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Jul 24, 2014 2:12 PM by AP

United Nations agency names Poverty Point a World Heritage Site

DELHI, La. (AP) - A United Nations agency has named Poverty Point State Historic Site in West Carroll Parish as a World Heritage site.

The U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization granted the designation Sunday during a meeting in Doha, Qatar. It's one of 20 sites added worldwide in an ongoing meeting. Poverty Point is the first Louisiana site to make the worldwide list, which has now grown to 1,001 locations. There are 21 other World Heritage sites in the United States.

"Now the world will know about Poverty Point," state Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, an early proponent of the site, told The News-Star ( tnsne.ws/1lJRthP). "I can't think of better news. I've been praying for this outcome every day since the committee began meeting last week."

The earthworks complex includes five mounds, six concentric semi-elliptical ridges separated by shallow depressions and a central plaza. It was created 3,100 to 3,700 years ago and used for residential and ceremonial purposes by hunter-gatherers. This constructed landscape was the largest and most elaborate of its time on the continent, with a form unseen anywhere else.

"It is a remarkable achievement in earthen construction in North America that was not surpassed for at least 2,000 years," UNESCO wrote in a statement describing the mound complex.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, whose office oversees tourism promotion, sent a two-person delegation to advocate for Poverty Point.

"This is a huge win for Louisiana," he said. "We're going to trumpet it to the world."

U.S. Sen Mary Landrieu, D-La., said that Rachel Jacobson, the U.S. Department of the Interior's acting assistant secretary, also attended the meeting to push the nomination as well.

"With this designation, we will be able to preserve the site for generations, attract more tourists from across the world and create more jobs for Northeast Louisiana," Landrieu said in a statement.

The United State nominated Poverty Point to the list in 2013, but officials had feared that American nonpayment of dues to UNESCO could torpedo Poverty Point's chances. The U.S. stopped sending dues, about $77 million per year, in 2011 after the Palestinian Authority was admitted as a full member of the cultural agency. Landrieu has advocated for the U.S. to pay its World Heritage dues.

The nomination also overcame calls from advisory bodies to reroute Louisiana 577 - which runs through Poverty Point - enlarging the property and creating a bigger buffer zone.

 

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