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Category: Rock and gem hunting

The 2017 RHS1 Meet-up: Central Oregon

The 2017 RHS1 Meet-up: Central Oregon

We had a pretty small group this year, but we had a great time and found some nice rocks.

I picked out a pretty large campsite area since we were expecting a few people that ended up not being able to get there.  There was a lot of good conversation between sleep and hunting.

I arrived about 5 minutes before Dan (Danointhenw) and his pal Rick (Scorpion King) drove in. Not much of a nap.

After they set up camp we decided to go explore an area that produced some great wood for some of us before.  I was extremely disappointed to see the area either so blown over or picked over (or both) that there were few signs left that it had once been a productive area. Even the jasper outcrops were gone and for the most part, the roads were grown over to almost being untraversable.

Later, back at camp, Matt (Oxenkiller) made a late arrival.

The next day we headed out to my green wood area.  Luck seemed to be with us there.  Rick came ready to haul some big finds, and he was well rewarded for it.

Dan found some great color variations:

Matt took his home and cleaned them up a bit before taking pics:

The weather was pretty warm but not seasonally hot.  It was beautiful in the shade of the trees, where I ended up resting frequently just absorbing the scenery.

The next day the guys wanted to hunt something a little different and we headed off to glass butte, which still has plenty of good rock to go around.

We ended up doing a little climbing for the red and black that seemed to be a favorite with all of us.  Matt’s favorite was a chunk with more red than black in it.

I got the prize of the day with a chunk of gold sheen.  The swirls are inside the rock – the face is smooth although it looks layered in the pic.

The next day, with everyone else on their way home, I wanted to check out the Camp Creek site so went into Paulina to get gas from the one pump East of Prineville in a lot of miles.  I was a little shocked to find it $3.89 per gallon!

I was glad the guys had opted for Glass Butte the day before.  The Camp Creek site was hunted out to a point it hurt to see it. There were a few very small pieces of limb cast in one area that was once rich with nice ones. Even those were few and far between.  The roads, other than the main one through, are disintegrating, and it was rough maneuvering to my favorite spots out there.  Being designated a wilderness area, it’s  highly unlikely that those roads will be repaired.  So my time there was short and I said a sad farewell to another area that will belong to Oregon’s rockhounding past.

On my way to Hwy 20 I did a little exploring here and there, and picked up a few little, plain agates, but didn’t find any other areas with any concentrations of something exciting.  There was one road I traveled for a ways, but it got rough enough that I thought it might be better to explore when I had a tailgater or two with me. I’m a little beyond liking long walkouts any more.

 

 

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:

http://freerangereport.com/index.php/2017/03/06/blm-idaho-management-plan-to-prohibit-hobby-rock-collecting/

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:

https://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/minerals/locatable/locatable_minerals.print.html

“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:

http://blm-egis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=45b2d7896c36467aac3990b739d75a26

Other Links:

Contact information for BLM:

https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/Dear_Reader_Final.pdf

BLM information about sage grouse:

https://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/sagegrouse.html

 

Rock Hunting North of Winnemucca

Rock Hunting North of Winnemucca

My adventure last week up in the more northerly areas of Central Nevada was a pretty hot trip at this time of year.  Luckily there was a reservoir to cool off at and also a mountain road that was wooded and had a few springs and creeks to explore when the midday sun was blazing — not to mention a great hot springs to soak in as the sun set.

The rocks were really not located at “sites”.  They were just scattered around the landscapes so I did a lot of driving and stopping here and there and wandering around.  Most of the rock were almost stereotypical for what I’ve seen in the state so far.

There was a lot of light green potch (common opal) that mostly was the type that shatters into a million pieces if struck. Yet now and again there was some that was mixed with agate and held up a little better.  In the rock below there’s a mix of green agate and green opal and some inclusions that may make some nice cabs or slabs.

 

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The agate is mostly multi-colored, with a host of earthtones.

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Petrified wood also is scattered throughout the region, however, I was not able to find a source. The wood is pretty well agatized and on most of it there is enough banding that it will make good cutting and cabbing material.

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This piece of jasparized wood is absolutely lovely in person and has this type of banding on every side, making it hard to decide which way would be best to cut it.  Maybe I’ll just polish off some of the white agate coating and leave it in one piece.

 

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There were also a few spots with fossils on the trip, but these were from South of Winnemucca at a little side jaunt I took on the way home.

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And, of course, here’s an obligatory picture of some red and yellow jasper, because, God knows, you can’t go very far in Nevada without picking up a hunk or two of red and yellow jasper.

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So there’s the sample of what can be found in the north central regions of the state.  Now it’s time to decide which area to explore next.

Until next time;

Life’s short –  Rock hard