Well, I did not imply that I would go out of my way to destroy artifacts. I'm just trying to say that if I'm such a boob, why should I be responsible to hold a distinction between an perfect arrowhead and hunk of limestone? I was just venting my frustration that it is commonly held opinion that the mere public knowledge that an artifact or site exists is "a shame". I don't think an artifact has any more value than the fascination of the observer/collector regardless of his status. Don't tell the great unwashed public not to touch. Teach us and trust us. Pass reasonable laws that preserve the landscape but that don't penalize serendipitous discovery. Don't put up signs that say: "Access Prohibited" but rather put up ones that say: "Protected site, for legal access contact:.....at......". Then prosecute violators vigorously. Prohibitions should be left to private property and Military sites. I don't resent hunting laws because they generally provide a reasonable means for public access. Why can't we provide similar rules for artifacts? I'd buy a license and perform due dilligence/disclosure if I found something interesting and even be willing to surrender it if an item was deemed by an authority to be important. Also, I'm not totally against academia. I think the laws constraining archaeologists from the scientific and careful excavation of ancient burial sites are unreasonable too.
I know of an area in Wyoming where dozens of turtle fossils are being disarticulated by erosion and washed away piece by piece. Perhaps they are not paleontologically significant, but at least some could have been recovered more or less intact. Some probably still could be. Permit interested people to come in, show them how to recover, preserve, and reassemble the fossils, and there would be a lot of these in collections, private and public, available for study.
Sorry for the late reply--just got back from celebrating Independence Day.
Actually that analogy with a hunting license sounds like a very interesting solution. Getting trained in normal field techniques is not difficult and to me that would be most of the fun for the average person. It would also provide some great contact with the public.