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Folsom Lake officials say help preserve artifacts or face fines

The state park is urging visitors not to dig, handle, or remove anything from the lakebed or face a $250,000 fine.

FOLSOM, Calif. — The California State Parks is asking people to preserve historic artifacts at Folsom Lake as drought conditions reveal history usually buried by water. 

The state park is urging visitors not to "dig, handle, or remove" anything from the lakebed. In recent months, weather conditions have caused water levels to drop to historic levels revealing elements like artifacts as seen at Folsom Lake. 

In a normal year, water levels hover around 480 feet, but during a dry year, more land is exposed resulting in the discovery of artifacts usually submerged. 

Because of its historic marking, the land is protected by the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) and other federal laws. Federal law prohibits people from disturbing and/or altering the surface and levies a fine of up to $250,000 or even imprisonment could be imposed for removing such artifacts.

More than 100 years ago, Folsom Lake was used for gold mining and farming and was known as Mormon Island. The Island once had a population of around 2,500 people in 1853 and had four hotels, dry goods stores, and other small shops, according to Sierra Nevada Geotourism, in association with the National Geographic.  

Credit: KXTV

California park officials, in the past, have asked people to "look and don't touch" as amateur archeologists and enthusiasts have gone to Folsom Lake to see artifacts.

“It is a unique experience to visit the remains of a historic site and wonder when it was used and how people lived there,” said Folsom Lake SRA Superintendent Richard Preston-LeMay in a press release. “If these historic objects are moved or removed, this experience is ruined for others.”



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