Publication when public policy makes specimens unavailable

Barry Roth barry_roth at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jun 11 15:56:31 CDT 2001

I would like to thank all who have replied, on and off list, to my question as to what a scholarly journal's stance should be with respect to manuscripts based on "politically unavailable" specimens.  I have duly considered all replies in formulating a course of action in the present case.
Because this thread has taken on a life of its own, focusing on legal aspects (e.g., the message below), I feel I should add that the underlying facts in this instance are very complex, that the southern California paleontological community is deeply involved, and that delicate negotiations are apparently ongoing.  My original question did not address the administrative situation, merely a journal's duty to the broader scientific community, and I did not intend to stir up what one correspondent called a hornets' nest.  I hope no one will undertake any actions without fully informing himself or herself of the pertinent facts.

With thanks again to all,

Barry Roth

  Sally Shelton <Shelton.Sally at NMNH.SI.EDU> wrote: Forwarded on behalf of a colleague not subscribed to TAXACOM.

>>> 06/11/01 12:06PM >>>
If this "administrative unit" is owned and operated by the county or the State, then the county gets to make the rules. I don't know of any federal law or regulation that would limit such a collection to the county, as federal specimens belong to all Americans. BLM policy does not make any such restrictions, but if some local unit is trying it, we can inquire. However, I do know of cases in which local units of the Forest Service have made their own policy of retaining (at least) representative collections in the state where collected. If it were me, I'd challenge the legality of this rule by calling the Solicitor, Office of the General Counsel, or whoever is the legal representative for the agency in question. If you know who administers the land, please let me know.

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