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.
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 not seen anywhere else.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, whose office oversees tourism promotion, sent a two-person delegation to advocate for Poverty Point.
"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," U.S. Sen. Mary 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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