SUNY-ESF researcher receives grant for landscape preservation of cemetery

Lara Hirschberg | Contributing Illustrator

Fredericksburg will be the third cultural landscape the center has worked on for a national cemetery.

SUNY-ESF’s Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation recently received grants for the preservation of national parks in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The grants come from the United States National Parks Service to assess and develop plans for the preservation of the Fredericksburg National Cemetery and the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Since 1992, the Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation has partnered with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, a branch of the National Parks Service, to help manage historic landscapes in the northeast, according to the center’s website. The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry was one of the Olmsted Center’s first partners. Since 2000, they sponsored a staff research position at SUNY-ESF. The new grants for Fredericksburg are part of this cooperative agreement.

“Cultural landscape reports are essentially developing management documents for historic landscapes,” said John Auwaerter, co-director of the Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation.

Auwaeter said the reports provide documentation on how the landscape has changed over time, what’s important about the landscape, what’s worthy of preservation and any design and planning issues in the landscape.

“In other words, what could be restored, rehabilitated — basically outlining a plan for how the landscape should be managed in the future,”Auwaerter said.

Their work at Fredericksburg will involve looking at how the vegetation has changed over time and how to fix the loss of some historic character including paths and views that have been blocked by overgrown vegetation, Auwaerter said.

Fredericksburg will be the third cultural landscape report the center has worked on for a national cemetery. The center completed one for Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia seven years ago and another for Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania, according to the center’s website. Additionally, the center also completed a cultural landscape report for Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.

The center also recently received a grant to create the first cultural landscape report for the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York, which they started over the summer.

“We’re trying to re-establish some of the rural character of the site from the time when Harriet Tubman lived there,” Auwaerter said. “A lot of the fields have just grown up into woods and it’s hard to get the sense of it as a farm as it was historically, and there are other things like trying to decide where a new visitor’s center should be built.”

President Barack Obama signed the bill to make Tubman’s home a national historical park in December 2014, according to

Some of the center’s other ongoing projects include developing reports for Gettysburg National Military Park and National Cemetery and Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Marin County, California.


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