Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape Project

On December 1, 2020, Sylvan Township was awarded a $130,000 legacy grant from the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants program. The purpose of the grant was to fund a comprehensive literature review of cultural and environmental resources within the Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape, with an ultimate product of storing all of this information in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) geodatabase for management use by the Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape Program. After a round of competitive bidding with companies throughout the Upper Midwest, Nienow Cultural Consultants (NCC) was contracted to complete this work in February of 2021.

The Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape project area encompasses large portions of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, and Todd Counties. The overall contract and project was managed by Jeremy L. Nienow, Ph.D., RPA with additional team members including Fred Sutherland, Jeremy Jackson (Jeremy S Jackson, LLC), Laura Koski, tribal communicator Anastasia Walhovd (Makoons Consulting, LLC), architectural historians Tamara Halvorsen and Laurel Fritz (Pigeon Consulting, LLC), and videographer Barry Madore (Fire on the Bluff Productions). NCC had never attempted a project of this size, with over 800,000 acres of project area and dozens of project stakeholders.

The literature review began on April 1, with archaeological and historical architectural data collection using data maintained by the Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) and Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) followed by archival research completed both online and in-person at various county and township historical societies. All collected cultural data was synthesized into a singular geodatabase along with environmental geospatial data. In total, the geodatabase includes five locational reference layers, 18 cultural data layers, 16 environmental data layers, and six raster basemap and imagery layers. Cultural data collection focused primarily around previously recorded and potential archaeological sites and previously recorded and newly identified historic architecture and rail lines/roadways/trails. This data includes 372 previously recorded archaeological sites, 210 locations with subsurface cultural resource potential, 1067 SHPO-inventoried historical architectural structures (including rail lines, roads and trails), 98 newly recorded historical architectural structures, five historic districts, three Traditional Cultural Properties, and one Tribally-Informed Potential Traditional Cultural Property.

Ultimately, NCC provided three copies of the final GIS product to stakeholders including OSA, SHPO, and Camp Ripley. NCC also completed a public-facing document as an accessible, comprehensive technical report describing project methodology and results as well as to provide recommendations for future research directions. For access to the final report, please contact Principal Investigator Jeremy Nienow.