Monday, May 17, 2010

Tweak to BLM Fossil Collecting Regulations (No Change in Policy)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a final rule today (May 17, 2010) that, among other provisions, corrects an omission in existing regulations concerning collection of fossils on public lands. It’s just a tweak, though it may be of some interest to those following the implementation of the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (P.L. 111-11).

Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 8360, governs visitor services and rules of conduct applicable to recreation areas on federal public lands administered by the BLM. Previously, the regulations at 43 CFR 8365.1-5(b), which allowed visitors to these public lands to collect certain nonrenewable resources, did not reflect actual BLM policy because they omitted common plant fossils as a type of fossil that could be collected. This final rule amends this regulation to state that visitors to these public lands are permitted to collect “reasonable amounts of the following for noncommercial purposes: . . . (2) Nonrenewable resources such as rock and mineral specimens, common invertebrate and common plant fossils, and semiprecious gemstones . . . .” This is current BLM policy which has already been in line with the PRPA provisions.

PRPA Regulation Pipeline

PRPA regs are somewhere in the pipeline. In the supplementary material to today’s rule, the BLM states that proposed rules on the PRPA will be released “in the near future.”

Interestingly, this statement was made in the context of a discussion of two comments that called on the BLM to clarify its policy prohibiting sale or barter of fossils collected on BLM land by commercial collectors, as well as by hobbyists. The BLM response is a bit confusing to me. It notes that certain terms in the PRPA concerning casual collecting will have to be defined and, so, it is not necessary to address this issue at this juncture. Not sure I understand the relationship between the question being raised about the application of the sale and barter prohibition to the terms used in defining casual collecting.

Forget my confusion, the issue about sale or barter does remind me about how many aspects of the proposed PRPA regulations are likely to cause folks to lose their cool and enter the irrational zone.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the heads up. I knew they had been working on this recently but had not heard what all was new with it. Good to know!


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