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Oh-Man

Paleontological Preservation Act Hr 554

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Oh-Man

From HGMS member Terry Proctor as an individual, to members of the Houston Gem & Mineral Society,

Everyone who is familiar with the fact that H.R. 554 has passed the U.S. Senate and may soon be voted on by the U.S. House knows something needs to be done NOW. You have or will receive from various folks in Rock and Gem Clubs and organizations connected therewith, suggestions on changing H.R. 554 language to alter the list of things you can collect.

THAT IS NOT THE SOLUTION. Read my Article on this in the November (HGMS ebsite) BBG which has already been sent out to you on the internet to your email address. This critte (H.R. 554) must be killed, not modified. It is so bad, that we don't want to help endorse some form of it, by suggesting changes. The definitions of many things, are so ambiguous, that leaving decisions up to those who stopped you, can result in your vehicle(s), all equipment and other personal property you have there at the time, can be seized and you thrown in prison for a couple of years and fined up to I believe $10,000.00.

There is no objective points in this legislation. It leaves many things to be subjectively decided by the person who may stop you and even if you prevail, you could go bankrupt fighting the government to try to prove your innocence. This is a Rock & Gem Club killing bill.

Contact your U.S. Representative, your U.S. Senators and ask them to help stop H.R. 554 NOW, not amend it.

This is written to you as a club member and expresses only my position, not that of the Club.

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jpbowden

You mean to tell me that with all of the snarge that is happening in this country, they have time to come up with this! Who started this Bill anyway. What have we, that fought and died to defend this country given those with centered greed the right to steal that one thing left? Steppenwolf said years ago, it has become a MONSTER! I am afraid that so few with be nothing more than a whisper spoken in the face of a hurricane.

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Guest solius symbiosus

The Bill merely clarifies current law. It doesn't prohibit the collection of invertebrate, or plant material, on Gov lands. It states that scientifically important find are to remain the property of the US Government. It does not affect collecting of any fossils on private lands, or in private collections.

The Bill is designed to protect OUR fossils from greedy collectors. You can still use hand tools, but you can't bring in heavy equipment when collecting on Gov. land.

As written, it has my support.

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Guest solius symbiosus

HR 554 IH

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 554

To provide for the protection of paleontological resources on Federal lands, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 18, 2007

Mr. MCGOVERN (for himself and Mr. RENZI) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on Agriculture, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To provide for the protection of paleontological resources on Federal lands, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Paleontological Resources Preservation Act'.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

As used in this Act:

(1) CASUAL COLLECTING- The term `casual collecting' means the collecting of a reasonable amount of common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources for non-commercial personal use, either by surface collection or the use of non-powered hand tools resulting in only negligible disturbance to the Earth's surface and other resources. As used in this paragraph, the terms `reasonable amount', `common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources' and `negligible disturbance' shall be determined by the Secretary.

(2) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Interior with respect to lands controlled or administered by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to National Forest System Lands controlled or administered by the Secretary of Agriculture.

(3) FEDERAL LANDS- The term `Federal lands' means--

(A) lands controlled or administered by the Secretary of the Interior, except Indian lands; or

(B ) National Forest System lands controlled or administered by the Secretary of Agriculture.

(4) INDIAN LANDS- The term `Indian Land' means lands of Indian tribes, or Indian individuals, which are either held in trust by the United States or subject to a restriction against alienation imposed by the United States.

(5) STATE- The term `State' means the fifty States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any other territory or possession of the United States.

(6) PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCE- The term `paleontological resource' means any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms, preserved in or on the earth's crust, that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth, except that the term does not include--

(A) any materials associated with an archaeological resource (as defined in section 3(1) of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 ; or

(B ) any cultural item (as defined in section 2 of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. 3001) ).

SEC. 3. MANAGEMENT.

