For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrew Tkach
Rock Your World!
With the warm weather here to stay, it’s a great time of year to go rock-hounding. Many homeowners are also beginning those landscape and patio projects they’ve been planning since last winter, and will consider using resources available on our public lands such as sand and gravel, flagstone, “moss rock” and boulders. In some instances these “mineral materials” may be collected free of charge, according to Cody Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, but it’s a good idea to know the rules when collecting rocks for personal use on public land.
“Rock-hounding” is considered a legitimate recreational pursuit on almost all public lands in Wyoming. This term applies to personal hobby collecting of small amounts of rocks, generally for scientific interest. In the Cody Field Office area, the public can collect limited amounts of rock (up to a 5-gallon bucket) while rock-hounding, for personal use without charge. The public should be aware of, and avoid any mining claims in an area prior to collecting rocks for hobby or scientific interest.
Collection of between 5 gallons and 1 cubic yard (about 1 pick-up truck load per household per year), for personal decorative or landscape use, requires a Free Use Permit. The permit can be obtained free of charge at the BLM Cody Field Office. Any amount of mineral materials exceeding one cubic yard must be paid for in advance (minimum fee $15), and removal is generally restricted to specific areas open for mineral material sales in the Cody Field Office.
When rock-hounding or collecting for personal landscape use, rocks may be collected by hand, or with small hand tools such as shovels and crowbars. Large or heavy equipment may not be used for these purposes. Vehicles must remain on existing public roads at all times. Topsoil and subsoil may not be removed, and explosives and power equipment may not be used without advance clearance from the BLM.
If larger amounts of mineral materials are needed, the BLM operates several “community pits” throughout the Bighorn Basin. Sand and gravel can be purchased for 92 cents per cubic yard, and “moss rock” is available at some community pits for $10 per ton. Purchases of mineral materials from these pits are limited to $2,000. The Cody Field Office of the BLM is currently selecting several new Common Use Areas for surface collection of moss rock or flagstone, and those locations will be announced at a later date.
Whenever you are out on public land, remember: DO NOT DISTURB HISTORIC ARTIFACTS! These include rock art (petroglyphs or pictographs) pottery, stone tools, arrowheads, human graves, historical dwellings and any other remains of early inhabitants. These resources provide important links to our past and are protected by law.
Invertebrate (most shells) and plant fossils, and petrified wood may be collected in small amounts for personal use. They cannot be sold or traded to commercial dealers. Vertebrate fossils (bones, teeth and turtle shell) cannot be collected and are protected by law.
Share the wealth of resources and opportunities offered by our public land, and know the rules. If you observe someone abusing public resources, please report it to 800-424-2767. And it’s always a good idea to touch base with the staff at the local BLM office for tips and additional information before collecting minerals and fossils. The BLM Cody Field Office is located at 1002 Blackburn Avenue, phone: 307.578.5900. Also visit: www.wy.blm.gov/information/docs/wynf-0004.pdf