Endangered Places: How You Can Help

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of the Most Endangered Places of 2007, is a surprising amalgam of old and new, from historic motels along Route 66 to a racecourse in Florida. Here are just a few of the threatened sites and some ideas on what travelers and concerned citizens can do to offset the damage.

Many of the historic structures in Missouri’s sprawling Mark Twain National Forest are being threatened by a new development plan that puts little emphasis on historic preservation. The 1.5 million-acre forest was first planted by men from President Roosevelt’s Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps.

The industrial waterfront in Brooklyn, New York, home to the city’s shipping heritage, is also at risk. “Historic dockyards and factories are being demolished by developers anxious to cash in on the area’s newly hip status,” writes the Trust on its site.

A shortage of funds and staff limit the visitor services at The Minidoka Internment Camp, a national monument in Hunt, Idaho. The site is a stark reminder of the more than 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forced into labor camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and includes a rock garden made by the internees. Another problem is the proposed industrial farm nearby that would have tremendous environmental consequences on the surrounding area, as this primer from the Trust details.

To aid in the preservation of these and other sites around the country, the National Trust is asking for contributions, but there are also other ways to help. Passport in Time, a volunteer project of the USDA Forest Service, is a great way for people to get involved in conservation projects around the country (varying from two days to two weeks or more). Help landscape a national forest, work with archaeologists, gather oral histories, and more.

If your interest is in small cities and towns, get involved with the Main Street Center to revitalize a commercial district, or if you’re a country bumpkin, check out activities in rural areas such as the BARN AGAIN! program. And for some good news, turn to the growing list of success stories about places where cultural heritage tourism is alive and well.

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Photo: Terminal Market in Greenpoint, Brooklyn after a devastating fire. Credit: Giles Ashford

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