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Fossils and Artifacts

The Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 prohibits the excavation, taking, or destruction of "any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity" on lands under federal jurisdiction. Vertebrate and other fossils of "recognized scientific interest" are also protected under the Antiquities Act. Paleontologists believe that the removal of just one such fossil could create an unfortunate gap in scientific inquiry. Petroglyphs, human remains, dwellings, and other artifacts of early inhabitants are protected by law because they may provide important links to archeological deposits underneath. Removal could prevent discovery and evaluation of their true scientific worth.

The BLM requires permits for the collection of any artifacts, certain fossils, or other objects protected by the Act. Permits are granted only to qualified institutions for bona-fide scientific research and are not issued to casual recreationists, even though they may have an interest in archeology or paleontology.

Sites having apparent scientific or historic potential, such as cabins, prehistoric campsites, buffalo jumps, fossil beds, etc., should be reported to the nearest BLM office. They will then be evaluated by a archaeological or paleontological specialist.

Refer to our map index to our Surface/Mineral Management Quads. The cost of each map is $4. These maps will reflect federal ownership in either surface or surface/subsurface estates. These maps will not show where you might find fossils, artifacts, or other cultural resources. Always ask permission before crossing or entering upon private property.

An objective of the BLM is to promote harmony in balancing the many uses of the federal lands. You have room to roam in enjoying your interest, but are requested to respect all natural resources and the interests others have in them.

Last updated: 06-28-2012