Bureau of Land Management

Amy Lawrence the Barstow Arechaeologist in her field gear
Amy Lawrence, Barstow's archaeologist, looking ready to tackle some fieldwork.
Amy J. Lawrence

Barstow Field Office

"'s nothing like the scenes of 'Indiana Jones' I see so many people thinking of when I say I'm an archaeologist."

Amy Lawrence hales from Royal City, Washington and is currently a resident of Barstow, California.  Amy works out of the Barstow Field Office as the resident archaeologist.  When asked what she does, Amy gave us an overview: "I manage all cultural and paleontological resources on about 3 million acres by myself.  I review proposed mining, recreation, real property, range management, and special projects to ensure resource protection and compliance with FLPMA, NEPA, Archaeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA), Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) as well as Executive orders and Federal regulations.  I conduct field monitoring of cultural resource Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and other significant sites.  Contribute to permitting, NEPA, and monitoring for events (i.e. DARPA Grand Challenge).  In 2003, I co-sponsored Cultural Site Steward Training in Barstow with the Mojave Preserve to educate and enlist volunteers to assist in cultural resource protection through monitoring.  I am creating a database and organizing and filing cultural resource materials according to their appropriate series.  Currently, my priority projects are 640 acres of Section 110 survey at Juniper Flats and dealing with Grazing Lease renewals. 

"This all translates into about 90% paperwork, 10% fieldwork.  Nothing like the scenes of 'Indiana Jones' I see so many people thinking of when I say I’m an Archaeologist.  I protect non-renewable cultural resources (prehistoric and historic), Native American values, and paleontological resources on public lands for future scientific research and public education.  Public education is a large part since the average person doesn’t really understand why I tell them to leave the artifacts where they find them.  I’ve had good success with the jigsaw puzzle analogy: Imagine a 1,000-piece puzzle.  If we’re lucky, the Archaeologist sees 20 pieces of that puzzle from which we try to reconstruct the whole picture.  That’s why we quite literally squeeze every drop of information from the rocks we study – location, material, shape, size, association, chemical composition, etc. etc.

"I like what I do and why I do it, though most days, it’s like fitting a square peg into a round hole.  I’ve gotten pretty good at whittling."
Amy became an archaeologist because she enjoyed history and "sort of fell into anthropology in college."  Of course, she adds, her career choice might also have something to do with hours of playing in the dirt pile with her siblings and cousins. 

This month will make three years that Amy has been with the BLM.  She was originally an emergency hire for the Spokane BLM office in Washington and was later integrated into the STEP program while finishing her MA degree at Washington State University.  Amy received her BA in Anthropology from Oregon State University with minors in Zoology, English Literature and Japanese.  More specifically, "By training, I’m an animal bone specialist (faunal analyst).  My MA thesis dealt with mammal bone from a shell midden site in Puget Sound, Washington.  I presented a paper on the bird bone from this site as well.  This background is helpful since there are quite a variety of fossil resources to manage in the Barstow Resource Area and I regularly talk to the paleontologists."

When Amy is looking to relax and unwind you can usually find her outdoors and active.  She enjoys biking, jogging, horseback riding and swimming, and she tells us that she has two cats and a horse who is not yet in residence.  She may not be Indiana Jones but she sure sounds like she leads and exciting and fullfilling life.

For more information concerning this feature story, contact Amy J. Lawrence by telephone 760-252-6034 or by e-mail
News.bytes Archive