Recreational Collection of Rocks and Minerals—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.

Recreational Collection of Rocks and Minerals

Resource-specific Laws


NPS Organic Act, 54 USC. § 100101

et seq. directs the NPS to conserve all resources in parks (which includes rock and mineral resources) unless otherwise authorized by law.

Exception: 16 USC. § 445c (c)

Pipestone National Monument enabling statute. Authorizes American Indian collection of catlinite (red pipestone).

Resource-specific Regulations


36 C.F.R. § 2.1

prohibits possessing, destroying, disturbing mineral resources…in park units.

Exception: 36 C.F.R. § 7.91

allows limited gold panning in Whiskeytown.

Exception: 36 C.F.R. § 13.35

allows some surface collection of rocks and minerals in some Alaska parks (not Klondike Gold Rush, Sitka, Denali, Glacier Bay, and Katmai) by non-disturbing methods (e.g., no pickaxes), which can be stopped by superintendent if collection causes significant adverse effects on park resources and visitor enjoyment.

2006 Management Policies


Section 4.8.2 requires NPS

to protect geologic features from adverse effects of human activity.

Related Links

Last updated: October 9, 2019