Explore the Issues:
Wildlife and Sportsmen
Oil and Gas Exploration
Protecting the Past
Visiting Petroglyphs in Capitol Reef National Park
Discover, Enjoy and Protect Cultural and Fossil Resources
-From the Bureau of Land Management
Archaeological, historical, and paleontological resources on BLM public lands tell the story of our recent and distant past. These “heritage” resources contribute to our understanding of the origins of life and civilization in North America. They also dazzle, delight, thrill, fascinate—and sometimes bewilder—any person who comes upon them, whether a curious tourist, an intrepid backcountry adventurer, an accidental visitor, an artist in search of inspiration, or an inquisitive scientist.
However, America’s heritage resources, both those that are visible and those that are buried, are at risk from theft and looting, population growth and urban sprawl, development, off-road activity, and natural deterioration, even though they are legally protected under various Federal and state statutes.
Visitors to the public lands can take personal responsibility for protecting and preserving heritage sites for future generations by following some of these simple principles:
- Leave artifacts and fossils where you find them. It is illegal to dig, remove, or collect artifacts and vertebrate fossils without a permit.
- Avoid moving or climbing on the walls of prehistoric or historic structures when touring sites.
- Treat rock art, historic structures, and archaeological features with respect.
- Touching, chalking, or making rubbings or latex molds cause damage to rock art, gravestones, and fossil trackways. Take photographs or make a sketch instead.
- Stay on existing roads and trails.
- For campfires, collect only dead and downed wood that is clearly not from historic or prehistoric sites. Collect wood and build fires at least 200 yards away from heritage sites.
- If you camp or recreate near heritage sites—or anywhere on public lands—dispose of waste in trash receptacles if provided; otherwise, pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
- Never dig “catholes” for human waste disposal near heritage sites.
- Educate others never to dig at sites or collect artifacts or vertebrate fossils.
- Report the location of archaeological sites and vertebrate fossils to the nearest BLM office, so that land managers can alert professionals to their existence.
- Report looting and vandalism to a BLM ranger or other local authority.
Report vandalism by calling:
1-800-242-ARPA (Archaeological Resources Protection Act hotline)