.

It is very important to find out what might be in a project area early in the process so that, if possible, changes can be made to avoid adverse impacts on sites. If it is not possible to avoid impacting sites, there are many ways to mitigate the effects, which don’t always involve excavation or costly changes to project plans. It is always important to remain in contact with the lead agency during a project subject to Section 106. This will help to know, as far in advance as possible, how a project may be altered to avoid unnecessarily expensive and time consuming cultural resources mitigation. Engagement of a qualified cultural resources company is also in the best interest of project managers. These professionals can guide the project team through the process and help them avoid costly assumptions and unnecessary tasks.

Visual Impacts

While not all projects are subject to visual effect evaluation requirements, there are instances when this is the case. Such requirements are usually determined by the lead agency, depending upon the type of project and the agency’s regulations. That is why it is important to not assume, but to ask the question early in the planning process. In some cases, construction of power lines, housing developments, industrial parks, even pipelines, can trigger the need to take into account visual effects to cultural resources. Note, consideration of visual effects to cultural sites is different than visual effect studies which may be undertaken as part of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) studies.

Human Remains

Another consideration of impacts that needs to be mentioned is encountering human remains or burials. While this does not happen frequently, it is vitally important that legal processes be followed should this occur. It should be mentioned that proper procedures must be followed for encountering a burial regardless of whether a project is subject to Section 106 or on private property. Procedures when encountering a Native American grave differ from that of the grave of any other person and it is important that proper procedures are followed in each instance. Hiring of a qualified archaeologist (cultural resource professional) is best in this regard, although the SHPO is also available to assist with direction. Procedures differ slightly on federal, state and private lands. See compliance law links below for federal projects and state projects.

Federal and State Agencies, Laws and Regulations

There are federal and state laws and regulations protecting significant cultural resources or historic properties. While these laws and regulations generally apply to federal or state lands, there are many situations where private lands may be included. One of the most important considerations is to know which federal or state agencies are being consulted or included in the project. Many agencies have their own regulatory structure concerning cultural resources. Following is a list of federal and state agencies most commonly involved in planning undertakings. Besides consulting with individual agencies listed below, it is vitally important to consult with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), located within the Division of State History in Salt Lake City, whenever planning an undertaking or projects. They can provide the best guidance concerning what to do and who else to contact.

Federal Agencies:

  1. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Utah Cultural Resources, Salt Lake City
  2. U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Uinta-Wasatch-Cache NF History and Culture, Utah
  3. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District (COE). Bountiful, Utah
  4. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBOR) Provo, Utah
  5. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (on Indian Reservations)(BIA) Phoenix, Arizona
  6. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  7. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Washington, D.C.
  8. U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C.
  9. Rural Utility Service (RUS), Washington, D.C.
  10. National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Utah
  11. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Washington, D.C.


Utah State Agencies:

  1. State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
  2. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
  3. Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining
  4. Utah State Parks
  5. State Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA)
  6. Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) (often carries out work under authority of the Federal Department of Transportation, Highway Administration)

There are Federal laws that must be taken into consideration should a particular project plans include federal land, federal licensing, or federal funding. In accordance with federal laws and regulations, project undertakings must take into account their effects upon potential historic properties. The following federal legislations are the most pertinent:

  1. Antiquities Act of 1906 (P.L. 59_209; 34 Stat. 225; 16 U.S.C. 431_433)
  2. Historic Sites Act of 1935 (P.L. 74_292; 49 Stat. 666; 16 U.S.C. 461_467)
  3. National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (P.L. 89_665; 80 Stat. 915; 16 U.S.C. 470 as amended by P.L. 90_243, P.L. 93_54, P.L. 94_422, and P.L. 94_458)
  4. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (P.L. 91_190; 83 Stat. 852; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)
  5. Executive Order 11593 of 1971; Executive Order 13007
  6. Archaeological and Historical Conservation Act of 1974 (P.L. 86_523, as amended by P.L. 93_291; 16 U.S.C. 469_469c)
  7. Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979; (16 U.S.C. 470aa-470mm; Public Law 96-95 and amendments to it)
  8. American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (P.L. 95_341)
  9. Native American Graves and Repatriation Act of 1990 (P.L.101-601)
  10. National Register of Historic Places


