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Black Mountain Open Space Park Management Essay

The Black Mountain Open Space Park refers to a city park in the United States of America, specifically in the State of California. The city park is located in San Diego, and covers an estimated 9. 52km2. The land covers the Black Mountain Ranch and the San Diego’s Rancho Penasquitos area. One of the Park’s distinct features is the Black mountain, which has a height of approximately 1. 554 foot or 474 meters. The park has a vital role of preserving and protecting the natural community of plant and animals which is made up of the coastal sage scrub, as well as the chaparral plant communities.

The park provides a home to diverse species of native plants and animals, with the vegetation providing a suitable habitat to birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammal species . The park is a source of scenic and wildlife beauty, similar to California’s earlier natural appearance before human settlements were established. Examples of plant species found in the park include, lemonade berry, coffee berry, laurel, sumac, California lilac, toyon and Chamise. The California buck heat and the California sunflower comprise the sage scrub plant community.

There are over 80 bird species some of them being the Northern harrier

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and the Rufous-crowned sparrow. Mammal’s species include the bobcats and the mule deer, while the red-diamond rattle snakes fall under the reptiles. There has been controversy about how the park should be managed, in relation to the park’s historical significance due to its cultural resources. The need to conserve the environment has however led to a conflict between conservation and historical preservation interests.

In this paper, the conflict between the historical preservation and environmental conservation in the park will be discussed, as well as instances under which the conflict occurs. Discussion The Resource Protection Ordinance (RPO) has been put in place to protect and preserve all the environmentally -sensitive lands in San Diego. These lands are considered to be at a very high risk of destruction if they are not protected from the human disturbances. They include, the hillsides, flood plains, wetlands, prehistoric, and historic areas.

A site of the mine that was once exploited for arsenopyrite in the 1920s is found on the mountain’s northern slope. The Black Mountain Open Space Park management has displayed instances when historic preservation may become present a problem in the park’s environment conservation. The San Diego County has a rich cultural history that has led to the division of its prehistory into three temporal periods; the Paleo-Indian, the Archaic and the Late prehistoric.

The periods represent material culture patterns that are seen to stand for the economic and social organizations trends of the prehistoric groups. For instance, the park has several prehistoric and archaeological sites. The cultural resources in the park have attracted concern in relation to their preservation, which has in turn undermined the environmental conservation measures in the park. One way in which the historical preservation may conflict with the environmental conservation is in the manner in which surveys are being done to map and document historic and cultural resources.

For instance, the archaeological sites have been recorded to have two rock Cairns (SDI-18275 and SDI-18280), one isolated bedrock mortar (SDI-18278), one sparse shell scatter (SDI-18277), and two prehistoric ceramics (p-37-028093). The desire of the researchers and archaeologists to find out more about the sites and the historic artifacts has led to frequent surveys inside the park, a situation that has created human-related disturbance on the environment. For instance, all the above mentioned sites have had surveys carried out on them.

The efforts to locate some of the sites has opened up natural areas in the park, exposing the areas to environmental destruction The survey of the SDI-18275 site led to a conclusion that the dense chaparral monument is more than 45 years old. During such surveys, natural vegetation and animals that have existed in the site for so many years may be affected. The measures that are put in place to carry out surveys about the historical sites no doubt compromise the existence of the ecosystem in its natural form, which is one of objectives in conservation.

The Black Mountain Mine has attracted the attention of many people, including that of the tourists. The scientists and tourists visit this site to see and learn about the 1920s arsenopyrite mine since many remnants of the mining operation are still in existence … A great number of people who may visit the area are bound to disturb the ecosystem and when this happens, some plant and animal species have their social behavior interfered with and the food chain disturbed. Some may even become extinct.

An increased level of human disturbance on the park’s ecosystem due to surveys or tourist tours poses a great risk to the survival of the organisms which are very sensitive o changes. This works opposite to environmental conservation. The Management Plan incorporates the development of a methodology that will manage the cultural resources effectively. Through historic preservation, the park’s historical sites require to be sustained in their existing forms and integrity. It has been proposed that, the sites be maintained and the historic materials repaired.

Though this activity discourages replacement and new construction, limited and sensitive upgrading of the resources is accepted within a preservation project. The minimal upgrading is aimed at making the properties functional, but the project does not allow reconstruction, rehabilitation or restoration. Though minimal upgrading is allowed, it may interfere with the natural ecosystem functions and natural activities of the organisms, which consequently damages the park’s environment. Minimal upgrading may also prevent restoration of an area or habitat as a conservation measure.

