BLM enforces ARPA

From the desert to ebay - sometimes antique finds are for sale.

From the desert to ebay – antique finds.

Before you pick up that old bottle in the Eastern Sierra desert, remember the Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement might catch and fine you.

A citizen recently called Sierra Wave Media to ask about a report that a retired man in the Chalfant area had been contacted by BLM Law Enforcement for picking up old bottles in the desert. The citizen said BLM then went to the man’s house to take more items. BLM Manager in Bishop, Bernadette Lovato, said, “I can’t tell you about Chalfant.” However, she did point out that BLM has two Law Enforcement officers who conduct regular patrols and investigate citizen reports of those who take items over 50 years old from BLM lands.

Lovato said, “We have several ongoing investigations regarding people collecting artifacts.” The same law that applied to the theft of petroglyphs applies to the theft of any item 50 years old or older. She said this is a violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act or ARPA.

Lovato acknowledged that Inyo and Mono have a long history of people collecting artifacts. Many use metal detectors to help search for interesting items. How do citizens know if an object is over 50 years old? Lovato said the cans are different and bottles are a different color. She said, “It really isn’t appropriate to take anything off federal lands.”


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83 Responses to BLM enforces ARPA

  1. Jerome June 12, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    Where do they come up with this crap? Laws protecting trash. Give me a break! Its someone’s garbage! I can see protecting prehistoric Indian sites, old ghost towns, old mining buildings and such but old trash? There’s thousands of museums, colleges and universities with tons of these old so called artifacts. So if someone comes across something, let them have it. Big deal! If its so damn important then make all the museums, colleges and who ever else take all their artifacts and throw them out! In the deserts, the mountains. Around old town sites. Antique dealers! Car owners! If you have antiques or cars or anything as old as the law states, throw it out! Its now owned by the government! Your grandparents, great grandparents. Throw them out! They’re relics now. Yes I’m going overboard but so is the government!

    If the BLM/ Government is so damn concern about protecting all these artifacts then why are they and the forest service tearing down old mining buildings? Old head frames and whatever else they want to tear down? Those are artifacts! Those are museums! That’s our HISTORY! Once its gone that’s it! There’s No Bringing It Back! Too many times I’ve been in the mountains or the desert and seen old buildings, head frames there one day and maybe a year down the road… Gone! The ghost town of Charleston, Az is another good example. The 93 Infantry Division from Ft Huachuca during WWII or shortly after held war games at the ghost town. Wiping out what was left of the town! They couldn’t just build a mock up town in the desert. They just had to destroy more history! Your tax dollars at work!

    I get so tired of hearing you can’t do this, you can’t do that on federal lands. Well who the hell owns the federal lands? The American People! Not the government! Who does the government work for? The American People! Obviously there’s too many people with deep pockets that get the laws working for them! Government needs to change! They obviously can’t run the country right so things need to change! It should be that every law they come up with has to go before the American People so they can vote on it. No more congress making laws they want or are getting paid to make. That would eliminate all the lobbyists with the deep pockets! That would also eliminate congress and that would be a sure way to straighten out the budget and get us back in the black!

    That’s my opinion!

  2. salblaster April 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    got some questions for benny. when you say horses have no natural predators does that include mountain lions and coyotes, i don’t know but it seems to me they could prey on young small horses. when you say horses foul water supplys i agree, but does’nt every animal that drinks from that sourse also foul it and those wild animals have evolved to deal with a community watersupply. also what exactly is going to happen if horses and burros are not removed are the deer and bears and rabbits and everything else going to disapear. what you would call intrusive species are showing up and populating the entire globe, there’s 20 ft pythons in the florida everglades, snakehead fish from asia in rivers on the east coast, farel pigs in just about every state, some people might not like it but it’s a global reallity like a giant biology experiment. what would darwin say about this. i would say a species, intrusive or not will follow survival of the fittest laws in it’s quest for resources as one species grows in population others will adapt or perish. who are you to mess with evolution.

  3. amazed April 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    while reading these blogs for several days , I have been trying to learn if surface collecting arrowheads is illegal. I’m sure employees of BLM have been following as well. Why don’ any of them offer an answer to that issue for us. Some of us really would like to know without clouding the issue further such as the Boy Scout exclusion rule. Does BLM really know the answer.

  4. RJF April 1, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    A number of laws and the provisions of them are being mixed up here. First, arrowhead collecting is exempted from the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, but such collection is still prohibited by the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Congress was aware that the 1906 law was not helping stem the flow of archaeological objects being stolen from public lands. The 1906 law treated arrowhead collection the same as pot hunting. The pot hunting activity did not have high enough fines and prison terms, but they didn’t want the punishments on arrowhead collection to be raised to the level pot hunting was going to be. Additional definitions and activities in the 1906 law were unclear. As a result the 1979 law was passed and the reason it specifically excludes arrowheads is to keep this collecting illegal under the lesser punishment 1906 law.

    Now people are mixing up historical objects with antiquities and items of archaeological value. Historical objects are those 50 years or older and covered by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Those covered by ARPA have to be at least 100 years old.

    The definitions make more sense when you read the laws themselves. It also helps to have worked with all three during a career.