The State of Utah also has several laws with implementing regulations, which may be applicable to project planning and undertakings including:

  1. Antiquities Protection Act of 1993 (U.C.A. Sec. 9-8-3 and 9-8-4)
  2. Abuse or Desecration of a Dead Human Body (U.C.A. Sec. 76-9-704)


Native American Considerations

It is also very important to consider that it may be necessary to consult with specific Native American tribes when planning for projects. If projects are to be undertaken on federal lands, have federal funding or federal licensing, it will be necessary to consult with tribes about concerns that they may have about sites of interest to them within the project area. There may also be instances when this is the case with projects subject to state laws. Generally, federal agencies are the only entities allowed to formally consult with tribes, however there is much coordination that must occur in conjunction with this consultation which may fall to the proponent or their consultant. Tribes will most likely be aware of archaeological sites which are located within project areas and there may be traditional cultural properties (TCPs) which are important to tribes because of their “association with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that are rooted in that community’s history and are important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community” (Parker and King 1991). Note that TCPs are usually associated with tribes, but are not limited to Native Americans. Specific ethnic, religious, fraternal and other kinds of groups may also find particular locations important to them, which may be considered traditional cultural properties. The bar is high in establishing this and it is best to engage professionals with an understanding of the regulations and the ability to undertake the research necessary to establish or verify a claim of a particular TCP.  

A useful agency to contact concerning Native American tribes in Utah is the Utah Division of Indian Affairs. This agency can help facilitate contact with tribes and provide information. It is also important to contact the lead federal agency for this service, should federal lands or other federal involvement be a part of a project.

While there may be many tribes interested in cultural resources within the MAG counties of concern in this document, the following tribes are the ones that are most often consulted about projects. It is best to contact the lead agency, or a consultant to determine which tribes are best to contact within a particular area. The BIA website is quite helpful for identifying tribes in the region, as these contacts change regularly.

Following are tribes that have a strong interest in one or more of the MAG counties as referenced in the Native American Consultation Database, maintained by the National Park Service on their Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NGPRA) website:

Utah and Wasatch Counties
Mr. Gordon Howell, Chairperson
Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation, Utah
P.O. Box 190
Fort Duchesne, UT 84026
435-722-2374 FAX

Summit County
Mr. Darwin St. Clair Jr., Chairperson
Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming
Eastern Shoshone Business Council
P.O. Box 538
Fort Washakie, WY 82514
307-332-3055 FAX

Mr. Blaine Edmo, Chairperson
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation
Fort Hall Business Council
P.O. Box 306
Fort Hall, ID 83203-0306
208-237-0797 FAX

Mr. Gordon Howell
Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation, Utah
P.O. Box 190
Fort Duchesne, UT 84026
435-722-2374 FAX

Impact Considerations - Paleontological Resources

When planning changes to the landscape of a county, a valley, a river, a mountain, or even a parcel of land, it is important to take into consideration the potential effects that the projects may have on paleontological resources within those locations. The following brief discussion will provide some understanding of the potential effects to significant paleontological resources. There are certainly fewer instances where paleontological resources will be of concern in the planning process than cultural resources, but it is important to be informed about when it is necessary to address this subject in the planning process. It is often good to consult with a professional paleontologist concerning how to proceed with a particular project, though taking a step before this may not require such consultation.

Paleontological resources are the fossilized remains of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates), plants, and traces or evidence of prehistoric animals. It is important to remember that there can be paleontological resources within areas planned for development of various kinds. This will occur in areas where there are geologic formations which hold fossils or where Pleistocene Period deposits (the last 3 million years or so) occur, such as in some locations around the shores of Utah Lake. Deciding whether such resources may exist in a particular location is not easy. It requires an understanding of the geologic history of the Wasatch Front and mountains as well as where such formations and deposits may be exposed on the surface or by excavation. A good place to begin due diligence concerning this topic is the Utah Geological Survey website concerning paleontological resources. This website provides the following kinds of information about the topic: overview, existing condition concerning fossil resources, policy and position statements, goals and objectives, monitoring methods, and sources of assistance.

