[meteorite-list] BLM and Meteorite Recovery Policy

From: Adam Hupe <raremeteorites_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2012 23:53:28 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <1354521208.75809.YahooMailNeo_at_web122005.mail.ne1.yahoo.com>

You have heard the saying "give an inch and they will take a mile"? Richard Norton tried to warn anybody who would listen a decade ago.? Meteorites are no more antiques than the rocks in my back yard.? Twisting laws to fit a bureaucrat's immediate needs is not the proper way to go about it and is unconstitutional.? The word meteorite couldn't even be found in a BLM officer's manual a mere year ago.? Now this has all changed.

The first 8-year old kid that picks up 10.01 pound meteorite will now be considered a criminal.

Freedom isn't for free,


----- Original Message -----
From: jason utas <jasonutas at gmail.com>
To: Meteorite-list <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Sunday, December 2, 2012 9:34 PM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] BLM and Meteorite Recovery Policy

Hello All,
I'd like to point out a few things:

As an active meteorite hunter/collector, the proposed regulations do
not affect me.? These new rules primarily affect the commercial
interest in meteorite hunting -- those people who regularly hunt on
public land and sell their finds.? A precious few people publish any
information on their more 'important' finds.? It often takes years for
such information to reach the public, if it does at all.

Most of the single-specimen 25+ lb stones found on BLM land in the
past two decades have been kept secret and out of the public sphere of
knowledge.? I know of a few such stones, and have no doubt that there
are more.? They haven't been submitted for analysis, and you can't
find photos online.? Not for fear of the government claiming them,
but because the finders don't want the attention...or competition in
the field.

Sonny Clary is one of the very few people I know who publishes that
kind of information.? And now his finds are being touted as examples
of why private meteorite hunters are such a boon for science, despite
the fact that he is a very big exception when compared to the rest of
us Southwest hunters.? [Or maybe you think that no one else is finding
large meteorites?? Seems unlikely, doesn't it?]? That said, such a law
won't change this practice of keeping important* finds secret, so I'm
still not seeing the point of supporting either side.

*Perhaps "large" (>25 lbs) isn't synonymous with "importance."? Seems
like a qualitative judgement to me.

Granted, we amateur hunters find meteorites.? But, as a group, our
primary interest isn't the advancement of science.? That much is very
clear.? We're all interested in it to different extents, but we're not
donating our finds to science beyond what we have to (some folks give
a bit more, but it's almost always a fraction of a given stone).

With regards to recovery, we do indeed accomplish more than scientists
could on their own.? Battle Mountain is the best example of this in
recent years: a new fall that would not have been recovered without
amateurs.? But, with collectors and dealers finding rocks, scientists
get a much smaller cut of the material, with the majority of it going
to sale/into collections (and with no guarantee of the quality of

No one against the law has yet addressed this topic, which I think may
be an aspect of the problem.? And
no one is arguing that we amateurs don't provide a valuable service by
bringing new meteorites to light that would otherwise not (ever?) be
found.? Nor do the proposed regulations inhibit the right or ability
of most hunters to continue to do what they've been doing.? You guys
need to look at the regulations and what they're actually going to
change.? Permits will theoretically be required for selling meteorites
found on BLM land and uncommonly large finds that aren't usually
reported anyway are theoretically going to have to be turned in to the


The Antiquities Act -- yes, it seems a little odd to piggy-back
meteorites on an antiquity law that was not intended to include
meteorites.? On the other hand, it's probably easier to pass
regulations on newly considered items by folding them into existing
regulatory categories.? Instead of a new BLM department for regulating
meteorites, the government officials who went after artifacts can now
address both groups of items (meteorites + artifacts).? This doesn't
seem like such an insane idea to me.? Good?? I don't know.? Since the
new regulations don't affect me, I don't particularly care.

Were these new aspects of the law intended under the original
legislation?? Nope.? But it seems that the *intent* of the people
changing the law is to restrict the private for-profit exploitation of
meteorites found on public land.? So, they are passing the laws that
they intend to pass, which aren't the laws that someone wanted back in
1906.? Of course, back in 1906, we didn't know that meteorites could
be collected on public land and sold for considerable profit, so the
fact that there wasn't a law then (and *perhaps* should be one now)
is...kind of logical.

Seems a little less crazy now, doesn't it?

All that's left to do is debate the pros and cons of these proposed
regulations.? I would go about it by comparing the regulations'
merits and drawbacks.? Making this a legal argument of "but they
weren't intended to be covered by this law in 1906" seems odd to me.
With Gebel Kamil in Egypt, some academics tried to say that meteorites
fell under an antiquities law when no qualifying laws/regulations had
ever been made.? That didn't cut it for me.? This is going through
actual legislative channels.

Generally, I don't like regulation, but...
After ~10 years of free-time-hunting, the largest stone Peter and I
have ever found out here in California weighs a measly few kilos.
Maybe when I find a 200 lb iron sitting out there, I'll think
differently.? But the Smithsonian already confiscates the big
meteorites when they turn up (e.g. Old Woman).? So....I'm not seeing
the difference between then and now -- unless you sell your finds and
don't like the idea of getting/renewing a permit every year.? Even
though, if you fall into that category, you're taking meteorites that
legally belong the the BLM off of public land and selling them for
your own profit.

