[meteorite-list] BLM and Meteorite Recovery Policy

From: Peter Scherff <peterscherff_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2012 07:55:04 -0500
Message-ID: <00cf01cdd155$6a881160$3f983420$_at_rcn.com>

In the US there tends to be an urban rural split in the way we view
government. People in urban areas tend to see the government as protecting
individual?s rights. The government will stop my neighbor from playing loud
music at night, it will make that jerk down the street pick up after his
dog, it will tow the car that is blocking my garage and it will close the
park at night to reduce crime. Whereas people from rural areas are more
likely to view the government as taking away their rights. Property rights
are under the most government pressure in rural areas the government may
prevent people from cutting down their own trees,
limit where you can graze your cattle or forbid bid you from building a wind
turbine. Each of these perspectives is valid and no amount of debate is
likely to change someone?s views.
One thing about the BLM regulations (not laws) is the prohibition on the
sales of meteorites found on BLM lands. That prohibition will just create a
black market for these meteorites that will keep them out of the hands of
science. I believe that a ?free market? for meteorites encourages people to
hunt for meteorites. The more people hunting the more meteorites found. The
more meteorites found the more meteorites that can be studied by scientists.
So please BLM, use the permitting process to make it easy for ?commercial?
hunters to collect meteorites on BLM managed land. Perhaps the terms of the
permit could be something along the lines of a $100 onetime fee that would
allow the hunter to hunt on BLM managed land. If the permits require
environmental impact statements and/or large fees none will be sought or

-----Original Message-----
From: meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com
[mailto:meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com] On Behalf Of jason utas
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2012 5:25 AM
To: Meteorite-list
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] BLM and Meteorite Recovery Policy

Hello Jodie,
You're nit-picking terminology more than anything else. They may not "own"
the land, but it's under their jurisdiction. A policeman may not "own" his
sidearm, yet you being a citizen, are still not allowed to use his "publicly
owned" property. He has jurisdiction over it.

The above analogy is funky because the sidearm serves a purpose for the
policeman, whereas the meteorite simply holds scientific and monetary value.
But when I see spectacular meteorites like the 300 pound main mass of
Glorietta Mountain diced and sold for personal profit, I believe that
constitutes misuse of public property. And since we're talking about
meteorites that belong to the public, my opinion is a valid one.

Why do you think I included the references to the local "Occupy the Farm"
idiots over here in Berkeley? They decided that UC-managed land was as good
as theirs, and that they could do what they want with it.

That's not how public property works.

If it's "owned" by the federal government and "managed" by the BLM, the BLM
gets to set the rules. You may not like the way that the BLM runs things,
but the system was put in place by politicians we, the people, voted into
positions of power. In this case, it sounds like many meteorite dealers
have a "special interest" (e.g. meteorite
hunting/selling) and care about policies that the BLM is enacting --
policies that the population at large does not care about. If the minority
is loud enough, they might change things to the way they want them to be.
If they can't manage that, well, this is a democracy.

Our government may not "own" anything at all, but I'm glad that they have
the power to "manage" large areas of land, because corporations and private
citizens are not capable of responsibly keeping many areas of land -- and
especially areas of natural interest -- safe *or* clean. We know that for a

And organizations like the BLM need money to do that. Since the permits
mentioned in the BLM regulations are only necessary for those who will
profit from exploiting resources on land managed by BLM land (selling
meteorites), I see no problem with the regulations. What's a
$100(?) permit compared with the sale value of ten pounds of meteorites
(4,510 grams) from the American Southwest? Nothing.

I'm all for smaller government and less bureaucracy, but all of this
libertarian stuff is getting on my nerves. The BLM serves a purpose, and,
as best I can tell, you're pissed off because of a few incompetent
employees. That's not a good reason to simply forego any oversight on vast
tracts of American land that would no doubt be abused immediately without
oversight...and are abused, regardless, but to a lesser extent. I've spent
more time in the desert than most, and know that much firsthand. If you
want to reform the BLM, that's a whole different issue.



