FROM STAFF REPORTS
SILVER CREEK — Law enforcement with the Lower Colorado River Authority arrested a 68-year-old man Feb. 10 and accused him of taking historic stones from an early settlement dwelling exposed by dwindling water levels on Lake Buchanan, officials say.
Ray Alan Pauling of Bluffton was charged with violation of LCRA code 191.171, removing an historical artifact, a class B misdemeanor.
“This is LCRA property, and the law does not allow people to remove or destroy items on historical structures such as this,” LCRA Spokeswoman Clara Tuma said. “It appears the intent was to use the stones on his property.”
According to the probable cause affidavit, authorities received a tip about someone in an area of Lake Buchanan off CR 128 “removing or destroying a historical structure.”
The area in the lake bed is the site of Old Bluffton, which officials say was submerged after Buchanan Dam was built in the early 1900s to form Lake Buchanan. The town of Bluffton was moved to west of Lake Buchanan in Llano County.
“As the lake levels have fallen, the structure has become visible,” Tuma said.
The affidavit stated that Burnet County Constable Mike Harnisch met with LCRA Ranger A.L. Chitwood at a residence in the 1200 block of CR 128 to talk to a suspect.
“(The) defendant admitted that he had driven to an archaeological site in the dry bed of Lake Buchanan,” the documents stated. “(He) had removed 26 stones from a pile of rocks or stones at this ancient home site and taken those stones to his residence.”
If convicted, the violation is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
Pauling was booked into and released from the Burnet County Jail on Feb. 10 on a $500 personal recognizance bond.