Bulletin Staff Report

The Brown County Historical Society and Texas Military Forces are teaming up with Boy Scout Troop 14 in Brownwood to clean up an archaeological site on the Camp Bowie Training Facility Saturday. The event is part of the celebration of National Public Lands Day.

The idea for the project was developed during a meeting with members of the Brown County Historical Society and Kristen Wenzel, the Texas Military Forces Cultural Resource program manager.

“Members of the society expressed interest in seeing the archaeological sites on the installation and in participating actively in the program,” Wenzel said.

National Public Lands Day is the largest hands-on volunteer effort designed to preserve America’s lands, Wenzel said. This will be the 14th year of the national program, which allows volunteers across the nation to clean and repair public lands and facilities on a designated day. A Department of Defense Legacy Grant was awarded the Texas Military Forces Cultural Resources Program to obtain materials and supplies for volunteers who will clean and document an historic homestead at Camp Bowie.

When the Department of Defense Legacy Program announced the availability of special grants for National Public Lands Day, Wenzel contacted Frank Hilton of the Brown County Historical Society to see if the group wanted to collaborate on an event. The society agreed to solicit volunteers and coordinate with Troop 14 to clean and document an archaeological site.

The site selected is part of Camp Bowie that was once home to rural Texans, and before then, Native American hunters and gatherers, Wenzel said. To prepare for World War II, Camp Bowie was established by the U.S. Army, and many families sacrificed their homes and land to make way for the training facility. As a result, very little evidence remains of the earlier occupants of the land. The historic site chosen for clean-up is one of the most intact homesteads on Camp Bowie, and archival research indicates it was once occupied by a family named Lacy.

The Texas Military Forces Cultural Resource Program manages the archaeological and historical buildings at installations across the state. Under federal, state and Army regulations, Texas Military Forces is required to identify and evaluate all historic properties. When historic properties are identified that meet the criteria for eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places, Texas Military Forces must protect those sites from further damage, or mitigate it through excavation and detailed recordation if damage is unavoidable due to construction or training.

Fostering good community relations is an important component of the Texas Military Forces Environmental Program, Wenzel said, and programs like National Public Lands Day provide an opportunity to preserve the past for future Texas.

Anyone interested in participating may call Wenzel at (512) 782-6194 or Georgia Rodgers with the Brown County Historical Society at (325) 784-7429.