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BLM to Grab 3 Million Acres In Idaho

BLM to Grab 3 Million Acres In Idaho

3 million acres of prime rockhound territory in Idaho is about to be grabbed by the BLM……..of course, it’s for the Sage Grouse, right?  What other reason would the government be taking mineralized land away from the American public hand over fist.

I haven’t gotten an answer to my question of why the Sage Grouse, which I’ve seen neither more or fewer of in recent decades, only seem to be in trouble where the land is highly mineralized and should be rightfully protected for our use by current law.

Here is a link to the article in the region’s local paper:

This “environmental” action is actually a threat to the people and towns in the effected area – as are such areas in other states fighting the same BLM land grabs. These little towns thrive on the tourism from these mineral rich lands. When the BLM decides to shut down whole towns, we need to start taking a lot closer look at what they are actually doing.

The letter below, written by Gerald Gibeault, President of the Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral society will give you more information about the situation, and

Gerald Gibeault President                                                                                                         Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral Society                                                                                           2246 Brandon Dr.                                                                                                                             Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402 March 2, 2017


Subject: BLM to Ban Rockhounding with Hand Tools in Areas Targeted by the Draft Environmental Statement (EIS) for the proposed Sagebrush Focal Area Withdrawal.

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is written to local jurisdictions on behalf of the Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral Society and recreational rockhounds everywhere. As president of the Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral Society, I am concerned that the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Sagebrush Focal Area Withdrawal could be bad news for recreational rockhounding in our Gem State. Specifically, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to ban recreation rockhounding using hand tools in withdrawn areas. Only surface collection will be allowed.

I attended BLM’s EIS Public Meetings on February 16, 2017 in Idaho Falls and in Boise on February 24, 2017. I also discussed my concerns in a follow-up telephone call with Mr. Adam Merrill (BLM Geologist, Washington D.C. Office) on March 3, 2017. Mr. Merrill said that he had spent some time with the BLM’s lawyers discussing the rockhounding concerns that I had raised with him previously. I’ve summarized my understanding of the conversation with Mr. Merrill below:

As the BLM lawyers see it, the problem boils downs to whether or not the 1872 Mining Act (mining act) is in force. According to the lawyers, the mining act authorizes public right to locatable minerals on Federal land. While the rules that apply to rockhounding may be different from those that apply to hard rock mining operations, both get their authority to access locatable minerals from the mining act. Withdrawing land from the mining act also withdraws the public’s authorization to collect locatable minerals. It must be noted that the public will still be allowed to pick up rocks off the surface; but materials collected on the surface are typically very weather, fractured and therefore of little use to rockhounds.

The text shown below was taken from a BLM website:

“The federal law governing locatable minerals is the General Mining Law of 1872 (May 10, 1872), which declared all valuable mineral deposits belonging to the United States … to be free and open to citizens of the United States to explore for, discover, and purchase.”

“Mineral deposits subject to acquisition in this manner are generally referred to as “locatable minerals.” Locatable minerals include metallic minerals (gold, silver, lead, copper, zinc, nickel, etc.), nonmetallic minerals (fluorspar, mica, certain limestones and gypsum, tantalum, heavy minerals in placer form and gemstones) and certain uncommon variety minerals. It is very difficult to prepare a complete list of locatable minerals because the history of the law has resulted in a definition of minerals that includes economics.”

What every Idahoan should know!

Approximately 3 million acres are targeted for withdrawal in Idaho. Affected areas include much of the land in and around the Lost River basin between Challis and Arco, much of the Lost River mountain range, as well as huge swaths of land around Carey. Some of these areas are prime rockhounding country. If the proposal proceeds as currently planned, the public will no longer have access to the locatable minerals in the withdrawn areas for the next 20 years. For example, I will not be allowed to collect a piece of tube agate near the Doyle Creek road for the rest of my life!

How are local jurisdictions affected?

Idaho is called the Gem State for a reason. We live in a mineral paradise. Rockhounding is a tourist attraction. Because of our fortunate geology visitors are drawn to Idaho from around the world. The minerals of interest to rockhounds typically include jaspers, agates, and other minerals and rocks that have little or no commercial value. Rockhounds start with rough materials and create beauty. The activity provides an opportunity for both the young and the old to enjoy areas of our backcountry that are seldom visited by others.

Rockhounds stay in hotels and campgrounds, eat at restaurants, and buy gas and supplies. Revenue flows into communities with no more investment or effort than allowing access to minerals in nearby Federal lands.

What to do?

Help rockhounding survive in your area. PLEASE write a comment and send it to the BLM. Send a note to your congressman too. We are the Gem State! We live in a mineral paradise! Rockhounds are not a threat to sage-grouse habitat! There has to be a reasonable solution.

