Wildhorses at Sand Creek Barrel Springs Byway at sunset.  Photo by Laurie Sada Upper Wall Canyon creek.  Photo by B. Parrott Windmill at Sunset in Surprise Valley Sunset reflection on Upper Lake in Surprise Valley.
BLM>California>Applegate>Rockhouding/Casual Use/Mining
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Applegate Field Office

Rockhounding/Casual Use/Mining


Decorative rock and petrified wood collection “ROCKHOUNDING” is a fun and educational outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by everyone.  The collecting of rocks, mineral specimens, gemstones, petrified wood and common invertebrate fossils on public lands managed by the BLM is generally considered a casual use activity.  These activities require no permit, fee or notification of the BLM, provided that:

• Collecting is not specifically prohibited or restricted.

• Your collecting activities result in no more than minor disturbance of the public lands.

• Equipment is limited to hand tools and metal detectors.  You may not use explosives or motorized/mechanical devices such as earthmoving equipment.

• Specimens are for personal use and are not collected for commercial purposes or bartered to commercial dealers.

• Only reasonable quantities are collected.  For petrified wood, reasonable limits for personal use are defined as 25 pounds, plus one piece, per day, with an annual limit of 250 pounds.

• You reclaim any disturbance that you create, such as backfilling holes, etc.

Casual Use

Casual use prospecting includes those activities which cause very little or no surface disturbance. For example: collection of geochemical, rock, soil, or mineral specimens using hand tools; hand panning; or non-motorized sluicing. It also generally includes use of metal detectors, gold spears and other battery-operated devices for sensing the presence of minerals, and hand and battery-operated dry washers. Operators may use motorized vehicles for casual use activities only if the use is consistent with the regulations governing such use (43 CFR 8340) including following off-road vehicle use designations and temporary closures ordered by BLM. Casual use operations do not require notification of the BLM; except where specific land use or recreation area plans call for a recreational mining permit. You must reclaim any casual-use disturbance that you create.



Much of the public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management's Applegate Field Office is open for the filing of mining claims under the Mining Law of 1872. Under the Mining Law, the claim holder has exclusive rights to valuable minerals which may be found on the claim. Currently there are roughly 5,000 mining claims on the public lands administered by the Applegate Field Office.

Persons who wish to stake a mining claim should contact the BLM State Office in Sacramento to find out if a site is already claimed or not. The BLM must be notified prior to the use of mechanized equipment on a claim. Mining claims may not be filed for the purpose of living on public land.


California State Office Mineral Resources Homepage 

Bureau of Land Management
Applegate Field Office
708 West 12th Street
Alturas, CA 96101
Phone: (530) 233-4666
Fax: (530) 233-5696
Office Hours: 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F
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