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Help Save Rockhound State Park, New Mexico

Attention all rockhounds:

The New Mexico State Parks Division (NMSPD) has proposed to disallow rockhounding in Rockhound State Park near Deming, New Mexico. Rockhound State Park is best known for its fantastic thundereggs, some with multicolored agate in addition to well-formed quartz crystals. Also scattered about the park are rocks and minerals of volcanic and hydrothermal origin; including quartz, chalcedony, agate, common opal and banded and brecciated rhyolite. The 1,100 acre park was established in 1966 as the first in the United States that allowed collecting of rocks and minerals for personal use. Pictures of the park and some rocks collected there may be seen on the following web page:

The NMSPD�s proposed plan may be read at the following web site: But, to save you time, the following is the pertinent part of the plan about rockhounding:

"Rockhound State Park was originally established as a destination for rock collectors. At the time, in 1966, rock collecting was a popular pastime. Visitors were encouraged to visit the Park in order to collect rocks, and were allowed to take home up to 15 pounds of rocks.

Today the Division promotes a respect for the natural environment through interpretive and educational programs. Not only does rock collecting in a public park contradict the principle of natural resource protection.

There is only one state park in the United States that permits rock collecting: Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, which has a 38-acre plowed field set aside for collecting. Nearly all municipal, state, and national parks prohibit the removal of natural artifacts from parks. The practice of rock collecting at the Park would need to comply with NMSA 1978, Section 16-2-32:

�A person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and shall be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of Section 31-19-1 NMSA 1978:

A. cut, break, injure, destroy, take or remove a tree, shrub, timber, plant or natural object in any state park and recreation area, except in areas designated by the secretary and permitted by regulations adopted by the secretary, such regulations shall only permit the removal of a tree, shrub, timber, plant or natural object for scientific study or for non-commercial use by an individual as a souvenir, the quantity of material authorized for removal from any area shall be strictly regulated by park personnel in order to minimize resource damage.�

If the Division were to continue to allow the public to collect rocks at the Park, the EMNRD Cabinet Secretary would designate a specific area and adopt rules pertaining to the collecting of rocks on Park property (such as the amount and location).

The once popular hobby of rock collecting has declined significantly since the 1960s. There are local businesses that cater to rock collectors and can guide or direct them to similar opportunities outside of the Park. Safety is also a concern with the public collecting rocks in the Park, as there are steep and unstable slopes that are becoming more hazardous as the collecting alters the stability of the hillside. There is also a concern that some visitors may go beyond the Park boundaries in their quest for rocks.

Park staff has already begun the transition away from rock collecting and will need to educate the public about the need to respect the natural resources. One crucial step is to modify all Park information (signage, brochures, website), so that this activity is no longer encouraged. All materials need to state that it is a prohibited activity. The namesake theme can continue through educational programs and interpretive information about the rocks that occur in the Park and the geology of the region.
Revise written materials by removing all mention of rock collecting and add a reference to the state statute which prohibits rock collecting on Park property."

Written and oral comments on the plan will be accepted. Comment letters can be dropped off at the park; mailed to P.O. Box 1147, Santa Fe, NM 87505; e-mailed to or faxed to (505) 476-3361.

PLEASE, everyone reading this message, email, snail mail or fax a written comment in opposition to the proposed plan to discontinue rockhounding in Rockhound State Park. You have until April 18, 2011 to make comment,[/b] so please get on it today. Let's show the NMSPD personnel that rockhounding has not declined since the 1960s and the park should remain true to its namesake. Also, all you club members and officers out there, please let everyone in your club know about this by mass email so we can get all rockhounds throughout this country engaged in the battle to save yet another of our fleeting freedoms. This may be in far away New Mexico now, but in your backyard tomorrow. PLEASE HELP NOW BECAUSE THERE IS NO TIME TO WAIT!

Mike Streeter
Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies' North Carolina Director

From Mike Streeter - March 20, 2011 at 08:37:15

Message: 69715

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