Friday, December 2, 2016

How to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout Series
Part 2: How to fill out the form

If you are signed up and read up on why to monitor, you're ready now to fill out the form.

The HMS Reporting Form can be found at this link. You can also add it to your home screen on your mobile device and bring it up before you go into the field. Be sure to submit it when you have decent cell service or just wait until you return to wi-fi area.

Step by step process is described below and example from our recording at Shell Bluff Landing is provided. Screen caps from the form as it was filled in is provided below each step.

Heritage Monitoring Scout (HMS Florida) online reporting form.

Step 1: Fill in your Scout ID

Once you've filled out the Scout application you can choose your own Scout ID (use this link) to enter data into the HMS Florida system. It's fine to use your name in this blank if you forgot your Scout ID or still need to do that step at a later time. Best to turn in the form as soon as possible after, or even during, your visit to the site.

Here HMS Florida scouts SM8LOL, EMJ8BRU, and BOGGS8 have arrived on site and are redy to record!

Step 2: Fill in site name, number, time and date

If you are visiting a cemetery, fill in the name of the site. If you received a Mission sheet, the name of the site and the Florida Mater Site File (FMSF) official site number will be at the top of the form. The FMSF number is used to track all data related to archaeological sites in the state. Contact us if you are not sure of the site number, we can always fill it in on the back end of the recording. Do note the date and time of your monitoring visit. If you visit the site several times, that is excellent work, just make sure you are filling out a monitoring form each and every time you go even if there is no change noted at the site between visits.

Step 3: Verify Site Location

This is the most important step of the whole process. If we don't know where for sure a site is, how can we possibly track or help land managers protect the site?

Were you able to locate the site with map or coordinates given? Using the coordinates from our Mission sheet, to find Shell Bluff Landing we used a geocaching app GCTools to guide us to the site (although it's a well marked trail) and verify the site location. Note: while most of the post focuses on the shoreline, the site is actually quite large and the coordinates led us to the center of the site.

And was this your first visit or a follow up from a previous time you've been to the site?

Step 4: Report Site Condition

Select from the three options the site condition that best describes your site. These descriptions are based on the state's definition of site conditions for state owned lands. Consider the overall site- one are may be more threatened that the rest of the site, but make a general assessment of how the site appeared to you that day.

Here GTM NERR Manager Mike Shirley and staff member Joe Burgess let us join them in assessing damage from Matthew and looking at overall site condition. While this part of the site is undergoing rapid erosion, other upland parts of the site are stable. Balancing these two extremes to made a determination, we went with Fair and the GTM NERR staff agreed.

Step 5: Record Threats

Select from list of threats provided based on your observations that day. HMS Florida is a public engagement program intended to help track heritage at risk, therefore impacts from climate change are listed at the top. In addition to what you observe that day, it's also fair to look for previous successful or failing stabilization strategies, such as rip-rap or fencing. They may give you clues as to threats occurring at the site over time.

This shot below captures multiple threats and several failed strategies to stabilize the shore at Shell Bluff Landing. By observing the overall site, we marked threats: active erosion, storm surge, wind, flooding, wave action, and vegetation growth. The rip-rap and mesh shows these threats have existed for a long time and continue to impact the site.

Step 6: Select Priority

Choose from high, medium, or low. What we're trying to get at with this question is how soon should someone return to the site. In general sites should be visited once a year at a medium threat level. Sites in immediate danger or that may change given a time-specific threat, mark high. Low priority is not often used, more in the case of sites on private land that are difficult to arrange a visit or is in poor condition and not likely to improve. There is room to explain your answer, when in doubt select medium.

Example of High priority: It's rare we'd visit the same site twice in one month, but such was the case when monitoring needs for Shell Bluff Landing. Most sites will need a visit after a major storm like Hurricane Matthew, but the shoreline is eroding almost as fast from regular wave action.

Step 7: Record Artifacts

Artifacts--things made and used by people--are often visible on the ground surface or eroding areas. Please take a photo and submit to and LEAVE ARTIFACTS IN PLACE. Removing artifacts from many kinds of properties in Florida requires a permit and adhering to ethical processing/conservation in perpetuity. Our goal is to record site conditions on that day, not to recover objects. Future blog posts and resources will be provided to help Scouts identify artifacts. When in doubt take a picture and send to your HMS Mentor or to the HMS Florida administator.

Step 8: Make a Recommendation

This narrative field lets your write in anything not yet captured on the form and make your ultimate recommendation. Try and tie your recommendations to observations you made in the field. Feel free to add as much detail of your site visit as you'd like in this space, anything you'd want the next person to visit the site to know.

Step 9: Submit

Well done you! Remember to submit any pictures to It will show up immediately in our database. If you have made any errors or want to view the information after your visit, while we are in the beta phase, please email and we can send you whatever information you need.

If you have not yet registered to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout, the application form can be found at We also encourage you to join the conversation of heritage at risk on the #EnvArch Facebook group. Check back as add resources and instructions to this series in the coming weeks.

How to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout Series #HMSflorida

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff 
Images: Emily Jane Murray and Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

Many thanks again to the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuary Research Reserve staff and volunteers who helped monitor Shell Bluff Landing last month but also every other month. 

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