Regional planning is an essential element of comprehensive archaeological management programs. Most regional planning efforts in archaeology focus on predictive modeling to distinguish areas based on the likelihood of encountering archaeological resources. We discuss a complementary approach that uses known sites and expert opinion to identify spatially explicit cultural resource preservation priorities. Loosely analogous to biodiversity conservation planning, priority cultural resource assessments provide an evolving vision of an archaeological reserve network which, if managed appropriately, could protect a significant part of our cultural heritage. We outline an efficient approach to identifying spatially explicit Priority Areas within portions of Arizona and New Mexico. This information complements assessments of individual site eligibility for purposes of listing on the National Register of Historic Places by providing an added layer of regionally contextualized information at larger geographic scales. By establishing priorities, this information can also enhance cultural resource considerations in local, state, and federal land use planning. While our consideration of significance is based on the potential information content of the resource, we argue that this planning process can easily incorporate other cultural resource values and help to address preservation actions in support of this broader set of values.
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