    We are talking about federal lands here not those owned by the DWP. The laws governing that land are those of the State of California and I’m not familiar with those. If you research California’s State Historic Preservation Officer and that individual’s office you can probably find an answer.

  5. Tim March 18, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Why is it illegal to pick up old cans but OK for DWP to tear down historic buildings on 395?

    In the city it’s difficult to see how harmful big government is yet in the country it’s obvious. Can you imagine how dreadful our slavery and servitude will be when they take all our guns?

  6. salblaster March 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    what a bummer, a lot of people collect old bottles and horshoes and cans and never thought they were breakin the law. now were crimanals, but that’s it, we’ve been warned. no trying to tell claim i did’nt know i can’t pick up bottles if caught. just like a road closed sign put up blocking offroaders, theres nothing i can do about it, just conform to the rules. also i have seen wild horses in the inyo mts they are magnificent animals, with their long manes and tails running free across the mountain tops. really cool when you see them.

  7. Kathy March 16, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    BLM are you serious! What about the thousands of horses that you have taken off public lands. Like to see you put yourselves in jail or pay the taxpayers back some of the millions they have paid you. Being a bit hypocritical don’t you think?

  8. Mark March 16, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    What about some of these ol time Bishop folks who have made a life long hobby of removing mining equipment (gas engines) and restoring them from BLM land. Many of you have seen them at the Tri-County fair over the years..

    I’m currious what statute of limitations on such a crime.

    Let’s not forget about the boys down in Ridgecrest landing their helicopters in remote areas and carrying off stuff either.

    As far as I’m concerned what the BLM is doing is to little to late.

  9. MJA March 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    To be true: The BLM is killing our wild mustangs.
    Here are some informative web pages:


    • Big AL March 16, 2013 at 12:05 am #

      The truth of the matter is .. they do kill some of them, They are corraled in places like the “Donkey Farm” in Ridgecrest, officially known as “The wild horse and burro preparation facility”.

      The government rounds them up, puts them in these facilities (Ridgecrest being one of two), they give them veterinary checks and medicine, cull out those who can’t make it, they are euthanized. Some of them die as well. The rest languish in these corrals. They try to adopt them out, but a lot of the animals are not good stock, or direable animals.

      It’s funny though, they claim 200 or so animals are adopted annually, I’m not sure if this number is burros and horses combined. But .. between the two facilities, they have several hundred head at any given time.

      Pretty sad to see these wild animals penned up in these corrals.

      California’s appropriate management level AML (Animal Management Level) is currently around 1,700 horses and 400 to 500 burros. This is on approx. 10 million acres. They claim the horses tear up the water holes, and they and the donkeys are over grazing on 10 million acres of land.

      You see these horses and burros out in the desert … they are in the middle of a huge land scape, eating desert brush, you might see 15 animals at a time in an area. in the desert, you very rarely see deer, you might see a few antelope. And cows occasionally.

      Millions of miles and a few animals, all combined, still do not endanger over grazing the desert. And the herds will not get out of hand. The natural order of things will keep them in check.

      I suspect their AML estimates anyways. So .. the burro and wild horse program really isn’t all they crack it up to be, and animals do get put down, for various reasons.

      • Big AL March 16, 2013 at 12:20 am #

        AS MJA says, they are Iconic figures, and are viable animals to be roaming the lands.

        And they are being systematically rounded up for elimination of their presence on the land, because of someone’s personal feelings about their existence on the range lands and deserts.

        If you ever get a chance to go see them down in Ridgecrest, you will come away with a different understanding. You can feel their grief of being corraled.

        It takes about 10 minutes to drive out to the Donkey Farm on Ridgecrest BLVD / SR 178, heading towards Trona about 5 miles, make a right onto Randesburg Wash Rd. Look for the road right before the entrance to the BLM fire station, it loops around the corrals, back to the Road. There’s places to pull out and park, so you can get out and walk up to the fence, the horse and donkeys will come to you.

        Go talk to some of them, you will enjoy it. I wanted to tie a cable around the fence posts and rip it out, and let go free. As much as I enjoyed it, I felt sad for them.

        • Desert Tortoise March 16, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

          That’s the beef lobby. Don’t let no dol gum horses and donkeys eat my cattle’s feed. Imagine if the beef industry had to pay auction prices for what is now free government grazing land. They would yell and scream to high heaven.

          • Big AL March 16, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

            Well I’d rather eat range beef than beef that is kept in corrals, eating, in some cases .. ground up animals, and other drugs and chemicals.

            I am not beef industry, but I know what the better of the two beefs would be.

            And contrary to some belief, range cows can live on the open lands along with the horses deer antelope and burros, no one will cause the other to decline.

        • Reality Check March 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

          If you wanto see the Mustangs in the wild, just drive out to River Springs on Hwy 120. It’s a lot closer than Ridgecrest.

        • benny April 1, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

          I wrote a long post to let you know that you don’t have the background or science background to make the claims you do in your posts in regards to wild horses. Your conclusions are not backed up with the sciences of botany, range management, wildlife management or ecology. My well written post has disappeared and I’m not sure why. I guess people can make uneducated statements here, but if you provide solid evidence from science and its literature you get cut off.

