Kisatchie Ranger District gets sweat equity from anthropology students
The Kisatchie Ranger District will finish up an intensive ten-week field study this week. The work is mostly carried out by four anthropology students from LSU and University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
The students are shovel testing 1,100 acres of forestland near Natchitoches. They’re searching for sensitive archeological sites as part of an environmental assessment for a proposed habitat improvement project, according to district archeologist Geoffrey Lehmann.
“One of our broader goals on the district is to restore the longleaf environmental ecosystem. What that involves is a number of different types of projects, including timber management, selective harvesting, and controlled fires to manipulate the types of vegetation,” Lehmann said.
This is strenuous work. The students dig measured holes in the forest for six hours a day. Kati LeBlanc, a junior anthropology student at UL Lafayette, is pleased with the progress she’s made during her summer internship.
“We have a map in what we call our little arsenal, the office where we keep our gear. We’ve gone through three maps and every day we go back into the office and Geoff will take a highlighter and show us how much work we did,” LeBlanc said. “We know that we cover a lot of ground, but to see him put it on the map is actually really cool.”
Rebecca Schneider, a senior anthropology major at LSU, looks forward to moving to the next step in the process.
“I think it’s important to get to know what it’s like to do survey work because that’s also the beginner stage of archeology. Now that I’ve been here for nine weeks and know the basics of it, I’m excited to move on to excavation work,” Schneider said.
On a good day, the students will dig 25 holes. Lehmann says the students are unlikely to unearth Caddo artifacts. But they could come across farmsteads from the 1800s, logging sites and turpentine mills from the early 20th century, and Fort Polk’s Vietnam era training grounds.
The district, part of the Kisatchie National Forest, covers more than 102,000 acres.
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