Was: [4Sale] Psilomelane & Brontothere cabs
Recently a post was presented that raised a concern.
It mentioned selling cabochons created from Vertebrate Fossils and
other stones found. No mention of Provenance was made. Now I have to
admit that concerning the Gem Industry I can be cynical (am also a
conspiracy theorist and am a paranoid). So I go worst-case-scenario
all the time.
Since I collect, cut, and sell, gemstones and offer them to the
public I have found that few people understand the laws regarding
stone collecting. And even some Gem Shop owners aren’t so educated.
I thought I might present on this subject.
In about 1989 I was stopped by a Ranger while collecting soapstone
from an outcropping of rock along Washington State’s SR 20 (North
Cascades Highway). All of the Soapstone was confiscated and I was
forced to go in front of a Magistrate for “Illegal Extraction of a
Mineral Substance”. Now, I have to say I looked at a map and saw that
I was outside of the North Cascades National Park. I thought I was
safe from Rangers. But I was not. It just so happens that I was on a
sliver of land that had been given to the National Park Service. Park
Service rules apply! I tried to plead Ignorance.
The Magistrate said “As a rockhound it’s up to you to know the
rules, regulations, property status of the place where you are
collecting from and to gain permission from the owner, whether
privately held, or from the government…”
I was let off easy, but the Magistrate said that If I came in front
of him again for a rock or mineral violation he would throw the book
at me. More on that in a second.
People always ask me whether I find the rocks I sell. I say yes I
find all of them, but mostly on tables at shows. I then point to the
Ellensburg Blue, some local Carnelian, and some pink agate I
recovered from a building site in Cottonwood, Arizona, 15 years ago
and the sapphires, sunstones, and opals from Oregon and Nevada as
examples of stones found personally. I explain that I can’t just walk
out into the wild and start picking up rock to cut and sell, that it
is against the law. At this point I often get a look of disbelief.
Since I am selling rock I have to have a permit (a claim constitutes
a permit) to sell material found on BLM or National Forrest Lands. Of
course I can sell anything I recover from private land that I have
collected with Permission. Fee sites are a good place to collect for
sale, but Rock Club or Mineral Counsel Claims are not. It’s
unfortunate that almost every entry in the Gem Trails series of books
are off limits to me. They are fine for casual collectors, but not
commercial cutters. On BLM land we are all allowed 25 pounds of
Petrified wood plus one piece per day not to exceed 250 pound per
calender year. That’s great, but you can’t sell it without a permit
and some BLM officers are not aware of this allowance and will
confiscate the material leading to a battle which you will not have
enough time or energy to win.
The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) does not offer commercial
permits for fossils.
One thing you cannot collect from Public land… Vertebrate
Fossils. The Federal Government reserves this for accredited
institutions. Another thing… American Indian Artifacts. This
includes Scrapers. Before I knew what they looked like I thought they
were natural agate, or jasper, rock fragments.
This year I’ve had a number of people mention finding gems in
National Parks. You simply cannot collect anything from National
Parks or Monuments. Not so much as a pebble. That is what I did. I
got off easy that time. Next time (there will be no next time)
$10,000 and a year in Jail.
Also off limits are American Indian lands, military reservations,
wildlife refuges, and dam sites.
State owned lands have their own rules. Most are off limits to
collecting. Some may allow casual collecting for personal use.
County and city owned land also have their own rules.
I have seen rocks from hobby collecting sites for sale in shops and
I have seen material from BLM lands sold in Shops. These practices
are illegal and performed by Professionals. As a cutter or a sales
person, it’s up to you to know the laws surrounding the material you
handle, and ignorance is no excuse.
And one last thing, concerning that agate found on BLM land that you
took home, cut and set into a piece of jewelry, according to one BLM
Officer at the Worland, Wyoming Office, you can keep it, but you
can’t so much as give it to your spouse without a permit.