          • benny April 1, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

            I made a huge mistake in the last post by calling them “wild horses.” They are feral animals and not native to North America since the end of the Pleistocene epoch and the subsequent retreat of the North American ice sheet. The ecosystems that we have now evolved since then and the horse and burro (native only to Africa) were not a part of that evolution.

          • Benett Kessler April 2, 2013 at 7:34 am #

            You make it sound as hard as it is to become a “local” in the Eastern Sierra.

          • benny April 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

            My post reappeared, the internet is such a mystery at times!

      • benny April 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

        There isn’t sufficient forage available for them. Range conservationists keep track of that and recommend how may animals can live and not change or destroy vegetation. Horses don’t have any natural predators in North America because the horse is not natural to the ecosystems of North America. You have no idea of what the carrying capacity for horses and cows (non native species) is in desert, high plain or forest ecosystems. You have no idea of what makes up the determination used to arrive at carrying capacity. It can be as much as 2-3 thousand acres per animal. In the eastern and southern U.S. it only takes one acre to carry a cow and calf for the spring, summer and fall. In the west it can take one section (640 acres) or more to carry a cow and calf for a similar or shorter season. This comparison does not include desert ecosystems.

        Much of the reason that feral horses and mules are such poor specimens when they are captured is they don’t get the nutrient intake they need. Past overgrazing, which started in the 1860’s and 1870’s, have eliminated plants species that carry them. The problem is that native species, that were kept in balance by natural predators, can’t get the nutrients they need either and numbers have crashed. They foul what water sources they can find and native wildlife cannot compete with them at those locations. Burros have never been native to North America, only Africa and they are more harmful per animal that the horse, but that doesn’t really mean that horses should be allowed on public lands, both are unacceptable.

        Reading a book on basic range management will allow people to understand what they are seeing better, although the identification of plants is absolutely necessary. Grazed land has decreasers, increasers and invaders. The most nutritious plants decrease in number and vitality when grazed. Less nutritious plants increase and as the overgrazing continues they begin to disappear resulting in the least nutritious plants to enter and dominate, the invaders. There are invaders taking over the range lands all over the west and reversing that process may prove to be irreversible in human time frames. As soon as the decreasers disappear a situation called “retrogressive succession” begins. This means that the natural progressive succession, that supports a healthy ecosystem as it moves to climax. Vegetation stays in the climax stage until an event such as fire or flood takes it back to an earlier stage at which time it moves toward through phases until it reaches the climax stage. The problem is overgrazing turns these phases or stages backward until the invaders dominate and natural species don’t exist anymore. If any of these species stay, they are often species that cows and horses (and a lot of native species) cannot eat. These are the increasers, and they will dominate, which is not helpful. There are many species that now dominate desert ecosystems. These are shrub species such as mesquite, cholla cactus, rubberweed, jimmyweed and cheat grass are examples.

        There is a large body of science that has been experimented with and subject to a high degree of scrutiny as is normal with any science. There are large experimental ranges, the closest being between Fresno and Oakhurst where research can take place in a controlled environment. This science has been evolving for 90-100 years. There are very few people educated in this science, myself included obviously, that support the continued existence of feral animals on public lands.

        There is a lot more to the issue than most wild horse advocates take time to understand. They haven’t seen the native species dying from the influence of feral horse and burros. I have and I’m knowledgeable enough to be able to observe ecosystems and understand much of what is going on. Uneducated observation can often be counter intuitive and is often 180 degrees from the truth.

        • Where Benny may be getting his info April 2, 2013 at 9:54 am #

          “In my opinion, at the root of the assertion that animals have rights is the belief that animals and men are equal in creation, that man evolved from apes, and that creation is an allegorical myth contained in the Bible. There is no escaping the connection between secular humanism and animal rights activism.”

          Conservative guru, Rush Limbaugh

        • Conservative Manifesto? April 2, 2013 at 9:58 am #

          “I once asked a long-haired maggot-infested FM-type environmentalist wacko: “Would you say the owl has evolved to a superior position over the mouse?” He answered, “Oh yeah, man, an owl can fly, he sees at night.”

          Conservative guru, Rush Limbaugh

        • Big AL April 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

          So benny because you went to college or you read a lot about studies about this subject written by others who went to college and studied the matter, you are an expert.

          And people who have practical experience, living on the land, working the land, do know anything .. you just made your point, and proved just how much you know about the subject.

          You can say what you want about it but what you say is folly as far as I am concerned, and thank you so much for saying how stupid I am for not having a formal education, other than living life and experiencing it first hand, not read from a book or heard from someone who thinks they know.

          There is no such thing as a controlled environment either!

          • Big AL April 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

            Let me add .. there is no such thing as a controlled environment outside of an enclosed room that encapsulates the controlled environment you are trying to replicate.

  10. MJA March 15, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    The BLM is killing our mustangs too! =

    • Benett Kessler March 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      To be fair, I don’t believe they are.
      Benett Kessler

    • benny April 1, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

      “Wild’ horses are feral animals and should be removed from all public lands. They are fouling water sources and killing native songbirds and other wildlife. Horses have not been native to North America since the last ice sheet retreated at the end of the Pleistocene epoch around 10-12 thousand years ago. It’s like putting rabbits in Australia and we all know how badly that turned out. The ecosystems that have evolved since then did not include horses. They are destroying native wildlife habitat and so is the cow. I say take them both off public lands and keep them off! The amount of meat produced on public lands is extremely small and the program runs a large deficit as the grazing permittees don’t pay enough. Study after study has found the even in local economies where it seems like grazing is important, the actual percentage added to those economies is less than 3%, even in the largest public land grazing counties. There is far more value in wildlife and recreation.

