Dec 06, 2006, 04:18 PM
Treasure Trove Permits
OK, I’ve been reading the posts coming into the “played for fools” thread since last I was here and I have come to several conclusions. The first is that there are a lot of responsible people out there who want to be able to pursue their interest/obsession but at the same time want to do so responsibly within the law and without damage to the land. I also got the feeling that many of these same people would like to have a more cordial working relationship with the people charged with managing public lands and would like to know the best way to present their cases when it comes time to apply for treasure trove permits. Those are good things.
I also noted that there is a little confusion about exactly what the process of historic preservation entails and why we (the agencies) do some of the things we do. While not necessarily a bad thing, it’s something we can talk about. In fact, let’s start there.
I know that many of you feel discriminated against by the land management agencies. I won’t necessarily defend my brethren in this, but I will offer a little explanation. Mostly, the feeling amongst agency officials is not discrimination per se but frustration. I have to tell you that the number of times that I have dealt with people as lucid and reasonable as most of y’all over the last 30 years can be counted on one hand. By and large the people we get to deal with are rank amateurs who read one article in a treasure magazine, drive past the Superstitions, look up and see shapes in the rocks and convince themselves that they, out of the thousands of people who have searched the area for a century, have solved the mystery. We also get the outright delusional obsessives who won’t believe even their own eyes. Over the years we have had treasure hunters dynamite cliffs into rubble, dig holes all over the place (often into solid rock), build little rockhouse shanties in the wilderness, carve and paint fake petroglyphs and pictographs and deface real ones, shoot at people (including me – and that was before I had even talked to any of them…), and destroy irreplaceable archaeological sites. Not that many years ago we arrested and deported an “international traveler” who was working for an infamous Dutchman hunter. He was working in a rockshelter in the Superstitions that contained several meters of cultural fill – the remains of occupations ranging from the Middle Archaic (ca 5,000 years ago) to the Apache and Yavapai. In the space of a few weeks he had shoveled nearly all of this material over the cliff, destroying the site; why? Because some idiot had written “1847” in charcoal on a rock ledge inside the shelter. Was there a tunnel or adit or a cache of bullion or plate hidden under that 5,000 year old midden? Of course not.
We also have to deal with the truly delusional, people like the guy who swore that Bluff Springs Mountain was hollow and that it contained a population of Aztecs who were still there protecting “Montezuma’s” treasure and sacrificing runaway teenagers on a pyramid they had built underground, or the infamous Chuck Kenworthy, with his contradictory dictionary of signs, saguaro topiary, and giant “carved” pigs and poodles. And then there are the Jesuit/Peralta people with their stone “maps” made with anachronistic epigraphy, magic symbols, 1940’s Disneyesque cartoon illustrations on a type of sandstone that can’t be found anywhere closer than 100 miles north of the Superstitions. To a reasonable person, most of this stuff is laughable, but we can’t just tell these people to go away without at least hearing them out (although some managers have finally gotten to that point). And it seems that the loonier they are the more prone they are to threaten us with lawsuits (never happens) and going to the press (happens a lot, and guess who gets to look like the bad guy?). So, I would say that, for the most part, it isn’t so much discrimination as frustration. Most of the treasure hunters we deal with are not the kind of people y’all would probably want in the Treasure Net Hall of Fame….. and dealing with them takes time away from real resource management, which is harder and harder to do nowadays as agency personnel are drained away and funding for the stewardship of America’s public lands is siphoned off to pay for solving other peoples’ problems in other countries.
As a corollary, we don’t often have contact with responsible treasure hunters. The closest that most agency people get (especially those without legendary lost mines and such in their jurisdiction) is through law enforcement – busting people who use metal detectors to turn publicly owned historic sites into prairie dog towns and bombing ranges in order to steal artifacts for their own amusement or monetary gain (we’ll come back to this). So, while I am not making excuses for those of my brethren who slight and dismiss y’all and treat you like criminals without making any effort to reach out and work with you, maybe this will help you to understand why they feel the way they do.
Why, then, do you ask, am I here? Obviously, I have the same frustrations as my colleagues – more so than most, actually, because no other Forest in the country has anything like the treasure draw created by the Lost Dutchman. A couple of reasons.
First of all, as several of you have noted, evaluating the merit of treasure claims is part of my job (though I must tell you that my District Rangers – the people who actually manage the Forest and issue the permits – don’t always see it that way). That job is easier the more that I can understand where y’all are coming from and vice versa.
Second, I happen to have a fairly old-fashioned idea about access to the National Forests. I still feel that any American taxpayer has the right of access to public land. Many agency archaeologists nowadays, out of fear of pothunters, don’t like people to have access to archaeological and historic sites on public land. I look at it the other way and encourage people to get out there and enjoy that same thrill of discovery that an archaeologist has when finding a site for the first time. Now, that doesn’t mean that I like the idea of people making new roads and trails everywhere or violating the wilderness laws or spewing their trash and brass all over the countryside or taking artifacts away or digging in sites; the point is for everyone to have the opportunity to feel the same thrill that you did and that can’t happen if you wreck the place and take away all the neat stuff. I have been burned by this attitude, of course, since there’s always that 5-10% of visitors that really don’t care about anyone but themselves, and sites have been damaged as a result, mostly by having all their artifacts walk off and end up in peoples’ trash cans after they get tired of moving and dusting them. In the long run, though, I like to think that open access helps to foster a feeling of ownership and responsibility.
This brings up something that Beth (?) - mrs. oroblanco – brought up and that Mike (gollum) asked me about as well, namely the idea that finding something “brings in the archaeologists” and all of a sudden places become “off-limits” and the archaeologists take everything for themselves or shove it into some museum basement, never to see the light of day again. This is actually an issue of some importance in the archaeological community as well. Basically, archaeology in this country (at least as regards Federal land) works under several laws designed to protect sites and their contents as the property of the Federal government as agent for the people of the US. Because of this, it is illegal to take stuff from a site as that damages its integrity and makes it all that much more difficult to study and interpret – not to mention tainting the feeling of discovery. On the other hand, when we excavate sites as mitigation for their imminent destruction by a construction project, the lack of money available nowadays usually means that we only dig a sample of any given site; the rest, which remains under the same protection of the law that prevents people from taking stuff from it, is then destroyed by the project. Afterwards, aside from what might be published in the excavation report, the artifacts are then, again, by law, held in a repository and, realistically, are almost never seen again. This has become an enormous problem in archaeology, since we are actually running out of places to put the stuff. The one thing that doesn’t happen is for the material to end up in private collections; with the sole exception of human remains, if it came off of or out of Federal property, it remains Federal property. The other thing that doesn’t happen, at least on Federal land, is that unless a site is doomed to destruction by some project, it doesn’t get dug. There is far too much demand for mitigation and far too little money for research for the luxury of digging up sites just because we want to. With the exception of an occasional University field school, that just doesn’t happen all that often on public land any more.
