The public lands offer a broad range of outdoor activities that include collecting resources such as firewood, gemstones, pine nuts and fossils for personal enjoyment and use. This is a summary of what may be collected from public lands. The BLM encourages people to explore the nearly 48 million acres of public land in Nevada.
Please use care in collecting. Avoid activities which damage public resources such as vegetation, scenery and archaeological sites, or which create hazardous conditions such as pits or trenches. Power equipment and explosives may not be used except for woodcutting and certain dredging operations. Reasonable amounts of the following may be collected for noncommercial purposes:
• Flowers, berries, nuts, seeds, cones, and other plant parts. • Campfire wood. • Rocks, mineral specimens, common invertebrate fossils and semiprecious gemstones.
Exceptions include specifically protected plants, campfire wood in posted areas, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, areas of critical environmental concern including Stewart Valley, near Gabbs, Nev., Red Rock Canyon and Sloan Canyon National Conservation Areas, historic and prehistoric sites and districts, and national natural landmarks. Maps and information on specific restrictions are available at Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices in Las Vegas, Tonopah, Carson City, Reno, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, Ely and Caliente.
Gold and silver may be prospected for with hand tools including pans and metal detectors. Minerals such as gold, silver and opals found on mining claims belong to the claim holder. Mining claim records may be viewed at BLM and county recorder offices. Sluicing, dredging and commercial mining require permits. Recreational panning which does not involve mechanical equipment is permitted in wilderness and wilderness study areas if it does not create surface disturbance or impair the environment.
Saleable minerals, such as sand, gravel, cinders, topsoil and other common mineral materials must be purchased by prior arrangement with the BLM. Gemstones and common rock specimens may be collected for private use on unclaimed sites. Commercial production of common rocks on an unclaimed site requires a permit. Only hobby collecting is allowed in wilderness and wilderness study areas and must not involve surface disturbance. Collection of prehistoric tools and chips made of precious or semiprecious stones is not allowed.
Vertebrate fossils such as dinosaurs, mammals, fishes and reptiles, and uncommon invertebrate fossils may be collected only by trained researchers under BLM permit. Collected fossils remain the property of all Americans and are placed with museums or other public institutions after study.
Common invertebrate fossils such as plants, mollusks, and trilobites may be collected for personal use in reasonable quantities, but may not be bartered or sold.
Petrified wood may be collected up to 25 pounds plus one piece per person per day, with a maximum of 250 pounds per person per year. Permits are required for pieces over 250 pounds. Petrified wood may not be traded, bartered or sold without permit.
Cave resources, including plant, animal and geologic features, are federally protected and may not be altered, damaged or removed.
Cultural materials on public lands may not be removed, damaged, disturbed, excavated or transferred without BLM permit. Cultural resources include prehistoric and historic artifacts and sites, broken objects and debris more than 100 years old that were used or produced by humans. Protected materials include arrowheads and other stone tools, grinding stones, beads, baskets, pottery, old bottles, horse shoes, metal tools, graves and trash scatters.
Historic sites such as cabins, sawmills, graves, trail traces, mining areas, townsites, ranches and railroads are not open to collecting.
Metal detector use is allowed on public lands. Modern money may be collected, but coins and artifacts more than 100 years old may not be collected.
Wood, Plants and Pine Nuts
Various species of trees are available for firewood with a personal use permit, which allows the cutting of up to 10 cords per family per year in specified areas for a nominal fee. Permits for woodcutting are required even on an individual’s mining or exploration claim. Collection of dead and down wood for immediate campfire use is allowed except for posted sites. Christmas tree permits are available for a nominal fee during the holiday season. Check with local BLM offices for permits and tree cutting area maps.
Small amounts of plants, plant parts, seeds, flowers and berries may be collected for personal use in most areas.
Cacti, yuccas, succulents and evergreen shrubs and trees are protected by the state. Species listed as threatened or endangered are protected by the federal government and may not be collected without permit. Collection of species listed as sensitive or candidates for threatened or endangered status should be avoided.
Pine nuts in amounts up to 25 pounds per person per year may be collected for noncommercial use. Although there are some designated commercial collecting areas, these are fully open to the public as well.
Harvesting plants or plant materials such as seeds, pine nuts, landscaping materials, firewood and timber for commercial purposes requires a permit.
Collection or harvest of game and nongame animals, including fish, is regulated by the State and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Information for hunters, trappers, fishermen and collectors is available from the Nevada Division of Wildlife.
Threatened and endangered species, including desert tortoise and some other reptiles, whether federal or state listed, may be collected only under permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or state of Nevada. Lahontan cutthroat trout may be taken with a Nevada fishing license in permitted areas and seasons. Lists of protected species are available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nevada Division of Wildlife and BLM offices.
Wild, free-roaming horses and burros may not be harassed, harmed, collected or sold under any circumstances. Their water sources are also protected. Wild horses and burros gathered under BLM supervision and prepared for private ownership may be adopted from the BLM.
Violations of regulations under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, state and federal wildlife law, and other laws may be punishable by fines, imprisonment, and forfeiture of equipment and vehicles used in commission of the crime.