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Nautiloid

Hello everyone

 

So recently I’ve been studying up on Catskill formation sites in Pennsylvania. Many of these sites are exposures along highways, and I was wondering how I should go about collecting at them. Is it legal to collect along highways in PA? Can I park on the highway if there’s plenty of room or should I find an off ramp/side road to park along?

 

Thanks for the help!

Owen

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Thomas.Dodson

I'd follow Fossildude19's advice and contact Department of Transportation directly. I've gone the difficult way of looking up these legalities in the past for several states and generally they're hidden in the most obscure parts of traffic codes. It can take hours just to find them sometimes.

 

I can't speak for Pennsylvania but generally speaking parking on the highway is a no-no and this includes the right-of-way/non paved portion. This usually applies to off-ramps as well. Parking on the right of way is allowed for some other roads but not often highways. You'll usually have the best luck finding a side road to park on and walk. Also be aware that some places have legislation against walking on the highway as well.

 

On a related note I'd recommend bringing traffic cones to place behind a parked vehicle if you find parking is legal where you are. It will decrease the chances the sheriff department/highway patrol will ask you to move along for safety reasons.

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Interstates are "Emergency Stopping Only" all over the USA.  A few years ago I did an emergency birdwatching stop on I-80 in southern Wyoming.  The "friendly" police officer did not buy into my emergency situation and told me to get the heck moving along.  I did.  

 

Collecting on road cuts in Colorado is illegal.  It is a state by state thing.  

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LabRatKing
2 hours ago, jpc said:

Collecting on road cuts in Colorado is illegal.  It is a state by state thing.  

This is truth. In addition to state by state, it can vary by county and municipality too.

 

Also, when you ask, find out what kinds of fossils are legit...in many places inverts are fine, but verts are a no-no.

In particular, shark teeth are a tricky one...some places considered them fair game with inverts, others place them with verts.

 

In some states, fossils fall under mineral rights, and the "legal right of way" on public roads may not even exist (also known as a ten foot variance or setback) so it is vitally important to know before you go.

 

As jpc mentioned, Colorado is a no road cut without a permit from state....which you have to be a actual PhD from an institution with a paleontology department to get. I assure you "well rounded field biologist from a very small Uni" isn't good enough.

 

Another example is here in Nebraska, where it is ok to road cut hunt if it is a state road (surface only-no digging), but local (i.e. county and city) road cuts vary greatly. Here if you find any vertebrate stuff that isn't a fragment, we have a state paleontologist that has to be notified for anything beyond fragmentadon and chiplodocus and random teeth.

 

Some states offer a very inexpensive fossil hunting permit that allows one to collect on state owned lands, which is far safer than road cuts and may be an option.

 

 

I can neither confirm nor deny that on occasion the 58 VW overheated and I took a few pictures while waiting for the oil temp to return to safe levels...dang antique hippy cars...

 

Geology.com has a nice overview of such matters and can be a good starting point to find the POCs in your state. Additionally the DOT or equivalent may have information, the STATE geologic survey (if your state has one), or the State University Earth Sciences folks can help you find out.

 

 

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LabRatKing

I should add here that the same sort of variable regulations exist on BLM lands too...what is totally legit in Millard County, Utah can be a federal felony in Arizona...so always check in with your BLM districts website and field office...in particular "...cannot be sold or bartered..." is a very common fossil hunting line in most BLM literature.

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LabRatKing
3 hours ago, Nautiloid said:

Hello everyone

 

So recently I’ve been studying up on Catskill formation sites in Pennsylvania. Many of these sites are exposures along highways, and I was wondering how I should go about collecting at them. Is it legal to collect along highways in PA? Can I park on the highway if there’s plenty of room or should I find an off ramp/side road to park along?

 

Thanks for the help!

Owen

Generally, road cuts are Ok in Pennsylvania on state and county roads as I remember, but I left PA nearly 25 years ago...so best to check in with PENDOT.

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6 minutes ago, LabRatKing said:

I should add here that the same sort of variable regulations exist on BLM lands too...what is totally legit in Millard County, Utah can be a federal felony in Arizona...so always check in with your BLM districts website and field office...in particular "...cannot be sold or bartered..." is a very common fossil hunting line in most BLM literature.

