In a plea agreement with the Mono County District Attorney’s Office, a Mono County resident pled guilty to one charge of misdemeanor vandalism and was ordered to pay $3,823 in restitution to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
In January 2013, law enforcement rangers and archaeological staff from the BLM Bishop Field Office initiated an investigation into the damage of a cultural resource site in the Chalfant Valley after rangers received a report of a man digging in the area. The man was caught digging in a known historic site and had illegally collected artifacts in his possession. The damage occurred on public lands and City of Los Angeles, Dept. of Water and Power lands in Mono County. Law enforcement officers from several agencies later served a search warrant on the suspect’s home and seized additional artifacts that had been illegally taken from public lands.
Federal land managers are responsible for the protection of natural and cultural resources located on public lands. Cultural resources tell the story of past occupation and settlement of our nation. “When individuals damage cultural resource sites or remove artifacts from public lands, they take an irreplaceable part of our national cultural heritage from all of us,” said Steve Nelson, Bishop Field Office manager.
Cultural resources are protected under various state and federal laws and regulations including the California Public Resources Code and the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). Depending on the severity of the offense, the unauthorized removal, damage, alteration or defacement of cultural resources can be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies resulting in fines and imprisonment of up to 5 years.
Anyone with information about damage to archaeological resources or the theft of artifacts from public lands can contact the BLM Bishop Field Office at (760) 872-5016.