|24 February 2008
Possible turbine site includes burial grounds in Florida
Recent archaeological surveys show prehistoric Indians in Florida (USA) made their homes and buried their dead along the banks of Blind Creek, an area that has drawn controversy as a possible site for wind turbines. "The area has a large number of prehistoric villages and burial areas that have somehow survived all the indignities of time," said Robert Carr, of Archaeological and Historical Conservancy Inc., who directed the study.
The county contracted with Carr after the 2004 hurricanes to make sure county workers didnít disturb any archaeological finds when they removed storm debris from the island, said Jim David, county mosquito control director. Florida Power & Light Co. has proposed putting nine wind turbines on the island.
The issue is likely to go before the state Acquisition and Restoration Council in April, and commissioners may take up the matter again in the next two months. FPL spokeswoman Amy Brunjes said they are reviewing the findings, but had no further comment. The company previously has said if the project could not be done without negatively impacting archaeological sites, it would not move forward.
The archaeological survey was conducted in August and September 2006 on both sidess of A1A. Archaeologists found four previously unrecorded sites and one already discovered site on the east side, and five unrecorded sites and one previously recorded one on the west side of A1A. While these types of finds are not uncommon in Florida, they have become more unusual on barrier islands, as much of the Florida coastline has been developed in recent decades, Carr said. Radiocarbon dating was not done, but Carr estimated the finds were about 1,000 to 3,000 years old, and some could possibly be older.
The Indians, probably related to the Ais tribe, likely were drawn to the area because the creek provided a canoe route to the ocean, plenty of fish and fresh water. In addition to human remains, which all were in fragments, pottery, animal bones and a lot of shells also were found. Those artifacts are being catalogued and likely will be returned to the site in the next 60 days, he said. The human remains found have already been reinterred, a requirement under state law, he said. Carr has recommended the sites 'be protected from any future impacts' and notes the area could be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places pending further study.
The countyís main goal at this point is to make sure the finds are protected, David said. Because the exact turbine sites on Blind Creek haven't been firmly set, David said it was unclear if any would have to be moved because of the finds. "We are trying very hard to make sure the decision-makers are aware of this information," David said.
Source: TC Palm (23 February 2008)
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