      • Big AL April 2, 2013 at 12:02 am #

        So benny .. tell me .. why are you still here .. you are just as feral as those horses, in your own explanation of things .. as we all are .. I guess we should all leave the continent .. including all aboriginal peoples. After you benny.

        Cattle grazing actually enhancing vegetation, horses do not destroy anything, they do not hamper the birds, although that is a first for me in all the untruths that some are spreading about wild horses and cows on the range lands.

  11. Carman Prisco March 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Depending on the context of how and where its done surface collecting of arrowheads only does not fall under ARPA. Other laws do exist to protect them, also under ARPA in brief, an item is not considered and artifact unless it’s 100 years of age. What the manager should have been referring to was a section of the Antiquities of 1906 which at the time did refer to artifacts as being 50 yeas old. Problem with that was in or around 1974 the definition of an artifact found within the Antiquities Act was ruled unconstitutional in the 9th circut which California falls under its jurisdiction.

    • RJF April 1, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

      Unless I missed it when I read the rather short 1906 act, it did not give an age of an object. The ARPA defined the years as 100 and is much more clear than the 1906 act.

  12. Really ? March 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Doesn’t the “Finders Keepers” rule apply here? The old artifacts found, are not navtive or part of the Land, it’s really old Trash. I see it as a good thing to remove trash and rusty objects that could potentially hurt the land and wild life.

    • MJA March 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

      Those blue bottles are non-native evasive objects,
      Thanks for picking them up!


  13. Steve March 15, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I am over 50 years old so if found in the desert please leave me alone and don’t pick me up. It works for me how about you.

    • Big AL March 15, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

      Steve, we’d be food for the critters, then someone will find our bones, and call the BLM, they would probably get arrested for murder until proven innocent LOL.

  14. Desert Tortoise March 15, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Federal land in the Owens Valley belongs as much to someone in Sarasota Fl or Saint Paul MN who comes out west to visit as it belongs to someone living in Lone Pine. There is enough non-Federal land to disturb. Leave Federal lands alone. They are everyone’s patrimony, not your personal play ground or trash dump.

    • erik simpson March 15, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Tortoise, I think you’ve got that backward. The BLM seems to be saying that the desert is everyone’s trash dump. Although to be fair, adding more trash isn’t needed. Only old trash is beautiful.

      • Blutarsky March 15, 2013 at 11:05 am #

        One of the things I enjoy when I hike the alluvial fans above Lone Pine, is finding old relics. They all tell their stories to me. I leave them in place for others to enjoy.

        Scofflaws posting on sites like this only makes responsible citizens want to pass stricter laws still. Dont cry when it happens.


      • Desert Tortoise March 16, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

        I don’t have it backwards. I see this all over the west. Locals chafe at Federal ownership of land and the rules on that land’s use, thinking it is “their land” rather than belonging to the nation as a whole. The citizen of New York or Texas has as much rights to that land as you or I do, regardless of our proximity. And, the people of other states have as much right to make rules regarding it’s use as we have. They might visit someday, many thousands do, and who are we to ruin that land for them? Stop being so darn parochial and realize that land belongs to everyone in this nation, just as the National Seashore down in Pensacola is as much ours as it is someones who lives there.

        • Big AL March 16, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

          Yes Tortoise, it does belong to the whole lot of us, and not to the federal govt exclusively. The trouble seems to be, that some people, as you say, think that is OK to restrict people from using public lands.

          This goes for members of the public as well as members of the Govt. Yeah there is a lot of bashing, a lot of sour grapes and justifiable distrust. Distrust felt when you have been the brunt of unjust actions against them.

          One reason you see more people, who live in the west, speak out against things, for one is,
          that, a certain amount of people who live in the west, and in some of the regions, more like minded people who love living in the more open areas. People of the west tend to love the more openness of the land.

          People in the west feel very strong for the most part, about the land. While some might approach it from a different view such as an from an environmental stand point. Others approach it from a user stand point.

          Different views of how the land should be or can be used, how to protect it or not protect it. So then you also have those who don’t seem to care or understand how they impact the land. The thing is, there are a lot of people who care about the land, open land. There are some who don’t.

          So many dynamics that brews a lot of junk that does no good. So many view points that clash, causing a lot of butt hurt feelings, anger and most of all frustration.

          So yes it does belong to us all, and how to protect and manage it, but how do we do this and not restrict, that’s a paradox eh? One one hand you need to take action to protect. But desirably not to restrict.

          The clash occurs then, when some want to control it, others want to use it. Some want to just go, that open spirit, some want to go but control their tread so to speak. Govt. is charged with stewardship over it, according to their nature.

          It just depends on the nature of govt. Does it over see the land and it’s usage, or just open up the season on everything, no holds barred. Or should it put some stewardship to action and approach it in a sensible way, with open mindedness … but yet a discernible balance.

