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TOPIC: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters

Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12402

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Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters
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Conservation Arrowheads seized in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation… (Fish and Wildlife)

By Eloísa Ruano González, Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - Treasure hunters have long pilfered arrowheads, pottery and other archaeological artifacts on state lands, risking jail time if caught.

But a loophole in state law meant that looters didn't face consequences for their thievery on Lake County Water Authority lands. That protection may be about to end.

Legislators in their recently concluded session approved a bill that makes it a crime to pilfer historical finds on water-authority lands. Looters on lands of the two water authorities affected — Lake's and the Toho Water Authority in Osceola — could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine under the legislation, which will be sent to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.

"It finally gives us the ability to prosecute people who come to public lands to archaeologically loot," said Mike Perry, Lake County Water Authority executive director. "It gives all our properties the same protection state lands enjoy."

The bill points to a chronic issue across Florida.

A man recently was arrested for plucking arrowheads from the Silver Glen Springs area in the Ocala National Forest, said Joy Hill, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She said a park ranger had spotted the man and reported him to Fish and Wildlife, which conducted an investigation and found numerous arrowheads at his home.

In February, the agency wrapped up a two-year investigation into illegal trade of historical artifacts, mainly American Indian pieces, which resulted in the arrest of the 13 people from Florida and Georgia. Officers had gone undercover and infiltrated the ring, Hill said.

"We do have people who go deep undercover," she said. "We have a variety of ways of finding out about these things."

Officials estimated more than $2 million of artifacts were seized in "Operation Timucua." The group had tried to sell many of those pieces online and at trade shows — some priced as much as $100,000, according to Fish and Wildlife.

Maj. Curtis Brown, who heads the agency's investigations section, said at the time that casual collectors weren't targeted.

"This is not the situation of a family out hiking and finding an arrowhead or other artifact that they want to take home," Brown said. "These subjects intentionally destroyed lands and rivers for their own personal gain. Some even made their entire living on these illegal sales."

Mary Glowacki, who heads the state Division of Historical Resources' Bureau of Archaeological Research, said hunters often go deep into rural, remote areas near bodies of water to look for historical treasures that can date back to 12,000 years. Those often are the best sites for archaeological digging. Ancient tribes set up camp near fresh water, which was great for agriculture and also attracted other food sources, such as birds, she said.

"It's a big problem because we don't have the resources to monitor all the sites," she said.

Though the legislation won't solve the looting problem in the state, Glowacki said it will close a loophole that has existed on water-authority lands and help protect the state's history.

"It's not like a tree that you cut down and can regrow. If you destroy an ancient site, that's it," she said. "They're nonrenewable resources."

Perry said looters have long targeted wetlands and preserves in search of American Indian artifacts in Lake County. He said local governments weren't "comfortable" passing ordinances because they did not own the lands and law-enforcement officials could only trespass individuals after issuing a warning. But they would have to first catch them in the act.

"It's hard to catch them once, much less catch them a second time," Perry said. "We fell through the cracks."

A couple of years ago, the authority put up cameras in Crooked River Preserve in south Lake after looters dug up "huge holes" and tore up vegetation and the shoreline while hunting for historic treasures. Perry said the cameras were ripped down and crushed into pieces within six months. He said it took about $10,000 to repair the site.

The legislation was sponsored by two Lake lawmakers: state Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, and state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla. A spokeswoman for Scott said the Governor's Office hasn't received the bill yet.

It would give law-enforcement officials the tools necessary to arrest looters who deface water authorities' lands on felony charges, said Hays, who attempted to pass a similar bill last year. He said the previous bill was "too broad" and sparked concerns from people who use metal detectors to search for finds at beaches and other sites.

"It created a firestorm. We were getting inundated with emails from California to Virginia," Hays said.

The Lake County Water Authority, which was created by the Legislature in 1953, has just less than 7,000 acres of public lands, much of it accessible to the public. Its purposes: to conserve and protect the county's freshwater resources, fish and wildlife; and provide recreational facilities for residents.

The Toho Water Authority has a different mission. Created in 2003, it serves as the water provider in Kissimmee and much of Osceola. The authority has a fenced wetland site in Four Corners that is being restored, but there hasn't been a problem with looters, according to spokeswoman Mary Rose Guidone. Still, she said the Toho authority supports the legislation.

"Bills like this help preserve the resources of our nation's heritage for present and future generations," she said.

Courtesy: Orlando Sentinel
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“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12412

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thieves, looters, pilfered!!!!!

