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Baucus Bill

Thanks to pjanke@maroon for such a thorough reply. As I have said, I'm 
kind of new in this arena and have only had limited contact. The Baucus 
bill was the only regulatory measure that I was familiar with. I am going 
to check out the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 1993 soon. 

First I have a few points to bring up in response to the criticisms 
offered. Number two addressed restricting access. I don't see the minor 
permit requirements for amateure collections of surfical fossils as 
problematic. I have to get a permit to do any backcountry packing. These 
permits are not there to restrict access. They exist to establish my 
presense and intended route. Information I want the rangers to have if 
I'm not back when I planned. Also, the permit process establishes contact 
and makes sure that I have had a chance to see the rules. I envision a 
similar process for permits for amateure collections. If any agency has 
reported plans to the contrary please let me know!

In number three pjanke@maroon stated that offenses are considered 
felonies. In my reading ot the bill I don't find that expressed anywhere. 
The bill does provide for criminal penalties that start at fines and/or 
time at up to $10,000 and a year for first offenses and progressing from 
there for repeat offenses. The bill also establishes the potential for 
civil liabilities.

With regards to fiscal responsibility, I am unaware of any expressed 
intent to establish any new bureaucratic empires. I would imagine that 
most of the permitting procedured would take place within the established 
bureaucratic structures of the BLM, Forrest Service, and Park Service. If 
you know otherwise please say so. I'm certainly not wedded to this bill. 
I just want things to be better.

I know Bakker doesn't like the Baucus bill but I haven't heard any good 
criticisms, pjanke@maroon not withstanding. So far in the media it has 
been all smoke and no light. Much as with discussion of Sue in the media. 
pjanke@maroon pointed out that neither bill would effect Sue or the 
mastadon ad. Ya, but they do force the issue of the selling irreplacible 
specimens, profit collecting, and the nature of research in paleontology. 
Bakker is right on about a volunteer amateure/professional infrastructure. 
That is what I want to see more than over regulation.

I curious about how the Paleontological Resources Act could generate "an 
order of magnitude" more fossils being collected. Even if a law could 
increase activity (and funding, but then where's the fiscal 
responsibility?) where are we going to put the stuff? All over the world 
museums have more stuff than they know what to do with. Uncataloged 
stuff. Also, the nature of field paleontology is changing. The days of 
treasure hunting are being replaced by much more sophisticated 
excavations. There's a wealth of information in the rock record in terms 
of paleogeography and taphonomy. Archaeology has had to deal with many of 
the same issues that we're facing. They're probably 25 years ahead of us 
though. There are many differences (like the relatives of our study 
subjects don't exist or don't complain) but there are many parallels 
regarding access, permits, sale, regulation, and protection.

"Can't we all just get along?"
        Rodney King

Have a fun summer,


Erik Pauls