- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) A Stafford County relic hunter left a trail of 38 holes in the ground before he was arrested on the Wilderness battlefield in April. The man was found clutching a metal detector and carrying six stolen artifacts.
Although his take proved minimal some bullets and small metal items his punishment wasn't so minor.
He spent up to $4,000 for recent ads in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, part of his sentencing in U.S. District Court for violating the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
The National Park Service wants to stop Civil War relic hunting in battlefield parks, and violators are paying to spread the word.
"The point of the ads is to try to educate people that it's illegal to relic hunt on federal land," said Mike Greenfield, supervisory park ranger with Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
The park service and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria came up with the idea, and federal judges are including the ads in sentences.
The Stafford County man's ad says in part: "This ad is intended to fully apprise other relic hunters of the potential consequences of their actions." It is signed: "Caught and Convicted." No names are used.
"The purpose of this ad campaign is to educate the masses," Mr. Greenfield said. "We prefer to do it this way rather than vilify any individual."
The Department of Justice is reviewing sentencing guidelines for relic hunting in national parks. The Stafford County man also paid $1,000 in fines and $1,816 for the cost of restoring the battlefield. Tougher sentencing guidelines will go into effect, Mr. Greenfield said, so the ads are an effort to warn people before punishments become harsher.
About 100 people have been prosecuted for artifact hunting in Fredericksburg in the past 12 years, Mr. Greenfield said.
Because of the area's federal Civil War sites, such as Guinea Station in Caroline County where Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson died, it has become a magnet for relic hunters.
"I guess it's kind of like their Civil War Mecca," Mr. Greenfield said.
Although it's against the law to relic hunt on federal property, it's legal to hunt for artifacts on private land with the owner's permission.
Legitimate relic hunters have contributed greatly to a better understanding of the Civil War, said Stephen Sylvia, publisher of the North South Trader's Civil War Magazine.
"A lot are used as tools to educate people about history," he said.
For example, Mr. Sylvia visits schools as a guest speaker to talk about the Civil War to students.
"As soon as you put some bullets in their hands, they get all excited," Mr. Sylvia said. "It kindles an interest that photos and words just can't."


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