While there are many avenues for public participation in this process, it is easy to understand why many people feel left out. It’s also obvious that the system will be changing over the course of the next 10-20 years. How it will change will depend on who is involved in making the decisions. If y’all want it to change in your favor, you’ll need to get involved. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to talk to agency archaeologists or report your findings. Sure, many times you’ll get told not to go back out there or not to dig anything else up, but the more interaction you have with these people, the more opportunity you’ll have to change their attitudes and make your concerns known. One thing I will tell you will probably never change, though, and that is the ownership of artifacts from Federal lands. There are proposals being evaluated for short and long term loans of various kinds of material to private individuals under certain circumstances as a way to reduce pressure on the repositories, but I doubt that it will ever get to the point that finding it on Federal property automatically makes it yours.
The third thing is something else that Beth brought up (those darn oroblancos!) – the idea that having someone like me “with an interest in the subject can help to bridge the divide between us.” While I hope that can happen, I feel that I need to clarify my “interest in the subject.”
I am not a treasure hunter, at least not in the sense that most of you are. I gave up looking for the Lost Dutchman 35 years ago when I figured out that the whole town of Goldfield had beat me to it. I have over the years accumulated a little knowledge and studied the folklore patterns of treasure stories, largely because I have had to. I am an archaeologist. My obsession with the past lies in learning about how people lived and developed here in Arizona and in several other parts of the world in which I have an interest. The tools we use are similar, however, starting from historic research and an understanding of the landscape and finally reaching down to the point of using metal detectors to identify, map, and study historic Army/Apache battle sites or mining camps. From that perspective, we are not so different, and on that basis, hopefully, we can begin to understand one another.
And y’all thought Roy was long winded!
Next post: advice on obtaining a treasure trove permit from the US Forest Service.
Dec 06, 2006 04:18 PM
Dec 06, 2006, 05:21 PM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
Or if your interested in finding out information about a treasure trove permit in the Tonto National Forest, Superstition Wilderness area, you could contact the USDA National Forest Service, Tonto National Forest at 2324 E. McDowell Road in Phoenix at (602) 225-5200 or the Mesa Ranger District #3 office at 5140 E. Ingram Street Mesa (480) 610-3300. Or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org
They will give you the straight story on how to apply for and obtain a treasure trove permit as well as provide you with all the necessary information and forms.
Say you heard about it on the Treasure Net Forum.
Dec 07, 2006, 02:20 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
You've anticipated my next post!
The McDowell Road address you gave is where my office is located and the phone number that of our front desk; they will transfer you to me. The e-mail address you gave belongs to our information officer; any inquiry about treasure troves will get forwarded to me. I'm probably going to regret this (though the info is already available in my profile), but...
my direct line is 602 225-5231 and e-mail is email@example.com.
As you said, y'all can also contact the Mesa District directly; ultimately the District Ranger will be the one to issue the permit, either on the basis of his own review of your application or on my recommendation. We used to have an archaeologist on the Mesa District who was just getting familiar with treasure troves, but he ran screaming, er, I mean transfered to the Coconino and will not be replaced in the foreseeable future.
More tomorrow - it's getting late and I still have work to do tonight.
Dec 07, 2006, 03:18 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
nice post i agree i would like more money put into arc --old stuff i love archaeologicia news this stuff should be done proprly maybe more money would stop the delays in what is found and when it is reported as a demon lord give me patiece - but hurry well stated scott i can talk the one fingered typing kills me
Dec 07, 2006, 03:22 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
Originally Posted by CuMiner
I don't know if you've been keeping up, but Scott is the Chief Archaeologist for Tonto National Forest. Just in case you hadn't seen that part yet (in another thread). He is the man to answer ANY questions you may have regarding that subject.
I know this is something many of you already know, but there may be some who don't, so I will say it. If you are hiking out in a State or National Park, and come across something, like Indian pot shards (or whole pots), DON'T dig them up and take them to the Ranger Station! I will say it again. DON'T DIG THEM UP! Leave them exactly where you find them. If you have GPS, mark the spot, if not, put a small stone on top of a larger stone to monument the location. If you have a camera, take pictures of the spot, and what's there.
These are the remains of some Indian Pots I found while up in the mountains (won't post where here, sorry). I already showed them to Scott, and Thanks Scott. I emailed Anza-Borrego Desert State Park about them. Haven't heard back yet.
Dec 07, 2006, 11:00 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
Hola Scott: an excellent post. Hopefully by enlightening both sides mutually, you, and your colleague´s work load may be lightened, and good humor re established all around..
Unfortunately i live in a section of the world where, while they can be extremely efficient, some officials seem to be dedicated to maintaining the popular legend of Mexico being Manana land
"I exist to live, not live to exist"
Dec 07, 2006, 03:53 PM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
Today's installment is going to come in two parts; first I'm going to pass on some of the regulatory basis for how treasure troves are handled. In a followup post I'll try to translate all that into practical English. This is what I have to work with:
FOREST SERVICE MANUAL 2700 - SPECIAL USES MANAGEMENT
CHAPTER 2720 - SPECIAL USES ADMINISTRATION (EXCERPTS)
Amendment No.: 2700-2006-1 Effective Date: April 3, 2006
Duration: This amendment is effective until superseded or removed.
2724.4 - Cultural Resource and Treasure Trove Uses
This category includes inventory, excavation, or removal of archaeological resources and treasure troves.
The Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906 (16 U.S.C. 431) authorizes most of the existing cultural resource special use permits issued prior to 1979 and all cultural and historic resources less than 100 years of age. The Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470aa) authorizes all new permits involving land-disturbing cultural resource activity involving resources 100 years old and greater. The Act of June 4, 1897 (16 U.S.C. 551) authorizes nondisturbing activity and permits for treasure troves.
Allow qualified institutions and individuals to observe, excavate, or remove archaeological resources on National Forest System lands when in the public interest and within the constraints of the various laws and regulations governing the management of archaeological and other natural resources.
For treasure troves, allow persons to search for buried treasure on National Forest System lands, but protect the rights of the public regarding ownership of or claims on any recovered property.
Definitions: Treasure Trove. A valuable quantity of money, unmounted gems, or precious worked metal in the form of coins, plate, or bullion of unknown ownership, purposely hidden, that does not fall under any of the definitions in 36 CFR 296.3.
2724.44 - Treasure Hunting
This designation includes the search for and recovery of hidden treasure. It does not include:
1. Lost or abandoned property that falls under the General Services Administration authority in 40 U.S.C. 310.
2. Archaeological resources or specimens defined at 36 CFR 296.
3. Locatable minerals, as defined by the 1872 Mining Act (30 U.S.C. 21-54), or leasable minerals under either the Act of 1920 (30 U.S.C. 181) or the Act of 1947 (30 U.S.C. 351-359).
