Rock Hounding Etiquette
With all the rock hounding expeditions and the fact it is finally started to act like spring, we have been seeing and hearing about a lot of bad etiquette from our rock friends.
I thought it would be prudent to remind people of a few ground rules when rock hounding. I understand that these suggestions don’t apply to most of us. It is just a few who need a little reminder.
*A claim is public land that is being used, with permission from the governing authority, by someone or some company, to make money. For example, the Solarwind Claim is claimed by John Holfert and Jeremy Fuller for the purpose mining the topaz and bixbyite specimens. This means you can walk across the claim with no problem. However, if you bend over and pick up a rock, they can LEGALLY shoot you. I have never heard of this happening in Utah but I understand it is common in Alaska and other remote parts of the country.
So how do you know if you are someone’s claim? You don’t always know. If there is no signs and no one is around you may not realize you are on a claim. But when someone shows up and tells you that you are trespassing then you should move off. If you feel you are not trespassing then you will have to go to the governing agency’s office and do a little research and find out if you were or were not trespassing. GPS coordinates help. If you really think the person who asked you to leave is wrong, I recommend getting a name and license plate number, and a phone number. If they really are the claim owners they will not have a problem giving this info to you.
A good rule of thumb; an area that looks like it is being worked is probably a claim or active mine and you should avoid it.
*Our expeditions make arrangements with the land owners to collect. Going back to a private site to collect covertly, is the same as sneaking in a closed store and helping yourself to what ever you want. It is stealing.
You can be prosecuted for stealing or grand larceny. I don’t know of any mine owner that has prosecuted someone for this but it is a possibility. At a minimum you will get a $400 trespassing ticket—these are becoming more and more common.
Asking me how I collect without paying is the same as asking me how I steal. I do not trespass or collect on posted land without permission.
*If you pack it in, pack it out. This is a common courtesy to anyone who owns the land or may ever see the land. I think most of us will agree that it is just ugly to get somewhere in nature to find a discarded water bottle, beer can, or any other garbage.
*It is illegal to buy, sell, or trade anything you collect off of public land. This means if you find a piece of agate, you can not tumble it and then sell it. This is a standard practice that is not really policed. That doesn’t make it any less illegal.
*It is illegal to collect vertebrate fossils off of public land! There is no way around this!
*If you take your dog into the wild, keep track of it. No one likes stepping in a mess. No one likes listening to a dog bark when they are in the wild. No one likes being peed on by a dog. Yes, that has happened in the field with our groups.
*if you have something to add please do. We will revise this article and post it online and then email it out again.