The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is reminding the public it is against the law to remove artifacts from the public lands surrounding Norfork and Bull Shoals Lakes.
According to a release from USACE, digging for artifacts is illegal and can be punished by severe fines or jail time. Depending on the circumstances and severity of the thefts, fines can run as high as $250,000 and jail terms can be up to 10 years.
Minor offenses can lead to misdemeanor charges, while more serious or second offenses can lead to felony charges and convictions.
Laws covering the removal of artifacts from public lands include the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, which protects any item of archeological interest more than 100 years old, as well as Title 36 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, which deals with theft or destruction of public property.
USACE Archaeologist Allen Wilson states, “When individuals pursue what they consider a harmless hobby of digging up or removing Native American artifacts or relics for their own personal collection or to sell, the historical context is destroyed.”
Officials state if someone is seen illegally digging on public lands surrounding the lakes, it is encouraged to call the Mountain Home Project Office at (870) 425-2700.
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