Common Variety Mineral Materials (Sand, Gravel, Pumice, etc.)—Legal Instruments

The NPS Geologic Resources Division developed this article as part of a series to summarize laws, regulations, and policies that specifically apply to NPS minerals and geologic resources. The table below does not include laws of general application (e.g., Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Wilderness Act, National Environmental Policy Act, or National Historic Preservation Act). Also, the table does include the NPS Organic Act when it serves as the main authority for protection of a particular resource or when other, more specific laws are not available. Information is current as of December 2018. Contact the NPS Geologic Resources Division for detailed guidance.

Common Variety Mineral Materials (Sand, Gravel, Pumice, etc.)

Resource-specific Laws


Materials Act of 1947, 30 USC § 601

does not authorize the NPS to dispose of mineral materials outside of park units.

Reclamation Act of 1939, 43 USC §387

authorizes removal of common variety mineral materials from federal lands in federal reclamation projects. This act is cited in the enabling statutes for Glen Canyon and Whiskeytown National Recreation Areas, which provide that the Secretary of the Interior may permit the removal of federally owned nonleasable minerals such as sand, gravel, and building materials from the NRAs under appropriate regulations. Because regulations have not yet been promulgated, the National Park Service may not permit removal of these materials from these National Recreation Areas.

16 USC §90c-1(b)

authorizes sand, rock and gravel to be available for sale to the residents of Stehekin from the non-wilderness portion of Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, for local use as long as the sale and disposal does not have significant adverse effects on the administration of the national recreation area.

Resource-specific Regulations


None applicable.

2006 Management Policies


Section 9.1.3.3

clarifies that only the NPS or its agent can extract park-owned common variety minerals (e.g., sand and gravel), and:

  • only for park administrative uses;
  • after compliance with NEPA and other federal, state, and local laws, and a finding of non-impairment;
  • after finding the use is park’s most reasonable alternative based on environment and economics;
  • parks should use existing pits and create new pits only in accordance with park-wide borrow management plan;
  • spoil areas must comply with Part 6 standards; and
  • NPS must evaluate use of external quarries.

Any deviation from this policy requires a written waiver from the Secretary, Assistant Secretary, or Director.

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Last updated: October 9, 2019