          This could work, if the personal agendas can be left out of the equation. Personal points of view are a good thing, when it is accepted, that other personal views are just as valid. Some times points of views can not be the legitimate view. It’s just not good sometimes to let personal views become personal agendas.

          This is an elusive utopia, the truth gets so distorted in so many ways, the truth could be in plain view, but we can’t see it because all we can see is the trees.

          The agenda thing is just bad joojoo, usually. It seems anymore you can’t trust an agenda now days, it’s usually not good. This phenomenon is getting very destructive, a lot seem to invalidate themselves. This goes for both sides.

          The good news though, is that there is still truth out there, we just have to see it for the trees. A lot easier to see when you are understanding the truth.

          There’s hope, because there are a lot of people who understand each other’s views and how they line up with their own. Working together to an answer is what we need to do, and leave the trash at the curb.

          Some of these people working for the govt. are not doing there job with judicious impartiality. Some are down right wrong, I’ve often said, I feel sorry for the law enforcement people who do their job in the right way, and try to just be good people who have to take care of the land. As I said, people who care about the land. Just sometimes it makes some act out that same care extremely.

          • Desert Tortoise March 17, 2013 at 8:39 am #

            Well, since it belongs to all of us who is going to administer it if not the Federal Government? What that means is that the rules for that land are not set by the locals but by the government we elect in part to take care of those lands, and it that angers some locals who do not seem to value that land as much as the rest of the nation does, so be it. It is not yours to do what you want with. The nation as a whole has said it is to be preserved. You can live with that or live with the citations brought by the people we pay to protect that land. I don’t have one ounce of sympathy for your position.

          • Big AL March 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

            Some of the rest of the nation does not value the land like it should as well. So that doesn’t hold much weight.

            Most of the nation as a whole, do not have any idea of the issues in the various regions, and you have those who sell them a bill of goods about how they (certain individuals with personal agendas) see how everything should be run, even if it is wrong.

            It is not so much living with the citations as you say, it is living with seeing the resources and the land grossly mismanaged because of personal agendas.

            I can say the same thing for your position.

  15. WTF March 15, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    “I tossed my empty out the window and popped the top from another can of Schlitz. Littering the public highway? Of course I litter the public highway. Every chance I get. After all, it’s not the beer cans that are ugly; it’s the highway that is ugly. Beer cans are beautiful, and someday, when recycling becomes a serious enterprise, the government can put one million kids to work each summer picking up the cans I and others have thoughtfully stored along the roadways.” – Edward Abbey, The Second Rape of the West
    Seems Abbey was wrong- or was he?

    • RJF April 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

      He is wrong because the highway is then more ugly. Abbey had some astute observations, but at heart his conservation ethic was overly influenced by not just rebelliousness, but anarchy. He was also “morally challenged” on a number of issues. A friend of mine took a backpack trip and related some interesting observations of the man.

  16. Big AL March 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    I can see the reason why some laws have to be. Like this business of the ones who stole the rock art. But the law can not be anything other than black and white, no gray areas. That is part of the problem with things that happen to people like this guy.

    The other part, is the human part of the situation of the law and the … no gray areas. Some of these officers are either taught to react the way they do or they learn to be that way from some of the experiences with people they contact.

    Then you have those who interject their own agenda or feelings of how they need to protect the environment, and how they treat people in doing so.

    I like to give them the benefit of the doubt, because I have had good contacts with some of them, and I have had bad contacts. Like Wayne says, and I know exactly the person he is talking about, she really thought she was all that because of the power vested in her by the US govt.

    I remember some years ago, the BLM had gotten in trouble, or at least the local office in the Las Vegas area did. They had a few people who didn’t like this old dump area and decided to have crews haul the junk off. Turns out, it was an old dump, like from the teens or twenties. Old cars and car parts, old trash and various relics.

    They thought they were doing their part to clean up the desert. Well someone either in their office or a citizen ratted em out .. LOL … I want to say it was one of their own. I seem to remember they had to restore the stuff as much as possible, back to the area of concern.

    I just love how they treated this old guy like a criminal for doing something he probably had done his whole life, most likely not even knowing it was wrong, and like so many as one other poster has said .. people discovering treasures. Maybe too .. there is more to the story, but you see this sort of thing play out every now and then.

    Treasure hunting used to be OK, but now it is wrong, for most applications such as this, on one hand you like to find a treasure that is really cool, and you enjoy it, but then … when everyone has found all of the treasures, there is nothing left out in the desert, or the woods, or the mountains, to see, that can call your attention back to the eras gone by, and the people who went before.

    That is why laws come to be, but then one still loves to find treasures and enjoy them, the paradox is .. do you take it home to enjoy in a collection or maybe sell it, or do you let it lay for others to see and enjoy in the setting it was left?

    Even though I see the reason for somethings, some things just don’t make sense. And yeah Trouble it’s not a sin against God .. maybe some people, yeah.

    • Big Rick OBrien March 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

      Why is it that the specialized law enforcement in the Owens Valley have such a difficult time in dealing with the people they come in contact with and make such horrendous judgment calls ? Fish & Game, (the bear cubs) Dept. of Forestry (Steve Searles), BLM, (the old man & the bottle). These guys and gals obviously never learned the difference between the LETTER of the law vs. the SPIRIT of the law.

