Fossil hunting, archaeological finds and paleontological research at USACE lakes

Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Sept. 29, 2022
Sanctioned paleontological dig at Central Texas lake in June of 2016

Sanctioned paleontological dig at Central Texas lake in June of 2016

Sanctioned paleontological dig at Central Texas lake in June of 2016

Sanctioned paleontological dig at Central Texas lake in June of 2016

FORT WORTH, Texas – Fossil finds, dinosaur tracks and other archeological or paleontological discoveries have been in the news recently with fluctuating lake levels at the 25 multi-function lake projects in Texas operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. The use of these discoveries, however, is restricted under federal law to protect the natural resources or scientific value of an area.

Title 16 U.S.C. 470 EE Archaeological Resources Protection Act and Title 36 CFR 327.14(a) provides restrictions prohibiting the collection of archaeological or paleontological resources on Corps of Engineers project lands. Title 36 CFR 327.14(a) specifically states that "destruction, injury, defacement, removal, or any alteration of public property including but not limited to, developed facilities, natural formations, mineral deposits, historical and archaeological features, paleontological resources, boundary monumentation or markers and vegetative growth, is prohibited except when in accordance with written permission from the district commander.” USACE restricts activities at the lakes that could cause harm or destroy these sensitive resources.

If a person finds an object with potential archaeological, paleontological, or historical value on government-owned property, he or she should make note of its location and inform a park ranger or the lake office.  He or she should not collect the item, as removal of these items is a citable offense under Title 36 Part 327.14(a). Often the true importance of an archaeological or paleontological discovery is its provenance and context, which often progresses scientific understanding more than the item itself. People who have found archaeological, historical, or paleontological resources and reported their finds correctly to the project offices have provided a valuable service to the Corps of Engineers and the greater scientific understanding of the unique and diverse resources protected by the Corps of Engineers.

USACE asks all to help us with protection of our natural resources, recreate responsibly with outdoor and water safety always as a priority.

Please call the lake office or see information on a specific USACE lake at with any questions.


Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: and social media at:

Clay Church
819 Taylor Street, Fort Worth TX 76102

Release no. 22-028