On October 12, The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) released its annual assessment of “threatened and at-risk landscapes” in the United States. This year’s thirteen sites were organized based on five themes: “monetization of open space,” in which parks come under pressure to generate profit; “resource extraction,” which is under particular attack by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who proposed relaxing management rules for six monuments, exposing them to mining and logging; “park equity,” charging to use parks or converting them to sport and cultural venues; “detrimental effects of shadow,” where the surrounding development is built up to the point where the park no longer receives adequate light; and “the devaluation of cultural lifeways,” in which ancestral lands and other sites of cultural significance are threatened.
These landscapes span a broad set of environments, from Greenacre Park in New York City to the Boundary Waters wilderness area in northeastern Minnesota. Twelve sites are listed below. The others, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada, are three of the six threatened National Monuments that come under threat if the Antiquities Act of 1906 allows Zinke to adjust boundaries that could open up the potential of mining and drilling.
Discovery Park, Seattle (Courtesy Friends of Discovery Park)
At over 530 acres in the Puget Sound, Discovery Park is the largest public park in Seattle. Featuring work from the Olmsted Brokers, Dan Kiley, Ian Tyndall, and Peter Ker Walker, the park is under threat from an art campus that would, among other things, host concerts in a 600-seat auditorium.
San Jose, California
Under threat of suburban sprawl from the surrounding Silicon Valley, Coyote Valley is 7,400 acres of undeveloped land that is used for farming, a corridor for wildlife, and flood control.
Sanctuary Woods, Wauwatosa, WI, 2011. (Eddee Daniel/Courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation)
Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area
One million acres of forestland that was protected by the 1964 Wilderness Act is now under threat of mining.
The Obama Presidential Center has claimed a portion of the iconic 1871 park, designed by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, for its own.
Formerly a Civil War fortification built by enslaved African Americans, Fort Negley Park is now a site of cultural and historic significance. The City of Nashville is proposing to build a mixed-use development on 40 percent of the park that is currently an abandoned sports stadium and parking lot rather than return the site to park land.
Originally known as the Milwaukee County Asylum for the Insane, the 1880 structure by Henry Koch and its surrounding gardens was a precursor to healing gardens and designing for health. A plan to build a multi-family residential development on the site was announced earlier this year.
In a well-intentioned attempt to fund its park system (which is in serious need of funds), the managers of Audubon and City Parks now charge a fee for entry, limiting its public use.
Boston Common. (Carol M. Highsmith/Courtesy TCLF)
Boston Common and its adjacent garden, established in 1836, are under threat of a 700-foot-tall tower that would case a shadow on the space.
Rhode Island State House Grounds, Providence, RI, 2017. Photo © KaityRyan, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation
Surrounding a Beaux-Arts building by McKim, Mead & White, the lawn and grounds could be replaced by a proposed “intermodal transportation center.”
Greenacre Park, New York, NY, 2017. Photo courtesy of the Greenacre Foundation
A tiny—60 by 120 feet—park designed by Sasaki, Dawson, & DeMay could soon be devoid of sunlight thanks to new zoning regulations in Midtown Manhattan.
A bid to redesign the 92-acre park in the name of resiliency could dramatically change its current landscape.
Currently the largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay, the river is under threat by a conditional permit that would build 17 transmission towers across the river and another 27 towers throughout the region.