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Re: Poling and the FPA

>Are you really of the opinion that the proposed Fossil Protection Act (FPA) 
>of 1995 is a good compromise? This suggests that you might be devoid of 
>reason, and wallowing in callow enthusiasm for the Black Hills Institute, 
>but those of us with even a perfunctory grasp of the facts realize that the 
>proposed FPA is fundamentally flawed.

   Name calling.  Afraid to debate the issue?  How 'bout focusing on facts?
All the name calling tells me is that you're wrong and you know it and are
therefore unwilling to let your side of the issue see the light of the day.

>It is designed not to promote the 
>science of paleontology and accommodate both amateur and professional 
>paleontologists, but rather to advantage a few commercial collectors bent 
>solely on financial gain through the sale of Federal Property.

   HOW?  Let's see some facts, provisions of the bill, and some
hypotheticals here.

>The FPA's attempts 
>to regulate their activities are wholly inadequate.

   WHY?  Let's see some facts, provisions of the bill, and some
hypotheticals here.

>Do you, having read 
>through the bill, believe that the proposed National Fossil Council will be 
>either qualified to, or capable of, performing all its tasks?

   My copy of the bill shows the persons who will be on the council as being
1) the director of the US Geological Survey or designee, 2) an employee of
the USGS, 3) someone recommended by the United States National Museum, 4)
someone recommended by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, 5) someone
recommended by the Paleontological Society, 6) someone recommended by the
Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture, 7) someone
recommended by the American Association of Paleontological Suppliers.

   You're saying that all these people are unqualified to choose members,
and that all the recommendation they could possibly make would be of
unqualified persons?

>Do you 
>believe that it is proper that fossils occurring on the surface can be 
>pocketed by anyone?


>Do you believe that fossils will not be lost to the 
>private market?

   No, I don't.  I'm sure that there are those people who would not allow
access to their collections, but I bet MOST would GLADLY give access if they
were only asked.

>(Not that your answer to the last question could hold any 
>significance because you ask; "And so what?", and in doing so reveal your 

   Almost another bit of name calling there.  What are you afraid of?

>It is a one-sided bill, concocted by, and for the benefit of, commercial 
>collectors. It suffers from no great excessof insight into the pertinent 
>problems and issues and requires heavy revision before it could ever be 
>acceptable to the paleontological community (at least those of us in the 
>community with careers or interests that are not based on the sale of 


>Asyou yourself admit; "It could probably use some beefing up in 
>how to make sure commercial concerns are complying with the stipulations of 
>the law,... ". That is precisely the point, Mr. Poling. In current form the 
>FPA will allow commercial collectors to dance through yawning loopholes and 
>procure fossils for their own gain and satisfaction.

   What stipulations in the bill are you refering to here?  Let's have some

>Fossils that occur on 
>Federal Lands need to be protected and secured for the public, not for Joe 
>Blow and his bank account.

    There is no reason whatsoever that they should not go to Joe Blow and
his bank account.  With museums understaffed and underfunded, a fossil in
the loving care of an enthusiast might actually end up better protected and
have something meaningful done with it.

>Perhaps you have no problem with losing fossils 
>to the private market

   I don't believe for a moment that they're lost forever to the private market.

>I have absolutely nothing against you, Mr. Poling,

   Geeze, you coulda fooled me.

>or against responsible 
>commercial collecting,

   Yet you advocate banning it.

>but passage of the FPA of 1995 will not increase, 
>but rather restrict the public's access to fossils and turn over a National 
>Heritage to the crass forces of commercialism.

   HOW, WHY?  What are the relevant stipulations in the bill?  What
hypothetical situations can you come up with?

>The FPA is riddled with 

   How about naming a few.

>and will prove detrimental to the paleontological community 
>at large, made up mostly of amateur paleontologists, while leaving a 
>handful of commercial collectors indebted to those who support the bill.

   How so?

>need instead a bill that will ensure that vertebrate fossils collected on 
>Federal Lands will remain in the public domain, will not have their 
>ownership transferred to any individual or organization, will not be made 
>available for purchase by any individual


>will not be exported from the 
>United States.

   Does this include foreign museums?

>We should work together to protect vertebrate 
>paleontological resources from exploitation, and to safeguard their 
>existence as the property of all of the people of the United States.

   It sounds to me like you want to go far beyond restrictions on fossils
found on federal land.

   I found the following gem on the rocks-and-fossils mailing list:

>>The Burgess shale "resides in Yoho National Park, near the tourist centers of
>>Banff and Lake Louise.... The railroad town of Field ... lies just a few
>>miles from the site, and you can still board the great transcontinental train
>>from its tiny station.... Today you can drive to the Takakkaw Falls
>>campground, near the Whiskey Jack Hostel ... and then climb the three
>>thousand feet up to Burgess Ridge by way of a four-mile trail around the
>>northwest flank of Mount Wapta. 
>Uh, I think you left out one minor point.  The Burgess Shale site has
>been declared a World Heritage site some years ago, and it is illegal
>to collect there.  Only one institution has permission to do so (I forget
>their name), and anyone else is breaking the law and will be arrested.  
>Tours are available, but
>I understand there is something like a one year waiting list, and you
>can only look - no collecting allowed.  They stress this very much, and
>just picking up a rock from the ground in the area will get you arrested.

   I hope that's an exaggeration.  Just the same, is this the kind of
situation we want in this country?  Where a person can be arrested for
picking up a rock?

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