Public Lands Archaeology

Public Lands Archaeology - Program History

Big Key Mound Crystal River mounds Cutler Fossil Site Fort Center Martin House (DeSoto Encampment) & Mission San Luis McKeithen site Page-Ladson Richardson Hammock Three Chimneys Tony's Mound Upper Matecumbe Key midden

The Public Lands Archaeology (PLA) program was formerly known as the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) Archaeological Program. Borne out of 1960s legislation and the Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) program of 1972, the CARL program was created in 1979 to facilitate public land acquisition. According to the Florida Statute, 259.032(3), lands considered for CARL acquisition were required to meet at least one of various public purposes, such as protecting endangered species, restoring ecosystems, providing nature-based recreation, and preserving significant archaeological or historical sites. Lands acquired under this statute became state-designated parks, recreation areas, preserves, recreational trails, forests, wildlife management areas, and so forth.

In 1990 the legislature enacted Preservation 2000, a program designed to raise nearly $3 billion over a 10-year period for land acquisition. This program was replaced in 2000 with the Florida Forever Program and receives approximately $105 million annually until 2010 from the sale of bonds for the purchase of state lands.

Map of Florida with numbers marked off for locations for sites listed below.
Map of Florida, click on the numbers

Through the acquisition of these conservation lands, the State of Florida has protected many properties of considerable archaeological significance. These included sites such as Big Mound Key, the Crystal River mounds, Fort Center, Tony's Mound, the McKeithen site, the Martin (de Soto) site, Mission San Luis, Page-Ladson, Richardson Hammock, Three Chimneys, Upper Matecumbe Key midden, the Cutler Fossil Site. Initially, CARL lands were managed by natural resource staff, unfamiliar with archaeological and historical sites. As more sites were acquired, it became apparent that professional archaeologists were needed to help manage them. Consequently, beginning in 1989, CARL funds began to be allocated annually to the Florida Division of Historical Resources to assist CARL land managers. The program today continues to operate as Public Lands Archaeology.