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KANAB, Utah (AP) -- For more than 1,200 years the ancient Anasazi made their home here along the Utah-Arizona border. Now, a developer wants to set a modern-day subdivision among the ruins sites, clustering homes so they capitalize on rather than harm what remains of the ancient dwellings.
St. George developer Milo McCowan wants to build 700 to 800 houses and town homes on 270 acres west of Kanab Creek. The area is in the process of being annexed into city of Kanab.
But most important, McCowan said, is preserving and even encouraging more study of the area's archaeological resources.
"We are dedicating 20 acres in the project for long-term archaeological excavation and study, hopefully in partnership with a university," McCowan said. "Amateur archaeologists could move here and live and assist with a significant dig in their own neighborhood."
The subdivision -- named Chaco Canyon after the famous Anasazi ruins in New Mexico -- would also include open spaces, trails, an amphitheater for the performing arts and a museum featuring the area's artifacts, he said. The entrance road will wind between two ruin sites.
A private consulting firm run by Doug McFadden, former head archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management's nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, conducted an archaeological survey of the area for McCowan last year.
McFadden said the ruins at 14 sites offer excellent examples of how the Virgin Anasazi lived from the year 1 to the 1200s, when they abruptly vanished. The ancient dwellings are layered and built in blocks of rooms extending down about 15 feet and were used for living and storage space.
"They show us the different periods of occupation from the early (Anasazi) to the late period," McFadden said. "It's a neat situation to have that continuity of occupation. It allows us to study how things changed for them over time."
McFadden lauded McCowan for going out of his way to preserve the sites. He said McCowan is not required by law to do an archaeological inventory.
The Division of State History also is pleased with McCowan's efforts.
A letter from state historic preservation officer Wilson Martin praises McCowan for combining the area's archaeological heritage into his development and offers McCowan assistance in obtaining grants and tax incentives for the development.
------ Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)