I have been giving the whole situation in Georgia and Florida (regarding the artifact related laws) and trying to think about things in a different light and weigh out other possibilities.
Heres what I think we KNOW for certain:
1) The current laws are not realistic. Even if you give the legislatures the benefit of the doubt as to their purposes of passing these laws, as well intended, the fact remains that the laws as they currently exist ARE NOT what was originally intended, IMHO.
2) Prohibition has not, and never will, work. It didnt work in the 1920's with alcohol, and it wont work today, even given our socialistic and burgeoning government of these times.
3) Real Collectors are going to find ways to collect, legally.
4) The States really dont have the resources, and never will, to recover artifacts that are buried in river bottoms that are not in archaeological context. Whats the benefit of leaving them there if the state is never going to recover them?
5) As undesirable as it may seem (especially now), there MUST be some sort of dialogue between the collecting community and the State Archaeologist. Trust me, I know, we have tried in the past, but we owe this hobby we love, a yeoman effort. I think its past time we formally requested meetings with the State Archaeologists, and if possible, we enlist the aid of a receptive State Representative(s) or Senator(s).
6) Collectors have got to stick together. All the division, competing factions, and "lone ranger, gonna do what I wanna do, regardless of what the law says", hasn't accomplished a thing, except for the mess we are in. The "back-biter, keep junk stirred up", individual(s) are not worthy of an audience.
7) Collectors have got to be willing to compromise - BUT - The State and the Anti's have got to compromise as well. Obviously, neither side "wants" to compromise, but we must consider real "quid pro quo". What are we willing to do, to move forward?
8) The State is, and will continue to look for revenue. Just like alcohol prohibition, the State could turn the current dilemma into a revenue source.
9) 99% of the collecting community are NOT grave robbers, pot holers, meth heads, and trespassers. The 99% MUST rid ourselves of this element and even assist in the reporting of anyone known to engage in illicit behavior. I dont know of one single person that digs in mounds, graves, etc....and I dont think many of us, do know anyone doing such.
10) Private property rights must be protected. PERIOD.
11) State and Federal lands must be protected
12) Without the generous donations of information, artifacts, and resources from amateurs and collectors - there would be virtually NO MUSEUMS OR PRESERVATION OF ANY EXTENT. It is a known fact that 90+% of the artifacts in the museums in the country are due to collectors and amateurs. Proper respect iand credit is due.
13) The demonization of the collecting community by the professional community, must stop.
Some food for thought?
A) License the legal recovery of isolated finds, and charge fees associated with licensure. Charge $250 or more for an Isolated Finds Permit
B) REQUIRE MONTHLY REPORTING (ONLINE - no cumbersome paper forms) -
No reports - no license renewal the following year.
C) Put serious fines for anyone caught looking for artifacts without proper license, of say, $1000. This would encourage license sales, and the funds generated could fund a well thought out, efficient, reporting program
D) Easy reporting (online for example) would make for fast access and a [B]discussion board like this one[/B], could be in place for information sharing, training, etc...
E) Have an annual license fee for anyone (besides the finder) wanting to buy/sell (Dealer license) any legally obtained Florida artifact.
F) Refuse to purchase, buy, sell, trade, any artifact found that does not have an accompanying Isolated Finds Report Document, (once the program is in place), for those isolated finds recovered from waterways, after the effective date of the program.
G) Replace any existing laws that are not in conformity to this new program.
Before everyone gets up in arms and wants to run me out on a rail -
Consider what you have right now - NOTHING.
Consider recent events.
Consider the current laws.
Consider what happens if we dont find workable solutions and MAKE THE EFFORT to find something we can live with.
Consider how miserable things have been for all of us since February 27th.
Or, we could just continue to sit idly by, stiff in our positions and continue to do what we have always done. RESULT - we will always get what we have already gotten.
Right now - thats pretty much nothing.
Think about it.