BURLEY -- The Bureau of Land Management says someone apparently using metal detectors and shovels found and dug up hundreds of artifacts along a few miles of the Oregon Trail near Burley, Idaho.
Officials have no specifics on what those items might be at this time.
The BLM told KTVB about 400 holes were dug along the pristine ruts of the trail. No arrests have been made, and BLM investigators hope to get tips from the public.
"It is the BLM’s responsibility to protect and preserve any sections of the Oregon National Historic Trail under its jurisdiction," said BLM Burley Field Office Archaeologist Suzann Henrikson. "The recent damage to the trail near Burley has resulted in a significant loss of history for the American public."
The affected stretch of trail is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The BLM says the ruts are on public land and are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
Congress passed the law in 1979 to prevent destruction of our nation's heritage from illegal excavation, damage and theft of cultural resources on federal lands. Anyone convicted of violating the law could have to pay up to a $20,000 fine and serve one year in jail.
“Although owning a metal detector is not illegal, be aware that using this device on lands under federal management may result in a crime," said Henrikson. "If you sink a shovel in an archaeological site on public land, you could be convicted of a felony.”
Anyone with information about the recent damage to the Oregon Trail ruts near Burley is asked to call BLM Special Agent Linden Schlenker at 208-524-7590