Rules and Regulations Regarding Rock, Mineral, and Fossil Collecting in Utah

PLEASE REMEMBER:

Dinosaur and other vertebrate fossils may not be collected on any federal or state lands except by permits issued to accredited institutions.

The collection of projectile points, pottery, or any other archeological resource or artifact is not allowed without a permit. Projectile points include ‘arrowheads’ and any prehistoric human-modified stone.

Do not use blasting materials and/or firearms in collecting areas.

Only remove small reasonable amounts of material for personal use.

Safety Tips:

Rockhounding can be a potentially dangerous hobby. To minimize the risk of injury, please take the necessary steps to prepare and protect yourself before rockhounding.

  • When working with tools, wear protective equipment when working with tools such as eye protection, gloves, and a hard hat.
  • Do not work alone and let someone else know your schedule.
  • Carry a first aid kit, sun protection, and plenty of water.
  • Watch for others and when on slopes never work directly above or below anyone.
  • Do not enter abandoned mines or shafts.

Collecting Rules

Utah’s rock, mineral, and fossil collectors must adhere to rules and regulations established by owners or managing agencies of the lands on which they wish to collect.

Prior to collecting, rockhounds should determine ownership of the lands they intend to visit and familiarize themselves with the regulations that apply to collecting on those lands. Consult surface-management status maps (online or sold by various agencies and outlets, including the Utah Geological Survey and the Bureau of Land Management) or site-specific land-ownership maps online by county or state.

Utah’s lands are managed by the federal government (Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Indians), state government (Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration), and private owners (including local governments). Rockhounding permits may be required to collect on some government lands, and permission is required to collect on private lands.

Federal Lands

About 67 percent of Utah’s lands are managed by the federal government. Most of this land is open to collecting except for National Parks, most National Monuments, American Indian lands, military reservations, dam sites, and wildlife refuges.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands:

Except where posted or on developed recreation sites, the casual collector may collect reasonable amounts of specimens. BLM sets the “reasonable” limits for personal use as up to 25 pounds per day, plus one piece, with a total limit of 250 pounds per year. These limits are for mineral specimens, common invertebrate fossils, semiprecious gemstones, and other rocks. Surface disturbance must be negligible.

Collection of large quantities or for commercial purposes requires a permit from the BLM. Commercial collecting of fossils is not allowed. The use of explosives and/or power equipment is forbidden. You may collect in wilderness and wilderness study areas so long as there is no surface disturbance.

Petrified wood may be collected for personal use up to 25 pounds plus one piece per day up to a maximum of 250 pounds per calendar year. Use of explosives and/or power equipment is forbidden. Collectors wishing to resell their petrified wood specimens must obtain a permit.

Contact BLM Field Offices

BLM Rockhounding Rules and Regulations (PDF)

U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Lands:

Limited collection of rocks, minerals, and common invertebrate or plant fossils (such as shells, leaf imprints, corals, etc.), for personal use is allowed on most National Forest System lands. These materials may be collected without a permit provided the collecting is for personal, hobby, and noncommercial use. For commercial other uses of this material, contact the local Forest Service Office.

Recreational Mineral Collecting

Hobby Collecting of Fossils and Petrified Wood

Contact the local Ranger District

U.S. Forest Service Rockhounding Rules and Regulations (PDF)

U.S. Forest Service lands in Utah are located in the USFS Intermountain Region (Region 4).

State Lands

Most state-owned property is managed by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (Trust Lands) and a rockhounding permit is required to collect on these lands. A fee is charged for the annual permit.

Rockhounds may collect up to 25 pounds per day and a maximum of 250 pounds per year. This permit does not authorize collection in areas where active mining operations are in progress or in areas that are leased for the mineral being collected unless permission is obtained from the lessee. The permit does not authorize collection on other state-administered lands, such as state parks.

Commercial collectors must follow specific regulations and obtain a mineral lease or materials permit.

Trust Lands Administration Rockhounding Information

Private Lands

To access or collect on privately owned lands, collectors must contact and obtain permission from the owners prior to entering the property.