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Fossil-Hound

St Clair PA Fern Hunting

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Fossil-Hound

I was interested in driving up to Pottsville, PA to look for some fern fossils around St Clair. From reading:

 

and then:

 

It seems that the sites around St Clair are now owned by Reading Anthracite a coal company and that digging or collecting of the ground is strictly prohibited. I also found this:

 

http://readinganthracite.com/access-permits/

 

That implies a $125 permit for going onto their property to do things such as ATV and bike. Nowhere on there do I see anything that mentions digging or collecting fossils but from the previous post I gather that such activities are prohibited. My question is two-fold:

 

1. There has to be somewhere close to St Clair that is full of fern fossils. Would someone mind sharing the location? I would be willing to mail this individual some of the finds and some of these finds would be going to a university. None of them would be for sale.

2. Would anyone be willing to make the trip with me? I could even pick you up and cover gas as I do have a Prius. My current location is Washington DC.

 

Thanks everyone. I know there has to be some ferns still out there.

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Fossildude19

Sadly, the St. Clair fern locality is NOW CLOSED to fossil collecting.

Your best bet is to check google maps, and then try to approach some land owners to collect their land. 

Good luck.  

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Fossil-Hound

@Fossildude19 how do you know it's closed? From the Reading Anthracite posting I read, fossil excavating is not listed as being prohibited. Can I drive up there ride my ATV around, sneak out grab a few rocks and carry them home? This whole my land, your land debacle is really starting to get under my skin. RA should have a couple of acres devoted to a fossil park for fossil enthusiasts similar to the Penn Dixie quarry in New York. It's so sad how a couple of idiots ruin these amazing locations for everyone by giving decent hearted fossil hunters a bad reputation. I bet there's another location close to St. Clair that is open to the public, or like you said I'll jut have to pick up the number. I for one would gladly drop $125 to dig for ferns for just a day, then they (whomever it is) can revoke my digging privileges because this is so messed up. I'm digging for academia and I also wanted a few ferns myself. Grr.... :angry: :ank:

 

@Fossildude19 should I move this thread over to General Discussions? Also I dug up this 6 year old thread:

 

http://dirtyrockhounds.proboards.com/thread/9042/st-clair-fern-fossil-trip

 

I believe suzie q is a member of TTF. I've seen her around before. Perhaps she is the missing link. I know she has gone out in search of ferns and my hunch tells me she may have some insider contacts. I shall tread lightly and put my diplomacy hat on. B)

Edited by jsnrice
Recent find on fern collecting permissions in St. Clair

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Fossildude19
6 hours ago, jsnrice said:

@Fossildude19 how do you know it's closed? From the Reading Anthracite posting I read, fossil excavating is not listed as being prohibited. Can I drive up there ride my ATV around, sneak out grab a few rocks and carry them home? This whole my land, your land debacle is really starting to get under my skin. RA should have a couple of acres devoted to a fossil park for fossil enthusiasts similar to the Penn Dixie quarry in New York. It's so sad how a couple of idiots ruin these amazing locations for everyone by giving decent hearted fossil hunters a bad reputation. I bet there's another location close to St. Clair that is open to the public, or like you said I'll jut have to pick up the number. I for one would gladly drop $125 to dig for ferns for just a day, then they (whomever it is) can revoke my digging privileges because this is so messed up. I'm digging for academia and I also wanted a few ferns myself. Grr.... :angry: :ank:

 

@Fossildude19 should I move this thread over to General Discussions? Also I dug up this 6 year old thread:

 

http://dirtyrockhounds.proboards.com/thread/9042/st-clair-fern-fossil-trip

 

I believe suzie q is a member of TTF. I've seen her around before. Perhaps she is the missing link. I know she has gone out in search of ferns and my hunch tells me she may have some insider contacts. I shall tread lightly and put my diplomacy hat on. B)

 

 

The link you post is, as you said, is 6 years old. Things change.