(a) In General- The Secretary shall manage and protect paleontological resources on Federal lands using scientific principles and expertise. The Secretary shall develop appropriate plans for inventory, monitoring, and the scientific and educational use of paleontological resources, in accordance with applicable agency laws, regulations, and policies. These plans shall emphasize interagency coordination and collaborative efforts where possible with non-Federal partners, the scientific community, and the general public.

(b ) Coordination- To the extent possible, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall coordinate in the implementation of this Act.

SEC. 4. PUBLIC AWARENESS AND EDUCATION PROGRAM.

The Secretary shall establish a program to increase public awareness about the significance of paleontological resources.

SEC. 5. COLLECTION OF PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES.

(a) Permit Requirement-

(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in this Act, a paleontological resource may not be collected from Federal lands without a permit issued under this Act by the Secretary.

(2) CASUAL COLLECTING EXCEPTION- The Secretary may allow casual collecting without a permit on Federal lands controlled or administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Forest Service, where such collection is consistent with the laws governing the management of those Federal lands and this Act.

(3) PREVIOUS PERMIT EXCEPTION- Nothing in this section shall affect a valid permit issued prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

(b ) Criteria for Issuance of a Permit- The Secretary may issue a permit for the collection of a paleontological resource pursuant to an application if the Secretary determines that--

(1) the applicant is qualified to carry out the permitted activity;

(2) the permitted activity is undertaken for the purpose of furthering paleontological knowledge or for public education;

(3) the permitted activity is consistent with any management plan applicable to the Federal lands concerned; and

(4) the proposed methods of collecting will not threaten significant natural or cultural resources.

© Permit Specifications- A permit for the collection of a paleontological resource issued under this section shall contain such terms and conditions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act. Every permit shall include requirements that--

(1) the paleontological resource that is collected from Federal lands under the permit will remain the property of the United States;

(2) the paleontological resource and copies of associated records will be preserved for the public in an approved repository, to be made available for scientific research and public education; and

(3) specific locality data will not be released by the permittee or repository without the written permission of the Secretary.

(d) Modification, Suspension, and Revocation of Permits-

(1) The Secretary may modify, suspend, or revoke a permit issued under this section--

(A) for resource, safety, or other management considerations; or

(B ) when there is a violation of term or condition of a permit issued pursuant to this section.

(2) The permit shall be revoked if any person working under the authority of the permit is convicted under section 7 or is assessed a civil penalty under section 8.

(e) Area Closures- In order to protect paleontological or other resources and to provide for public safety, the Secretary may restrict access to or close areas under the Secretary's jurisdiction to the collection of paleontological resources.

SEC. 6. CURATION OF RESOURCES.

Any paleontological resource, and any data and records associated with the resource, collected under a permit, shall be deposited in an approved repository. The Secretary may enter into agreements with non-Federal repositories regarding the curation of these resources, data, and records.

SEC. 7. PROHIBITED ACTS; CRIMINAL PENALTIES.

(a) In General- A person may not--

(1) excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on Federal lands unless such activity is conducted in accordance with this Act;

(2) exchange, transport, export, receive, or offer to exchange, transport, export, or receive any paleontological resource if, in the exercise of due care, the person knew or should have known such resource to have been excavated or removed from Federal lands in violation of any provisions, rule, regulation, law, ordinance, or permit in effect under Federal law, including this Act; or

(3) sell or purchase or offer to sell or purchase any paleontological resource if, in the exercise of due care, the person knew or should have known such resource to have been excavated, removed, sold, purchased, exchanged, transported, or received from Federal lands.

(b ) False Labeling Offenses- A person may not make or submit any false record, account, or label for, or any false identification of, any paleontological resource excavated or removed from Federal lands.

© Penalties- A person who knowingly violates or counsels, procures, solicits, or employs another person to violate subsection (a) or (B ) shall, upon conviction, be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both; but if the sum of the commercial and paleontological value of the paleontological resources involved and the cost of restoration and repair of such resources does not exceed $500, such person shall be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(d) General Exception- Nothing in subsection (a) shall apply to any person with respect to any paleontological resource which was in the lawful possession of such person prior to the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 8. CIVIL PENALTIES.

