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.”