Bureau of Land Management
Iit is illegal to remove archaeological artifacts from public lands.
Artifacts are most often thought of as prehistoric (pre-European contact) – items such as arrowheads, grinding stones, and artistically modified stones. But, artifacts are also historic–they are the remains of American history across the landscape. Historic artifacts can range from old gun casings to railroad ties, glass bottles and fragments to mining tools and equipment, horse tack to enamelware bowls, tools and farming gear, and any form of household goods.
Archaeological artifacts on public lands belong to all American citizens – not just the person who finds them on the ground. But even more important, they are an essential tool in the understanding of how we as people have – through time – related to our landscape. Often these small pieces of history give us our only tools to know what a site was used for, how old the site is, who lived there, and many other questions.
By collecting artifacts, you deprive others the pleasure of seeing our history. A collected artifact in a personal home may only allow for 10 to 20 visitors, whereas an artifact left for all to see will be seen by an indefinite amount of people.
The Archaeological Resources Protection Act protects artifacts more than 100 years in age, with few exceptions. So, if you find an artifact, please admire it, take a picture, enjoy the location where you found it, but LEAVE IT THERE! If you aren’t sure if it is too old to pick up legally…leave it there!
Please set the right example for all who visit public lands.