(a) In General-

(1) HEARING- A person who violates any prohibition contained in an applicable regulation or permit issued under this Act may be assessed a penalty by the Secretary after the person is given notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to the violation. Each violation shall be considered a separate offense for purposes of this section.

(2) AMOUNT OF PENALTY- The amount of such penalty assessed under paragraph (1) shall be determined under regulations promulgated pursuant to this Act, taking into account the following factors:

(A) The scientific or fair market value, whichever is greater, of the paleontological resource involved, as determined by the Secretary.

(B ) The cost of response, restoration, and repair of the resource and the paleontological site involved.

© Any other factors considered relevant by the Secretary assessing the penalty.

(3) MULTIPLE OFFENSES- In the case of a second or subsequent violation by the same person, the amount of a penalty assessed under paragraph (2) may be doubled.

(4) LIMITATION- The amount of any penalty assessed under this subsection for any one violation shall not exceed an amount equal to double the cost of response, restoration, and repair of resources and paleontological site damage plus double the scientific or fair market value of resources destroyed or not recovered.

(b ) Petition for Judicial Review; Collection of Unpaid Assessments-

(1) JUDICIAL REVIEW- Any person against whom an order is issued assessing a penalty under subsection (a) may file a petition for judicial review of the order in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or in the district in which the violation is alleged to have occurred within the 30-day period beginning on the date the order making the assessment was issued. Upon notice of such filing, the Secretary shall promptly file such a certified copy of the record on which the order was issued. The court shall hear the action on the record made before the Secretary and shall sustain the action if it is supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole.

(2) FAILURE TO PAY- If any person fails to pay a penalty under this section within 30 days--

(A) after the order making assessment has become final and the person has not filed a petition for judicial review of the order in accordance with paragraph (1); or

(B ) after a court in an action brought in paragraph (1) has entered a final judgment upholding the assessment of the penalty, the Secretary may request the Attorney General to institute a civil action in a district court of the United States for any district in which the person if found, resides, or transacts business, to collect the penalty (plus interest at currently prevailing rates from the date of the final order or the date of the final judgment, as the case may be). The district court shall have jurisdiction to hear and decide any such action. In such action, the validity, amount, and appropriateness of such penalty shall not be subject to review. Any person who fails to pay on a timely basis the amount of an assessment of a civil penalty as described in the first sentence of this paragraph shall be required to pay, in addition to such amount and interest, attorneys fees and costs for collection proceedings.

© Hearings- Hearings held during proceedings instituted under subsection (a) shall be conducted in accordance with section 554 of title 5, United States Code.

(d) Use of Recovered Amounts- Penalties collected under this section shall be available to the Secretary and without further appropriation may be used only as follows:

(1) To protect, restore, or repair the paleontological resources and sites which were the subject of the action, or to acquire sites with equivalent resources, and to protect, monitor, and study the resources and sites. Any acquisition shall be subject to any limitations contained in the organic legislation for such Federal lands.

(2) To provide educational materials to the public about paleontological resources and sites.

(3) To provide for the payment of rewards as provided in section 9.

SEC. 9. REWARDS AND FORFEITURE.

(a) Rewards- The Secretary may pay from penalties collected under section 7 or 8--

(1) consistent with amounts established in regulations by the Secretary; or

(2) if no such regulation exists, an amount equal to the lesser of one-half of the penalty or $500, to any person who furnishes information which leads to the finding of a civil violation, or the conviction of criminal violation, with respect to which the penalty was paid. If several persons provided the information, the amount shall be divided among the persons. No officer or employee of the United States or of any State or local government who furnishes information or renders service in the performance of his official duties shall be eligible for payment under this subsection.

