UM Center Works on Historic Air Force Base Preservation

March 10, 2017

CIRE principal investigator Jeff MacDonald performs a building conditions assessment.MISSOULA – The Center for Integrated Research on the Environment at the University of Montana has started producing historic preservation and maintenance manuals for U.S. Air Force bases across the country through its ongoing partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense and Army Corps of Engineers.

As a federal entity, the military must follow the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. To do this, cultural resource managers on military bases need to have knowledge and understanding of cultural properties protection and long-term preservation. The manuals the CIRE team produces will serve as longstanding references for cultural resource managers on how to best preserve structures based on building materials, weather patterns, deterioration and other factors. The manuals also will help determine eligibility for buildings to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Preserving cultural heritage is a fundamental component of many missions in today’s military,” said Jeff MacDonald, a historic buildings and environments preservation expert and principal investigator for nine cultural projects at CIRE. “Protecting cultural heritage enables the military to save local resources and heritage.”

MacDonald and cultural resource manager Kate McCourt lead a CIRE team that examines the built environments and landscape issues specific to particular military bases.

 “The nation as a whole benefits by saving our history,” said McCourt, who also is an expert on the symbiotic nature of how built environments relate to the archeological landscape. “It goes along with the saying ‘Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ Buildings are a tangible reminder. Once it is gone, you cannot get it back.”

The Department of Defense manages military land. In May 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a five-year, $45 million cooperative agreement with UM to study and solve environmental and cultural resource problems across the nation.

Through the agreement, UM also helps Corps implement land and water ecological restoration, as well as maintenance and training for optimal management of public resources. Together, the two entities work to promote positive ecosystem health, endangered species awareness and the continuing wealth of natural resources on Air Force bases.

CIRE is organized within a suite of investigation, research and support areas with specific roles and responsibilities strategically designed to address its clients’ particular needs. In addition to the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Defense, CIRE works with agencies, foundations and private organizations to accomplish specific research goals.

For more information call Mona Nazeri, CIRE media information specialist, at 406-243-2617 or email


Contact: Mona Nazeri, media information specialist, UM Center for Integrated Research on the Environment, 406-243-2617,