 Reading Anthracite owns the main fossil site as well, now. The previous owner must have sold it.

 

Please see THIS POST.       Also - someone in the same thread contacted RA, and received the reply noted HERE.     

In short, the RA rep stated in no uncertain terms that the permit DOES NOT INCLUDE FOSSIL HUNTING/COLLECTING.

 

Going on the property and "sneaking out grab a few rocks and carrying them home."  is not only unethical, it is illegal. :( 

Even suggesting such is not condoned here, on the forum. :( 

Per the Forum Rules and Community Standards:

 

"Prohibited on The Fossil Forum, including private messages and the chat room (transcripts of which are recorded and monitored) are: Pornography, obscenity, illegal acts and expressing disregard for the law, flaming (personal attacks designed to disparage, berate, or insult), offensive or discriminatory remarks (racial, ethnic, sexual, theological, political, etc.), threats, defamation, providing links to any of the above, Spamming, posting of the same text again and again, nonsensical posts that have no substance, or bumping a post for the same effect.  Multiple memberships are not allowed.  Violators of the above are subject to action up to and including banishment."

 

Regardless of how we feel about the situation, ... the LAND OWNER has the right to do with their land as they see fit. 

 

You could be subject to arrest, fines, legal action. Not worth it, for a few fossils, in my opinion. Trespassers have been arrested and jailed. 

The land is patrolled, and people are stopped, and asked to show their permits.  I'd be quite surprised if they didn't ask to search bags while they had you stopped. 

 

Sue is indeed a member of the Forum, but she no longer lives in PA, and isn't as active on the forum as she used to be. 

 

Again, the best course of action is to put in the time, energy, and persistence into finding legal collecting sites. 

You might make use of Google Earth/Maps, and check county records for property ownership. :) 

Regards, 

 

 

 

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Fossil-Hound

@Fossildude19 I wasn't going to pick up any rocks, I'm just frustrated and don't see what the big deal is behind picking up a few specimens and was just being facetious. I'm a law abiding citizen and do respect the rights of landowners. I have done so my whole life while hunting, fishing, and rock hounding. I just wish RA would meet us in the middle because they don't own the earth. The earth was and is a part of it's surrounding habitat. It will always be a product of geology and the life that inhabits it. That's what is so cool about St. Clair. The prehistoric swamps made that part of the world what it is today, and RA has claimed what required mother nature thousands if not millions of years to build up. I was thinking about this problem on the drive to work this morning and wish RA could look to Penn Dixie as an example of giving back to the community and preserving paleontology in PA. I believe if they opened up a 3 acre park, they could make some good money by charging a day fee of say $50 and then setting up a gift shop, similar to Penn Dixie. I'm more than confident that a lot of visitors would show up and RA would get some good press for once. I wonder if this idea is even worth pitching to RA as they seem set in their ways. I wish there were more fossil sites that operated similar to ski resorts, where the public could go and just dig within set boundaries. I bet if paleontology was as popular as skiing then this dream would be a reality. Another thought is to have a weight station outside the quarry zone and then have individuals weight and pay for their finds. The weight station could have a gift shop. The price would be per pound so say one pound would cost $10. Seems like a lot but I would gladly pay $100 for 10 lbs. of ferns. Are any of these ideas feasible? What if I acquired 100+ signatures from the community? What if I went to the county or even state courts with this problem? Is it solvable or are we left to dream of days long past?

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Plax

There are many places to collect carboniferous ferns in the eastern US. I assume that you're research is on the St Claire preservation only? I have found them in diverse places. There is adequate google information and publications available that should help you find an alternate site to collect unless you require St Claire flora specifically. You might try offering to pay for St Claire fern fossils on the trade/ buy section of this forum if your research interest requires them.

