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Permits To Collect On National Monuments?


DeepTimeIsotopes

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DeepTimeIsotopes

With the designation of two new national monuments, several fossil and mineral localities have been barred from collection. In light of this, is there a way for amateur collectors to gain access to fossil hunting in these places? What does having a permit entail and require?

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Having a masters at least in a geology related field and a museum who signs off that you're collecting for them basically 

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DeepTimeIsotopes
2 hours ago, smt126 said:

Having a masters at least in a geology related field and a museum who signs off that you're collecting for them basically 

Alright, thank you. I'm going to look into this more.

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I believe, at least in Colorado, anything you collect has to go to that museum with proper paperwork reported to the state as well.

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Utah is fighting the designation. This may be turned over in court.

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Not sure about inverts,but vertebrates have been off limits there since the beginning of time as it was all BLM land to begin with.  I am in the process of reading the new paleo guidelines; not sure how they apply to National Monuments.  And is there a difference between NM's run by the Park Service and those run by the BLM?  

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1 hour ago, zekky said:

Nope, a preview of what they want to do with entire country. 

Who is "they", what is it "they" want to do, and what is your evidence for that?  They want to designate the entire country a national monument?

 

Don

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The new law covering public federal lands does not "block all fossil collecting on federal land".  In fact it establishes in law that people have a right to collect invertebrates and plants.  Previously local BLM managers (and Forest Service managers) could block collecting on a whim, now they can't do that.  Certainly, some limits are imposed, you can't open up a large quarry.  Also vertebrate fossils have been off limits without a permit for a long time, this law does nothing new in that regard.  Anyone who has been collecting vertebrate fossils without a permit from federal land has been breaking the law for many years.

 

Regarding the new National Monuments, would you say those areas have nothing worth protecting?  Existing grazing and even oil/gas permits will be grandfathered in, so no rancher who depends on that land will be put out of business.  Existing use of the land for gathering herbs and for religious ceremonies by Native American tribes will also continue.  It has been reported that there are significant archeological sites that have been illegally looted for years, so maybe some additional resources will be available for the proper study and conservation of those sites.  On the other hand you won't be able to open a giant open-pit mine or build a subdivision in those areas, that is true.

 

Don

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No, it blocks fossil collecting. You can only collecting if you aren't out looking for fossils. So if you have a tool or intend to collect fossils and do, under the new law you would have committed a crime. The only acceptable way to collect a fossil would be if you whether for a hike and stumbled across a fossil and could prove you didn't go in the hike to collect fossils. 

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2 hours ago, zekky said:

No, it blocks fossil collecting. You can only collecting if you aren't out looking for fossils. So if you have a tool or intend to collect fossils and do, under the new law you would have committed a crime. The only acceptable way to collect a fossil would be if you whether for a hike and stumbled across a fossil and could prove you didn't go in the hike to collect fossils. 

I haven't read the thing yet but plan to.  What paragraph is this in so I can look for it?

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I think Zekky's comment goes back to a point I mentioned earlier about how the BLM proposed rules differ from the Forest Service rules.  The Forest Service adopted a ridiculous definition of "casual collecting" as "by happenstance, not planned", which does fit the description Zekky posted.  The proposed BLM rules explicitly define "casual collecting" as collecting up to 25 pounds/day of common invertebrate or plant fossils.  There are also limitations on tools (only tools that can be used with one hand, so rock hammers/small picks OK, mattocks and full sized shovels not OK) and you can dig up an area of only 1 square yard (which you must refill).  Although these restrictions are limiting, they certainly do not constitute a ban on fossil collecting.

 

Don

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Oh Boy! I just printed up 24 pages worth of Governmentese to ingest.  

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DeepTimeIsotopes
5 hours ago, jpc said:

Oh Boy! I just printed up 24 pages worth of Governmentese to ingest.  

Let us know if you make it out alive.:ighappy:

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It's 25 pounds per day, 100 pounds total per year.  Not 25 pounds a year.

