WALLA WALLA - A small group of archaeologists will dig up new ground for Fort Walla Walla Museum.
Starting this year, the museum kicks off its Heritage Research Services department, which will offer certified archaeological services for publicly and privately funded construction projects.
James Payne, Fort Walla Walla Museum director and state certified archaeologist, said more states are requiring contractors to hire certified
archaeologists to make sure historical and cultural artifacts are not lost during construction.
"A lot of this is risk management. Before you start a construction project you want to know if there is a cultural resource there that is going to stop
you," Payne said.
Locally, Payne and other museum researchers have already performed archaeological services at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans
Affairs Medical Center, Myra Road for the city and Russell Creek Road for the county.
While their work often involves digging test areas to look for human remains, pottery and other artifacts, the archaeologists' work usually starts in
a library, Payne said.
"You can save time and money by doing the first part, which is a literature review," Payne said.
Sometimes the work involves remediation for a lost cultural resource, such as a recent archaeological project to study Walla Walla's trolley
lines(see Sunday's Panorama in the Union-Bulletin for more on Payne's trolley research).
Payne said the new Heritage Research Services will be a way to raise money for the museum while also helping fill a growing need in local
Along with Payne, the Heritage Research Services team includes principal investigator Darby Stapp and archaeologists Gregory Civay and Sarah Starr.