Stone Circles I: A PIT Leader’s Viewpoint
Thunder Basin National Grassland, Wyoming, 1998
by Ian Ritchie, FS Archaeologist
A small but hardy crew showed up to camp at glorious Thunder Basin Work Center (a trailer house, if the truth be known) and venture into the realm of stone-circle sites. It all started innocently enough: visit a stone circle site and record it. But on the second day, a reported site of 10 stone circles and rock cairns grew into two sites of around 20 stone features each. As the search widened throughout the week, the complex of stone circles along a particular ridgetop grew to number 11 sites, totaling nearly 120 stone features.
When given a tour and briefed by PIT volunteers, the Douglas District Ranger immediately realized the significance of the site. As a result of that briefing, the draft Thunder Basin National Grassland Management Plan now lists the Teepee-Teepee area as a Special Interest Area that should be managed for the archaeological and cultural significance of the stone feature sites. Consultation with appropriate American Indian tribes and traditional practitioners is ongoing.
The PIT program can have real-world repercussions on managing land and heritage resources, as witnessed by the impact of four dedicated crew members.