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FossilDAWG
53 minutes ago, jsnrice said:

@Fossildude19 I wasn't going to pick up any rocks, I'm just frustrated and don't see what the big deal is behind picking up a few specimens and was just being facetious. I'm a law abiding citizen and do respect the rights of landowners. I have done so my whole life while hunting, fishing, and rock hounding. I just wish RA would meet us in the middle because they don't own the earth. The earth was and is a part of it's surrounding habitat. It will always be a product of geology and the life that inhabits it. That's what is so cool about St. Clair. The prehistoric swamps made that part of the world what it is today, and RA has claimed what required mother nature thousands if not millions of years to build up.

...What if I acquired 100+ signatures from the community? What if I went to the county or even state courts with this problem? Is it solvable or are we left to dream of days long past?

RA does own the earth under their property, that's what mining companies do.

 

Would you support having to surrender use and control of your private property if someone could get 100 people to sign a petition?  What goes for RA goes for everybody.  I have neighbors who were quite upset when I bought my land as they had used it as their personal hunting domain for years, without the knowledge of the property owner.  I enjoy walking my dogs through my woods, and I keep horses and other livestock.  I would not be able to do that if my neighbor could get some buddies to sign a petition to force me to allow him to hunt on my land.

 

You say your comments were facetious, but unfortunately such intentions are often not obvious in written/posted comments.  Unless a comment is completely "over the top" we have to assume people mean what they say.

 

You say you want to collect for "academic purposes" and just keep a few specimens for your own collection.  If you are associated with an academic institution, perhaps you could organize a legitimate classroom exercise and seek permission from RA.  They do require that actual students be present, you can't just say you are collecting for material for teaching and show up with no students in tow.  I have thought of doing something like this myself.

 

Don

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FossilDAWG
1 hour ago, jsnrice said:

...

I was thinking about this problem on the drive to work this morning and wish RA could look to Penn Dixie as an example of giving back to the community and preserving paleontology in PA. I believe if they opened up a 3 acre park, they could make some good money by charging a day fee of say $50 and then setting up a gift shop, similar to Penn Dixie. I'm more than confident that a lot of visitors would show up and RA would get some good press for once. I wonder if this idea is even worth pitching to RA as they seem set in their ways. I wish there were more fossil sites that operated similar to ski resorts, where the public could go and just dig within set boundaries. I bet if paleontology was as popular as skiing then this dream would be a reality. Another thought is to have a weight station outside the quarry zone and then have individuals weight and pay for their finds. The weight station could have a gift shop. The price would be per pound so say one pound would cost $10. Seems like a lot but I would gladly pay $100 for 10 lbs. of ferns. Are any of these ideas feasible? 

...

Although it would be great if RA were to do this, I think there are serious financial considerations.  All the things you mention (charging admission, charging per weight) would require an actual person to administer.  Now you are looking at adding a new position to your payroll.  What would that cost, ~$25-30,000 plus benefits (let's say ~$45,000 total, based on the indirect costs I have to pay for my technician & postdoc).  Then there is the issue of liability insurance.  RA would have to provide porta-potties or some similar facilities.  They would also have to provide parking, as I doubt the county would appreciate a large number of vehicles parked along the road.  What would induce RA to take on that cost?  Would the site really generate enough fossil-collecting traffic to pay those bills?  I am skeptical.  Also if someone were to pay admission they certainly would not expect to have to dodge ATVs and dirt bikes, so that activity (and the money generated by their permits) would have to be curtailed.

 

Penn-Dixie works because it is owned by a non-profit educational association, which provides some shield against liability.  I am not sure if any of the on-site staff are paid.  Perhaps St Clair could operate in a manner similar to Penn-Dixie, but that would require RA to surrender ownership of the land to a non-profit educational organization at a minimum.

 

Don

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doushantuo

It's a pity ,but Don's economics are irrefutable

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Fossil-Hound

@FossilDAWG fair enough. Alright so I'm a current student of Johns Hopkins University. Would I be allowed to go by myself? Also I'm really surprised that the scouting program isn't allowed to partake in the fossil discoveries. You would think that RA would allow boy scouts to go through there.