4. Recent vintage coins or other small objects of recent age often found with the aid of a metal detector. No significant excavation is involved. The search is a recreation pursuit confined to areas with no historic or prehistoric value.
2724.44a - Ownership of Treasure Trove
The permit does not establish any ownership of a trove; it only authorizes the search activity. In the event the permit holder makes a discovery, the ownership is adjudicated by process of law on a case-by-case basis. Several factors influence the ownership determination. These may include the following:
1. Archaeological resources remain the property of the United States.
2. The true owner of the trove may come forward.
3. The Forest Service cannot determine the tax aspects or interests of other Governmental agencies nor is it possible to determine these aspects in advance.
4. Resolution may include negotiation between the finder and the United States (as landowner) for any nonarchaeological portion of the trove.
Permits shall provide only for search and, if there is a discovery, for removal to a repository for safekeeping until determination of ownership. The recovered treasure shall remain in escrow for one year to allow all claimants to come forward and to arrive at legally acceptable settlements.
2724.44b - Relation to Mining Claims
Treasure trove search under the guise of prospecting or mining is trespass (FSM 5330). A trove found on an unpatented mining claim, even if the claim is prospectively valuable for minerals under the 1872 Mining Act (30 U.S.C. 21-54), does not automatically become the property of the mineral claimant. The United States owns the land, and determination of the treasure ownership is as set out in FSM 2724.44a.
Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 296
(excerpt referenced in FSM 2724.44)
§ 296.3 Definitions.
As used for purposes of this part:
(a) Archaeological resource means any material remains of human life or activities which are at least 100 years of age, and which are of archaeological interest.
(1) Of archaeological interest means capable of providing scientific or humanistic understandings of past human behavior, cultural adaptation, and related topics through the application of scientific or scholarly techniques such as controlled observation, contextual measurement, controlled collection, analysis, interpretation and explanation.
(2) Material remains means physical evidence of human habitation, occupation, use, or activity, including the site, location, or context in which such evidence is situated.
(3) The following classes of material remains (and illustrative examples), if they are at least 100 years of age, are of archaeological interest and shall be considered archaeological resources unless determined otherwise pursuant to paragraph (a)(4) or (a)(5) of this section:
(i) Surface or subsurface structures, shelters, facilities, or features (including, but not limited to, domestic structures, storage structures, cooking structures, ceremonial structures, artificial mounds, earthworks, fortifications, canals, reservoirs, horticultural/agricultural gardens or fields, bedrock mortars or grinding surfaces, rock alignments, cairns, trails, borrow pits, cooking pits, refuse pits, burial pits or graves, hearths, kilns, post molds, wall trenches, middens);
(ii) Surface or subsurface artifact concentrations or scatters;
(iii) Whole or fragmentary tools, implements, containers, weapons and weapon projectiles, clothing, and ornaments (including, but not limited to, pottery and other ceramics, cordage, basketry and other weaving, bottles and other glassware, bone, ivory, shell, metal, wood, hide, feathers, pigments, and flaked, ground, or pecked stone);
(iv) By-products, waste products, or debris resulting from manufacture or use of human-made or natural materials;
(v) Organic waste (including, but not limited to, vegetal and animal remains, coprolites);
(vi) Human remains (including, but not limited to, bone, teeth, mummified flesh, burials, cremations);
(vii) Rock carvings, rock paintings, intaglios and other works of artistic or symbolic representation;
(viii) Rockshelters and caves or portions thereof containing any of the above material remains;
(ix) All portions of shipwrecks (including, but not limited to, armaments, apparel, tackle, cargo);
(x) Any portion or piece of any of the foregoing.
(4) The following material remains shall not be considered of archaeological interest, and shall not be considered to be archaeological resources for purposes of the Act and this part, unless found in a direct physical relationship with archaeological resources as defined in this section:
(i) Paleontological remains;
(ii) Coins, bullets, and unworked minerals and rocks.
(5) The Federal land manager may determine that certain material remains, in specified areas under the Federal land manager's jurisdiction, and under specified circumstances, are not or are no longer of archaeological interest and are not to be considered archaeological resources under this part. Any determination made pursuant to this subparagraph shall be documented. Such determination shall in no way affect the Federal land manager's obligations under other applicable laws or regulations.
(6) For the disposition following lawful removal or excavations of Native American human remains and “cultural items”, as defined by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA; Pub. L. 101–601; 104 Stat. 3050; 25 U.S.C. 3001–13), the Federal land manager is referred to NAGPRA and its implementing regulations.
(b) Arrowhead means any projectile point which appears to have been designed for use with an arrow.
(c) Federal land manager means:
(1) With respect to any public lands, the secretary of the department, or the head of any other agency or instrumentality of the United States, having primary management authority over such lands, including persons to whom such management authority has been officially delegated;
(2) In the case of Indian lands, or any public lands with respect to which no department, agency or instrumentality has primary management authority, such term means the Secretary of the Interior;
(3) The Secretary of the Interior, when the head of any other agency or instrumentality has, pursuant to section 3(2) of the Act and with the consent of the Secretary of the Interior, delegated to the Secretary of the Interior the responsibilities (in whole or in part) in this part.
(d) Public lands means:
(1) Lands which are owned and administered by the United States as part of the national park system, the national wildlife refuge system, or the national forest system; and
(2) All other lands the fee title to which is held by the United States, except lands on the Outer Continental Shelf, lands under the jurisdiction of the Smithsonian Institution, and Indian lands.
(e) Indian lands 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, except for subsurface interests not owned or controlled by an Indian tribe or Indian individual.
(f) Indian tribe as defined in the Act means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska village or regional or village corporation as defined in, or established pursuant to, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688). In order to clarify this statutory definition for purposes of this part, Indian tribe means:
(1) Any tribal entity which is included in the annual list of recognized tribes published in the Federal Register by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to 25 CFR part 54;
(2) Any other tribal entity acknowledged by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to 25 CFR part 54 since the most recent publication of the annual list; and
(3) Any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688), and any Alaska Native village or tribe which is recognized by the Secretary of the Interior as eligible for services provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
(g) Person means an individual, corporation, partnership, trust, institution, association, or any other private entity, or any officer, employee, agent, department, or instrumentality of the United States, or of any Indian tribe, or of any State or political subdivision thereof.
(h) State means any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.
(i) Act means the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470aa–mm).
[49 FR 1027, Jan. 6, 1984; 49 FR 5923, Feb. 16, 1984; 60 FR 5260, Jan. 26, 1995]
Dec 07, 2006, 04:21 PM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
So you want to look for treasure on the National Forest? No problem - looking is free, as long as you abide by the laws protecting archaeological and historic sites and artifacts. Recovering treasure, now that’s another story…. However, if that is your heart’s desire, I can tell y’all a few things that might make your application for a treasure trove permit a little less traumatic for some and, I suppose, really frustrating for others.