For instance, the park experiences human interference more often, which impacts negatively on the environment. After some time, uncontrolled human disturbance may cause vegetation disappearance and some species extinction . In a case where a habit has been destroyed, rehabilitating it may be the best way to conserve the ecosystem. However, a cultural resource management methodology that completely discourages an environment rehabilitating activity certainly undermines the habitat conservation. In conservation, damaged ecosystems can be revived back through human activities such as reforestation.

Preservation may fail to recognize the importance of human activities that aim at conserving, even when the ecosystem really demands for such activities. The “arrested decay” policy that may guide cultural resources management in the park prohibits any activity that may promote improvement of a condition as it earlier existed. This practice as developed by John Ruskin and William Morris in England (19th century) to some extent locks out any conservation measures that may be aimed at improving a habitat or an ecosystem.

A recommendation to implement the Secretary of the Interiors Standards, for the Treatment of Historic properties may to some extent allow introduction of new materials into the park ecosystem. In conservation, introduction of human- made products in a natural environment may no go well with conservation. For instance, this policy in one of its principles allows repair and replacements of historic deterioration. The principle proposes that in such a case, only new material that matches the composition, texture, color and design of the old feature need to be used.

Though the principle may encourage this as a means of preservation, it gives room for introduction of environmentally unfriendly materials. If strict measures are not put in place to study and guide which materials need to be used, then materials that may be introduced may not be good for the ecosystem conservation. Even if the measure recommends suitable new materials in replacements, the materials that may not satisfy the requirements will affect the natural environment. Such materials may change the soil composition and water composition, a problem that will be extended to the plant and animal community .

. While conservation will discourage any efforts to introduce man-made products to repair historical features, preservation of historical features efforts may just do the opposite. Another historical preservation effort that may conflict with environmental conservation is the use of chemicals and physical treatments in gentle forms during the historic preservation efforts. In addition, any treatment that may cause historic materials to get damaged should not be used. These treatments tough they need to be in their gentle forms, there is no guarantee that they won’t cause any side effects.

It has been known that any chemical in one way or another induces some negative effects on humans, plants, animals, soils, water and other components of an ecosystem. The historic preservation measures that may allow chemical treatments use may endanger the survival of organisms, both within and around the area of use. Adopting protection and preservation of the historic and cultural resources policies that allow maximum preservation will compromise conservation. Implementing these policies will allow treatments of historic features after periodic inspection of the historic features .

Furthermore, controlling of features that may be considered to impact negatively on the historic sites is permitted. For instance, control of ‘harmful’ vegetation to stop damage of the historic features has been suggested to promote maximum protection and preservation of historic resources. This means that natural vegetation that may be seen as being “harmful” to the historic features may be cleared. Conservation principles discourage any manipulation of natural ecosystems by man to suit other interests other than those of conserving.

The clearing of an endemic plant species may even lead to extinction of the species or even interference of the food chain. Extinction or disappearance of organisms from the area of its natural occurrence will no doubt create conservation problems. When preservation measures may remove vegetation from an ecosystem, conservation measures will be promoting its protection and existence. The plan supports the application of preventive treatments that will minimize damage that may occur on the historic features.

Damage may occur as a result of natural and human-caused disasters such as foot- traffic wear and tear, and earthquakes. One way that may protect the sensitive historic resources from damage would be to develop trails far away from the resources. Furthermore, blocking off the public from the historic sites may mean creating artificial barriers to stop the public access to these sites. Due to the great need of preserving historic features, human activities may be undertaken to address the possibility of a collapsing mine excavations due to loose mine tailings or unsupported fractured rocks around the mine.

Such activities will work against the park’s conservation in its natural form. Both the historical preservation and environmental conservation are important. However, the priorities given to the park by the management will determine which one between the two carries more weight. In Black Mountain Open Space Park, the cultural and historical resources hold great significance in USA and the world at large. However, the species diversity in the park cannot be ignored. Historical preservation is very important just like environmental conservation is.

The importance of preserving the historical features, as well as environmental conservation is seen when both are done to compliment each other. For instance, historic preservation and environmental conservation are promoted when unnecessary reconstruction, rehabilitation, and restoration are avoided. These measures ensure that the historical sites maintain their integrity, while the natural environment is protected from any damage or destruction. Both preservation and conservation become important when restoration of historic features and the ecosystem is allowed at very minimal levels.

For example, damaged vegetation can be restored back into the ecosystem by introducing plant species that earlier used to exist, but the vegetation cover has reduced or completely disappeared. The preservation practices that may be done through upgrading of historical resources will involve replacing of historical features with new material, similar to the much older one. Through such measures, historical preservation gets equal importance just like conservation. In the Black Mountain park management, historic conservation seems to have a higher level of influence on park activities than the environment conservation aspect.