(b ) Forfeiture- All paleontological resources with respect to which a violation under section 7 or 8 occurred and which are in the possession of any person, and all vehicles and equipment of any person that were used in connection with the violation, shall be subject to civil forfeiture, or upon conviction, to criminal forfeiture. All provisions of law relating to the seizure, forfeiture, and condemnation of property for a violation of this Act, the disposition of such property or the proceeds from the sale thereof, and remission or mitigation of such forfeiture, as well as the procedural provisions of chapter 46 of title 18, United States Code, shall apply to the seizures and forfeitures incurred or alleged to have incurred under the provisions of this Act.

© Transfer of Seized Resources- The Secretary may transfer administration of seized paleontological resources to Federal or non-Federal educational institutions to be used for scientific or educational purposes.

SEC. 10. CONFIDENTIALITY.

Information concerning the nature and specific location of a paleontological resource the collection of which requires a permit under this Act or under any other provision of Federal law shall be exempt from disclosure under section 552 of title 5, United States Code, and any other law unless the Secretary determines that disclosure would--

(1) further the purposes of this Act;

(2) not create risk of harm to or theft or destruction of the resource or the site containing the resource; and

(3) be in accordance with other applicable laws.

SEC. 11. REGULATIONS.

As soon as practical after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue such regulations as are appropriate to carry out this Act, providing opportunities for public notice and comment.

SEC. 12. SAVINGS PROVISIONS.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to--

(1) invalidate, modify, or impose any additional restrictions or permitting requirements on any activities permitted at any time under the general mining laws, the mineral or geothermal leasing laws, laws providing for minerals materials disposal, or laws providing for the management or regulation of the activities authorized by the aforementioned laws including but not limited to the Federal Land Policy Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701-1784), Public Law 94-429 (commonly known as the `Mining in the Parks Act') (16 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.), the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 1201-1358), and the Organic Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 478, 482, 551);

(2) invalidate, modify, or impose any additional restrictions or permitting requirements on any activities permitted at any time under existing laws and authorities relating to reclamation and multiple uses of Federal lands;

(3) apply to, or require a permit for, casual collecting of a rock, mineral, or invertebrate or plant fossil that is not protected under this Act;

(4) affect any lands other than Federal lands or affect the lawful recovery, collection, or sale of paleontological resources from lands other than Federal lands;

(5) alter or diminish the authority of a Federal agency under any other law to provide protection for paleontological resources on Federal lands in addition to the protection provided under this Act; or

(6) create any right, privilege, benefit, or entitlement for any person who is not an officer or employee of the United States acting in that capacity. No person who is not an officer or employee of the United States acting in that capacity shall have standing to file any civil action in a court of the United States to enforce any provision or amendment made by this Act.

SEC. 13. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out this Act.

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Guest Nicholas
The Bill merely clarifies current law. It doesn't prohibit the collection of invertebrate, plant material, or common verts on Gov lands. It states that scientifically important find are to remain the property of the US Government. It does not affect collecting of any fossils on private lands, or in private collections.

The Bill is designed to protect OUR fossils from greedy collectors. You can still use hand tools, but you can't bring in heavy equipment when collecting on Gov. land.

As written, it has my support.

Great clarification Solius, and thanks for posting it. I was having trouble accessing the document.

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PaleoRon

"It doesn't prohibit the collection of invertebrate, plant material, or common verts on Gov lands. "

I don't see where verts, common or otherwise, are exempted from this bill.

"CASUAL COLLECTING- The term `casual collecting' means the collecting of a reasonable amount of common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources for non-commercial personal use"

As I read this, it looks like ONLY plant and invert material may be collected.

It's fine to mine and log on federal land but not pick up an Oreodont tooth?

I also find it interesting that the bill was initiated by someone from a state that has almost no paleontological resourses. It would be fairly easy to convince someone from a fossil poor state that fossils are rare and should recieve blanket protection.