DISCLAIMER: nothing that I am about to tell you should be taken as an endorsement or encouragement of treasure hunting on the Forest; I already have enough work to do (including myself, I have three archaeologists to deal with three million acres on the Tonto – I think you get the picture). Though the Regs I posted a few minutes ago apply generally to all National Forests, they specifically do not apply to State or BLM, and certainly do not apply to Park Service land, although all the Federal land managing agencies have their own version of 36 CFR 296 which only differs by the number in the title. What I am about to tell you interprets these regulations into the way we do things here on the Tonto NF; I wouldn't necessarily expect you'll find the same details on other Forests, but the basics should be familiar...
First of all, the treasure trove permit is discretionary and the authority for its issuance in the Forest Service is delegated down to the District Ranger level. There is no necessity for us to issue such a permit if we don’t want to, no matter how compelling an argument the applicant makes. What that means is that there is no set checklist of information or activities and no standardized method for evaluating proposals. The only real standard established for the evaluation of a treasure trove permit is the “reasonable man” standard. This is usually taken to mean that the proposal must be logical, flow from verifiable historic sources, and have physical evidence to back it up.
The process of application is relatively simple – you can contact your friendly, if somewhat jaded and sarcastic Forest Archaeologist to talk over your theories or you can go straight to the Ranger District where you plan to search and attempt to obtain a permit application from the Ranger. There is a $200 non-refundable fee that will be due when you submit your application. If you plan on searching in several non-contiguous area, that might mean $200 for each separate area depending on the discretion of the District Ranger.
In your application you must disclose the exact location of your search area/discovery and what you expect to find there and explain exactly why you expect to find it, ie. the evidence that led you to that particular place. Once you have disclosed the location (on current USGS topographic maps, preferably with UTM coordinates on the NAD 27 CONUS datum), we are obligated under the National Historic Preservation Act to examine this location for the presence of historic or prehistoric artifacts and/or features. As you might imagine, given the workload we already have from planned activities on the Forest, treasure trove permits don’t get a very high priority – it can take weeks or months to schedule the time for this. Of course, you do have the option of hiring a qualified archaeologist to conduct a survey; they would then submit their report directly to us or you could include it in your application if you have it done beforehand. This costs money, of course, and you have to hire someone who holds a permit to conduct this kind of work on the Forest.
If we determine on the basis of either our own inspection or that of your contractor that there is nothing man-made or modified at your search location, that it is nothing more than, say, fortuitously suggestive erosion or just an intact natural landscape with no evidence of any of the activities specified in your application, we can do one of two things – issue the permit because we know that there is nothing there that will be disturbed (aka “archaeological clearance”); in other words, if we prove that there is nothing there we may issue you a permit to search there (Catch-22). On the other hand, we can always choose not to issue it because we don’t wish to have that natural landscape disturbed by your search and recovery activities. If we choose not to issue, you’re out your $200. If we do find evidence of prehistoric/historic activity at your location, you’ll need to prepare a plan for our approval that will allow you to conduct your search is such a way as to avoid disturbing or destroying any artifacts, buildings, ruins, or other man-made features. If this is even possible and you have provided sufficient evidence from historic documentation or other sources that we agree is valid, we may then issue the permit. Under these circumstances, however, there will be additional requirements to protect these resources from your search activities. We may require mitigation for any disturbance to archaeological or historic resources, including scientific excavations and other studies to be done prior to your search and/or requiring that a professional archaeologist be on hand to monitor your work and stop it if anything archaeological comes to light to ensure that no damage is done to any historic features or artifacts. Depending on your proposal, we may also require restrictions to protect certain plants (e.g. saguaro cacti) and animal habitats. The plan for conducting all of this activity will require consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer and in some cases with those Tribes having historical connections to or interests in the area, a process that generally takes a couple of months to complete. Patience is a valuable asset in this process.
For the most part, if there is something historic or archaeological there, we usually just don’t issue the permit. The only time that we have gone through this entire process within the last couple of decades was for Ron Feldman’s treasure trove permit at Rogers’ Trough last year. It cost him a bunch of money and all he could claim for it was the confirmation of what we already suspected was a horizontal well that provided water to the mining camp and mill located just downslope.
Assuming that you have made it through this gauntlet and spent wads of cash on your search and you do actually find something that qualifies as a treasure trove, it is entirely possible that you may not be able to keep much or any of it. Basically, the only ‘treasure’ that you can keep would be a portion of any bullion, plate, coins, or unmounted gems, assuming that it clears escrow without any other claims of ownership. Any and all other artifacts are and will remain the property of the United States. Your portion of the trove would be determined as part of a negotiated settlement with the Federal Government. You would also have to declare this as taxable income.
Obviously, the process is not designed to encourage people to submit applications….
So, assuming that you want to go through with all of this, how can you maximize your chances of being taken seriously and getting a permit?
My first bit of advice is to be selective and do your homework (and fieldwork). Quite frankly, if someone comes in telling us that they deciphered some allegedly authentic treasure map they saw in a book or bought in a bar in Apache Junction and figured out right where the treasure ought to be but haven’t been there yet and so are asking for some huge search area to go fishing in, the chances that their proposal will be sarcastically dismissed and end up in the shredder are quite high.
My second bit of advice extends from the first and basically applies to all other parts of the process and this is: make sure that your research is unimpeachable. If you are looking for lost mines, learn the geology of your search area and the technology of mining. If you are basing your proposal on an historic incident, make sure that it really happened; provide original documentation from authentic historical sources and don’t fall for the idea that “every legend has a grain of truth in it.” For example, here in the Southwest many treasure legends are predicated on the idea that the Jesuit Order came rampaging through Sonora and Arizona locating and operating hundreds of mines that they worked for the sole purpose of accumulating wealth and that they were thrown out of the New World because of it. Yes, I know that this has become an almost mainstream assumption in Arizona history by virtue of constant repetition, but when you look at the real history, that dog won’t hunt. The truth is that the Jesuits – and there were never more than a handful operating in this area at any given time – came to convert the Indios. They established missions, taught the Indians how to farm European crops and raise cattle, and fought to prevent the virtual enslavement and actual mistreatment of the native population by Spanish colonists. They were dirt poor and built their missions almost invariable out of mud. The only recorded association between Jesuits and mining has to do with a campaign to stop the brutal treatment the Indians received while working at many of the mines in Sonora. The reason they were tossed out in 1767 had, in fact, nothing to do with anything they did here – it was the result of a political “disagreement” they had with the kings of France and Spain back in Europe. They explored the Southwest (well, a couple of them did) but never made it north of the Gila River. So, any treasure story based on the idea that the secretive and avaricious Jesuits had mines or hid treasure anywhere in Arizona is nothing but a myth and isn’t going to be an easy sell if your proposal is based on it. Pretty much the same goes for the so-called “Peralta” Stone “Maps” (see parallel thread in this forum) which neither mention the name Peralta nor contain any overt indication that they constitute a map. “Evidence” based on an interpretation of a fake map or a false history is hardly the basis for a valid claim - and yet I know that nothing I just said will matter to some people. The Jesuit/Peralta Myths will probably never go away no matter what I do or say and I’ll be hearing about “18 locations” and witches and hearts and churches buried by earthquakes until I wise up and retire from this job).