"It would give law-enforcement officials the tools necessary to arrest looters who deface water authorities' lands on felony charges"

started reading this bill today and did not like it! if they are truly only concerned about someone doing obvious damage to the land/shorelines or large scale excavations that's one thing but what about the serious hobbyist? will they be targeted and arrested????
leaving items in the ground where they may sink or rot away never to be seen by the public is not preservation, its neglect and missed opportunity. im still worried about this bill, anyone else?
chuck.
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12414

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Do you have a link to this bill?
Aquanut
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12415

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Aquanut, here is the link to the Bill in question...

Senate Bill 118
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12418

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Thanks Tommy,
This is another reworded power grab by the state. They have eliminated underwater treasure hunting for individuals and would impose unreasonable fines, confiscations and a 3rd degree felony on anyone (us) who attempts to locate a wreck. Too bad for Florida.
Aquanut
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12420

  • seeker41
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well, im not very good at reading the legal wording and legal speak in these documents but I know they will try and pull a fast one if possible! would love to have a lawers opinion or someone very experienced with legislative writing check this out asap!!!!!

chuck.
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12421

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It basically says that your screwed and they will take all your gear, throw you in jail and fine you $500 a day if you get caught treasure hunting on state owned lands, too include lakes, rivers and waterways.
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12422

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well, we all know we are not allowed to hunt state parks....that's fine.

they also mention submerged lands, soverign lands, etc: is it state parks only? is it all state beaches and waterways?

does the average arrowhead hunter, sharktooth hunter, bottle hunter, coin hunter, artifact hunter need to be worried?

it gives them the power to prosecute anyone without a permit and permits will only be issued to qualified individuals and institutions ......correct?
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12423

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Yes! be very worried! It is the average arrowhead hunter that is the target of this bill, just as it was when the state did away with the isolated finds program in 2005.
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12424

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well,.....the treasurehunting community should ban together and get organized!!!!! we have a lot of power as we seen last year in defeating the original bill!!!!

wouldn't it be nice to make treasure salvage permits and all other forms of treasurehunting permits much easier to obtain? we should propose a system much like they use in Europe! finds are submitted to the authorites, catalouged and documented then in about 95% of the cases given back to the finder! it will never happen here if we don't try!!!!!!
I guess the first step is to get the word out form our organization and put to use the power that we demonstrated last year!
chuck.
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12425

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You are absolutely correct seeker41, and this is why TreasureWorks is constantly on the lookout for these situations, and we do not hesitate to spread the word on our website and on other social media sites.

Here is a reprint from part of my Blog from last years battle that I think you may find useful.

So my treasure hunting friends, as you can see by reading this letter, this is not just a Florida problem. There is a concerted effort by the Archaeological community to take away your freedom to treasure hunt and metal detect.

As a professional treasure hunter, I have always had a healthy respect for the art of Archaeology, and I have long been an advocate for the protection of cultural heritage around the world. When we launched TreasureWorks.com over a year ago we did so with the goal of trying to bring the treasure hunting community and the archaeological community together. Primarily because we believe that there is so much more to be gained working together than fighting one another.

So by now I hope that you are thinking; what can you, as Joe the metal detectorist do to stand up for your right to metal detect as a hobby, to search for find and catalog civil war relics, to hunt for and collect arrowheads without be vilified as a criminal grave robber.

The way I see it, you have only two options. First you can do nothing and let the handful of élite ivory tower archaeologist convince the powers that be to outlaw treasure hunting and metal detectors. Second you can become an activist, and stand up for your rights.

I will assume that if you are still reading this article you are at least open to the idea of becoming a treasure hunting activist. Most of us really don’t consider ourselves as activist. That is until someone get our backs against the wall and that little voice goes off in your head telling you that you are going to take a beating or you are going to act.

OK, you say; I am ready to act, but I don’t have a clue as to what I as an individual can do to affect any kind of change to protect my right to go to the beach, school yard or just metal detect in the woods behind my house.

The very first thing you need to do is to register to vote, and go out and vote. Having worked a few political campaigns over the years I have learned that when you write a letter to any elected official, the first thing their staff does is to check the voting records to see if you have voted in any recent elections. If you have voted your letter will carry much more weight than if you don’t vote.

Don't be afraid to question authority. Authority should be earned, not appointed. The "experts" are often proven wrong (they used to believe that the earth was flat!). You don't have to be an expert metal detectorist or a professional treasure hunter to have a valuable opinion.

The internet can be of great value for research. Learn how decisions are made. How is the bureaucracy structured? Who are the key players? What do they look like? Where do they eat lunch? Go there and talk with them. Get to know their executive assistants. Attend public meetings.

Do something - anything is better than nothing. Discuss your ideas with friends, and then act. Start small, but always think big. Organize public events. Distribute handbills. Involve youth. Get the word out to your neighbors, and remember that It's easier to ask for forgiveness after the fact rather than to ask for permission.

