Vandals Stole Artifacts From a National Historical Park in Oregon — Here’s How You Can Help

Apr 19, 2019

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In the latest edition of people behaving terribly in the country’s national parks, vandals have illegally excavated artifacts at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in Oregon earlier this week.

According to a statement from the National Park Service (NPS), unauthorized diggers tore up land at a known archeological site near the Netul Trail, which follows the Lewis and Clark River. Some 15 cubic yards of soil were disturbed (that’s about the size of one and a half dump trucks) and several artifacts were stolen. Evidence indicates that the vandals used a metal detector to identify the artifacts. Nine other holes were dug in the area, too.

In addition to the severe damage to the land along the river bank, the illegal activity also harmed a rare salt marsh plant “association” containing Lyngbye’s sedge —which usually appears in Greenland or Iceland — and Pacific silverweed. They’re considered so uncommon that they’re “classified as imperiled in the state of Oregon,” the statement noted.

Unsanctioned digging at archeological sites is not only considered a highly disrespectful action, but also very much against the law. In fact, simply possessing a metal detector in a national park (unless disassembled and stored in a vehicle) violates ARPA (the Archeological Resource Protection Act), which is in place to protect, “natural, cultural and and archeological” resources. 

“Archeologists make a great effort to record the context from which artifacts are recovered to better understand their use and disposition and the wider historical picture,” said Rachel Stokeld, a cultural resource specialist at the park, in the statement. “All this important information is now lost because of this illegal excavation.”

Do you remember seeing anyone leaving Lewis and Clark National Historical Park covered in mud and absconding with a bunch of priceless artifacts? If you have information that could help the Investigative Services Branch (ISB) of the National Park Service identify those responsible for this crime, call the tip line at 888-653-0009, submit a tip online or send an email.

And, for the umpteenth time, remember that it’s better to enjoy our nation’s parks and forests with respect and admiration, rather than vandalism.

Featured image by ducation Images/UIG via Getty Images

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