In addition to making sure that your story has some actual historical basis and providing the documentation to prove it, bring in some physical evidence to back up your identification. Now, by this I don’t mean that you should bring in artifacts that you find. For one thing, this would be illegal, not that I have ever busted anybody for bringing me artifacts. If you do, however, remember that I can’t give them back to you; they are the property of the US and so have to stay here. In these days of relatively cheap autofocusing digital cameras it’s actually easier to take a lot of photos. Just remember to take overviews with skylines and details/closeups with scales.
Actually, that’s pretty much it – Documented historical evidence, a logical story, and enough photography of the place you want to work to recover your trove that it can be recognized as something other than natural, and you will stand a much better chance of being taken seriously and maybe even getting that permit. Independent wealth is also a good idea considering that it will cost you money up front and may net you nothing on the other end even if you find something.
Anyway, that’s about it for now; I have to get back to work. Reports are stacking up on my desk even as we speak…
Dec 07, 2006, 04:47 PM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
That is probably one of the most informative posts I have seen here. Ever. Not only the actual Title and Reg, but an explanation as to what it means in the real world.
Dec 07, 2006, 11:00 PM
Forest Service in general
Please understand right up front that the statements I make below are not a personal attack on you. I admire your willingness to make yourself available for this kind of confrontation, and appreciate your right to totally ignore it if you so choose. My main complaint is with the highest level of management at the Forest Service whom are probably sitting behind a desk and drawing a huge salary in Washington D.C. I am only directing this post to you in reply to some of your personal comments and because you have opened the door for open communication and are within my reach through this medium.
I understand your concern about things that went on in the past like “Crazy” Jake blasting a large portion of the side of Malapais Mountain into Peter’s Canyon, or Celest Jones blasting parts of Weaver’s Needle all over the canyons below, but that is all 40+ year old history and does not happen anymore. To insinuate that it is a current concern seems a little misleading and big exaggeration about more immediate concerns.
I also understand your concern about people with metal detectors leaving little holes all over. But my experience in metal detecting is that most items found with a metal detector are found within 1 – 2 inches of the surface and that most people take their foot and sweep the loose dirt back where it came from. In cases where they don’t, the small disturbance is erased by the next monsoon.
Like you, I would like to see everyone cover their little holes and leave no trace that they had been there, but I do not agree that since not everyone does, the legal rights of everyone else need to be stepped on. Since metal detecting is one of the most non-destructive forms of Prospecting, and there are existing Federal Laws written and approved by the Congress of the United States, concerning individual rights for prospecting in Wilderness Areas these individual rights cannot be taken away just because you or I are offended by trivial acts performed by a few inconsiderate people.
In reference to: Act of September 3, 1964 (P.L. 99-577. 78 Stat. 890; 16 U.S.C. 1121; 1131-1136 cited as the “Wilderness Act”.
As specified in this document under “Limitation of Use and Activities” Section 4. (D) (2),
NOTHING IS THIS ACT SHALL PREVENT within national forest wilderness areas any activity, INCLUDING PROSPECTING, for the purpose of gathering information about mineral or other resources, if such activity is carried on in a manner compatible with the preservation of the wilderness. Furthermore, in accordance with such program as the Secretary of the Interior shall develop and conduct in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, such areas shall be SURVEYED ON A PLANNED, RECURRING BASIS consistent with the concept of wilderness preservation by the Geological Survey and the Bureau of Mines TO DETERMINE THE MINERAL VALUES, if any, that may be present; AND THE RESULTS OF SUCH SURVEYS SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC AND SUBMITTED TO THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS.
(All capitalizations by myself)
Section 3. “Previously Classified Areas” - Specifies That Maps and Legal descriptions of a Wilderness Area shall be made available to the public.
Section 7 “Report to Congress” - Specifies that the surveys described in Sec. 4. (D) (2) shall be submitted to the President for transmission to Congress at the opening of each session to Congress.
Re: Sec.4. (D) (2)
I realize that your department has a certain amount of latitude afforded you by the words “if such activity is carried on in a manner compatible with the preservation of the wilderness“ but I think that latitude is all too often stretched beyond the original intentions of the United States Congress when this document was written and approved. A case in point took place in 1998 when A&E applied for a permit to film the Documentary “The Lost Dutchman Mine” on location in the Superstition mountains, and someone in your department told them that under no circumstances would that be allowed AND THE PERMIT WOULD not BE ISSUED! I attended that meeting and heard the words myself. It was not until Senator John McCain got involved and explained the original intent of the Congress and himself (Since he co-authored the bill with Senator Morris Udal to include the Superstitions into the Wilderness Act) that the permit was granted to A&E to film the documentary. It should not have been necessary to go all the way to Senator McCain to get a permit to film this documentary, and would not have been necessary if your department was not in the habit of stretching the meaning of “in a manner compatible with the preservation of the wilderness” way beyond the original intentions of the Wilderness Act as approved by the U. S. Congress.
Re: Sec. 3. The Wilderness Act requires that the Forest Service provide Maps and legal descriptions of the Wilderness boundaries within 10 years of an area becoming designated a Wilderness Area. It now being over 20 years since the Superstition Mountains were made a Wilderness Area, the general public has still not been provided with an accurate map or legal description of the Superstition Wilderness Area Boundaries. The BLM does not even know where the exact boundaries are! This is a requirement of Federal Law for an area to become and continue to be designated as a Wilderness Area. Are we going to have to get the attention of our Senators again to ensure that the Forest Service complies with the Federal requirements and provides the public with the required maps and legal descriptions? Or should we just contest the validity of the Superstition Wilderness Area all together based on the Forest Service failure to meet the Federal Requirements?
Re: Sec.4. (D) (2) and Sec. 7 – These sections deal with the requirement for annual mineral surveys to be performed and reported to the U.S. Congress on an annual basis.
These annual surveys should be public records and available to the public upon request, but every time I have tried to acquire copies of these annual mineral surveys I have been told that there are no funds available for performing these surveys. These surveys also are a Federal requirement for all Wilderness Areas. Maybe we should contest the validity of the Superstition Wilderness Area based on this violation of the Wilderness Act by the Forest Service.
If I were a public servant working for the Forest Service. I would be ashamed to attempt to enforce some of the self serving rules you come up with for ensuring public activities are “ carried on in a manner compatible with the preservation of the wilderness” when the Forest Service itself is in such violation of the Federal requirements for this area being considered a Wilderness Area in the first place.
