[meteorite-list] Rationale for BLM regulations

From: Nicholas Gessler, Ph.D. <nick.gessler_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 16:18:28 +0000
Message-ID: <2BF7290C1307A04AAE019182A4FA6D9603ED8464_at_ex-mbg-06.win.duke.edu>

My personal take-home message:
A) BLM policy is not a bad thing for those of us who go into the field to collect.
B) Those of us who do search and find should reciprocate by supporting
scientific research and education by reporting finds and donating samples.

I'm in the middle of grading student projects as well as communications
with Frank Jenks of the BLM. I have further questions to ask of him. I do
not want to misinterpret what they've told me, but in the interim this is my
interpretation of what they've said...

The legislation appears to give full power to those who go to the field to collect.
For that, I think we can be grateful. I think it is incumbent on those of us who
do make finds to have them characterized, by generously providing at
least the standard "20% or 20 grams, whichever is less" to a meteoritic
laboratory and subsequently report the characterization to the Meteoritical
Bulletin. I also think it is appropriate to gift a sample to the "National Collection."

BLM is charged by Congress to collect, (on behalf of the people of the US),
"the fair market value" (FMV) from any activity taking place on BLM lands.
So from a legal and accountancy perspective:

1) Commercial activities need to proceed under permit, with fees and
FMV collected.

2) Universities, Museum & Research Institutions, by nature of being
non-profit and tax-exempt, may collect under permit but without paying
the FMV, and in lieu of that FMV the BLM will retain ownership.

3) Casual collectors need no permits for under 10 pounds, and are not charged
FMV so long as they do not sell or barter their meteorites..

I was also told:

The Antiquities Act only comes into play as a vehicle under which to
issue permits in full awareness that meteorites are not the same as
archaeological resources.

An individual collector may often fall into each or all of those three categories
at various times.

Along these lines of reasoning, I will forward these further questions to

a) Can a "casually collected" meteorite later be changed to a meteorite
collected for "commercial purposes" by the application for a commercial

b) Is it the case that no permit for collecting meteorites would confer
the sole privilege of collecting meteorites to the permit holder. In other
words, no permit holder may prevent another from collecting.

c) Please tell us the scope in time and region covered of a permit.
Would they be monthly, annually, for the state, the county, the township, etc?

d) It would be good to know the cost of typical permit fees and the means
by which the "fair market value" of a meteorite will be determined.

e) It would be good to know the typical time required to process a

I hope to hear back soon and when I do I will report what I've learned.
I want to ensure that it is not hearsay.

P.S. If any readers would care to forward copies of the fee structures
of any permits they have obtained, I would appreciate receiving them
either in confidence or for posting. Again, I would like to summarize
our experiences on the web beginning some time in January.

nick.gessler at duke.edu
Received on Sun 09 Dec 2012 11:18:28 AM PST

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