By CBS13 Staff

FOLSOM (CBS13) — State park rangers are asking people to leave the historic artifacts that are now re-emerging from the Folsom Lake bed alone.

With the water levels so low, ruins and other artifacts are starting to surface.

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The foundations of old settlements are starting to reappear at Folsom Lake as the water level reaches historic lows. (Credit: California State Parks)

What is now the lakebed was once used for gold mining and farming, with settlements dotting the landscape. Folsom Dam was built in the 1950s and the remains of those settlements were slowly swallowed as the reservoir filled.

Still, the foundations of many of those settlements can still be seen when the water level gets low enough – as it has in 2021 with California seeing a historic drought.

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Before people go out exploring, however, rangers would like to remind visitors that both federal and state law protect the artifacts.

Visitors are prohibited from digging, handling, or taking any historic artifacts from the lakebed. Unlike on other beaches, metal detectors are also prohibited.

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With the area normally covered by water protected under the Archeological Resources Protection Act, people could face fines of up to $250,000 and prison time for removing artifacts.