      • Trouble March 15, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

        You got that right Big Rick. All they care about is writing people up.

        • Cops stereotyped March 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

          Now, THAT’S an interesting stereotype of policemen, Trouble (“… all they care about is …”)
          With the amount of intense anger (directed towards virtually the bureaucracy in general) from certain groups today, I can safely say I’m glad cops have the guns.

          • Trouble March 16, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

            Up here they have more than guns, big ego’s top my list. I refer mostly to our bush whacking CHP speed trappers.

  17. sickenedbythis March 14, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    extremely disconcerting. How would BLM know where the items in the gentleman’s house came from? Might have been private land. There are two people at BLM, Lovato being one, who are completely out of control. The other is the ‘new’ archaeologist. They have no sense of balance. Yes, its wonderful to be tasked with ‘protecting’ resources but you have to apply a level of common sense. They are doing more then investigating people, they are delaying important infrastructure projects that affect people’s lives. I want to protect our resources too, however, we can’t place a higher value on historical resources then we do on the lives of the living.

    • You Got To Be Kidding! March 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      The old guy was most likely raised to beleive that if you always tell the truth you won’t get in trouble. He was also raised to respect Law Enforcement and most likely gave the BLM rangers permission to search his home.

      It is amazing that we all survived for over a centuty without Forest Rangers, Park Rangers and BLM Rangers carrying guns and trying to act like cops. There is really little or no federal crime for them to deal with and in most areas they are not allowed to enforce state laws. They have to do something to justify their existence, so they pick on the public at large for petty offences that most citizens don’t even know are illegal.

      Leave law enforcement to the professionals, police departments and sheriff’s departments.

      These federal wanna be cops cause more harm to the public than protecting them.

      • Big AL March 15, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

        Well I think there is a need for some law enforcement, but what we need more, is responsible, sensible law enforcement in these agencies, not the frustrated individuals we seem to have in these agencies now.

        • Double-speak June 13, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

          More law enforcement means more tax dollars spent.
          More tax dollars spent infuriates certain individuals of a particular political persuasion.

      • RJF April 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

        There were increased threats to employees trying to enforce laws on public lands. There were a large number of employees being harassed, assaulted and physically harmed (battery). The agencies were starting to see the affects of the violations. Just letting violations occur without addressing them was no longer acceptable. Resources were being stolen and destroyed. As a citizen of the eastern Sierra I am angered by this theft and damage. Taking arrrowheads is illegal and always had been. I’m not sure what act lowered the theft of arrowheads to a lower level of violation, but this was done to separate arrowhead hunters from pot hunters, allowing for larger fines and incarceration for the latter. My understanding is that objects over 50 years are historical, not 100 years, but I need to do some followup research on that.

        I have to ask, why do people feel a need to pick things up and collect them? How about just leaving it there? I’ve seen people with huge amounts of arrowheads and spear heads and even some fossilized fish hanging on the wall. This upsets me as I can no longer see these things when I go out and recreate on public lands, which I too have a stake in. Some arrowheads might indicate the existence of other site that will help archaeologists learn how some ancient cultures lived and moved about. As far as I’m concerned someone is stealing history when they take things and put them in their homes.

        Arrowheads and such are part of the history of some local people whose ancestors were here hundreds of years before European descendants arrived. As one of the latter, I don’t feel I have any right to posses any of it. I usually make a small hole with my shoe and bury the item so someone else doesn’t come along and take it home.

        As for bottles, I usually pick them up and recycle them in order to help pick up litter that some inconsiderate and lazy people leave. Most of the bottles over 50 years old are gone and I don’t try to age the object before they go to the recycling center. If I find a large stash of the stuff that is obviously historic, and I have, I report the find to a local ranger station or the BLM/USFS headquarters on West Line Street. I think valuable stuff like that should end up in one of our museums.

        All the federal land management law enforcement officers of the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have to complete the land management law enforcement course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. This course gives them a law enforcement “POST” certificate. In some states they automatically have the authority of a state peace officer and in others there are various steps necessary to be so authorized. In California a written authorization from a country sheriff is needed. I’ve not heard of a sheriff that has not authorized these officers, but I’m not in the loop where I would hear everything about this topic. Let’s just say that I was privy to that information until I retired 13 years ago.

        Most sheriffs, especially rural sheriffs, welcome these officers as a resource to use when they need extra law enforcement officers. If you count the number of officers in the eastern Sierra working for the counties and two cities there aren’t enough to cover large events and large incidents. That is when the CHP, DFW wildlife officers, State Park Rangers, BLM rangers, NPS rangers and USFS law enforcement officers provide mutual aid. BLM, NPS and USFS officers have backed up sheriff’s deputies when they are the closest officer when that officer has requested backup.

        When there are large concerts with some interesting characters scheduled in Mammoth, a good sized task force is assembled, including all the state and federal officers I’ve mentioned, to handle the mass of people and prevent the “critical mass’ stage to develop, Critical mass will cause a riot and in Mammoth, at least, some events have come very close to becoming riots. Sometimes CHP officers are the closest officer to incidents of domestic violence or other time critical calls and they arrive first.