 

I don't know what kind of collecting you do, maybe that is a big limitation for you.  However it doesn't make for a strong argument when you don't have the facts straight.  This is the open comment period, you do have an opportunity to register objections to the proposed rules (for what that's worth), but complaining about rules that don't exist won't get much traction.  The link you provided has an excellent section on how to comment on the proposed rules, I'd suggest everyone read it.

 

Realistically, limitations like 100 pounds/year are almost impossible to enforce.  How would any BLM official be able to determine that you removed 110 pounds, or even 200 pounds over the course of a year and issue you a ticket?  Especially after the specimens have been prepped and excess matrix discarded?  Now if someone was caught with 500 pounds of rock in the bed of their truck they might have some explaining to do.  Along the same lines, determining what is common and what is rare in a field collection is likely beyond the capabilities of most collectors and (I surmise) most BLM officers.  I could legally pick up 20 pounds of brachiopods, for example, and that sample would contain a couple of hundred specimens and dozens of species.  It's possible that one or two specimens would be "rare" but to actually know that I would have to clean and ID every specimen in the field.  It would be impossible to prove in court that someone had knowingly collected a rare specimen.

 

The proposed rules do impose significant limits, and they do (at least in theory) create the potential for problems if you "casually" collect a specimen and only later realize it is scientifically significant and try to donate it to a museum.  They also create some irrational complications if you want to take a class or a scout troop (for two examples amongst many possible) on a collecting trip.  One would hope that the comment period would be an opportunity to get those issues straightened out.

 

Congress passed the "Paleontological Resources Protection Act" in 2009, and so the BLM is required to develop rules for how the law is to be implemented.  Simply ignoring the law is not an option.  The law uses terms like "reasonable amount" and "negligible disturbance", but it requires the BLM/NFS/NPS etc to define them through the rule-making process.  Perhaps unfortunately "reasonable amount" will never be defined as "as much as you can fit in a dump truck", and "negligible disturbance" will never be defined as "a hole big enough to hide a battleship".  At this point comments based on real world experience of how the proposed rules are unworkable or create undesirable side effects (such as punishing collectors who decide to donate specimens to research) might get some attention and that's about the best we can do.

 

Don

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It bears mentioning that there are two issues here: 1) the proposed BLM rules (which we have been discussing, more or less, and 2) the national monuments issue.  Unfortunately as far as I can understand from trying to read the rules, it is not clear that even "casual collecting" (with all its limitations) will be allowed to continue in the newly designated national monuments.  As far as I can tell, the default assumption would be that all "paleontological resources" would be "protected" in BLM-administered national monuments unless the managers decide otherwise.  I guess time will tell, but to be on the safe side locals should ask. :(

 

Don

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This website has been pulled together by a dedicated group of amateur paleos/collectors to provide info and encourage all to submit your comments to the proposed rules around fossil collecting on public lands. Public comment period ends on February 6.  The site is

https://www.savefossilcollecting.org

 

 

I am up in Canada and suspect what happens in US could eventually be implemented in my province.  what a crime it would be if collecting was effectively banned.  Amateurs have made so many discoveries that have contributed to science. In the last ten years or so, as an example, my collecting partner and I have identified over 35 new trilobites (including new species, and new occurrences of previously described species) in our area, resulting in significant donations to universities and a local museum. 

 

Encourage you you all to check out the website

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@newdog65

 

Although this link has been posted earlier in this topic, I have merged your separate topic as a post into this one.  We need more visibility on these issues before the comment period is over. 

 

Thanks for the reminder.  ;)

 

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Links to this discussion and the proposed regulations can now be found on the right side of our home page. 

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On 12/29/2016 at 8:04 AM, Plax said:

Utah is fighting the designation. This may be turned over in court.

I certainly hope Utah wins. We need more government like we need a hole in the head! I hope the Trump administration takes a look at this proposed "rulemaking" and tosses it in the wastecan.

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I certainly hope not.  Humanity is taking over the planet and we need to set aside large pieces of just plain old Earth so that the human cancer can't mess it up even more. 

 

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