The recommendations on cultural resource protection and preservation indicate this. The goals and recommendations that have been given to help the Department of San Diego Park and Recreation in managing the park seem to compromise the park’s environmental conservation. The suggestions to use treatments (chemical or physical) even in their gentle forms may to some extent undermine the ecosystems conservation. Just like treatments can damage the historic materials, they can also damage the natural habitats/ecosystems.

The mitigation measures that may be taken to respond to threats towards archaeological resources may also make preservation more important than conservation. A good example is growth of natural vegetation that may be seen as ‘harmful’ to the archaeological resources. Mitigation measures may mean removing the vegetation in areas within and around the resources which defies conservation principles. In case of such conflicts, there is need to find a common ground that will balance both the historic preservation and environmental conservation.

One measure that will promote balance between preservation and conservation is encouraging or allowing limited public access. This is because the park’s terrain poses certain safety hazards and it would be important to allow public access in the park under guided tours. The tour guides would be expected to have great knowledge about the historic sites, as well as the plant and animal community. The guides will be able to create positive awareness about the historic sites and the ecosystem to the people.

This will prevent public actions or activities that may damage the historic features or the natural ecosystem itself. In this case, both historic preservation and environment conservation will be balanced. The removal of hazardous materials in the park in order to take away materials that may damage the historical features or the environment will form a common ground of solving this conflict. For instance, historical features may still consist of heavy machinery that was used many years ago.

The Black Mountain Arsenic mine that had arsenopyrite mined from it in the 1920s is a historic feature that exists in the park and up to date, the scrap metal, metal and glass containers that were used in the mine have been found in the site during the . Some mining sites and other historic sites are known to be contaminated with toxic substances and it would be good to clean up the toxic substances from the site. Abatement work on the mining sites flue would be very crucial in cleaning up the toxic substances.

In addition, exterior professional cleaning or sealing all the open mine shafts will prevent contact of people, plants, and animals with the potentially toxic substances. Eventually when historic features are preserved by removing the toxic materials, the ecosystem will be protected from contamination by toxic substances that may be found around the historical sites. It has been recommended that an open space conservation easement and tax credit campaign program be developed. Research that has been carried out show that the park’s neighboring lands is undeveloped.

In order to preserve the historic aspect of the Black Mountain Park, the undeveloped land needs to be maintained in that state. This would create a partnership with the San Diego Land Board, and protect the park’s adjacent areas. While protection of these lands will act as a buffer zone for the park, the historical features will receive minimal disturbance since local people will preserve them. A buffer zone will be very vital in minimizing environmental destruction in the park, and historical features will have a chance to be preserved effectively.

Personal opinion The Black Mountain Open Space Park provides the United States of America and the world at large with a rich human history, as well as an admirable natural diversity. It is important to preserve the historical features or sites, but at the same time conserve the park’s environment. Though historical preservation seems to be given more weight due to the park’s historical significance, environmental conservation needs to be done. However, there is need to balance the two sides by ensuring that one activity does not compromise on the other.

A management plan that preserves the historic features within the park ensures that the historical stories that the features represent, are protected from destruction. It will be very important to ensure that though the historic features are protected, the environmental conservation should not be compromised. The historic preservation and environmental conservation should be able to complement each other when it comes to the park management. Through the local land owners’ participation in the park management, the San Diego Park Planning Development will succeed in preserving the park as a historic resource, as well as a natural resource.

Any activity that is undertaken inside and within the park should be able to integrate historic preservation and environmental conservation without displaying any bias against one side. The public will be able to acknowledge the importance of having the park, and hence will support both preservation and conservation.


Beauchamp, R, 1986. A Flora of San Diego County, California. Sweetwater River Press, National City, California Black Mountain Open Space Park Cultural Resource Management Plan. Feb2008. Prepared for City of San Diego, Park Planning and Development, San Diego, California.

Prepared by ASM Affiliates, Inc 2034 Corte Del Nogel Carisbad, California California Division of Mines and Geology . 1975. Geology of the San Diego Metropolitan Area, California. Bulletin 200. Sacramento, California. Chapman, C. 1925. A History of California: The Spanish Period. The Macmillan Company, New York. Consultant’s Guide to Park Design and Development. 2005. Prepared by the Department of Parks and Recreation, San Diego, California. Fransway, D. 2007. Hazardous Materials Evaluation – Black Mountain ArsenicMine – Abandoned Located in Black Mountain Park, San Diego, CA. Prepared for ASM Affiliates, Inc

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