        I don’t know what our small sheriff’s and police departments would do if these other agency law enforcement officers were not here.

        • Big AL April 1, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

          I totally get what you’re saying about picking things up RJF, but I would have to add ..

          If they are left there (items of antiquity) And as you say … the archeologist come along, they find them, do they leave them .. no .. they pick them up, catalog them and put them in a museum, just as you say, so now they are not left out there to be seen by people who want to see them.

          I’m not trying discount what you say about picking them up .. but why do they have to be picked up and put in a museum … and to note as well .. usually, unless they are some some good significance … they are stored away in archives.

          This is not right either, but it happens.

          I understand the abuse some employees have had to endure, I know it happens. It happens because they have to tell people not to do something that is against the law, and is just not right. The trouble comes along as well .. when it is the other way around, when you get employees who go overboard for what ever reason, and abuse the public. It’s a can of worms.

        • RJF is undermedicater June 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

          “…some events [in Mammoth] have come very close to becoming riots”
          says RJF.

          Funny, I’ve never heard of any function in Mammoth that would come anywhere near what this is guy is whining about.

          Instead of breaking your meds in half, RJ, why not just take the whole damn thing?

    • Big AL March 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

      Very true about being out of control sickened … personal agendas get in the way, unfortunately we are stuck with their agendas. We need new people in there that do the job the right way.

  18. Trouble March 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Just because it’s agianst some silly little law, doesn’t make it a sin.

  19. Wayne Deja March 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    Back about 5 or 6 years ago I went out on a big rig accident scene clean up at the bottom of Towne’s Pass in Death Valley…a really bad accident with a fatality,big impact and lots of truck parts on the road and in the desert.And being on National Park property,EVERYTHING had to be removed from the scene over the size of a thumbnail.After bagging lots of stuff,a National Park Ranger came on scene,looked in some of the trash bags,and informed us someone had picked up some old rusty cans,and had to put them back in the desert.She gave us a speech saying if a can has one of those pop-tops that used to come completely off,and not the ones that stay attached to the can,that means they are old and must stay in the desert.

    • enoughalready March 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

      Thats good Wayne.
      Which type of can was that? This one? Did you happen to pick up any of the wrong type of broken glass? How long was the lecture along side the road? Did she go thru the whole bag? Did she put the trash back in its correct location from where you found it?

      Can we have a community pick-up the trash in the desert day?

  20. ferdinandlopez March 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    does god collect old bottles?

    • Big Rick OBrien March 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

      Doesn’t EVERYONE, Ferdinand ? I have been for 30 years and I will continue to do so until I’m in a wheelchair or dead. Every antique store in the Owens Valley is LOADED with old amethyst colored whiskey & medicine bottles that have been found or dug up, locally. Are the fed’s gonna try to confiscate those too ?

  21. Blutarsky March 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    This country doesn’t belong to a few rural malcontents. It belongs to all of us.

    The law is the law. Respect of it is what makes us great.

  22. John March 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Do Federal lands belong to “We The People”?

    • MARK June 13, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      “It really isn’t appropriate to take anything off federal lands.”

      I think it’s really Public Lands. However the BLM & USFS are slowly brainwashing the public to think otherwise to have more control over us sheeple.

  23. Dingo March 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    If the BLM was unable to notice petroglyphs being removed with power tools I wonder what makes them think they will notice somebody who has been military trained to conceal themselves and their tracks from removing artifacts.
    Good luck BLM this is gonna be fun.

  24. Gus March 14, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Forget the “Green Gestapo”, now lookout for the Brown Gestapo”, waching our every move, guess those BigFat Pension funds aren’t satisfying enough for those Big-Fat-Tax-Eaters 🙂

    • Ragu March 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

      Sorry misguided buddy, I just retired after 31 yeas in the govt. People on welfare are doing better than I am and I still pay taxes which means I pay for part of my mere pension. Now as for our congressman and other elected idiots, That my friend is a whole different disgusting story

  25. ferdinandlopez March 14, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    guess you cant even have fun picking up trash anymore

  26. Charles O. Jones March 14, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    So will this guy be fined and sentenced to hours of community service?…..picking up trash in the desert?

    • Strict v open and free March 14, 2013 at 10:00 am #

      Well, this action is certainly an example of how strict some people view society in general. Some of our more paranoid citizens believe life has become so unstable that we need more and more laws, and more and more police to enforce those laws. I don’t ever recall this being this bad. I don’t understand why such rigid enforcement. And this rigid mindset seems to have permeated our personal lives as well. I.e., Some are incensed at the mere thought of: raising the minimum wage, gay people marrying, and giving aid to dependent children. Others demand tradition for tradition’s sake. Some seemingly hate everyone who doesn’t share their personal values. And they’re out to fix it – by giving you no choice but to conform.

      How a person views their god comes into play here.

      There are those who focus on their god as being a just, understanding, open-minded, and forgiving entity – then you have those wh view their god as an angry, scowling, old man who throws miscreants into everlasting hellfire for their transgressions … because “he loves them.”

  27. Jeremiah's stance March 14, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Yeah sure, Thousands of people getting away with it but yet they still find justification to prosecute a select few? And then what build a facility to house all the confiscated items?
    Somebody please explain to me how we are in a deficit again?