I am pretty sure that "Cannot be sold bartered or given away" is true for all BLM inverts collected by amateurs.   I am actually having a meeting this month with some BLM folks where we will be discussing the issue of what happens to these things when the amateur dies.  

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Nautiloid
4 hours ago, Fossildude19 said:

Owen, 

I would contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to see what the law is there.  ;) 

Thanks for the advice Tim and others! I really appreciate all the quick replies.:) 

I contacted the PADOT so hopefully I’ll hear back from them soon. 

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LabRatKing
1 hour ago, jpc said:

I am pretty sure that "Cannot be sold bartered or given away" is true for all BLM inverts collected by amateurs.   I am actually having a meeting this month with some BLM folks where we will be discussing the issue of what happens to these things when the amateur dies.  

Can you ask them about shark teeth too? :default_rofl:

 

Only "loophole" I know of are those from registered claims and from the pay to play claims. 

 

In my case at least, A certain university gets all my collections along with my fully prepared and mounted skeleton as a teaching aid...vengeance and such.

 

This is why wills are particularly important for rockhounds and other science collectors IMO.

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DPS Ammonite
3 hours ago, jpc said:

I am pretty sure that "Cannot be sold bartered or given away" is true for all BLM inverts collected by amateurs.   I am actually having a meeting this month with some BLM folks where we will be discussing the issue of what happens to these things when the amateur dies.  

I doubt that the BLM prevents legally “causally collected” invertebrate fossils to be given away by anyone living or dead. Per the US Forest Service code in the Code of Federal Regulation, there are no prohibitions against giving legally “causally collected” fossils away. Otherwise many other collectors and I would be in trouble.

 

The problem is that legally collected fossils are sold when an individual dies. I doubt that the BLM and USFS pays attention unless the fossils are significant.

 

BLM guidance for Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) of 2009 link

 

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=7b7796f0ea8fbf9aa22cf76da4fb5d09&mc=true&node=pt36.2.291&rgn=div5#se36.2.291_15

 

 

@jpc Can you cite a code or regulation for your claim that inverts collected by amateurs cannot be given away?

 

 

 

Edited by DPS Ammonite
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DPS.... Ahhhh... a fun way to spend the first few minutes of the workday.  Yes, I will look for it in your link.  It looks like I may have been speaking too fast.... only selling is illegal.  Your link is the  USFS's mandated reply to the PRPA.  I will also go look for the actual PRPA, but first I need to go clean the museum... our daily anti-covid cleaning.  

 

I found this under the Forest Service rules  

(g) Paleontological resources collected on National Forest System lands, including common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources subject to casual collecting, cannot be sold. Sale of these paleontological resources is a violation of 16 U.S.C. 470aaa-5(a)(3) and §291.27(a)(3) and may subject the violator to civil and criminal penalties.

 

Further down... I think this is where I got confused... see (2), but see (3).  I interpret (3) as saying trade is illegal.  Sooooo.... any thoughts? 

  

 

§291.27   Prohibited acts.

(a) A person may not:

(1) Excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on National Forest System lands unless such activity is conducted in accordance with the Act and this part;

(2) Exchange, transport, export, receive, or offer to exchange, transport, export, or receive any paleontological resource if the person knew or should have known such resource to have been excavated or removed from National Forest System lands in violation of any provisions, rule, regulation, law, ordinance, or permit in effect under Federal law, including the Act and this part; or

(3) Sell or purchase or offer to sell or purchase any paleontological resource if the person knew or should have known such resource to have been excavated, removed, sold, purchased, exchanged, transported, or received from National Forest System lands.

 

 

I don't want  to put the whole PRPA in here, but here it is.  It is part of the 2009 Omnibus Bill

 

http://vertpaleo.org/The-Society/Advocacy/Paleontological-Resources-Preservation-Act.aspx

 

The wording is very similar with "National Forest" replaced with "Federal land"

 

In the end... I find it confusing.

 

 

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DPS Ammonite

@jpc  Have fun cleaning. 
 

You can’t sell or trade/barter fossils collected on Federal Lands when “casually collected”.

 

You can “receive” (it has been given away with no consideration) a fossil as long as you have legally collected it and have not collected it,

“in violation of any provisions, rule, regulation, law, ordinance, or permit in effect under Federal law, including the Act and this part”.