Our rights are slowly being eroded away on many fronts. As far as collecting is concerned, how much longer will it be before U.S. fossil laws come in line with countries like Canada? I don't expect it to happen in the next few years, but I feel it will happen eventually.

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grampa dino

Almost sounds like what we have to put up with here in Alberta Canada, The big thing ,it stops is the mass selling off of fossils by inedepdant collectors who collect just for profit.

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Guest Nicholas
Almost sounds like what we have to put up with here in Alberta Canada, The big thing ,it stops is the mass selling off of fossils by inedepdant collectors who collect just for profit.

Also stops the massive exportation of fossils from the country. Which Canada is big on because, the government has an ego to attend to keeping Canadian fossils... Canadian.

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PaleoRon

Also stops collectors from legally collecting fossils that otherwise get destroyed by natural processes. Preserve our natural treasures by letting them fall apart. Sounds like the same theory they are following for the economy.

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Metopocetus
Also stops collectors from legally collecting fossils that otherwise get destroyed by natural processes. Preserve our natural treasures by letting them fall apart. Sounds like the same theory they are following for the economy.

Yeah, at least along this cliffs, I'm sure that only a small portion of the fossils are collected by people, a lot more are lost to erosion.

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Guest solius symbiosus
"It doesn't prohibit the collection of invertebrate, plant material, or common verts on Gov lands. "

I don't see where verts, common or otherwise, are exempted from this bill.

I thought that I had seen in the past, an interpretation, of a previous statue that allowed for collecting of some verts on BLM lands, but I could be mistaken. I will amend my previous post.

Collecting on Park Service lands is, and has been illegal, for all collecting.

Rockhounding/Recreational Collecting

Collecting, rockhounding, and gold panning of rocks, minerals, and paleontological specimens, for either recreational or educational purposes is generally prohibited in all units of the National Park System (36 C.F.R. § 2.1(a) and § 2.5(a)). Violators of this prohibition are subject to criminal penalties. Anyone with information about illegal activities or who would like to report suspicious activity in the national parks should call 1-888-NPS-CRIME (888-677-2746). You may speak directly to a ranger or remain anonymous when reporting these activities.

There are two exceptions to the general prohibition. Limited recreational gold panning is allowed in the Whiskeytown unit of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area in California, in accordance with regulations at 36 C.F.R. § 7.91.

The second exception involves some Alaska park units, where surface collection by hand (including hand-held gold pans) and for personal recreational use only, of rocks and minerals (except for silver, platinum, gemstones, and fossils) is allowed in accordance with 36 C.F.R. § 13.20©. Shovels, pickaxes, sluice boxes, and dredges may not be used to collect these items. If collecting these resources is likely have a significant adverse impact on park resources or visitor enjoyment, the park superintendent will prohibit or restrict collection.

http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/permits/index.cfm#rock

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Guest solius symbiosus
Also stops collectors from legally collecting fossils that otherwise get destroyed by natural processes.

As you noted earlier, it is now illegal to collect those pieces. So, it doesn't change anything in that regard.

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jbstedman

I thought fossil collecting on federal land was already a big no-no.

Supporters of this legislation argue that there is no uniform federal policy across the various agencies that administer the lands on which fossils might be found. But, they argue, the legislation is essentially codifying most current practice. In the final analysis, I think it makes sense to have a uniform policy for federal lands that would prevent the "looting" of the nation's paleontological treasures. That policy should allow for some collecting, including collecting by amateurs. The bill does that but the devil's in the details.

It's disappointing that, under this bill, casual collecting which the Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of the Agriculture (depending upon the lands involved) could allow under some circumstances does not include collecting of vertebrate fossils. Further, my understanding is that one of the major concerns about the bill is the very severe penalties that could be applied to violators under its provisions. Also, not sure I agree with the opposition to the bill that we ought to protect some forms of fossil collecting for commercial purposes.