Now, I will admit that I am not an attorney, and I do not have a lot of experience with Federal Documents, and there are a lot of “weasel” words and phrases in the Wilderness Act that I do not understand. But I can read and understand plain English and have tried to limit this post to parts of the Wilderness Act that I can understand. If I am incorrect about any of the Federal requirements I believe the Forest Service to be in violation of, I welcome your corrections as necessary.
If you do have accurate and up to date maps of the Superstition Wilderness boundaries, (as required by Federal Law) and a complete file of annual mineral surveys performed in the Superstition Wilderness Area, (also as required by Federal Law) I would be very grateful if you could tell me where I can get copies of them, and I will in the future, refrain from complaining about anything but the Forest Service’s self-serving and ever changing definition of “in a manner compatible with the preservation of the wilderness”.
Dec 08, 2006, 12:08 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
evening Scot: You may be quite correct in Jesuit activities in Arizona, but I can assure you that south of the present border, in Sonora, it was different. They 'were' involved as the historical research book and paper that I am writing for the Explorers club will eventually show.
I have discussed this a little in here, obviously I will not reveal the final data/proof until my paper is accepted or the book is published.
Of course I could ask why the resident Jesuit Priest in Yecora was so agitated when he saw my decal - as shown on the left as my Avatar. He also asked me to come to Yecora, where he had a huge pot of coffee and we would have a fine session talking all night long
Or why was the Jesuit priest climbing around my Tayopa and fell to his death in the late 1800's- there was only one Indian ranch in the vicinity.?
Possibly why different Kings of Spain issued orders for them to desist from mining, I agree that this could have been fomented by jealous court intrigue rather than facts, but the orders were issued.
Keep posting my friend I enjoy them.
"I exist to live, not live to exist"
Dec 08, 2006, 03:31 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
Whew! How shall I respond to that?
First of all, I agree that we haven't had a dynamiting incident in a while (although several citizens actually reported one near Siphon Draw only a month or two ago and I haven't heard back from the District about it, which probably means that it was an auditory hallucination), but we do still get people digging holes. On the other hand, I wasn't trying to insinuate that it was still going on, nor was I exaggerating the types and levels of damage that we have incurred - I merely listed a number of things that have happened over the years to illustrate why we have concerns.
I was also not trying to denigrate metal detecting, per se. We use them ourselves. The problem is that we are plagued by people using them illegally and without regard for anything or anyone else. There is a certain etiquette to using them on public land (maybe I should work up a post on that as well...) that far too many people don't know about or don't care. They are like ATVs - they're sold to anybody with the money without any training in their proper use. As a result, ATVs are destroying large parts of the granite desert around Phoenix and detectorists (along with bottle hunters) have ravaged several very important historic sites on the Forest; they have essentially erased several Army/Apache battle sites, torn up an historic mill town that I have been trying to develop for interpretation, taken everything that wasn't nailed down from our only military post, and even desecrated historic Apache cemeteries to steal pocket watches and gold teeth. As you say, most detectorists aren't like that, but, alas, there are too few of us (FS) to manage that kind of use except through restrictive regulation. All that I ask of anyone using a detector is that they act responsibly, show a little concern for the land and the next taxpayer that wants to enjoy it, don't take anything that isn't prohibited under the laws and regulations, and that whenever they find anything interesting on the Forest they let me know about it (OK, the last one is optional, but I can use all the help I can get).
The wilderness stuff you mentioned is a little harder to understand. Off the top, I know nothing about what happened regarding the commercial filming permit, so I won't go there. Given the number of times that Mesa District has issued such permits, I have to think that they had a very specific reason, but I don't know what it may have been. As for the other stuff...
I'll start off by saying that I am ambivalent about Wilderness areas within the Forests. I understand and support the need for preserving places that the average person considers "pristine," but most of the ones on the Tonto aren't all that "untrammeled by man," unless you don't consider the Indians, prehistoric and historic, that lived there, built there, and terraformed large parts of them for agriculture to be human. Wilderness status can help to protect these landscapes, but it can also get in the way, as it does whenever I need to do some stabilization on our cliff dwellings. Oh well.
I don't know why you say that we haven't published accurate maps of the Wilderness boundary; we sell maps to the public that show it and it is accurately depicted on the USGS topo maps. What more do you think we need to do?
OK, I'm not absolutely sure about the USGS maps available commercially - I haven't used them in many years. The ones we use are made especially for us by USGS and include things not available on the commercial maps that are related to FS administrative needs for management. I do know that the wilderness boundaries are shown on those maps and that they were updated less than 10 years ago and haven't changed since.
I can tell you why there are no "annual mineral surveys" of the Superstition Wilderness - it's been closed to mineral entry for the last couple of decades (I don't remember the exact date, but I think it was in the '80s - don't quote me, though, since my memory regarding such things is less than optimal these days, especially when I'm not in my office). The fact that there is no money and no personnel to do it is, therefore, moot. I have to say, though, that there are a whole lot of what we call "unfunded mandates" that have been showered on us by Congress. For instance, the Forests were supposed to have completed inventorying all their archaeological and historic sites many years ago, both by executive order and by law, but Congress has never approprated any money for that activity. As a result, in the 31 years that we have had an archaeological program on the Tonto we have managed to survey less than 7% of our 3 million acres (and on that 7% we have recorded 9,000 sites...). You can always yell at us for not fulfilling these sorts of obligations, but the sad truth is that we've never been given the funding or personnel to do so. If you want to sue the Forest Service to make us finish our archaeological inventory, be my guest - I could really use the extra money and my grandkids could use the job security....
I don't know if any of that alleviated your concerns, but wilderness isn't really part of my charter as an archaeologist in the Forest Service. If you still have questions and concerns regarding access or obtaining maps, you could try talking to the wilderness ranger at Mesa RD (480 610-3300). I'd tell you to call the wilderness guy at my office, but he retired and died last year and we have not yet been able to fill in behind him.
Dec 08, 2006, 04:57 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
keep posting this is good thank you scott
Dec 08, 2006, 08:29 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
Thanks for posting the code - very informative. You've laid out a clear and demanding protocol for those who feel they have located a 'treasure trove' on NFS land and desire to recover it via 'legal' channels. And thanks for posting your personal perspectives, as an insider, on the process - pertinent food for thought for the avid seekers who linger here.
Your opinions as an archaeologist/historian, while predictably dogmatic, could be quite an obstacle for a claimant who has a contrary view of events from days gone by. This is troubling, but those of us who have dealt with the personal biases of first/second-level bureaucrats for decades know the game quite well - there is always a code that can be interpreted by those in authority as a reason to say "no" if he sees fit. This always frustrates the naive, but it's the game we are forced to play.
Scott, you are obviously a savvy, friendly and helpful spokesman - as they say, "da kinda guy you'd like ta have a beer with".
