Actually, that was the only time I’ve gotten paid to be in the water. Well… where the project entailed being in the water. And we were only snorkeling. I can’t even imagine trying to work for the feds (National Park Service - NPS) with all the insurance paperwork they’d put you through for diving (when not permanently employed with them). I dove with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2009 (unpaid) and even that was a paperwork nightmare.
That and you also have to realize that the nearest decompression chamber is a float plane away from Agiak Lake to Bettles, then another puddle jumper back to Fairbanks. I forget how many hours that is for just flight time but then you have to factor in the satellite phone call and all the other logistics to get a pilot back out there including the “Bush time” that is inherent in seemingly everyone once getting out of town and off the road system. (Meaning things just take a little longer.)
However, once I’m done with my thesis I do plan on attempting to make submerged cultural resources a higher priority for the State of Alaska. I’ve already started a dialog with the people at the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to see what I can do to facilitate this. But as has been pointed out, if it’s not already standard protocl, there is really no way to get any private entity to go above and beyond the law. It’s the federal government with their funding and permitting that can hook a client into upping the bar for what is considered a “good faith effort” for identifying cultural remains within the project area.
But Alaska does have much opportunity with it’s 33,000 miles (53.000km) of coastline which is more than that of the rest of the Lower 48 combined. And there’s that little thing called Beringia out there waiting to be looked over, but unless we can get people excited about this idea of learning about our heritage or expressing it as really good PR, it’s not going to happen because just getting out there is so cost prohibitive. And even though there are companies out there that can fund these projects, who are potentially disturbing these cultural resources at a huge profit *cough oil cough*, there’s really nothing that can push them into being the altruistic entity that we all hoped they would be.
Snorkeling at Agiak.