Location Map


Pineland Archaeology

Southwest Florida

Isolated Finds in the State of Florida
This is a policy about isolated finds, which artifact collectors used to record with the state, which is the legal owner of all waterways and objects within them, but who for a while tolerated collecting of artifacts within rivers if these artifacts were reported, and pertinent information could be recorded. This is more of an issue in central and north Florida, but I think it is also important to share this information here. In a nutshell…it is no longer lawful to remove artifacts from waterways! (Please see official state policy on this below). However, I encourage you to report such finds (if they are still made) to archaeologists (including myself), so we can still learn from these deposits together, and involve the proper state officials in recording important finds and sites as needed. However, please do not remove these finds from waterways; reporting them can start a process of cooperation toward recovery of information. My fear is that we may all lose valuable information if we stop communicating and I don’t think that was ever the goal of the state officials in discontinuing the isolated finds program. -KBS
The Isolated Finds Program (IFP) allowed divers to legally collect artifacts (e.g., arrowheads, pottery sherds) from some Florida rivers by reporting information on their finds to the Division of Historical Resources.  §267.115(9), Florida Statutes states that "the division may implement a program to administer finds of isolated historic artifacts from state-owned river bottoms whereby the division may transfer ownership of such artifacts to the finder in exchange for information about the artifacts and the circumstances and location of their discovery." Artifacts were not to be collected from known archaeological sites or from rivers within managed areas like parks, preserves and forests. The IFP began in 1996 as a cooperative effort between the Division and river divers who were concerned that their long standing hobby was jeopardized by increased criminal penalties for removing artifacts from State of Florida owned lands.
  The Division attempted to inform river divers about the IFP with flyers, public presentations, meetings with river divers, and a web page.
  In November 2003 the Florida Historical Commission recommended that the Division discontinue the IFP and explore alternative programs. This decision was based on low participation and problems with enforcement of the IFP.
  The Division held public meetings in April and June 2004 to receive input on the IFP and possible alternative programs. Letters requesting input were sent to IFP participants, avocational and professional archaeological societies, American Indian tribes, land managing and law enforcement agencies.
  The Historical Commission discussed this issue and received public comment at its meetings in Delray Beach (May 15, 2004) and Tallahassee (November 15, 2004 and April 7, 2005). The Division's review of the IFP was presented to the Historical Commission in May 2005. The Commission unanimously recommended that the Division discontinue the IFP without a replacement program. The Division accepted the recommendation of the Historical Commission and notified IFP participants and other interested parties that the IFP was discontinued as of June 1, 2005. Participants were encouraged to continue their interests in Florida archaeology by working with scholars and archaeological societies.
  Between June 1996 and June 2005 the Division received 1,115 IFP reports from 150 individuals. Seven individuals submitted 54 % of the IFP reports received. 10,720 artifacts were collected under the IFP program from 51 rivers and lakes. In two cases divers reported locating significant sites and donated their finds to the Division; in all other cases the artifacts were kept by the finders. Geographic analysis indicates that 10 % of the IFP reports represent artifacts removed from known archaeological sites. In the absence of the IFP removal of artifacts from river bottoms and other sovereign submerged lands is a first degree misdemeanor under § 267.13(1)(a), Florida Statutes.
  Permit to excavate on state lands (contact Ryan Wheeler or Andrea White)
  Historic Preservation
    Lee County
  A historic preservation board and commissioners may designate properties historic; the board meets monthly; contact Gloria Sajgo in the Lee County building by the Midpoint Bridge with questions. Lee County certificate to dig Fort Myers (no explicit language here; contact Anne Mullins in the Hendry Street City Planning office with questions.
  Bonita Springs (much the same as Lee County, since much of the language herein was borrowed wholesale; however, only the property owner can designate a property historic; a historic preservation board was created this year and they meet monthly) contact Barbara Barnes-Buchanan with questions
  Boca Grande (much the same as Lee County, since much of the language herein was borrowed wholesale; they work with Gloria Sajgo at the county level) Fort Myers Beach Sanibel
    Collier County
  A historic preservation board and commissioners may designate properties historic; the board meets monthly. Contact Melissa Zone in the Collier County building complex in Naples with questions.
  Goodland (since Goodland is unincorporated, they are working toward developing their own ordinances via a preservation coalition)
  Naples -Everglades City (contact City Hall with questions)
  Moore Haven (contact Tracy Whirls at the Glades Economic Development
Council with questions)
  Clewiston - LaBelle (contact Mike at City Hall with questions)
    Charlotte County
  Punta Gorda -Contact Linda Coleman at the Charlotte County Historical Center and Seann Smith at the Charlotte County complex on Murdock Circle with questions
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