Fort Stewart, GA — In a world where rational and logical thought prevail, one would think that fisherman pulling a trove of dangerous military waste from a river would be considered a good deed that should be rewarded. Unfortunately, however, logic and reason have seemingly gone extinct in today's America and instead of being rewarded, three fishermen in Georgia have been slapped with heavy fines and are facing potential jail time.
The group of fishermen, led by Bryce Nachtwey are not your everyday run of the mill fishermen. In fact, they aren't after fish at all. Instead, Nachtwey and his crew use magnets to look for treasure at the bottom of waterways all over Georgia.
Last month, Nachtwey and his group dredged up a shocking find — a Delta Airlines duffel bag, chock full with 86 rockets, a tank tracer round, and .50 caliber ammo belts. All of this ammunition was live and all of it had been dumped or lost in the river by the US Army.
Naturally, finding tank rounds and explosives is not like finding treasure and quite dangerous, so after pulling up their "catch," Nachtwey called the bomb squad on Fort Stewart, trying to do the right thing.
A Fort Stewart Military Police officer who was summoned out to the bridge off which Nachtwey was fishing, explained to the group that he had never seen something like this, and needed to check in with his command to see what next steps to take. Before his command could respond, however, a game warden with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources showed up to extort the group for their legal activity.
The warden told the group that it was illegal for them to be fishing off the bridge, which surprised the group since they were experienced in the area and had never been told this before.
“I didn’t see any signs,” said one of Nachtwey’s crew. But this didn't matter, the warden was hellbent on extorting these young men, even if their good deed saved the lives of swimming children down the road.
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“You’re all gettin’ tickets, you can come to court and talk to a judge, okay?” the warden said. “The reason magnet fishing is not allowed is because of exactly what y’all got right there. You don’t know what’s going to blow up and not blow up.”
If they refused the tickets or argued any longer, the group of fishermen could choose jail. Obviously they chose the former but did explain that they had jumped through all the right hoops and red tape to be there that day.
Nachtwey explained that he and his group had not only called the DNR well in advance, but that they were within a "green zone" — meaning they knew magnet fishing was explicitly permitted in this area of the river.
This didn't matter to the warden, however, who claimed his authority let him ticket anyone, any time, no matter what zone they are in.
As the Airforce Times reports:
The warden stated that red (off-limit) and green (acceptable) zones don’t apply in this scenario because the group was on Fort Stewart property. Because the base is owned by the Federal Government, the Department of Natural Resources has no authority to issue such permission, though it can ticket for offenses in the area.
The warden issued three tickets each to Nachtwey and his two compatriots — two $130 tickets and one $80 ticket — for magnet fishing at Fort Stewart, entering a closed area and not having Fort Stewart permits.
The trio’s federal court date is Sept. 9, 2022.
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, pick up the government's garbage and face extortion and kidnapping in the blessed and sacred, land of the free.