Passport in Time is a volunteer program offered by the U.S. Forest Service inviting the public to share in the thrill of discovery through archaeological and historic research. The projects vary in length from a weekend to one month. There is no registration fee. PIT provides opportunities for individuals and families to work with professional archaeologists and historians. An official Passport is issued to each volunteer to document their participation in the PIT project.
The program began in 1989 and has generated millions of dollars in donated labor. Other outcomes include advocacy, positive public relations, conservation education, community involvement, improved tribal relations, support from elected officials, and improved Forest Service morale.
The majority of PIT projects involve prehistoric sites. However, historic sites and structures, historic artifacts, rock art, and cultural landscapes are also investigated.
Projects include archaeological excavation, site mapping, photography, laboratory analysis, collecting oral histories, historic building restoration, library archival research, exhibit design, and archaeological site monitoring.
Visitors willingly donate their time to learn about scientific methods and theory and the history and prehistory of the area. They also enjoy spending their vacation time with like-minded people making a difference.
Facilities vary depending on the activity and location. Many projects involve backcountry camping, where volunteers are responsible for their own food and equipment. Hiking, tours, lectures, and other recreational activities are commonly a part of the programs.