A sample comment form is attached at the end of this letter. A comment may also be submitted by email.

The last day to submit comments to the BLM is March 30, 2017. The BLM has to receive comments by that date. So, allow time for delivery if you use postal services.

Thank you for considering our concerns.

Gerry Gibeault (contact redacted to prevent spam)

HERE IS THE ONLINE COMMENT FORM for the Sage Brush Focal Area:

Sage Brush Focal Area Withdrawal Comment Form

Here is the map of that land that they are set to grab:

Other Links:

Contact information for BLM:

BLM information about sage grouse:


Watch Out Quartzite – Here We Come

Watch Out Quartzite – Here We Come

Well ya had to know that if there’s a going to be a huge rock and gem jamboree going on that someone from RSH1 would cut loose and invade the place. Some of us aren’t happy going and browsing, either. They have to haul trailers of rock down and put up their own booths.

Then there’s Tony Funk (RHS1 member catmandewe). He doesn’t just put up his own booth – he stakes territory!


What the heck is Tony going to do with that much space? I had to ask, of course.  I got  a big answer:

I have several tons of rough, thousands of slabs, and quite a bit of

used equipment. I am also a Diamond Pacific dealer and can get customers a decent discount on equipment or material from Diamond Pacific which is right next door.

New stuff this year is a fresh batch of Amethyst Sage dendritic agate, a large Oregon Opal Butte thunderegg that was just split open with some killer opal in it, Sugilite from the Calahari Desert, some old stock Needles blue, Bruneau jasper, Morrisonite jasper, Davis Creek sheen obsidian, and much more.

Not only is the rock going to be spectacular – it looks like he’s planning on some live action while he’s there, too.


If you want to get in on some of the action down there, here’s Tony’s show address for you.

Desert Gardens Gem and Mineral show in spaces A22/B22 in the front row right next to theDiamond Pacific building.


Mike Quinn (RHS1 member MikeyRocks) is also going to be part of the show there and has staked ground at:

D-17-18 in Desert Gardens.

We haven’t heard hide nor hair from Mikey since he started getting his excrement coagulated…I mean…um…..getting his stock ready for the show, so hope we’ll get some pics from Mike before everyone heads down to Quartzite to see what deals they can grab.

Don’t be surprised if you just happen to run into a few of the other members from RHS1 hanging around the place, too.

The more the merrier – drop by and say hi to a few of our favorite guys at RHS1 while you’re at the show.  They are extremely knowledgeable and entertaining.  It won’t take you very long to find out why we love em so much!

We’ve also found out that Diane (RHS1 member Drocknut) will also be visiting the guys there, so would like to put out a public service request to please keep your trees leashed at all times.


Meet the RHS1 Members: Quartzite Rock and Gem Show Vendors

Meet the RHS1 Members: Quartzite Rock and Gem Show Vendors

If you’ve been keeping up with the RHS1 forum, you’re pretty much familiar with the consensus that our members are just loads of fun and chocked full of great info.  Well, we are.  We just really are.

It’s not always easy for people to get to our meetups to share in the revelry, though.   So…….

I thought you might like to know of a few RHS1 members that have booths at the Quartzite Rock and Gem show this year, so if you’re headed in that direction and have always wanted to meet some of the RHS1 forum members live and personal – now is your chance.

Tony Funk (RHS1 member catmandewe) not only entertains us with his wit and hilarious antics, he’s also a treasure chest of information about everything from rock ID and hunting to lapidary arts.  I know when I have questions, Tony is my favorite go-to guy in the pack. You can meet Tony live and personal with a good size portion of his tons (literally) of great rocks at Quartzite.

Tony’s location at the show is:

Desert Gardens AB22

right next to the Desert Gardens building.

He’s supplied me a pic of his space so you’ll know what you’re looking for:

Tony's (RHS1 member: catmandewe) display.

Another member we have at the show this year is Mike Quinn (RHS1 member MikeyRocks).  Mike’s a terrific guy with a great sense of humor and a head full of knowledge about rock and lapidary he’s just waiting to spill.   He’s also got some pretty impressive piles of rock and supplies for ya this year.  Mike’s been away from the forum trying to catch up on a lot of life before the show so I don’t have a pic for you at this time – but I’ve got his location there.

Mike’s  is running 2 booths, one  at Desert Gardens: space H14

and one over by Rice Ranch which is more of a working booth.

Of course, while you are hanging out with these two – don’t forget that there may just be other RHS1 members hanging around with them as well that you might be able to entice to head out on a hunt with while you are there!

I’ll update this notice if anyone has information or pics for me to add.