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Fossildude19
12 hours ago, jsnrice said:

@Fossildude19 how do you know it's closed?

From the Reading Anthracite posting I read, fossil excavating is not listed as being prohibited. Can I drive up there ride my ATV around, sneak out grab a few rocks and carry them home? 

 

3 hours ago, jsnrice said:

@Fossildude19 I wasn't going to pick up any rocks, I'm just frustrated and don't see what the big deal is behind picking up a few specimens and was just being facetious

 

Like Don (FossilDawg) mentioned, there was no way for me to interpret that you were being facetious from your post.   That's why it's a good idea to use the emoticons. :) 

 

Had that been followed by a :P  or a :rolleyes:  I would have gotten your tone/meaning better. ;) 

 

And "the big deal"  is that it is their property,  to do with as they see fit.

All they need is some over eager collector with a rock saw chopping off an appendage or otherwise hurting themselves on the land, and here come the lawsuits, etc. 

I certainly wouldn't want to face that kind of legal threat. 

 

As frustrating as it is, that is why it is important to play by the rules, otherwise, one rotten apple spoils the barrel. :( 

 

The bottom line is : Their Property, Their Rules.   :zen:

 

7 minutes ago, jsnrice said:

Alright so I'm a current student of Johns Hopkins University. Would I be allowed to go by myself? 

 

I don't believe you would be allowed to go by yourself. It is possible they may let you in with a group, led by a geology professor. 

Regards,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fossil-Hound

@Fossildude19 I don't even own an ATV. :P I'll clarify my facetiousness upfront next time. ;) Alright I'll see what I can do. Perhaps they'll budge on letting the boy scouts in. I'll contact Donna.

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Kane

For better or worse, Don and Tim are correct. Also, even if RA were to bequeath the land to another owner, there is also the issue of rezoning - and that generally has to be paired against a municipal Official Plan if there exists some flexibility for introducing a bylaw for rezoning (in addition to potentially hosting a public notice of meeting for land use change). 

 

I think many of us feel your frustration. I live in a province where anything that has a tuft of green or has water running through it is either declared a provincial park, inter-municipal conservation area, or a local municipal public park - and in none of those areas are there generally allowances for collecting (or even walking off the established trails for fear of disrupting the delicate ecosystem). 

 

I suppose the flip-side is that it does prevent environmental despoliation by those with little respect for nature, but it is certainly disadvantageous for those of us here on the forum who do observe good collecting principles :(

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Kane

...and not to belabour the point (which is code for "I will" :P ), but there can generally be a lengthy process in decommissioning a mining area, pending environmental regulations and proposed zoning changes. Zoning is a very big deal, of course, due to its implications on tax rates, available sectorial stock, and municipal growth plans. Add in any of the regulations that might be required to convert the space into an educational area that go beyond the regular liability requirements, such as making it accessible for those with mobility issues, safety ramps/barriers, and whatever compliance would be required by a local school board or university/college. I've actually looked into this prospect (with PD in mind) with respect to a local quarry that has gone up for sale. The best I've seen was with a client that was able to convert an old quarry into a public swimming area, but only after a great deal of retrofit.

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FossilDAWG

Do you have a geology grad student club, and a faculty member who might be willing to take the lead in organizing a trip under an educational guise?  That might be worth a try.

 

Do you need some St Clair material for your research?  You may have some luck getting permission if you can document that, for example with support from your major professor and a copy of the grant funding the work.  I think RA is very much on guard against people just making up stories though, which is why they won't allow teachers to collect material for their classes without actual students being present.

 

Don

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Fossil-Hound

@FossilDAWG no I'm a Computer Science major but hey I'm still a student. :-) Alright well I don't think the student card will pass in these circumstances. Perhaps I can ask if I can take a boy scout troop. That would be really fun for the scouts and educational, plus I would collect some samples for the university. I have connections in the geology department.

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