On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 1:17 AM, Jodie Reynolds <spacerocks at spaceballoon.org>
> Hi Jason,
> The BLM's land?!?!?!
> Would you explain to me how _they_ acquired such real property? How
> they maintain it? How they staff their offices? How their
> "employees" go about eating?
> I'm clearly out of the loop - I was kinda under the impression that
> the group We assigned to manage land couldn't actually _own_ any land
> since buying, maintaining, staffing, enforcing, [...], it would
> require your money, Adam's money, and my money. I know I didn't
> authorize their actions. I suspect Adam didn't authorize their
> actions. So now we need a disclosure of precisely who did, and
> precisely what public hearings in the interest of the public to which
> they are SERVANTS decided this would be the case.
> And that's the ultimate point: The BLM doesn't OWN _any_ land. We
> The People can boot the entire lot of their leech-like and utterly
> worthless hineys out to the street any time we decide to defund them.
> Along with the rest of our alleged "masters" who exist only to serve
> us.
> Please don't fall into the trap of believing our government can own
> diddly-squat - that's the root of the issue here - they've overstepped
> the authority that WE have given them and need to be reminded of such.
> Many of the People seem to have also forgotten who actually runs this
> joint. They need to be reminded of who the masters actually are.
> Warmest Regards,
> --- Jodie
> Monday, December 3, 2012, 12:38:53 AM, you wrote:
>> Hello Adam, All,
>> You're insinuating a heck of a lot with phrases like "Twisting laws
>> to fit a bureaucrat's immediate needs is not the proper way to go
>> about it and is unconstitutional."
>> I've already clearly explained why the 1906 Antiquities Act *might*
>> logically be altered to accommodate for other groups of objects. It
>> shouldn't matter whether they choose to modify that set of rules
>> versus making an entirely new rule(s). Calling it "twisting" is just
>> misleading. I address this in my last email, which you apparently
>> replied to without reading.
>> Or saying anything, really. The rest of what you say seems baseless
>> to someone who knows nothing about which bureaucrat you're making
>> these accusations, or what his or her apparently sinister goals are.
>> Or how/why these new rules somehow disagree with the constitution.
>> As for your eight year old -- even children who inadvertently find
>> their parents' drugs in their coat pockets aren't prosecuted.
>> http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2012/09/28/sacramento-man-arrested-aft
>> er-6-year-old-child-brings-meth-to-school/
>> You're being a little too dramatic for my taste.
>> If you adhere to the notion that meteorites belong to whoever's land
>> they're found on, I don't think you can really blame the BLM for
>> keeping track of *their* meteorites. This all rings too much of the
>> recent "occupation" of some of Berkeley's agricultural land.
>> http://www.dailycal.org/2012/05/13/gill-tract-occupiers-disregard-dem
>> ocratic-process/
>> Just as technically state-owned (UC) land cannot be appropriated by
>> citizens, public property is not inherently "yours" for the taking.
>> You should read my last email. It really does address the
>> "antiquities" aspect of things.
>> And if people are indeed making their livings by collecting BLM
>> resources....well, why not complain about hunting permits, mining
>> permits, or anything else like that? If you're selling meteorites
>> from BLM land, it means that you're making money from finding them.
>> Most such things require permits. It does seem inconvenient to me,
>> so I can understand wanting to avoid having to abide by the new
>> rules, but taking it this far just seems....a bit much.
>> I've still yet to see a reason that I as a recreational meteorite
>> hunter should care about these laws. Apparently the limit is 10 lbs
>> per year, not 25. But how much Franconia do you really want?
>> Jason
>>> From: Adam Hupe <raremeteorites at yahoo.com>
>>> Date: Sun, Dec 2, 2012 at 11:53 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] BLM and Meteorite Recovery Policy
>>> To: Adam <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.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,
>>> Adam
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: jason utas <jasonutas at gmail.com>
>>> To: Meteorite-list <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
>>> Cc:
>>> 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
>>> 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 curatorship).
>>> 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 government.
>>> ----------
>>> 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
>>> Primarily:
>>> http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:dNthXb8AJ5cJ:si
>>> x.pairlist.net/pipermail/meteorite-list/2011-January/072151.html+&cd
>>> =1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
>>> And (scroll to my message):
>>> http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:UaGbL6qt2gsJ:si
>>> x.pairlist.net/pipermail/meteorite-list/2010-December/072063.html+&c
>>> d=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
>>> ----------
>>> 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
>>> fingers.
>>> 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
>>> 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.
>>> Jason
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> consider moving to Germany, as we pay $9 to $11 per 12 ounces, plus
>>>> 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%+
>>>> used by early man. Glorious rocks, but rocks none the less. If you find
>>>> rock on BLM land, other then petrified wood or fossils, you can haul it
>>>> even if it weighs 499 pounds. The petrified wood limit is 250 pounds
>>>> year per person.
>>>> As for rocks, no permit is needed on BLM land UNLESS you want to mine
>>>> 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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>>> ______________________________________________
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>> ______________________________________________
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> --
> Best regards,
> Jodie mailto:spacerocks at spaceballoon.org

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Received on Mon 03 Dec 2012 07:55:04 AM PST

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