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Thecosmilia Trichitoma

California fossil laws

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Thecosmilia Trichitoma

There are many laws that should be known in California. The consequences of these laws include fines and sometimes even prison. One of the most important laws  in California is that there is no fossil collecting on Federal land. If you want to collect fossils on Federal land, you need to have a special permit and you have to donate all specimens to a museum, university etc. On BLM land, you are allowed to collect common invertebrate fossils.  However, you need a special permit to sell or trade any fossils that you find on BLM land. You need permission from landowners to collect on private land.  Research other laws. One of the best ways to fossil hunt without worrying about laws is to volunteer on museum or university fossil digs. Overall, research laws before you fossil hunt, not after.

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JohnJ

Posting fossils and/or hunting trips that are clearly illegally obtained or in violation of local laws is not permitted on TFF.  To start a topic about California fossil laws is fine.  To publicly point out any specific violations should not be the direction this topic takes.  A PM to a member of the Staff would be appropriate. 

 

(Responders to this topic are asked to please keep in perspective that the OP is a CHILD MEMBER.  Thank you.)

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ynot
6 hours ago, Thecosmilia Trichitoma said:

One of the most important laws  in California is that there is no fossil collecting on Federal land. 

There is no collecting of vertebrate material on any federal land, BLM, national forest or other. (shark teeth are an exception.)

There is no fossil or rock collecting in any national parks or monuments.

You can collect plant and invertebrate fossils on BLM and national forest lands, but there are some limitations and rules that dictate amounts and uses.

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jpc
15 minutes ago, ynot said:

There is no collecting of vertebrate material on any federal land, BLM, national forest or other. (shark teeth are an exception.)

There is no fossil or rock collecting in any national parks or monuments.

You can collect plant and invertebrate fossils on BLM and national forest lands, but there are some limitations and rules that dictate amounts and uses.

I work with the BLM a lot, and shark teeth are NOT an exception.  No shark tooth collecting on BLM land.  I don't imagine the rules change form state to state... it is all federal land.  Collecting plants and inverts is allowed, but you are not allowed to sell or trade these.  

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Thecosmilia Trichitoma

My research said that there was no fossil hunting on public land, although I might be wrong.

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Walt

80 FR 21588

2015-08483.pdf

Always stop at the BLM office and ask. It is their interpretation that counts in their management area 

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DPS Ammonite

Here is a BLM page with links to the rules/laws for fossil collecting on Federal land. The BLM has proposed rules while the Forest Service has published the final version of theirs: https://www.blm.gov/programs/cultural-resources/paleontology

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PalmaShell

I think some of these laws are pretty stupid. I get why some of them exist, but why should we have to give up what we find that hasn't been dug up? They weren't pets that belonged to anybody. If i'm reading this wrong, and I probably am, IMO if it hasn't disturbed anything by being dug up, no matter the fossil, we should be able to do what we want with it. 

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Walt

Real life scenario. 

You find an important fossil. You dont have the equipment, money, or savy to excavate it. So you dig out the best bits to sell and the rest is lost. That is why these laws exist. 

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PalmaShell

That's the part I understand lol, but if I can get it out without disturbing anything, why can't I keep it? Why does a museum have to have it?

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FossilDAWG

If it is on public land it belongs to everyone, not just to you.  It is presumed (perhaps not always correctly, but it is still presumed) that all vertebrates fossils are rare and of scientific importance.  For that reason vertebrates fossils should be collected by researchers who can recover the most information from the context (exact stratigraphy, associated fossils, taphonomy etc), it should be studied and published by paleontologists who can extract the most information (evolutionary significance for example), and it should be deposited in a museum where it will permanently be available for study.  In this way the public (or society if you prefer) gains the maximum benefit from a fossil we all "own".

 

If you find a scientifically important fossil on public land and keep it for yourself you have deprived all other citizens of their ownership and the information that could have been derived from it.  Information has value.  

 

Suppose you are hiking in a national park and you come to a place with a spectacular view.  Would you say "no-one is using this property so I'm going to claim it and build my house here so I can enjoy this view every day?  Hopefully not.  Scientifically important fossils have a lot in common with other valuable property on public land, they should be used in a way that brings the most value to everybody.