Advice (take it or leave it) to those of you who think you've located a 'treasure trove': Remember this - if you're successful and your recovery becomes public record, there will surface a prior claimant to your recovery. You will be in court for years and the lawyers will feast on you.
Advice (take it or leave it) to American citizens in general: Never trust the government.
Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.
Dec 08, 2006, 11:49 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
That's pretty funny - you say "never trust the government" but I'm the one that's dogmatic!
Don't worry, I get to hear that all the time. It usually goes something like this: somebody comes to me making a claim based on, let's just say, the popular notion that those nasty, avaricious Jesuits were building hidden churches and working secret mines in the middle of a non-mineralized volcanic caldera. As his evidence he trots out articles from treasure magazines and a 4th generation xerox of Kenworthy's signs and monuments. I counter with professional geological surveys of the area in question that all agree that there is no gold there, and a review of the history of Jesuit activities in northern Sonora that totally belies every thing he had to say and tell him he'll have to do better than that if he wants to go digging holes in public land. I am then accused of being dogmatic and having a personal bias because I don't believe his story. But is that the end of it? For a lot of land managers, it is, but let me tell you another story or two.
There are a couple of Dutch hunters that I have known for 25 and 10 years, respectively. Both are dogged seekers after the treasures of the legends and neither claims to be in it for the money, but to preserve the history of the Southwest. One of them we actually gave a trove permit to in the late 1970s. We let him dig and he proved without a doubt that there was nothing at his search location. He comes in periodically every few years with a new location based on revisions to his original theory and we go over his new evidence. This last year he changed his theory considerably and I waded through a stack of his evidence - which, curiously enough, kept pointing to the same area he'd always been interested in. the evidence was weak and poorly researched and the places he wanted to look had already been investigated years ago and found to be wanting. He's now working on another revision and I'm sure I'll see him again next year.
The other one started off looking for the LDM but he had an almost unique approach; he turned one of the famous maps upside down and became convinced that the mine was nowhere near the Superstitions. He has since covered a lot of ground north and west of there and is curently searching west of the Verde River. He has added some new flavors to his studies - Peraltas and Jesuits (imagine that) - and chases out roads and cannon positions and forts in addition to mines, caches and camps. So far he has located a number of actual historic sites (all late 19th century), a bunch of prehistoric sites, and even some Apache sites. We periodically go out and visit his new discoveries and record some of the new sites he has found, but to date every one of his 'sure thing' locations for the LDM has turned out to be a natural outcrop or erosional feature. Right now, he's trying to make a bunchof late historic drystone stock fences into Spanish defenses and figure out why he can't find the remains of the walls of the Jesuit church that he is sure that he has found. As soon as I have the time, I'll go look at this stuff with him (some of which I've already seen) and then he'll come up with a new correction to his map interpretation and we'll start all over again. Hell of a nice guy; we've been doing this for years. He's never had a permit.
So what was the point to all of that? Only this: just because I base my evaluations on scientific evidence and method and historic documentation doesn't make those evaluations dogmatic nor does it make the process exclusionary. If you come to us with a theory, we'll listen. Sure, I like to just kick the real nutters out the door and tell 'em to stay the hell off my Forest or we'll sic the Aztec assassins on 'em - who wouldn't? - but if you come to us with something even remotely resembling researched evidence and a sense of humor, we'll listen. At least once. You may not get a permit, and we might still hand you over to the Aztecs or maybe the Apaches, but it won't be on account of any bias.
Anyway, keep up the fight, Springfield - just remember: the more you distrust your government, the more your government will distrust you!
Dec 08, 2006, 01:21 PM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
I can see that this topic has the potential of growing into a lot of different areas that can and probably will before to long. In the interest of keeping this post on one subject I will limit it to Wilderness Area Boundaries and Federal Requirments and budgets for maintenance of Wilderness Areas.
I have to take exception to a lot of your comments.
It is obvious that you think your word is the LAW and supercedes any Law written by the United States Congress. Your attitude towards blowing off your responsibilities for meeting mandated laws because your department places higher priorities on things that are easier to do and feed your personal egos more is disgusting and typical of the attitudes I have seen in Forest Service employees!
Although there is room for disputing all of your comments concerning the Wilderness Boundaries, I will limit my dispute to the Northern Boundary. Per a recent conversation with engineers at the BLM, the original northern boundary of the Superstition Wilderness area was done decades ago by the Meets and Bounds method rather than an actual official survey as we use the term today. This method uses landmarks such as Trees, Boulders, and washes which no longer exist today. The end result being that the “Official” boundaries submitted to Congress defining the boundaries of the Wilderness Area is no longer valid and has never been updated and reported to Congress, fulfilling the requirements for this area to be set aside as a Wilderness Area.
As a private citizen it should not be my responsibility to inform you that being a Federal Entity does not excuse your department from compliance with Federal Laws.
Sec 1. of the Wilderness Act clearly states that “No appropriation shall be available for the payment of expenses or salaries for the administration of the National Wilderness Preservation System as a separate unit nor shall any appropriations be available for the purpose of managing or administering areas solely because they are included within the National Wilderness Preservation System”.
I understand this to mean that it is the Forest Service’s responsibility to fulfill the requirements mandated by Congress in order to maintain the status of a designated Wilderness Area using the annual budget provided by the Congress for salaries, equipment and buildings provided in that budget.
If the Forest Service chooses to use those funds provided by that budget to enforce their self-serving policies and harass the general public attempting to use a designated Wilderness Area as it was intended by Congress, rather than ensuring that they (The Forest Service) are in full compliance with the mandated laws that are prerequisite for the existence of a Wilderness Area in the first place, then I believe that someone needs to take a hard look at the people that are responsible for determining how this budget is spent.
As American Citizens we all have the right to expect that our government agencies are in full compliance with it’s own Federal Regulations before they try to force us to comply with those same regulations.
I am not against the Wilderness Act in any way, and I applaud Senator McCain for his efforts to include the Superstition Mountain Range into the Wilderness Act and preserve the area for future generations to enjoy. But I do expect this to be done in compliance with ALL Federal Laws approved by the Congress of the United States and NOT by some Ranger’s opinion of how he thinks it should be done and according to his own personal priorities!
I am digging deeper into the mechanics of the Wilderness Act every day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many other private citizens are too. I expect this topic in this forum will grow to many pages in the coming months, as more of us become enraged over the way our Public Servants are misusing the funds appropriated for legally maintaining our Wilderness Areas. I do not understand how any money could be spent on anything in the way of Enforcing Public compliance with Wilderness Area requirements BEFORE the Forest Service has complied with the Federal Requirements for the Wilderness Area to exist.
I appreciate your straight forward response in admitting that the Forest Service cannot meet the Federal Requirements for maintaining the Wilderness Area. It will make my voice much louder when or if I decide to approach Senators McCain and Kyl myself with my complaints.
