Volunteers protecting Calif.’s historic site from looters

Volunteers protecting Calif.’s historic site from looters

Volunteers with the California Archaeological Site Steward Program, which has grown drastically over the last one and a half decades, are working enthusiastically to protect the Golden State's historic site from looters.

The main goal of volunteers is to note any sign of vandalism or looting. They note if anyone has made holes in the ground with a metal detector or if anyone has messed with artifacts or disturbed the soil of prehistoric Maidu tribal sites.

The site is the same one where miners had moved by rocks by hand to divert the Feather River so that they could search for gold under the river's soil. The same quest prompts many people to mess with artifacts or disturb the soil of prehistoric site.

With levels of water heading for their historic lows, the California Archaeological Site Steward Program has become more important. At Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, the reservoir is at just 42 per cent of its full capacity. Lower water levels make the sites more accessible to looters.

Leslie Steidl, an archaeologist with the Northern Buttes District, said the volunteer steward program provided rangers with a whole other set of eyes to detect any vandalism or looting at the prehistoric sites.

Speaking on the topic, she added, "It's not our goal to keep people from enjoying the recreation . in protecting these cultural resources so that for generations people will have the opportunity to walk in these areas and actually see something."

It was in 1848, just months after massive strike at Sutter's Mill, when John Bidwell had discovered gold on the Middle Fork. The discovery attracted many more people scour the sites for the precious yellow metal. That was how the town that would gradually come to be known as Bidwell's Bar sprang up.

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