A wide variety of rocks, minerals, and semi-precious gemstones are available for collecting on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Utah. Most BLM lands are open to rock collecting. Collectors should note that there are some restrictions, and a BLM permit may be needed depending on the amount of material you collect, how you collect it, where or when you collect, and whether or not it is used commercially. The following information is provided for the public to be used as a general guide for collecting on public lands managed by the St. George Field Office
Collecting limits & permits:
You can collect a reasonable amount of rocks and minerals from BLM lands, but a permit or fee may be needed if you exceed certain amounts as described below. Permits can be obtained by contacting the Geologist at the St. George Field Office
A Reasonable Daily Collecting Amount:
- fits into the trunk of a car or,
- is a partial pickup truck load and,
- and the material is for non-commercial use,
- weighs less than 250 lbs.,
- hand tools only.
No fee or BLM permit required.
More Than a Reasonable Daily Collecting Amount:
- is a full pickup truck or load or,
- involves more than one trip (or partial load) and,
- weighs more than 250 lbs.,
- or the material is for commercial use,
- or explosives or power equipment is used.
Fee and BLM permit required.
Collecting on mining claims is not advised without the mining claimant’s consent because the claimant has a legal right to the minerals on the claim, including gemstones. Although mining claims should be marked with posts or markers, not all mining claims can be easily identified in the field. Check with the St. George Field Office
to find out if there are any mining claims to watch out for in the area you want to collect. Many commonly collected rocks such as chert, petrified wood, obsidian, and cinders are not subject to mining claim location, even though people sometimes mistakenly stake mining claims for these minerals.
Rock stockpiles: Some BLM rock quarries have stock piles of crushed rock in them that have been established by BLM specifically for road maintenance work or by a local government agency (such as city, state, or county) or a company or individual under permit. Removing this stockpiled material is prohibited and considered theft of federal property.
Closed or restricted areas: Although most BLM lands are open to collecting, some areas such as campgrounds, cultural and historic sites, and natural areas are off limits to collecting. Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, national parks and monuments, including BLM-managed monuments are closed to collection. Other types of closures or restrictions, some of which are seasonal, include fire and wildlife. You should check with the local BLM office for more detailed information before starting out on your collecting excursion. In the St. George Field Office, collecting on Gooseberry Mesa, Little Creek Mesa, and the Santa Clara/Land Hill Area of Critical Environmental Concern is not permitted to protect cultural sites.
Other things to remember when collecting:
- Know whose property you are on.
- Get permission to collect on private property.
- Limit your excavation to using hand tools only.
- Fill in any holes that you have dug.
- Leave the area and all gates as you found them.
- Find out if there are any fire restrictions in effect.
- Stay out of old mines.
Maps and other information:
You should contact the St. George Field Office
for more detailed information about restricted areas or use restrictions. Many bookstores and rock shops may also have information or sell books and maps that can help you find other, privately-owned collecting areas.