After becoming acquainted with how fossil resources are regulated within the state, it is important to consult with paleontologists at the Utah Geological Survey. This will help to know whether there is potential for paleontological resources within a proposed project or planning area. Currently, Dr. James Kirkland is the State Paleontologist and Martha Hayden is Assistant Paleontologist. The State Paleontologist is a good source, but for specific information about project areas, it is best to contact Ms. Hayden, either at her email address or by telephone at (801) 537-3311. She will be able to provide information that you need to know about state laws and regulations concerning paleontological resources and how you should proceed. In some cases, it may not be necessary to do further work. On the other hand, depending upon the situation and where a project lies, it may require the hiring of a professional paleontologist to help work through the process.

There are no Utah State requirements for paleontological resources on private lands. Should the State Paleontologist identify a particular area as sensitive for such resources that lie on state lands or federal lands, it will likely be necessary to hire a professional paleontologist to assist in the project. The State of Utah does not maintain a list of qualified paleontologists, but the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does maintain a list of permitted paleontologists. These professionals are not only qualified to work on federal lands, but on most projects undertaken in a Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) county.

Types of Paleontological Resources

Types of paleontological localities include invertebrate, vertebrate, floral, and trace.

  • Invertebrate localities are fossil remnants of non-vertebrate creatures. These are many-celled animals that do not have a vertebral column, backbone, vertebrae, or full-length notochord.
  • Vertebrate localities include fossil remnants of creatures with some form of vertebrae. These can be mammals, dinosaurs, and other reptiles
  • Floral localities are remnants of plants.
  • Trace fossils include skin impressions, track sites, and remnants of burrows or borings.

Impacts on paleontological resources are considered significantly adverse if project implementation results in adverse effects on Condition 1 or 2 paleontologically sensitive geological formations or in adverse effects on Class 1, 2, or 3 paleontologically sensitive fossil localities. The rationale for these significance criteria is discussed below.

Paleontological research will be guided by a geologic formation classification system and a sensitivity classification of fossil localities, both suggested by the BLM and modified from the Committee on Guidelines for Paleontological Collecting (Committee) (1987). The classification system for defining the paleontological sensitivity of geological formations consist of the following from the BLM:

  • Condition 1. Formations known to contain fossils of significant scientific interest, or where significant fossils (especially vertebrates) are likely to be discovered with detailed field work.
  • Condition 2. Formations where fossils are present, but by their nature are not anticipated to be of high scientific value.
  • Condition 3. Formations containing few fossils or those found are of little scientific value.

The classification system for defining the paleontological sensitivity of fossil localities consists of the following from the Committee on Guidelines for Paleontological Collecting (1987):

  • Class 1. Critical – reference locality for holotype or critical paleontological material, or any type section of geological strata needed for future study.  All vertebrate fossil sites fall within this category.
  • Class 2. Significant – any locality that produces rare, well-preserved, or critical fossils usable for taxonomic, evolutionary, stratigraphic, paleoenvironmental, or paleoecological studies.
  • Class 3. Important – any locality that produces common, abundant fossils useful for stratigraphic or population variability studies.
  • Class 4. Insignificant – any locality with poorly preserved, common, or stratigraphically unimportant fossil material.
  • Class 5. Unimportant – any locality intensively surveyed and determined to be of minimal scientific interest.

