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Fort Carson's Hidden Gem
by U.S. Army Aleah Castrejon, Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
February 12, 2018

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While Jen Kolise is new to the Colorado Springs area, she is not new to the field of archaeology. She began working as the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site archaeologist in September 2013, and in May, she took a job as the Fort Carson cultural resources manager with the Directorate of Public Works (DPW).

She said it is not uncommon that people do not know her position exists.

“People don’t realize the Army, or even DOD as a whole, has archaeologists who work for them,” Kolise said. “As a federal agency we must abide by several laws and regulations that concern cultural resources and one of them is the National Historic Preservation Act, which directs federal agencies to develop a historic preservation program.”

The World War II-era incinerator complex is now being used as a storage facility on U.S. Army Fort Carson. The complex is located near Gate 20 by the wastewater treatment facility. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Fort Carson Cultural Resources Program)
The World War II-era incinerator complex is now being used as a storage facility on U.S. Army Fort Carson. The complex is located near Gate 20 by the wastewater treatment facility. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Fort Carson Cultural Resources Program)

The cultural resources manager position has existed at Fort Carson since the late 1990s, said Wayne Thomas, chief, DPW Cultural Management Branch. Since 2013, Fort Carson has had two government archaeologist positions. Prior to the late 1990s, the National Park Service provided Fort Carson with cultural resources specialists.

As the cultural resources manager, Kolise must ensure Fort Carson remains in compliance with the many laws and regulations.

“The cultural resources manager is the installation’s expert on cultural resources matters,” said Thomas. “Cultural resources are a nonrenewable resource worthy of some form of preservation.”

Kolise must review various projects from Fort Carson and Pinon Canyon to determine the effects on historic properties. She must also conduct cultural awareness training and education to Soldiers and civilians who use Fort Carson and Pinon Canyon training lands.

Fort Carson has approximately 4,000 cultural resources, which includes archaeological sites, isolated findings and historic buildings, Kolise said. It also includes stand-alone buildings, objects and many more resources.

The cultural resources manager position encompasses many areas including historic districts such as Fort Carson’s Stone City, a mining complex and town; numerous prehistoric habitation sites; numerous homesteads; and Turkey Creek Ranch, home of Turkey Creek Rock Art, which Kolise said was her neatest finding at Fort Carson so far.

“Jen is passionate about preservation, but knows how to balance this passion with supporting the training mission of the installation,” Thomas said. “She comes with fresh and innovative ideas on how to approach our management responsibilities.”

Working on an Army installation, Kolise said all federal agencies must consider the effects they have on historic property. Any significant cultural resource including any archaeological site, building or finding that is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places are protected, she said. Training, construction projects and anything that happens on federal property or needs a federal permit is reviewed to ensure the cultural resources will be protected, according to Kolise.

People using the training areas must be educated on what to do should they find something significant. After something is found it is reported to the cultural resource department to be investigated by Kolise. At this point, any training or construction in the area comes to a halt until it is determined whether or not it is a cultural resource.

Kolise tries to limit the amount of adverse effects on properties to protect the historic properties on Fort Carson, which includes repurposing sites so they continue to get use.

“The Turkey Creek Historic Ranch has been reused by the Army for the (Fort Carson) Mounted Color Guard, as well as one of our fire stations,” said Kolise. “By reusing these historic properties we are able to better maintain them.”

Mining tycoon and philanthropist Spencer Penrose owned Turkey Creek Ranch and raised livestock there. “It is being used in the same way it would have been used during Penrose’s time,” Kolise said.

Having found cultural resources that could date back 10,000 years, Kolise expressed the excitement of her job.

“You never know (what you will find) when you go out there,” Kolise said. “We will never find 100 percent of all the cultural resources in any one place.”

By U.S. Army Aleah Castrejon, Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2018

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