ASHDOWN, Ark. – Army Corps of Engineers officials are reminding everyone it is against the law to remove artifacts from public lands at Millwood Lake.
Millwood Lake’s level will be gradually drawn down to elevation 258.2 feet, which is about one foot below its conservation pool elevation of 259.2 feet. During low lake levels, Corps rangers have noted increased incidents of people digging for artifacts. This act is illegal and can be punished by severe fines or jail time.
Cultural resources are physical remains of our shared past. These artifacts include Native American arrowheads and pottery, buildings and remains of structures, rock art, ceramics, glassware, and any other objects made and used by people.
Depending on the circumstances and severity of the thefts, fines can be as high as $250,000 and jail terms can be up to 10 years. Laws covering removing artifacts from public lands include the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, which protects any item of archeological interest that is more than 100 years old, and Title 36 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, which deals with theft or destruction of public property.
Minor offenses can lead to misdemeanor charges, while more serious offenses or second offenses can lead to felony charges and convictions.
Arkansas Archeological Society officials explain that when individuals pursue what they consider a harmless hobby digging or picking up artifacts, they are destroying the past. By removing Indian artifacts or relics for a personal collection or to sell, the historical context is destroyed. This can wipe out the evidence of centuries of human experience. Many just don’t realize the harm they are doing. Others, unfortunately, care more about profit than preserving the past.
Rangers are asking all lake visitors to help protect these public resources that belong to everyone. They urge lake visitors to keep a watchful eye out for artifact seekers and report such illegal activities.
If you see someone illegally digging on the shoreline of Millwood Lake, call 870-898-3343. Any information you can provide such as location of the activity, number and description of persons involved, car make or model, etc. can be helpful. However, do not attempt to intervene or approach individuals participating in illegal activities.
Rangers ask that everyone please refrain from destroying our local heritage and history and assist in preserving our natural resources for future generations.
Little Rock District news and recreation information can be found at www.about.me/usacelittlerock.