For federally overseen projects, the significance of paleontological localities and fossil finds will be determined by the lead federal agency in consultation with the Utah State Paleontologist (USP). The lead federal agency, in consultation with the federal land owning agency (as applicable), and the USP, determines the significance of impacts and treatment planning related to these resources. Impacts are considered significant if either of the following were to occur:

  • Disturbance of paleontological resources, including geologic formations containing fossils, fossil localities, or isolated fossil finds that are on file with the USP’s Office.
  • Alteration of paleontological resources, including geologic formations containing fossils, fossil localities, or isolated fossil finds that are on file with the USP’s Office.

A similar scenario (involving state agencies and the Utah State Paleontologist’s Office) would likely occur for state lead projects or a state agency oversees the project, but each project needs to be determined case by case.


Federal and State Agencies, Laws, and Regulations

There are federal and state laws and regulations protecting significant cultural resources or historic properties. While these laws and regulations generally apply to federal or state lands, there are many situations where private lands may be included as well. State and Federal legislation that applies to paleontological resources are as follows: Antiquities Act of 1906 (P.L. 59-209; 34 Stat. 225; 16 U.S.C. 432, 433) and NEPA (P.L. 91-190; 83 Stat. 852; 42 U.S.C. 4321-4327). However, the most recent and most important law protecting paleontological resources on federal lands (except Indian Reservations) is the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, Subtitle D – Paleontological Resources Preservation (P.L. 111-011; 123 Stat. 1172; 16 U.S.C. 470aaa). In addition, the BLM has developed regulations about protection of paleontological resources on lands administered by their field offices. Applicable Utah State legislation consists of the Antiquities Protection Act of 1993 (U.C.A. Sec. 9-8-101-806).

Federal Agencies:

  1. US Bureau of Land Management, Utah Cultural Resources, Salt Lake City
  2. US Forest Service, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache NF History and Culture, Utah
  3. US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District. Bountiful, Utah
  4. US Bureau of Reclamation Provo, Utah
  5. US Bureau of Indian Affairs, Phoenix, Arizona
  6. Federal Communications Commission
  7. Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, DC
  8. US Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC
  9. Rural Utility Service, Washington, DC
  10. National Resources Conservation Service, Utah
  11. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC

Utah State Agencies:

  1. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
  2. Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining
  3. Utah State Parks
  4. State Institutional Trust Lands Administration
  5. Utah Department of Transportation
  6. Utah Geological Survey


Prehistoric and Ethnographic Overview

Brief Prehistoric and Ethnographic Overview

Counties of Summit, Utah, and Wasatch

The prehistory of the MAG area generally parallels that of the eastern Great Basin and begins near the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. The cultural changes in the Great Basin are classified into six general chronological periods as defined by Jennings (1986:115). These periods include: the Pre-Archaic, Early Archaic, Middle Archaic, Late Archaic, Pre-Contact, and Historic. The basin is further divided into subregions, such as the eastern Great Basin, which is identified by a series of distinctive cultural phases, which are marked by a distinct way of life and has been defined by datable projectile points. Following is a brief description of each of the aforementioned periods and their individual phases. These descriptions note significant traits, characteristics, and artifacts associated with each phase or period.

Pre-Archaic: ca. 12,000 to 9,000 B.C.

Also known as the Clovis Period, the Paleo-Indian Period is poorly understood in the eastern Great Basin. What little is known about this period comes from a limited number of surface sites and isolated finds of Clovis, Folsom, and Lake Mojave projectile points (Zier 1984:21). Associations of large faunal remains with Paleo-Indian artifacts like those commonly found in the Great Plains are absent in the eastern Great Basin and Northwestern Colorado Plateau. Sites and isolates attributed to Paleo-Indian occupation of the area are typically found along the edges of extinct Pleistocene or early Holocene beaches, suggesting a possible lake edge-marsh adaptation (Madsen 1982:213; Heizer and Baumhoff 1970).

Early Archaic: ca. 9,000 to 3,500 B.C.

This period, which is poorly represented in the current project area, is marked by broad range movement and hunting of big game by the native peoples. It also includes the period of climatic change associated with the end of the Pleistocene Epoch and the subsequent cultural adaptations. The Early Archaic Period is divided into two phases, the Bonneville Phase and the Wendover Phase.

