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Recreational Rockhounding, Gold Panning and Dredging

Rockhounding/Fossil Collecting

Rockhounding is allowed on public lands within the Grand Junction Field Office (GJFO) management area with the exception of developed recreation sites and special management areas including; McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area; or where otherwise prohibited and/or posted.

  • and semi-precious gemstones, petrified wood, common invertebrate and plant fossils may be collected on public lands without charge or permit in reasonable amounts as long as the specimens are for personal use only and cannot legally be sold or bartered.
  • No undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands is allowed during the removal of rocks, minerals, gemstones, or fossils.
  • Collection and removal must be done by hand tools only and cannot be aided with motorized or mechanized equipment.  Metal detectors are acceptable except on historical sites. 
 
 
Gold Panning, Dredging, and Sluicing

Gold panning is unregulated and allowed anywhere on BLM-managed lands within the GJFO area, except where it is prohibited such as in special management areas like the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. 

Recreational dredging and sluicing is regulated, and all dredgers/sluicers operating on BLM managed land within the GJFO must obtain a permit before work commences. To be considered recreational, equipment is limited to suction dredges with inlets of 4" or less, and the dredger must be able to comply with the terms and conditions of their permit. The type of permit issued depends on the amount of material to be dredged and the location of the dredging.

NOTE:   VERTEBRATE FOSSILS  - Dinosaurs, mammals, sharks, and fish, or any animal with a skeletal structure, cannot be collected without a special collecting permit.

 
 

Rules listed above pertain to rock hounding, gold panning, and dredging on public lands managed by the Grand Junction Field Office 
only
.
For more information on recreational rockhounding, panning or dredging, please contact the
 Grand Junction Field Office Geologist at (970) 244-3000

 
 

ROCK (decorative)  A reasonable amount is defined as follows:  Small quantities of mineral material (that which would fit into a 5-gallon container) is considered recreational and can be gathered without a permit.  Collecting mineral materials in excess of a 5-gallon container requires a permit and fee to do so.

MINERAL SPECIMEN AND SEMI-PRECIOUS GEMSTONES  A reasonable amount is defined as follows:   Small quantities of mineral material and semi-precious gemstones (that which would fit into a 5-gallon container) is considered recreational and can be gathered without a permit.  Anything in excess of a 5-gallon container requires a permit from the GJFO to do so.  NOTE:  Check for mining claims before visiting the site.  Mining claimants may have the right to exclude others from collecting on their claim.

PETRIFIED WOOD   A reasonable amount is defined as follows:  The maximum amount which one person can remove without charge per day is 25 pounds in weight plus one piece, with a maximum amount of 250 pounds removed in one calendar year.  Pooling of quotas to obtain pieces larger than 250 pounds is not allowed.

COMMON INVERTEBRATE  AND PLANT FOSSILS   (Hard or soft bodied animals without skeletal structures such as insects, crabs, clams, and snails)  A reasonable amount is defined as follows:  Small quantities of mineral material (that which would fit into a 5-gallon container) is considered recreational and can be gathered without a permit. 


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