At least, that's the theory.

 

Don

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PalmaShell

Yeah, I'm completely new to this. While I agree some stuff should go to a museum, I don't think all of it should. I don't know anything about fossil collecting as I've just started, but say I find something that I can easily find on online, is that something I can keep even though it would go for $500 plus? Shark teeth are all I have at the moment and I still think those shouldn't have to be worried about as it's been left in an ocean by nature. Then again, I'm more of a live off the earth kinda guy so my views are different from others.

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Raggedy Man
1 hour ago, PalmaShell said:

Yeah, I'm completely new to this. While I agree some stuff should go to a museum, I don't think all of it should. I don't know anything about fossil collecting as I've just started, but say I find something that I can easily find on online, is that something I can keep even though it would go for $500 plus? Shark teeth are all I have at the moment and I still think those shouldn't have to be worried about as it's been left in an ocean by nature. Then again, I'm more of a live off the earth kinda guy so my views are different from others.

Please understand this is not a "im judging you post". This comment right here is why many sites that were once open to collecting are now closed and off limits to collecting. Again not judging or trying to seem like a killjoy. Its just the way it is.

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Raggedy Man

By the way, these "California laws" are faily common throughout the US. 

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PalmaShell

No offense taken. This is a forum with words on a screen. I don't wanna start off here on the wrong foot. I just think some of the laws can be dumb at times. I actually just bought a book so I can learn more about fossils and whatnot. I get people want them in museums cause of scientific value, but some stuff I would like to keep to myself without consequences (mainly not scientific valuable items). I feel that if you found it, you should choose what to do with it. I'm not here for my 15 minutes of fame for something found, but at the same time, I feel that if I did donate anything I would want the recognition and ability to see it and study it myself whenever I wanted. I think it's more about possession. I don't want a photo to remember something. I like to look over to my desk and actually see the item. 

That being said, I don't have a collection and I'm sure i'd get tired of stuff if I had one. All I have are a few shark teeth and ammonites and a trilobite cast. That's all I need for now until I can start hitting up spots to check out. 

On a side note, I was told you need to get some sort of permit from a university to collect fossils... Not sure if that's true but that was the main reason I came to this topic actually and didn't see it covered. If so, where would I aquire one?

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DPS Ammonite
5 hours ago, PalmaShell said:

On a side note, I was told you need to get some sort of permit from a university to collect fossils... Not sure if that's true but that was the main reason I came to this topic actually and didn't see it covered. If so, where would I aquire one?

The Federal Government (and not universities) issues permits that allow properly credentialed persons (often with university affiliations) to collect fossils that must be placed into a legal repository. You sometimes can collect fossils under another person's permit as long as you are properly supervised by the permittee.

 

Consider joining a local paleontological society where you have more opportunity to collect fossils under another person's permit. Check out the Southern California Paleontological Society: http://www.socalpaleo.com/

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PalmaShell

 

6 minutes ago, DPS Ammonite said:

The Federal Government (and not universities) issues permits that allow properly credentialed persons (often with university affiliations) to collect fossils that must be placed into a legal repository. You sometimes can collect fossils under another person's permit as long as you are properly supervised by the permittee.

 

Consider joining a local paleontological society where you have more opportunity to collect fossils under another person's permit.

Ah thanks. I will look into that for sure. 

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JohnBrian

Wonder what would happen to me if I found mammoth ivory on my private property in California? And yes, that is a serious question.

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ynot
20 hours ago, JohnBrian said:

on my private property in California?

If it is on private property it is part of that property and is owned by the landowner.

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jpc

Yes, fossils on private property belong to the landowner.  If you find a mammoth tusk on private property, what happens to it is between you and the landowner.  If you collect it without his/her permission, that is called theft.  

 

While I also think the BLM rules leave plenty of room for improvement, they are the rules, and we a a group should p;lay by the rules so as not to get a bad name.  A bad name is what has gotten us basically outlawed an many many many private quarries.  That bad name may not come directly form fossilers, but anyone who has been allowed in (or not) and later tried to sue the quarry owners.  

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