May I Collect Fossils and Artifacts
on Public Lands?

plant fossilPlant Fossils-YES

Remains of ancient plants are found throughout much of Alaska. While it is permissible to collect small samples on some public lands including those managed by the BLM, you are advised to check with the federal or state office that manages the lands where you want to collect to find out what restrictions apply. For instance, collecting fossils of any kind in national parks or monuments is illegal. Some other federal agencies might allow limited collecting but only in certain areas under a permit. Also, collecting any fossils on State of Alaska lands is illegal. If you wish to hunt plant fossils on private land, be sure to obtain the owner's permission first. It is illegal to sell your plant fossil finds taken from federal land.

invertebrate fossilInvertebrate Fossils-YES

Invertebrates are animals without skeletal structures, such as insects, crabs, clams, and snails. Generally, you may collect fossils of common invertebrates in small quantities from BLM public lands but not from State of Alaska lands, but check local restrictions first. Also, check first with other federal agencies for their policies.  It is illegal to sell your invertebrate fossil finds taken from any federal land.

Generations of people have enjoyed searching for and collecting many types of fossils. Unfortunately, because of the enthusiasm of earlier collectors, fossils are becoming less common. Please leave something for your grandchildren to discover.

Note: Fossils of plants and invertebrates that are rare or scientifically important for research projects may require a special paleontological collecting permit from the Bureau of Land Management.

wooden fish hook artifactArtifacts-NO

Unless you are issued a permit for scientific research, you may not collect any artifacts, ancient or historical, on federal or state lands. This includes arrowheads or flakes, pottery or pot shards, old bottles, pieces of equipment, and buildings. These items are part of our national heritage and researchers are still learning much from them. Human burial remains on both public and private land are also protected from collection by federal and Alaska state law.

vertebrate fossilVertebrate Fossils- NO

You cannot collect or sell vertebrate fossils from federal or state land without a federal or state permit. Vertebrates include dinosaurs, mammals, sharks, fish, and any other animals with a skeletal structure. Collecting any fossils of any type from State of Alaska lands is illegal under State law.

  • Set in Stone (BLM Environmental Education Resources article)