Tahoe National Forest
copyright © 1996, Electric Nevada
|"I'm still worried about those guys. They just frighten the daylights out of me."|
| The man
talking was a retired Reno schoolteacher. A fellow member
of the Silver State Treasure Hunters, a psychologist,
describes him as "one of the most law-abiding, nice,
people I've every met... He's very conscientious."
Because of his continuing fears of reprisals from U.S. Forest Service officials, Electric Nevada agreed not to divulge his name. This report will call him "John."
"I don't feel comfortable talking to anybody about it," he explains. "At one time I did, and I was talking to everybody, and they sort of blew me out of the water."
It all began, for John, on a day last year in late November. His hobby is gold detecting -- searching for gold nuggets with a metal detector he owns. On that particular day, he'd driven out on a road up above Verdi.
"When I got to an open spot where I could pull my truck off, I just stopped there and got out," he says.
"This whole area was being bulldozed and trees were being cut down..
"There were loggers all over the place. I didn't think there was any problem at all. They had bulldozed roads and drug trees, and they were out there working at the time."
So John put on his gear and set out looking for nuggets in the area.
"I had a small bucket, and I had my metal detector, and I had a geologic pick, and a little hand trowel, and I had those on a belt, sort of like a carpenter's hammer-holder."
Later, after having been "detecting along" for some time, he says, he was making his way back to the truck, ready to call it a day.
"I was just detecting along, and this car -- a Waggoneer-type green Department of Agriculture car -- came zooming around [the bend], real fast, headed toward Reno.
"They got about 200 yards past me, and ...slammed on the brakes, and turned around, and came back real quick and parked maybe 50 feet behind my truck.
"They looked over at me, so I walked over to them."
A woman was behind the wheel and a man was sitting next to her. The woman rolled down the window, says John.
"They asked me 'How are you doing?'
"I said, 'Not too good -- all I found was a piece of glass and a Seven-Up can.'
"They wanted to see the piece of glass, so I showed it to them. It was a piece of that pink glass, about an inch and-a-half long, like the top of a whiskey bottle.
"The lady turned to me and said, 'Do you know it's a felony to pick up anything in a historic site?'
"'Felony?' I said. 'What are you talking about? What historic site?'
"She said, 'Well, you're near one now.' And one of them -- I forget which -- said I had to put it back where I found it."
After he turned around and tossed the piece of
broken glass back into the forest, says
John, he asked, "What do you mean by a felony?"
Next week: How government
archaelogical make-work is excluding Westerners from the
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