Water-Related News

Bill signed that targets artifact looters on water authority lands

Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill that makes it a crime to pilfer arrowheads, pottery and other archaeological artifacts on water-authority lands.

It closes a loophole in Florida's laws, providing water authorities with the same protection given to state-owned lands, said Mike Perry, Lake County Water Authority executive director, who pushed for the new legislation. It was sponsored by state Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, and state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla.

Perry said looting has long been a problem in Lake County. But there was little the water authority could do to discourage treasure hunters from tearing up wetlands and preserves in search of American Indian artifacts, costing thousands of dollars to repair the land, Perry said.

"Prior to this law, the looter would have to be caught and issued a trespass violation," he said. "The looter would then have to be caught again in order to make an arrest."

Now, a looter can be arrested on the first offense and face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.