The Bonneville Phase: ca. 9,000 to 7,500 B.C.

The terminal Pleistocene, called the Bonneville Period in the Great Basin by Aikens and Madsen (1986:154), is associated with the hunting of big game such as extinct bison, camel, mammoth, ground sloth and other large fauna. No doubt, humans of this time also made use of many other animal and plant species. Though evidence of this period of human activity has been found in other parts of the western United States, its presence in Utah is largely limited to surface finds of large lanceolate shaped projectile points along lake shores in the western part of the state (Aikens and Madsen 1986:154). In north Central Utah, known evidence of this period is limited to a Clovis point which was found near Duchesne in the 1950s (Schroedl 1976) and a probable Folsom Point fragment found near Cedarview, ten miles northwest of Roosevelt (Lindsay 1976).

The Wendover Phase: ca. 7,500 to 4,000 B.C.

This period encompasses the time when Pleistocene lakes in the Great Basin greatly receded. The change in environment gave way to a more diversified hunting and gathering subsistence strategy for prehistoric inhabitants due to a wider availability of game and plant foods. Technological changes, which occurred along with these environmental shifts, included the appearance of an increasing number of grinding implements for wild plant processing, and of atlatls or spear-throwers. Other artifacts known from this occupation include thin slab millstones, manos, L-shaped scapula and splinter awls, antler flaking tools, basketry, and flaked stone tools (Jennings 1978:75).

Middle Archaic: ca. 3,500 B.C. to A.D. 500

The Middle Archaic period is marked by a shift to the exploitation of upland resources and the diversification of settlement patterns to include a wide range of ecozones. It also includes a change in the tool assemblage of native peoples to include fewer milling stones and a wider variety of projectile points. None of the important sites associated with this period are located near the current project area. This period consists of a single phase, the Black Rock Phase.

The Black Rock Phase: ca. 4,000 B.C. to A.D. 500

The Black Rock Period (Aikens and Madsen 1986:157) is characterized by a dramatic increase in the occupation of sites, a movement into areas of higher elevation and a further diversification of resource exploitation (Aikens and Madsen 1986:157). The technology of the period remained about the same as the Wendover Period until near its end when smaller projectile points are introduced, indicating a shift to the use of the bow and arrow.

Late Archaic: ca. A.D. 400 to 1300

This period is characterized by a shift from a hunting and gathering way of life to a more sedentary horticulture based life style. The growing of maize increased during this time period for much of the Great Basin. The native peoples associated with this time period, the Fremont, were roughly contemporaneous with the Anasazi of southern Utah and the Four-Corners region. A number of important sites attributable to this period are located in the general vicinity of the current project area. These sites, which are primarily represented by small hamlets or rancherias, include Pharo Village, Snake Rock, and Hinckley Farm (Marwitt 1986:162). The Late Archaic is composed of a single phase known as the Fremont Culture (Phase).

Fremont Culture: ca. A.D. 400 to 1300

Near the end of the Black Rock Period many elements of a settled horticultural lifestyle were introduced into the Archaic life way of Utah from the Southwest including the manufacture of pottery and horticultural practices. The Fremont Culture is a label applied to groups exhibiting this different lifestyle who occupied the Utah area from ca. A.D. 400 to 1300 (Marwitt 1986:161). Five geographic Fremont variants are generally recognized today, one of which, the Sevier variant, occupied the current project area.

The Sevier Fremont have a relatively short period of occupation in the eastern Great Basin as compared to other Fremont variants in the state (Marwitt 1986:166). Archaeological evidence suggests an occupation period from A.D. 750 to 1300 for this group which is one of the least well-understood Fremont variants. This evidence, which was recovered from sites such as those mentioned above, also indicates that the occupation was moderately intensive. Many of the archaeological sites attributable to this group consist of only a few circular pit houses and coursed adobe or slab masonry storage structures with an occasional jacal surface structure. Such sites are generally located on alluvial fans near canyon mouths, perennial streams, or marshes.

