Scenic Waterways

ORS 390.235
Permits and conditions for excavation or removal of archaeological or historical material

  • rules
  • criminal penalty


(a) A person may not excavate or alter an archaeological site on public lands, make an exploratory excavation on public lands to determine the presence of an archaeological site or remove from public lands any material of an archaeological, historical, prehistorical or anthropological nature without first obtaining a permit issued by the State Parks and Recreation Department.


If a person who obtains a permit under this section intends to curate or arrange for alternate curation of an archaeological object that is uncovered during an archaeological investigation, the person must submit evidence to the State Historic Preservation Officer that the Oregon State Museum of Anthropology and the appropriate Indian tribe have approved the applicant’s curatorial facilities.


No permit shall be effective without the approval of the state agency or local governing body charged with management of the public land on which the excavation is to be made, and without the approval of the appropriate Indian tribe.


The State Parks and Recreation Director, with the advice of the Oregon Indian tribes and Executive Officer of the Commission on Indian Services, shall adopt rules governing the issuance of permits.


Disputes under paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection shall be resolved in accordance with ORS 390.240 (Mediation and arbitration of disputes).


Before issuing a permit, the State Parks and Recreation Director shall consult with:


The landowning or land managing agency; and


If the archaeological site in question is associated with a prehistoric or historic native Indian culture:


The Commission on Indian Services; and


The most appropriate Indian tribe.


The State Parks and Recreation Department may issue a permit under subsection (1) of this section under the following circumstances:


To a person conducting an excavation, examination or gathering of such material for the benefit of a recognized scientific or educational institution with a view to promoting the knowledge of archaeology or anthropology;


To a qualified archaeologist to salvage such material from unavoidable destruction; or


To a qualified archaeologist sponsored by a recognized institution of higher learning, private firm or an Indian tribe as defined in ORS 97.740 (Definitions for ORS 97.740 to 97.760).


Any archaeological materials, with the exception of Indian human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony, recovered by a person granted a permit under subsection (2) of this section shall be under the stewardship of the State of Oregon to be curated by the Oregon State Museum of Anthropology unless:


The Oregon State Museum of Anthropology with the approval from the appropriate Indian tribe approves the alternate curatorial facilities selected by the permittee;


The materials are made available for nondestructive research by scholars; and


(A) The material is retained by a recognized scientific, educational or Indian tribal institution for whose benefit a permit was issued under subsection (2)(a) of this section;


The governing board of a public university listed in ORS 352.002 (Public universities), with the concurrence of the appropriate Indian tribe, grants approval for material to be curated by an educational facility other than the institution that collected the material pursuant to a permit issued under subsection (2)(a) of this section; or


The sponsoring institution or firm under subsection (2)(c) of this section furnishes the Oregon State Museum of Anthropology with a complete catalog of the material within six months after the material is collected.


The Oregon State Museum of Anthropology shall have the authority to transfer permanent possessory rights in subject material to an appropriate Indian tribe.


Except for sites containing human remains, funerary objects and objects of cultural patrimony as defined in ORS 358.905 (Definitions for ORS 358.905 to 358.961), or objects associated with a prehistoric Indian tribal culture, the permit required by subsection (1) of this section or by ORS 358.920 (Prohibited conduct) shall not be required for forestry operations on private lands for which notice has been filed with the State Forester under ORS 527.670 (Commencement of operations).


As used in this section:


“Private firm” means any legal entity that:


Has as a member of its staff a qualified archaeologist; or


Contracts with a qualified archaeologist who acts as a consultant to the entity and provides the entity with archaeological expertise.


“Qualified archaeologist” means a person who has the following qualifications:


A post-graduate degree in archaeology, anthropology, history, classics or other germane discipline with a specialization in archaeology, or a documented equivalency of such a degree;


Twelve weeks of supervised experience in basic archaeological field research, including both survey and excavation and four weeks of laboratory analysis or curating; and


Has designed and executed an archaeological study, as evidenced by a Master of Arts or Master of Science thesis, or report equivalent in scope and quality, dealing with archaeological field research.


Violation of the provisions of subsection (1)(a) of this section is a Class B misdemeanor. [Formerly 273.705; 1993 c.459 §12; 1995 c.543 §7; 1995 c.588 §2; 2015 c.767 §171]

Law Review Citations

25 EL 463 (1995)


Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021