Rockhounding and fossil collecting can be a fun and exciting past time provided you follow a few simple rules. Policies vary slightly from state to state but here in Western Colorado there are just a few rules you need to be aware of and are listed below:
1). Rockhounding is allowed on any public land except for in developed recreation sites, McInnins Canyons National Conservation Area and the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation area or whereever it is posted.
2). Any semi-precious gemstones, petrified wood, invertebrate and plant fossils can be collected on public lands as long as its in reasonable amounts and is not to be sold.
3). You can’t tear up the ground. If you dig a hole, fill it back in when you’re done so it looks as close as possible as it did when you first arrived.
4). Collection and removal can only be done with hand tools. Mechanical equipment cannot be used, You can use a metal detector anywhere on public lands except within historical sites.
5). Gold panning is allowed basically anywhere within the Grand Junction Field Office district except within special management areas such as Dominguez-Escalante and McInnins Canyons National Conservation areas. Be aware of any areas that have claims filed on thenm as well. You can find out where various claims are by visiting the BLM’s LR2000 web page.
6). Dredging and sluicing are regulated and have certain requirements that must be met to stay legal.
7). Vertebrate fossils such as dinosaurs, mammals, fish or anything with a skeleton CANNOT be collected without an appropriate permit.
8). No historical or archeological artifacts can be collected or removed per the “Antiquities Act of 1906 16 U.S.C. 431-433“
This is a brief rundown of some of the rules pertaining to Western Colorado and rockhounding, Colorado West Outdoors does not make any of these rules and does not guarantee the accuracy or legality of such rules. You can get more information by visiting the BLM’s rockhounding web page.or by contacting your local Bureau of Land Managemnt office.
Now get out and find some rocks and fossils!