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Kevin McGill / Associated Press

NEWORLEANS - A nonprofit advocacy group has hired aretired federal expert for help in its quest to have two spotswhere flood walls gave way during Hurricane Katrina added to theNational Register of Historic Places.

Levees.org announced its effort to put the locations on theNational Register back in August. Organization founder SandyRosenthal said last week that Mark R. Barnes, an archaeologist whois retired from the National Parks Service and is now an associateprofessor at Georgia State University, has been retained to helpguide them through the application effort.

Barnes said in an interview he is confident of approval,although it is still months away. A state panel that is a key partof the process may consider the application in April.

'I think generally people at the national level, at the statelevel, at the local level, realize the importance of these leveebreach sites, that these are probably two of the mostsignificant,' Barnes said. 'And I, am pretty confident, havingworked with the Parks Service for over 35 years and having been thefirst archaeologist with the National Register.'

One site is where a major break in the wall along the IndustrialCanal broke, contributing to flooding of the Lower 9th Ward; theother, a similar break in the wall that was supposed to protect theLakeview area from the 17th Street Canal. Both neighborhoods wereamong the worst hit, with floods that filled homes to roof tops andpushed some buildings off their foundations. Floodwaters covered 80percent of the city after the Aug. 29, 2005, storm.

The register is the federal government's list of properties itconsiders worthy of preservation and recognition. The process ofreceiving recognition can be long and difficult, and sitestypically must be 50 years old, though exceptions are made.

'There is, what they call generally, a 50-year rule, but it's arule that they tend to modify if something is of importance as ahistoric event,' Barnes said.

The Katrina breaches, which led to flooding that killed hundredsand all but wiped out parts of the New Orleans area, wouldcertainly qualify, Barnes said.

Barnes said placement on the National Register is significantfor two reasons: One, it is official federal recognition of thehistorical importance of a place; two, it requires the gathering ofdata on the sites that other federal or federally licensed agencieswould have to gather before doing any work on the sites.

'I think a lot of times it's looked upon, unfortunately, asthis is a way of stopping progress. It's not, It's something that'sgoing to have to be done anyway,' Barnes said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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