In 2004, I was introduced to Leave No Trace for the first time through a college outdoor recreation course on a trip to Southeastern Utah. I practiced Leave No Trace for the first time as I backpacked through Gravel Canyon and found evidence of the past Anasazi culture that used to reside in the area. Pottery shards and ruins were present all throughout the area and I was amazed to see items of such value and importance outside of a museum. I feel lucky that I had the chance to see shards and ruins unspoiled by other visitors.
The 1979 Archeological Resource Protection Act insures that archeological items found on public lands and Indian Lands are protected. Congress designated this act to prevent alterations, damaging, removing, excavating, defacing, or attempting to damage, deface, remove, excavate, or altering archeological items. According to the act, the items that are covered, but not limited to are:
5. Weapon projectiles
7. Structures or portions of structures
8. Pit houses
9. Rock paintings
10. Rock carvings
13. Human skeletal materials
Items can still be collected on Public lands or Indian lands as long as an individual or organization obtains a permit from the land management agency.
From Section 4(b) of the Archeological Resource Protection Act
The purpose of this Act is to secure, for the present and future benefit of the American people, the protection of archeological resources and sites which are on public lands and Indian lands, and to foster increased cooperation and exchange of information between governmental authorities, the professional archeological community, and private individuals having collections of archeological resources and data which were obtained before October 31, 1979 [the date of the enactment of this Act].
This Act is an important part of the Leave What You Find principle. While the Leave No Trace Seven Principles are guidelines for people to follow, legal support from land management agencies can help prevent people from taking these important items for their own enjoyment.
Thanks for reading and remember to be like Bigfoot and Leave No Trace.
Pat and TJ
Leave No Trace’s Patrick and Theresa Beezley are part of the 2014 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Coleman, Hi-Cone, The North Face, REI, Smartwool and Yakima.