If it's a counter-argument the dealer population wishes to put forth,
then fine.? But they should at least call it what it is.? Meteorite
dealers make money by trading in a scientifically valuable commodity,
and protecting their right to sell meteorites found on public land in
the US is of course high on their list of interests.

It's a special interest.


Other things -


Martin - please stop using Australia as an example.? We've gone over this:


And (scroll to my message):


Adam - ambiguously bringing up stones like Kalahari 009 as examples of
mismanagement (private or public mis-management?) is odd.? Since the
stone was found by a private party, if anything, it shows that
individual people aren't likely to be responsible curators of
meteorites.? Having personally seen some prime examples of personal
*and* institutional mistreatment of meteorites, pointing out
individual examples doesn't accomplish much more than pointing

I personally don't see why it's a horrible fact that Kalahari 009
wasn't studied as much as it could have been *when it was found.*? We
haven't lost any information or scientific capability.? Just time.
Science isn't running out of time.

Conversely, the meteorite could have been cut up and sold, with only a
small portion of it going to science.? Which outcome is "better" is
entirely a matter of opinion.


Richard brought up the 300 lb Glorietta Mountain siderite as an
example of a wonderful meteorite that was brought to light by the
private sector.

I believe it is a perfect example of both sides of the issue.? A large
(historic?) meteorite of significant size was found on public land.
It probably would never have been found without private sector effort.

It was then cut (almost entirely) and sold for profit.? The largest
known mass of a large American meteorite that theoretically belonged
to the American public and probably should have gone to a museum, was
instead...well, it's gone.? I hope you enjoy the photos.? The finder
wasn't wrong to do that -- it was entirely his prerogative.? He owned
it.? But I believe that these new laws may be partly intended to keep
such things from happening.

Whether you see that as good or bad depends on your values, but I'd
like to share my own.

Would that meteorite ever have been found without the private sector?
None of us can say, but it does seem unlikely that it would have
happened in the near future.? But we do know one thing for sure --
that monolithic meteorite is *gone,* and you can be certain that it's
not coming back.? Ultimately, the specimen was a source of income for
a meteorite hunter, and the sum of what we have to show for it now is
a bunch of slices scattered around the world -- that I can't tell
apart from Seymchan.


Most of the large American meteorites discovered on public and private
land in the past few decades (that have surfaced) have been cut and no
longer exist.? They were cut for profit.? There's a very long list.

I like to think that there's a reason we really appreciate the
Smithsonian and AMNH to see large rocks.? We enjoy seeing photo albums
from various museums' collections on Facebook.? Big rocks from outer
space are great for outreach and education.? And they're intact, so if
anyone ever wants to do research on them in any way, shape, or form in
the future, they're available for that.

We're the reason that so few of these rocks are being preserved,
despite the fact that we admire them.? Isn't it odd?

The only reason that I feel I might oppose these new regulations now
is because there's the chance that if they're passed, they *could* be
made more stringent in the future.? However, since the current wording
doesn't affect me, I don't mind it.

All of this adamant nay-saying seems a bit much.


> From: Martin Altmann <altmann at meteorite-martin.de>
> Date: Sun, Dec 2, 2012 at 4:04 PM
> Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] BLM and Meteorite Recovery Policy
> To: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
> Hi Fred,
> "Artifact" would imply that your legislative authorities do believe in the
> existence of highly developed aliens somewhere between Mars and Jupiter.
> Maybe we can make here on the list a little collection to donate some more
> modern books than those of Percival Lowell to the Library of Congress, that
> this assumption has turned out to be unlikely.
> Uh coffee was perhaps a bad example - the prices for gasoline, energy,
> housing, meat will bring you immediately back!
> Can I sign too as non-citizen?
> Good night,
> (have to take my pills, was too talkative...)
> Martin
> -----Urspr?ngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: hall at meteorhall.com [mailto:hall at meteorhall.com]
> Gesendet: Montag, 3. Dezember 2012 00:32
> An: Martin Altmann
> Cc: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
> Betreff: Re: [meteorite-list] BLM and Meteorite Recovery Policy
> Martin, is coffee a total cost of $7 per pound or are the taxes $7 per
> pound? If it is ONLY $7 per pound total cost, being a coffee drinker, I may
> consider moving to Germany, as we pay $9 to $11 per 12 ounces, plus sales
> tax, in most States of the USA!
>? ? A meteorite should not be considered an "artifact" unless it is found in
> a Native American site or early American site. They are rocks, 99%+ never
> used by early man. Glorious rocks, but rocks none the less. If you find a
> rock on BLM land, other then petrified wood or fossils, you can haul it away
> even if it weighs 499 pounds. The petrified wood limit is 250 pounds per
> year per person.
> As for rocks, no permit is needed on BLM land UNLESS you want to mine for
> minerals. Picking up a rock, by hand, on the surface is not mining.
> Sign me up to end this new ruling by our lord and master, the BLM.
> Fred Hall
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Received on Mon 03 Dec 2012 02:53:28 AM PST

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