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Recreational Rockhounding is defined as the Non-Commercial collecting of Rocks, Minerals and Fossils, according to established laws, rules and regulations, for personal and educational use, see:

Part 8365 of Title 43 CFR [Code of Federal Regulations], which provides for the collecting of “reasonable quantities” of rocks, minerals, semiprecious gemstones, and invertebrate and plant fossils of non-scientific importance, for personal use.

Legal Definition of Recreational Rockhounding as defined in Title 43 CFR.......

§ 8365.1-5 Property and resources.

(a) On all public lands, unless otherwise authorized, no person shall;

(1) Willfully deface, disturb, remove or destroy any personal property, or structures, or any scientific, cultural, archaeological or historic resource, natural object or area;

(2) Willfully deface, remove or destroy plants or their parts, soil, rocks or minerals, or cave resources, except as permitted under paragraph (b) or (c) of this paragraph; or

(3) Use on the public lands explosive, motorized or mechanical devices, except metal detectors, to aid in the collection of specimens permitted under paragraph (b) or (c) of this paragraph.

(b) Except on developed recreation sites and areas, or where otherwise prohibited and posted, it is permissible to collect from the public lands reasonable amounts of the following for noncommercial purposes:

(1) Commonly available renewable resources such as flowers, berries, nuts, seeds, cones and leaves;

(2) Nonrenewable resources such as rock and mineral specimens, common invertebrate and common plant fossils, and semiprecious gemstones;

(3) Petrified wood as provided under subpart 3622 of this title;

(4) Mineral materials as provided under subpart 3604; and

(5) Forest products for use in campfires on the public lands. Other collection of forest products shall be in accordance with the provisions of Group 5500 of this title.

(c) The collection of renewable or nonrenewable resources from the public lands for sale or barter to commercial dealers may be done only after obtaining a contract or permit from an authorized officer in accordance with part 3600 or 5400 of this chapter.

[48 FR 36384, Aug. 10, 1983; 67 FR 68778, Nov. 13, 2002; 75 FR 27455, May 17, 2010]

Source: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/43/8365.1-5

More on Code of Federal Regulations can be found at http://www.amlands.org/6652/index.html near bottom of page under United States Code - Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

Happy Rockhounding and Enjoy Your Public Lands

More Information on Public Lands  Title 43 Public Lands: Interior Department