Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Arrowhead hunters ready for 'world's biggest (illegal) Easter egg hunt' on federal lands
The artifact collectors are watching. They're checking TVA's website this week when the federal agency begins lowering water levels in the Tennessee River system to make room in lakes and reservoirs for winter's rainfall. The collectors know the magic number - the magic water level - that will expose summer-flooded mud flats to sunlight and, later, hiking boots. Some of these mud flats, such as the Quad Site near Decatur, are famous. When the water goes down, "the world's largest Easter egg hunt" begins, in the words of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge reserve officer Jason Vehrs. Artifact hunting is legal on private land, if you have the owner's permission, but since 1979 it has been against federal law to remove anything more than 100 years old from federal land. That includes 11,000 miles of public shoreline controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and it includes 20 miles of Tennessee River shoreline in the Wheeler refuge. This isn't a story about dad and the kids spotting a "worked" piece of flint on the ground while hiking in the refuge. They're not supposed to take it, but it's a matter of debate what happens if they do and get caught. The 1979 federal law specifically exempted arrowheads found on the surface from fines, but federal land managers including Wheeler's say subsequent regulations have essentially banned all artifact collecting on federal land - arrowheads included. Argue the point if you want, but get caught with a point and it's a $275 first offense fine if you lose that argument...more