Help BLM Protect Cultural Resources on Public Lands
On public lands across our Nation, pothunters and other archaeological looters are digging through ancient Indian pueblos, graves of Native Americans, and historic sites, and then stealing artifacts for private collections or for sale. Theft and vandalism of cultural resources not only leads to the loss of cultural artifacts, but also destroys valuable scientific information that could be helpful in analyzing the culture of the people who lived at the site.
The theft or disturbance of archaeological resources is against the law including the surface collection of arrowheads. The Bureau of Land Management Rangers, Agents and archaeologists work closely together to monitor and protect your cultural resources – but we need your help!
Every day, more and more people are getting involved in their public lands to assist archaeologists by monitoring and protecting these resources. Site Steward Volunteers have become active in at least eight states across the western United States and in some eastern states as well. From programs established by State Legislation to those organized at the grass roots level, they all share a common goal - a determination to stop vandalism and theft and to create a record of what exists on the public land.
More information on the Site Steward Program can be found at: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/res/Volunteer/stewardship/site_stewards.html
In Colorado, the San Juan Mountains Association Cultural Site Stewardship program located in Durango, Colorado is BLM’s partner in training and providing volunteer site stewards in southwest Colorado. Information on this program can be found at: http://www.sjma.org/cultural/cssp/cssp.htm
In addition to its archaeological and historical resources, Colorado is the location for several internationally known paleontological quarries. By studying fossilized animals, plants, other organisms, ancient soils, geochemistry, and biochemistry, paleontologists are currently engaged in answering questions of global and regional climate change and investigating the anatomical and evolutionary changes of life over time.
The Facts on Paleontological Resources
Paleontological resources are also protected by law. Paleontological Resource Preservation became stronger with the passage of the “Paleontological Resources Preservation Act” (PRPA), as part of P.L. 111-11, the Omnibus Public Lands Act (OPLA) of 2009. The PRPA/OPLA included provisions to ensure that the public may continue to collect a reasonable amount of common invertebrate and plant fossils on public land without a permit.
The act does not change BLM’s long-standing policy prohibiting the bartering or selling of casually collected fossils. Permits are required to conduct scientific inquiry and collect vertebrate fossils and other significant paleontological resources from public lands. Any paleontological resources collected under permit from public lands remain U.S. Government property and must be curated in an approved facility where they will be available for scientific research and public education.
The PRPA/OPLA includes civil penalties for illegal theft and vandalism of paleontological resources from public lands, and provides stiffer penalties for criminal theft and vandalism. The act also provides the BLM with the authority to offer rewards to the public who help BLM prosecute illegal activities on public lands.