The material remains of the Sevier Fremont suggest that this group practiced a mixed subsistence strategy of horticulture, hunting and gathering. Marsh resources are particularly well represented in the middens of the Sevier Fremont. Archaeological sites attributable to this group are distinguished by the presence of a unique basalt tempered grayware pottery known as Sevier Gray. Ivie Creek black-on-white pottery is also common at Sevier Fremont sites. After A.D. 1050, Snake Valley black-on-gray tradeware from the Parowan Fremont to the south becomes increasingly more common at sites of this group (Marwitt 1986:167).

Pre-Contact: ca. A.D. 1200 to 1776

The Pre-Contact period is marked by the apparent replacement of the Fremont peoples by a migratory group of Shoshonean (Numic) speaking peoples from the southwest. This period also includes the arrival of the direct ancestors of modern-day Utah Indian tribes and their exploitation of the area’s resources. Archaeological sites from this period are numerous. However, no exceptional Pre-Contact or Shoshonean sites are located near the current project area.

The Numic Expansion: ca. A.D. 1200 to 1776

The final archaeologically identifiable phase of occupation prior to the historic- ethnographic period is that of the Numic Expansion. This occupation apparently began as Numic/Shoshonean speaking peoples migrated into the northern Utah area and replaced the Fremont culture. It is not yet clear whether the Fremont abandoned the area prior to the arrival of the Shoshoneans or whether resource competition between the two groups forced the Fremont from the region (Marwitt 1986:171-172). Little is known about the Shoshonean groups archaeologically, other than the presence of Shoshone pottery and Desert Side-Notched projectile points. Ethnographically, subsistence activities of Shoshonean groups (bands) involved seasonal movements to specific geographic localities as particular food resources became available throughout the year (Steward 1938). The size and structure of a band fluctuated with changes in the types and availability of resources, but generally included small, family-sized bands through the spring and summer, and large, multi-family groups during the fall and winter months.

Ethnographic Context for Utah Valley and the Wasatch Range

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are known to have historically used lands in and near Summit County. However, this period in MAG counties is best characterized by the initial contact and ensuing relationship between the primary Native American tribe in the project area (the Ute), Europeans and European-Americans. It also includes the developments and changes in the Ute culture and the restriction of the indigenous peoples to reservation lands as a result of influence and pressure by white settlers.

The Ute: 1776 to Present

The first written accounts of the presence of Utes in the project area come from the journals of the Dominguez-Escalante expedition as they attempted to establish an overland route from Santa Fe to Monterey (Jones and MacKay 1980:65). These journals describe the presence of a large, permanent Ute settlement at the south end of Utah Lake. A guide for the expedition also indicated to Dominguez and Escalante that this group made annual hunting and gathering trips through Spanish Fork Canyon and into the Heber Valley. With the establishment of the Spanish Trail, contact between the Utes and the explorers continued. Soon, it is rumored, a slave trade developed between the Spanish and the Utes in which the Utes would raid nearby Paiute camps, capture children, and trade them to the Spanish (Janetski 1991:32).

Additional accounts of the activities of the Ute come from the records of explorer William Ashley. In his journal documenting his 1824-25 expedition through the area, Ashley describes a large, permanent village along the shores of Utah Lake (Janetski 1991:18). The village was inhabited by a subgroup of Utes known as the Timpanogos Ute or the Tumpanawach whose traditional territory was bounded on the north by the Traverse Mountains and on the south by the territory of the Sanpits and Pahvant Ute. The western boundary lies immediately west of Utah Valley while the eastern boundary had no clear demarcation. According to Ashley, the village he observed housed the largest and most well organized band of Utes in the area. This group subsisted entirely on wild resources which were collected from the surrounding marshes, canyons, and mountains. In addition to the large numbers of fish obtained from the lake, the Timpanogos supplemented their diet with wild seeds, waterfowl, and jackrabbits. Although bison were still present to the east in the Uinta Basin, the Ute did not hunt them for fear of attack by the Comanche who also hunted in that area (Janetski 1991:33). Although the Timpanogos occupied the Utah Lake village year round, small groups did leave in the fall to hunt or to visit relatives living elsewhere with other Ute bands. Each spring, several bands would gather together to fish along the Provo River.

