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The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) requires that paleontological resources be managed and protected on public land using scientific principles and expertise and authorizes the BLM to issue permits for the collection of paleontological resources.


Regional paleontologists surveying Red Rocks NCA


What can I collect with a survey permit?

A survey permit authorizes research survey and surface collection of paleontological resources by qualified paleontologists when the disturbance will not exceed one square meter of rock or soil.

Do I need a permit if I do not plan to collect? 

The BLM needs to know what resources are on Bureau lands, where they are located, and who is doing research.  A paleontology permit is required when resources are being altered, disturbed, or removed.  However, you may be required to get a permit to conduct research.  Remember, research is important to both science and for informed land stewardship. Contact the BLM if you are unsure about whether you should have a permit.

What if I only plan to collect invertebrate or plant fossils?

Casual collection of invertebrate or plant fossils is allowed on BLM land where not restricted by other rules, there is negligible disturbance , only small non-motorized hand tools are used, and the collection is for non-commercial personal use.  Research is not a casual use of BLM resources.

What is a paleontological locality and what should I report to BLM? 

A paleontological locality is a geographic point or area where a paleontological resource is found.  A paleontological resource should be reported wherever it is found regardless of its scientific significance.  Knowing where paleontological resources are found will allow the BLM to preserve and protect paleontological resources.

What if I make a large discovery?

Important discoveries should be reported to the local BLM office.  Contact the BLM if you need to expand the scope of your permit.  In some cases the scope of your original survey permit may be expanded.  However, if surface disturbance will exceed one square meter you may need to suspend work and apply for an excavation permit.

Can I use a survey permit to conduct paleontological survey or mitigation?

Paleontological consulting and mitigation require special access to fossil resources and put the permittee in a position to make decisions that will affect the long-term preservation and management of paleontological resources.  Therefore paleontological consulting requires a separate permit.

What do I report to the BLM?

BLM paleontological resource use permittees must submit an annual report each year, even if field work was not done. 

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