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Re: private collecting
Oh yes, it is hard to draw lines in the matrix that will allow non-pros and
PhD's to collect dinosaur fossils with equal, but different, rights.
Doctorate holding persons have nothing to lose, legally, if amateurs are
banned from collecting on our federal lands. A better point would be how much
they have to gain if RESPONSIBLE non-pros are allowed to cruise the SURFACE
for new material. I have, and continue to, propose that amateurs should be
licensed to collect on federal land. This license, and associated fees, could
help defray the cost of the limited administration of this vast resource. The
SVP could devise a training program, followed by testing, to make sure any
amateur truely interested enough would be qualified to know the difference
between a common bone and a significant find. A part of the licensing
proceedure could include a oath to preserve, protect, document, leave in
place, and report anything they felt was of scientific value. This also would
REQUIRE that the reports be responded to ASAP, with full credit being given
to the amateur. Also, the amateur should be required to submit annual reports
to either the SVP, or the Dept. of Interior, or the head of the BLM or where
ever the fossil was found. At that point the powers that be could request a
viewing, or something, to verify that the find was indeed a common bone and
of no scientific value. Whether you can admit it or not there are bones which
would only lie in a drawer for the rest of time, and would serve the
paleontological world better on someones mantle.
Oh sure, this licensing program and the oath depend upon the honesty of all
participants, but surely the for-profit types could be weeded out. No
for-profit operations should be allowed to rip off the resource, as they have
our forests and mineral reserves. Any amateur found to violate the trust of
this licensing program should be open to a variety of punishment, including
but not limited to the revocation of said license.
Those of us that really love this field of study, are not in it for a quick
buck, and want to contribute in some way other than going back to college for
8 years, would be willing to abide by a well thought out licensing program.
However I feel the complete exclusion of our efforts, either legally or
otherwise, from the study of VP and practice of collecting will do more
long-term harm than good. Participation, to some of us amateurs, means more
than longingly gazing at a mounted specimen in some ivory tower. A half
rotten hadrosaur tibia, resting on the mantle, proves to the world that we
are paleontologist, even without the degree to back it up.
Flames may now be applied.
Roger A. Stephenson