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Archaeological resource protection remains an important management concern on public lands in the U.S. Southwest and beyond. While legislation and educational programs have contributed to a general improvement in public attitudes toward cultural heritage, archaeological resources on public lands remain vulnerable to a variety of human impacts. We present results of a condition and damage assessment of 96 prominent precontact sites on the Tonto National Forest (TNF) in central Arizona. We summarize field methods and observations and discuss their implications for the management and protection of archaeological resources on the TNF and other public lands. Sites at varying distances from roads were assessed in an effort to identify potential relationships between damage frequency and road proximity. Field results indicate that (1) unauthorized damage occurs more frequently at sites near TNF roads; and (2) economical measures like advisory signage provide potentially effective means of deterring unauthorized damage to sites in higher risk locations. Our findings add to a knowledge base important for understanding patterns of damage and site vulnerability and for developing practical protection strategies in line with public land missions and administrative capabilities.
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