Dec 09, 2006, 03:13 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
JEEEZ Blazer! Why all the ill will? If you want to go after a dept of the federal government for not doing it's job (regardless of funding shortfalls), why not beat up on the Border Patrol? Granted, they do the best they can, with what theyve got, but by your definition they should be held accountable for their shortcomings.
I'm not a federal employee. I sell cars, but I spent my military career under the command of Ronald Reagan and GHW Bush. I had cost of living raises of between 11 and 14 percent. We NEVER lacked for funds to train all over the world. We never turned down a mission (3rd Ranger Battalion) because of funding. Everything changed when Clinton came into office. bases started closing en masse. When I left the Rangers, I went to the 82nd Airborne Division. I saw it go from a force of about 16,000 down to 12,000 due to military budget cuts. We couldn't train our troops like we believed was necessary. We couldn't afford to do many live fire excercizes, because we couldn't afford the ammo! Do you REALLY think 12,000 men could do the job of 16,000 men? OF COURSE NOT!
I went through all that rigamarole to help explain Scott's position. Your argument is with the Federal Government. Without proper funding and staffing, it is nigh impossible to accomplish a task as large as that. Look at it like this: If you had a job that required you to do something that was impossible based on normal working hours, but the job would not pay overtime. Would you work for free to try and accomplish your task? I wouldn't. If they REALLY want the job done, then pay what it takes to do the job right!
Dec 09, 2006, 09:02 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
HIO I understand where both stand and why, I appreciate both views, but -----------5th------------!
(Gollum now you know why I was a gentleman, weasely, comes naturally. ehehehe)
"I exist to live, not live to exist"
Dec 09, 2006, 10:37 AM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
I understand your position on the Border Patrol and agree with it, but it doesn't really fit the topic here does it?
I already stretched it from Treasure Trove Permits to Federal Requirements for Wilderness Areas. In a way they are tied together at the very top, so I didn't stretch it too far.
I guess the root of my problem with the Federal Government is the way they take public land especially public land where there might be a Treasure Trove involved, and place it under some type of "Protected Land" (Wilderness Area or Military Base etc) in order to make a Federal Claim to anything that might be there.
In the case of the Superstition Mountains they used the Wilderness Act. When originally written the Wilderness Act included a lot of prerequisites for the land that had to be met before it could be included into the Wilderness Act. Things like it had to be a Primitive Area with no roads, it could not contain any mineable metals ect. ect. ect. Before the Superstition Mountains could be included in the Wilderness Act, they had to do a Mineral Survey and verify that there were no mineable minerals in the area to be included in the Act. There was also a requirement that annual mineral surveys had to be made for minerals to reassure that there were still no known mineable minerals in the area. They were also required to to determine the boundaries of the area and make them known to the public via maps and legal descriptions so the public would have no doubt about where these boundaries were so they could comply with the new Wilderness Area Requirements in that area.
All these prerequisite requirements were written in to get the required vote by Congress to get the Act passed.
The initial Mineral Survey performed in the Superstition Mountains to verify that there was no mineable mineral in them was carefully done so as not to find any mineable minerals,if you know what I mean. People have been bringing placer gold out of La Barge canyon, Tortilla Creek and Peter's canyon for 50 years or more. Of course these areas were not sampled or carelessly sampled. OK, so they missed it in the initial survey, reported to Congress that there was no mineable minerals in the Superstitions and got it included into the Wilderness Act, and began to restrict what could be done there accordingly. There are a LOT of areas in the Superstitions where there IS mineable mineral. But, now that it is a Wilderness Area, there are restrictions for access to those areas, making it impossible to mine them at a profit, and difficult at best to even prospect in the Wilderness Area. As I pointed out in my first post, the Wilderness Act states that even tho an area is covered by the Act, Prospecting is still supposed to be allowed and SHALL NOT be prevented. Consistant with the prerequisite requirements that had to be met for an area to be included in the Act, Congress wanted annual surveys for mineral to be done and reported to them to ensure that the area still met the prerequisite requirements and they backed that up by allowing prospecting by the public to support the annual reports submitted by the F.S.
My whole agenda, is to show that the F.S. has failed over and over to meet the federal requirements for establishing a Wilderness Area by manipulating reports and completely failing to perform others that could possibly result in having to remove the Superstition Mountains from the protection of the Wilderness Act.
The Laws mandated by Congress are NOT optional based on funding! I am sure Congress expects those mandates to be complied with BEFORE any funds are spent by the F. S. doing anything else, or at least I would hope that is the case. It is my position that the prerequisite requirements for the Superstition Mountains to be included in the Wilderness Act have never been met and as a result of this, the restrictions imposed on the public for activities within the range are being ILLEGALY imposed.
This whole thing spirals off into a lot of debatable arguments over what the F. S. is doing to enforce Wilderness Area requirements in the Superstition Wilderness Area, and it chaps my ass that they have not even met the requirements of it to be Wilderness area in the first place!
There IS gold out there. There is lots of gold. The Government knows this and is doing everything they can to prevent anyone from finding it's source! There is also the possibility of one or more very large Treasure Troves to be found out there, and the government wants to be sure that if there are, and anyone ever finds one or more of them, the government will get it all! And it is all being done in violation of the wording and intent initially voted on and approved by the United States Congress!
Just take a look at what happened at Victoria Peak in New Mexico, and a lot of other places. It's the same old crap! The government or people running it want it ALL! The difference is... In the case of the Superstition Wilderness Area, we have grounds for reversing some of the illegal actions being performed by the government to ensure that the public (or the finder) gets screwed out of it all if anything of value is ever found!
We need a very loud public outcry for the government to comply with it's own Federal Laws before requiring the public to comply with them.
Does that give you a better idea of where I am coming from and where I am going?
I want to see the F.S. do what ever is necessary for them to comply with their part of the Federal Laws! If it takes their entire budget to do it and they have no resources left to drive around in their government vehicles and harass the public, I'm sorry, but Federal Laws are more important than their Office Policies and Procedures!
If the government cannot comply with it's own requirements for maintaining a designated Wilderness Area in accordance with ALL the requirements of the Wilderness Act, then that area should be REMOVED from the requirements established in the Wilderness Act. Someone corect me if I am wrong.
Dec 09, 2006, 04:24 PM
Re: Treasure Trove Permits
Blazer, I know you are right about the N boundry not being defined. Several maps I have say "undetermined boundary" along the N border of the wilderness area. 20 years should have been long enough for the F S to comply with the requirements. It looks like the gov't bit off more than they could chew when the made the sup's a wilderness. I hope your crusade catches a lot of interest. You are right. If the gov't cannot afford to maintain it, they should give it back. Nothing I would like to see more than the Sup's opened back up for mining claims. I seriously doubt that it would ever happen but who knows. They may have so much on their plates right now that they would rather give it back instead of approving more funds to keep it. Could you imagine the president trying to get something like that through the congress right now? I guess they could just order the Greensuits to drop everything else until they met the requirements.
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