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Beltzville State Park


I_gotta_rock
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I_gotta_rock

Pennsylvania is one of the few states, along with Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, that are cool with people collecting fossils in state parks. In fact, at Beltzville, if you go in the visitor center, they will be quite happy to hand you a map and an ID sheet, and circle the sweetest spot on the map for you. They were thrilled last year when they heard that word was getting out of their existence!

 

The fossils there are all Devonian marine species from the Mahatango Formation. They can be found easily enough by exploring the gravel along the lake banks or wading in the shallows, where they appear as casts and molds in various stages of weathering. Fresh breakage will reveal highly detailed impressions!

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SailingAlongToo

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@I_gotta_rock

Technically, you are correct about VA State parks, they do allow and even encourage fossil hunting / collecting. We really are fortunate in VA and MD to have such fossil rich areas in State Parks that allow public access.

 

I will say though, at York River State Park and Chippokes State Park they tell you only 2 specimens per person per day.  No one pays attention to that, though. At YRSP, I can understand their request since there is only a very small portion of beach to hunt/collect. A greedy person could collect everything that is lying on the beach or in the shallows in just a few hours and since the water doesn't hit the cliffs all that often, the fossils are not replenished very quickly. Chippokes SP is a different story. They have literally thousands of Chesapecten sp. lying on the beach or in the shallows. Frequently one is walking on perfect specimens to find the biggest or best. But if they see you, they will remind you that it's 2 specimens per person per day. And of course, neither allows digging in the cliffs.

 

Westmoreland SP is quite different. They are happy for you to hunt/collect as much as one wants as long as you only do it at the very small "Fossil Beach" area. Anyone going under any of the cliffs is trespassing. The Park Manager told me about a month ago they have issued more trespassing citations this spring and summer than they have in all the other years combined. All related to people going under the cliffs to hunt/collect and several for people getting caught digging in the cliffs. And, then there are the 3 people this year who left the beach in hand cuffs......... Now they are having trouble with people trespassing at night, either coming in by boat or walking from Fossil Beach under the cliffs when the rangers aren't patrolling the cliff area.

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I_gotta_rock

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2 hours ago, SailingAlongToo said:

@I_gotta_rock

Technically, you are correct about VA State parks, they do allow and even encourage fossil hunting / collecting. We really are fortunate in VA and MD to have such fossil rich areas in State Parks that allow public access.

 

I will say though, at York River State Park and Chippokes State Park they tell you only 2 specimens per person per day.  No one pays attention to that, though. At YRSP, I can understand their request since there is only a very small portion of beach to hunt/collect. A greedy person could collect everything that is lying on the beach or in the shallows in just a few hours and since the water doesn't hit the cliffs all that often, the fossils are not replenished very quickly. Chippokes SP is a different story. They have literally thousands of Chesapecten sp. lying on the beach or in the shallows. Frequently one is walking on perfect specimens to find the biggest or best. But if they see you, they will remind you that it's 2 specimens per person per day. And of course, neither allows digging in the cliffs.

 

Westmoreland SP is quite different. They are happy for you to hunt/collect as much as one wants as long as you only do it at the very small "Fossil Beach" area. Anyone going under any of the cliffs is trespassing. The Park Manager told me about a month ago they have issued more trespassing citations this spring and summer than they have in all the other years combined. All related to people going under the cliffs to hunt/collect and several for people getting caught digging in the cliffs. And, then there are the 3 people this year who left the beach in hand cuffs......... Now they are having trouble with people trespassing at night, either coming in by boat or walking from Fossil Beach under the cliffs when the rangers aren't patrolling the cliff area.

What a shame! We went to Westmoreland last year and had a great time. Found a half whale vert disc just lying on the beach by the entrance because no one knew what it was. They were all obsessed with shark teeth. Found a clam mold in the water bigger than a golf ball just below the low tide line. Kicked it with my toe! Again, no one else thought anything of the fossil material other than shark teeth, so easy pickings! The folks in the nature center are very happy to see what comes up off the beach. They also have a great collection there of miocene fossils. A ranger led kids down to the beach for shark teeth to make necklaces, too.

 

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