A bit of clarification on the bill's status. Contrary to Oh-Man's assertion, the Senate has not passed the bill. The Senate version is S. 320 and it was reported from the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last February (2007). The Senators sponsoring the bill include members from Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Oregon, and Kentucky [it's a bi-partisan group of Senators.]

The House version is H.R. 554 which was reported from the House Committee on Natural Resources in May of this year. It was originally sponsored by a Democrat from Mass and co-sponsored by a Republican from Arizona. The House Committee report makes for interesting reading. The dissenting views will certainly excite those of you who are already ticked off at this bill [here's the link to the Committee report] . For what it's worth, all but one of the dissenting committee members are Republicans.

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jbstedman

Although the Senate did pass versions of this legislation the past 2 congresses, it will still have to pass the legislation once again this congress (110th). Just the way the system works.

By the way, a report in 2000 from the Department of the Interior (drafted in consultation with other federal agencies including the Smithsonian) is considered the definitive analysis of the topic [ here's the link to the 2000 report ]. That report concluded there was need for a comprehensive approach to the protection of fossils on federal land. It also identified a number of principles that should guide the development of this policy. One of which asserted that most vertebrate fossils are rare and should be collected only by qualified individuals, hence the current legislation's exclusion of vertebrate fossils from casual collecting fits with the 2000 report.

Also, some of the penalties in the current bill seem to those that apply under current law to theft of federal property.

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PaleoRon

I guess my main point is that there are hundreds of fossil vertebrate species that are extremely common. These fossils are not going to be "protected". The government is not going to pay people to collect and preserve these fossils for the public. I agree that important (rare) fossils should be preserved and housed for future generations, but the way this will end up working is that millions of common vertebrate fossils will be destroyed each year. I have always felt this was started to keep T-rex type fossils out of the hands of commercial dealers. Now it's a blanket policy.

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bone digger

sounds worse then what we have in Alberta, at least we can surface collect vertebrate remains on crown land, so long as it's not a park or other protected area. The one thing you guys down south have better is you can actually dig on private land.

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jbstedman
I guess my main point is that there are hundreds of fossil vertebrate species that are extremely common. These fossils are not going to be "protected". The government is not going to pay people to collect and preserve these fossils for the public. I agree that important (rare) fossils should be preserved and housed for future generations, but the way this will end up working is that millions of common vertebrate fossils will be destroyed each year. I have always felt this was started to keep T-rex type fossils out of the hands of commercial dealers. Now it's a blanket policy.

I guess one quarrel is with the assertion that most vertebrate fossils are rare and so all vertebrate fossils should be protected. Is the conclusion from the 2000 report just wrong concerning the rarity of vertebrate fossils?

Here's a part of the Department of Interior's 2000 report (also, it says that this is no change from current federal policy):

Principle 2: Most Vertebrate Fossils are Rare

• Relatively few sites worldwide contain dense accumulations of vertebrate fossils, and only a fraction of these sites are located on federal lands in the United States. Advocates for increased collection of vertebrate fossils on federal lands often overestimate these fossils’ abundance.

• Federal agencies therefore uniformly limit the collection of vertebrate fossils to qualified scientific and/or educational personnel.

Recommendation: Future actions should reaffirm the restriction of vertebrate fossil collection to qualified personnel, with the fossils remaining in federal ownership in perpetuity.

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Hawkeye

Before I went out to Wyoming I did a fair bit of research on fossil collecting. As Solius has stated, this law really changes nothing. It is already illegal to collect vertebrate fossils on BLM land without a permit. I do believe that a commercial permit is available but I am not positive about that. You can collect as much invertebrate and plant stuff as you can carry, but you cannot sell it. The other thing I found out is that there is plenty of private land and this law or the existing law does not regulate collection on private land. I paid $35 a day to collect all the oreodont material I could find in Nebraska, and that was at the first ranch I called.

