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PROTECTED BY LAW
Prehistoric and historic cultural resources are part of every American's national heritage. But it is a heritage that is being destroyed by intentional and unintentional vandalism and looting. It is estimated that more damage was done to ancient sites in the United States last year than in the previous 600 years.
The Congress, on behalf of the American people, has enacted many laws to protect these national treasures. The Antiquities Act of 1906 first provided for the preservation and protection of antiquities on Federal land and established penalties for violation. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and various amendments established a program for preservation of historic properties. The 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act establishes a national policy for protection and management of cultural resources. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 provides for access to and use of sacred sites and objects on Federal lands. Finally, the 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act strengthens the Federal Government's legal commitment to protect these resources by establishing stiff penalties such as prison sentences and fines for those found guilty of excavating, removing, transporting, or selling these resources without a permit.
Despite these laws, destruction continues, and enforcement of these laws on 4* million acres with few personnel is a problem. The BLM believes that the best way to preserve cultural resources is to inform the public and to enlist support in this important effort. Helping people to understand that the cultural resource values are far greater than their material worth is the first step. Learning the importance of leaving these artifacts, no matter how small, in their original setting for both study and enjoyment by others is another major goal. And working together to curb the looting of these resources by professionals who sell them for profit is also critical.