  28. esfotoguy March 14, 2013 at 7:48 am #

    Only in the good ole USof A can you get fined for picking up old trash…..lets say it again…OLD TRASH…amazing

  29. Joe March 14, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    From what I can tell reading the ARPA, it applies only to excavations on public lands, not surface collecting. So if the guy is out there and picks up the bottle on the surface it’s ok. If he’s taking a shovel out, then he’s in violation. Unfortunately it is going to take a lawsuit to get the local “officers” to back off. The intent of ARPA was to protect ancient Native American sites but as we can see the local clowns want to push the limit and test what can and can’t be done. Dangerous precendent.

    • Mark March 14, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Surface collecting is illegal under ARPA. Its original intent in ’79 was to protect Native American sites, but it can be also used for historic artifacts as well. Anything over 100 years old falls under ARPA. Here’s the relevant passage: “No item shall be treated as an archaeological resource under regulations under this paragraph unless such item is at least 100 years of age.” I should add that taking anything from federal lands is prosecutable as well, under theft of government property statutes. If you have any other ARPA questions, feel free to email me at [email protected].

      • Joe March 14, 2013 at 10:13 am #

        Mark- For the benefit of the public, can you post the link to the specific ARPA language prohibiting surface collecting? Why is the local office stating 50 yrs when you are quoting 100 yrs?

      • Joe March 14, 2013 at 10:30 am #

        Interestingly, in the ARPA document, in Section 6, part G and Section 7 Part 3, one may collect surface arrowheads without prosecution. I also did find reference to 100 years old, so why is the local office stating 50 years?

        • Mark March 15, 2013 at 7:21 am #

          Hi Joe… I don’t know anything about the 50 years thing — that’s news to me, and I’m emailing the BLM today to find out more. I do know about the arrowhead issue, however: there’s something commonly called the “Boy Scout exclusion” in ARPA, that gives exception to arrowhead collectors. The reason it’s called this is because traditionally Boy Scouts won their archaeology merit badges through finding an arrowhead. Here’s the relevant doc y’all requested: I know none of this will change anyone’s mind on the matter, and I’m used to being the least-popular commenter on stories related to archaeology site protection. And I disagree often with how the law is enforced. However, the protection of archaeological sites — and more importantly, respecting each others’ heritage — is something we should all care about.

      • Jeremiah's stance March 14, 2013 at 11:31 am #

        I admire your courage, But really who made these laws and who do they serve? I can tell you in my opinion we have all these federal services but, when it comes to a deliverable that actually provides a service to people is seldom scene!
        I appreciate the fact the respect for the indigenous nations people have, but that is something that is within and not something people pick up on via Regulation.
        Well you know what else is under law? the supreme court ruling of money equals = freedom of speech (1976), and corporations = people (1978). And that I will forevermore be against and fight for the overturn of citizens united since it is obvious that ruling wasn’t to serve the people of this great nation. So depending on the audience, anybody that defends the gov’t is subject to backlash.!

        • Mark March 15, 2013 at 7:24 am #

          Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Mo Udall (D-AZ) made this law. It serves all Americans, regardless of ancestry. I can tell you that ARPA has nothing to do whatsoever with Citizens United.

          • Jeremiah's stance March 18, 2013 at 8:18 am #

            Laws don’t always serve Americans and never will I blindly support anything!
            I am sure ARPA has nothing to do with Citizens united but if we the people want to compete with Lobbyists and other donors that have their way with the system we call democracy, then we need to address that first if we the people want any of our best interest on the table.
            It doesn’t matter if you a repub or dem, 95% of the time whoever raise’s the most money wins the election, that’s way they spend over 50% of there time in office fund raising for next election rather then serving the people. Is it just me that sees a problem with that?

          • Big AL April 1, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

            Good one Jerry!

  30. Big Rick March 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    They (BLM) went to the guys house & took MORE items ? REALLY ? How can they know WHAT was found and WHERE ? Personally, I have collected THOUSANDS of bottles & other artifacts over the past 30 years from Arizona to Wyoming and never had an issue come up like this . I even had an Esmerelda County Deputy approach me once, out by Candeleria who asked what I was doing & I told him ” Digging up old bottles”. He said good luck, and left. I hope the dump at Tonopah isn’t owned by the fed’s. I dug up an old gun out there 10 years ago.

  31. BobK March 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    “It really isn’t appropriate to take anything off of federal land.” That’s not what the official policy of the BLM and Inyo National forest is. Metal detector use in campgrounds, recreation areas and other locations is not against the law. Google metal detecting BLM lands in Ca. and in National forests. There are restrictions in specific areas including archeological areas and other areas of historical interest. Have the laws changed or is the BLM trying to scare people off due to the recent Petroglyph thefts.

  32. You Got To Be Kidding! March 13, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    It sounds like that BLM could throw about 90% of the population of the Owens Valley in jail for picking up trash from the by gone days.

    I guess these BLM wanna be cops don’t have any real criminals to chase so they chose to ruin the life of some old retired guy poking around the desert.

    Of course the BLM Queen Bernadette Lovato won’t talk about it. It does not look good for the BLM to crush some poor old guy for doing what thousands of others in the valley have done for decades.

    Your tax dollars at work!


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