Shortly after the arrival of the Mormon pioneers (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons) to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, conflicts between the new settlers and the native inhabitants began to arise. As more settlers arrived and moved south into Utah Valley to homestead, the Utes felt increasingly crowded and continued to raid the white settlements. In an effort to stem the attacks, Mormon leaders established a reservation farm at the southern end of Utah Lake in 1855. Here, the settlers attempted to introduce their ways of livestock raising and farming to the Utes. Occupation of the Utah Lake Indian Farm lasted until 1861, at which time the Timpanogos abandoned the area in favor of resettling on the newly formed reservation in the Uinta Basin (Fike and Phillips 1984:86; Janetski 1991:32). However, the Timpanogos returned annually to the Utah Valley to fish until after the turn of the century. Although the Timpanogos went to the Uinta Basin voluntarily, not all Ute groups did so. Attempts to force all bands of Utes onto the Uintah Valley Indian Reservation led to a series of violent confrontations between Utes and settlers throughout the state. These conflicts, known collectively as the Black Hawk War, forced many settlers to seek refuge in the relative safety of the Wasatch Front. The hostilities were finally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Spanish Fork by Chief Tabby of the Ute Tribe in 1865. Under this treaty, which was never ratified by Congress, the remaining Ute groups agreed to move onto the reservation in the Uinta Basin in exchange for the establishment of farms there and the payment of annuities by the federal government (Jones and MacKay 1980:62; Fike and Phillips 1984:86).

Brief County Histories
Utah County
Summit County
Wasatch County
County History References

Data Download
  GIS Data Map Service Web Map Document  Tabular Data  Website
Data NameData ExplanationPublication DateSpatial AccuracyContact
Use to locate cemeteries1/18/131:24,000Utah Division of State History
Generalized Archaeology Sites
Use to locate recorded archaeological sites within 320ac. hexagons10/29/2014Generalized dataUtah DivisionUtah State History
Geological Map of Utah
Use to identify geological units20001:500,000Utah Geological Survey
Interactive map identifying geologic points of interest throughout Utah.Unknown1:24,000Utah Geological Survey
Historic Districts
Use to locate areas designated as a historic districtMarch 20141:24,000Utah Division of State History
Corey Jensen
National Register of Historic Places
Use to locate historic places on the national register, sites, structures, and buildingsMay, 20141:24,000National Park Service
UGS Geologic Maps
30'x60' and 7.5' Geologic Maps of UtahVariousVariousUtah Geological Survey
UGS Paleo Sensitivity Areas
Use to identify potential sensitive paleontological areasUnknownUnknownUtah Geological Survey
State Paleontologist's Office
Jim Kirkland
Utah Quaternary Fault and Fold Database
, ,
Compilation of existing information on faults and fault-related folds considered to be potential earthquake sources1/20/2016VariousUtah Geologic Survey


  1. US Forest Service. 1986. Manti-La Sal National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.
  2. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Salt Lake District. 1988. Proposed Pony Express Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement.
  3. U.S. Forest Service. 2003. Revised Forest Plan for the Wasatch -Cache National Forest.
  4. Summit County. 2013. Eastern Summit County General Plan.
  5. Summit County. 2015. Snyderville Basin General Plan.
  6. Utah County. 2014. Utah County General Plan.
  7. Wasatch County. 2013. Wasatch County General Plan.
  8. Utah Division of State History. 2004. Historic Resources County Resource Planning Webpage. Accessed: 8/18/16.
  9. Utah Heritage Foundation. 2013. Profits Through Preservation. Accessed: 8/18/16.
  10. Parker, P.L. and T.F. King. 1998. Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Traditional Cultural Properties. US Department of the Interior, National Park Service.