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tracer
:mellow:

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jbstedman
The problem is that there are too many thieves and vandals and expensive fossils have become too big a business. As long as those factors don't change, regardless of whether you get this legislation killed, there will always be more proposed legislation to follow. So how can the problems be solved? The obvious problem with allowing "limited" vertebrate collecting is that it isn't enforceable, because you'd have to have paleo-genius enforcers running around everywhere who knew exactly which bones were which. That way, when you stop two guys walking off federal land, you let the one go with the common bones and arrest the one with the rare bones? And then he says, "I didn't know what those were." Or he tells you the guy with the common bones dug up the rare ones too and gave them to him, saying they were common bones. Good luck dealing with that kind of stuff.

Good understanding of how much of a struggle this issue will be long term can be had by looking at the endless fight over weapons legislation. The result, in my opinion, is that nobody can now reliably tell at times whether some things are legal or illegal. It's not just about anymore not liking what the rules of the game are - it's about not being able to UNDERSTAND the game anymore. Heck, what about TAX law? Now there's a complex game.

OK, let me strain your brain a tad more, and then I'll stop. You know how people debate on here whether a given shark tooth is from a particular shark species or his evolving cousin? What if it were LEGAL to have it if it were one, and a FELONY if it were the other? Hey, like pre-ban and post-ban GW teeth! When can you own a modern GW tooth, and how can you prove it's legal? If someone has a modern Great White tooth, are they committing a crime or not? Heck if I know.

Point well taken. Though, the permitted casual collecting of plant and invertebrate fossils raises the same issue -- some of those fossils will be off limits and others wont.

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Guest N.AL.hunter

I agree with all those who have stated that this does not change the current laws much, but if they do pass it saying all Verts are illegal from Federal lands, then that means even diving for teeth of the coasts will be illegal since the Feds own all of that land. I have no problem with this law as long as they allow for common verts like shark teeth. Heck, land turtles and oreondonts and other White River stuff is common enough to be excluded too. But as also stated by another, you usually can get permission or pay for diging/collecting on private ranches/land.

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Archimedes

Consider too that funding for paleontology is going down every year

as a paleontologist retires they are not replaced either, money is better spent elsewhere

Where are these fossils going to be kept?? There is no money to keep these fossils anymore.

Selling fossils are illegal?? Trading is the oldest form of buying and selling.

We live in a capitalistic society, right?? Well we capitalize our profits and socialize our losses, it’s too valuable to fail.

It’s unbelievable how common fossils are, someone thinks they are going to lose something so we are going to socialize fossils, its too valuable to lose, one law invites more restrictive laws till Thomas Jefferson was a felon too. All these Fossil Collectors, Amateur, and Commercial dealers are saving these fossils from sure destruction by the earth natural forces.

Scientifically valuable fossils are almost always turned over to the scientific community anyway, and everyone benefits, so why do we need more laws???

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Guest solius symbiosus

I have said it before, but I think it bears repeating:

unless very detailed notes on the stratigraphy, and lithology, of an outcrop(including the exact position, and orientation) are noted, the scientific value of a piece is greatly diminished.

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Maryland Mike
Before I went out to Wyoming I did a fair bit of research on fossil collecting. As Solius has stated, this law really changes nothing. It is already illegal to collect vertebrate fossils on BLM land without a permit. I do believe that a commercial permit is available but I am not positive about that. You can collect as much invertebrate and plant stuff as you can carry, but you cannot sell it. The other thing I found out is that there is plenty of private land and this law or the existing law does not regulate collection on private land. I paid $35 a day to collect all the oreodont material I could find in Nebraska, and that was at the first ranch I called.

BLM sets the 'reasonable' limits for personal use as up to 25 pounds per day, plus one piece, with a total limit of 250 pounds per year. Other than perhaps a log of petrified wood, I can't imagine any individual private collector, who is not selling collected materials could need that much plant or invertebrate material.

Here's a link to a BLM site that mentions their policy. BLM Rockhounding Info

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