 

Here is the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) of 2009:

https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title16/chapter1C&edition=prelim

Edited by DPS Ammonite
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LabRatKing
48 minutes ago, jpc said:

DPS.... Ahhhh... a fun way to spend the first few minutes of the workday.  Yes, I will look for it in your link.  It looks like I may have been speaking too fast.... only selling is illegal.  Your link is the  USFS's mandated reply to the PRPA.  I will also go look for the actual PRPA, but first I need to go clean the museum... our daily anti-covid cleaning.  

 

I found this under the Forest Service rules  

(g) Paleontological resources collected on National Forest System lands, including common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources subject to casual collecting, cannot be sold. Sale of these paleontological resources is a violation of 16 U.S.C. 470aaa-5(a)(3) and §291.27(a)(3) and may subject the violator to civil and criminal penalties.

 

Further down... I think this is where I got confused... see (2), but see (3).  I interpret (3) as saying trade is illegal.  Sooooo.... any thoughts? 

  

 

§291.27   Prohibited acts.

(a) A person may not:

(1) Excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on National Forest System lands unless such activity is conducted in accordance with the Act and this part;

(2) Exchange, transport, export, receive, or offer to exchange, transport, export, or receive any paleontological resource if the person knew or should have known such resource to have been excavated or removed from National Forest System lands in violation of any provisions, rule, regulation, law, ordinance, or permit in effect under Federal law, including the Act and this part; or

(3) Sell or purchase or offer to sell or purchase any paleontological resource if the person knew or should have known such resource to have been excavated, removed, sold, purchased, exchanged, transported, or received from National Forest System lands.

 

 

I don't want  to put the whole PRPA in here, but here it is.  It is part of the 2009 Omnibus Bill

 

http://vertpaleo.org/The-Society/Advocacy/Paleontological-Resources-Preservation-Act.aspx

 

The wording is very similar with "National Forest" replaced with "Federal land"

 

In the end... I find it confusing.

 

 

Side note- you can build a UVC Sterilizer for under 200$ that beats and chemical. PM for parts list

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Missourian

I'm glad I live in a state that doesn't know it has fossils.

 

Also, I'm glad I've specialized into fossils that no one cares about.

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Barrelcactusaddict

Yeah, here in Wisconsin it's prosecutable larceny (at the very least) to collect any mineral, fossil, or artifact, unless it's on private land that you've gotten permission to collect on. Practically one-fifth of this state is regulated by the DNR or USFS. Gotta love Big Brother... or else!

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DPS Ammonite
12 minutes ago, Barrelcactusaddict said:

Yeah, here in Wisconsin it's prosecutable larceny (at the very least) to collect any mineral, fossil, or artifact, unless it's on private land that you've gotten permission to collect on. Practically one-fifth of this state is regulated by the DNR or USFS. Gotta love Big Brother... or else!

Unless specifically prohibited by local USFS officials, fossil collecting is allowed on US Forest land with stipulations per code published in the Code of Federal Regulations PART 291—PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION link

 

As always, call the local USFS office and see if collecting is allowed per code.

 

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I've been roadside collecting & nature photographing in PA for the last 20 years and based on my experiences here's what I've found:

1. Never ignore a PenDOT "No Trespassing" or "No Stopping" sign. 

2. Park and walk safely

3. A safety vest (green or yellow), a WHITE hard hat, and a good loupe on a lanyard around your neck  can go a long way to getting you left alone.

4. Keep tools out of sight

5. Don't do roadside prep

6. Stay away at busy times - pre scout to find traffic patterns

7. Generally DOT & township workers will think you're just a harmless loon looking for gold, State Troopers will chase you off, local cops will ask what "shrooms" you're after

8. STAY OFF of restricted access highways and ramps after a warning

9. pick up a small bag of trash on your way out and everyone will smile & wave.

10. be fast

 

There is NO BLM land in PA and actually very little Federal owned land so those discussion don't really apply. PA State Parks are often hostile to collecting even the "famous localities". PA Game Commission Officers better not catch you on SGL (you can walk on the rocks and shoot the rocks but don't pick them up to look at!). 

 

 

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