Visitors are urged to preserve the historic sites of Folsom Lake State Recreation Area


FOLSOM – California State Parks urges visitors to Folsom Lake State Recreation Area help protect historic resources by avoiding tampering with, removing or destroying artifacts or ruins along the lake bed. Artifacts once belonging to immigrants seeking fortune along the American River are now on display due to historic low water levels. These sites and artifacts are protected by federal and state laws which prohibit disturbing the sites in any way, including removal or relocation of the artifacts.

The land at the bottom of Folsom Reservoir can be covered in 480 feet of water in a wet year, but after dry years some normally submerged areas become exposed, giving a glimpse of its rich historic past.

“It’s a unique experience to visit the remains of a historic site and wonder when it was used and how people lived there,” said Folsom Lake SRA Superintendent Richard Preston-LeMay. “If these historical objects are moved or removed, this experience is ruined for others.”

The current soil of Folsom Reservoir was used for gold mining and agriculture for over 100 years prior to the construction of Folsom Dam. Many of the early settlements were destroyed to allow the filling of Folsom Reservoir in 1955-56, but reminders of the past remain in the form of foundations and fine scatters of historical and archaeological artifacts at the bottom of the reservoir. State Parks and its partner, the Bureau of Reclamation, urge visitors to help protect these artifacts by leaving all items where they are.

It is important to protect exposed historic resources by not digging, manipulating or removing anything from the lake bed as prescribed by state and federal law. In addition, metal detectors are prohibited as indicated in the superintendent’s order. Historic sites around the lake and those normally covered by water in the reservoir are also protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and other federal laws. Under ARPA, fines of up to $250,000 or even jail time could be imposed for removing artifacts.

For more information about Folsom Lake SRA, call the Gold Fields District Office at (916) 988-0205. For more information about cultural resource protection on federal lands managed by Reclamation, contact Melissa Ivie at their California-Great Basin regional office at (916) 978-5028 or [email protected].


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