Be sure to use the media. Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper are read by thousands. Stage a dramatic event and invite the media - they love an event that gives them an interesting angle or good photo. Bypass the mainstream media with email and the world wide web to get the word out about your issue and to network.

Seek out your common allies such as other activist groups, metal detecting community associations, and work with them to establish support. The system wins through Divide and Conquer, so do the opposite! Network ideas, expertise and issues through email lists. Celebrate your successes with others. In the Florida situation find other activist groups who defend property rights.

Apply Constant Pressure and Persevere - it drives those in power crazy. Be as creative as possible in getting your perspective heard. Use the media, phone your politicians, send letters and faxes with graphics and images. Be concise. Bend the Administration's ear when you attend public meetings. Take notes. Ask specific questions, and give a deadline for when you expect a response. Stay in their faces.

Propose and articulate intelligent alternatives to the status quo. Inspire people with well thought out, attractive visions of how things can be better. Use actual examples, what's been tried, where and how it works. Do your homework, get the word out, create visual representations. Be positive and hopeful.
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
Last Edit: 6 years 4 months ago by wreckdiver.
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12426

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Someone correct me if I am wrong, but when I go to the bottom of the SB 1188 bill where it was tabled on 4/25 and refers the reader to HB 975 which is here: www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2013/975 .
In this document: www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2013/0975/Analyses/sveiC3R2nVnajeotjQtKI/yUk8c=%7C14/Public/Bills/0900-0999/0975/Analysis/h0975z.EDTS.PDF you will find these words:
"CS/HB 975 passed the House on April 24, 2013, and subsequently passed the Senate on April 26, 2013. The
bill expands the area where unauthorized archaeological activity is prohibited to include land owned by water
authorities, and authorizes the Division to issue permits for archaeological research at these locations. The bill
also defines water authorities for the purpose of this section.
The fiscal impact of this bill is insignificant on state funds.
Subject to the Governor’s veto powers, the bill provides an effective date of July 1, 2013."
All it needs to become law is the Governor's signature.
We're screwed again.
Bill Black
Search and Salvage
Sebastian, FL 32958
No regrets. No prisoners.
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12427

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What this says is that we are all going to be considered as artifact looters, vandals, thieves and we will all be charged with anything they want to drum up against us. It isn't going to just cover professional arrowhead hunters or someone who defaces public land but it is worded to encompass anything they deem as invasive or destructive in their own eyes. This could be anything including the kid walking down some trail or beach and picking up anything. It will eliminate anyone from even using a detector or shovel, or even a knife to cut into the ground to recover anything. You can be charged with defacing, damaging or destroying anything they want to charge you with. Them saying they won't abuse the power this bill would give them is ludacris. Every single one of these organizations have powerheads who think it is their job to show people how they can rule over you as they wish. We have all run into these idiots who think they have to run us off property or grounds they really have no right being on themselves. It is like giving a rabbit the teeth and size of a lion. He's gonna bite you just to show you he can!

Archaeologists will get behind this because they are tired of us finding things they can not. When we recover something they say it should be left in the water or ground because we are not genuine archaeologists and are to stupid to know what we have found or how to preserve it, map it's location and let them take the credit for finding it. The truth is that if we do not find and recover these things we find, they will remain lost and just decay away into nothing before the scientific community will ever find it. Besides, we may stumble onto the motherload in our dimwitted wanderings and then how would that make them look? So, the best way to keep us from finding something is to keep us out and make it against the law to use our detectors or treasure hunting equipment anywhere at all. If you are using any kind of detection or recovery equipment you are breaking the law under this bill. What makes you think they will abide by their word when the bill would give them the legal power to do whatever they want?


Suppose you found something like this along a riverbank? It could be deemed archaeologically important and then you lose your equipment and end up in jail as a looter, vandal and thief. This image is hidden for guests. Please log in or register to see it. This image is hidden for guests. Please log in or register to see it.

I just found it, took some pictures and returned it into the rivermud from whence it came. What good is that going to do anyone if that was really a Viking axe head that would prove the Vikings were on a specific riverbank near the Gulf of Mexico 500 years before the Spanish? Well, having to return it where it was found lost it to history until the archaeologists discover it whenever, if ever, they do. :S Maybe it was just from some pioneer who broke an axehandle while chopping trees for his cabin. Maybe it was from some Spanish expedition into the area. We may never know. I was afeared of reprisals from the law! So, it was returned to whence it came so the officials can dig it up in another 500 or 1000 years. :laugh: But you go ahead and pass your laws so we can no longer discover the things we do find. :S
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Re: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters 6 years 4 months ago #12428

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one of the biggest reasons we were successful in stopping the last bill was the fact that the fishers(taffi) and there lawers got involved!!!! whoever has there contact info should get in touch with them! I think they even submitted a differently worded version of the bill?
chuck
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