Notice of July 29, 2023 regarding Mojave Trails National Monument

Notice of July 29, 2023 regarding Mojave Trails National Monument.  Reprinted with permission from San Diego Mineral & Gem Society.  Great commentary in the notice by its author, Lisbet Thorensen, SDMG’s Public Lands Representative.  Thank You, SDMG and Lisbet.  Angie Guzman, MSSC President


Front page LA Times,

above the fold

Louis Sahagun’s feature story on the potential demise of rockhounding in Mojave Trails National Monument appears in the eNewspaper and print editions of today’s Los Angeles Times (7/29/23). Sahagun’s story points out that should BLM decide to re-define casual collecting as mining in Mojave Trails, it will provide the predicate for equating casual collecting to mining on federally managed lands throughout the U.S. It very well may result in rewriting existing rules on casual collecting and effacing a tradition the federal government itself nurtured and helped develop nearly 100 years ago.

Casual collecting, or rockhounding, is a recreational activity in the United States that dates back to the early 20th century. In the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, the U.S. Bureau of Mines actively encouraged the hobby. The campaign proved wildly successful. Gem mineral societies like SDMG proliferated all over the country. In Southern California, it spawned generations of mineral enthusiasts who ventured into the dramatic desert landscape to explore its unique geology and thrill at discovering first hand its beautiful and varied minerals. Early life experiences that included going on field trips turned many young people into avid hobbyists. For others, it provided the catalyst that set them on career paths in the earth sciences including geology and mineralogy and also conservation.
The long tradition of casual collecting on BLM-managed lands may come to an end soon

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun work on drafting a monument management plan for Mojave Trails that will define permissible activities going forward. It appears that BLM is contemplating re-defining casual collecting as mining, despite previously having defined it as a low-impact recreational activity. Accommodation of casual collecting and rules for it are enshrined under authority of several federal laws (1976-2022, grouped under Title 43 CFR sec. 8365.1-5; 49.1; 49.810). The largest land use plan amendment in California state history known as the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP/2016) gave rockhounds continued access to all the collecting areas they asked for in Southern California’s deserts including in Mojave Trails.

High public interest like that shown for DRECP may influence BLM’s decision on Mojave Trails. At 1.6 million acres, it is the third largest land-based national monument in the lower 48 states. It is also Southern California’s crown jewel of hobby collecting areas. If you care about the adverse precedent BLM could set in California and extend as a standard applicable to public lands nationwide, click and share the Time’s article ( and drop a note to the LA Times editor at:

The message is simple, we’re not asking BLM to create new rules

Hobbyists are asking BLM to write into the monument management plan its multiple-use mandate based on its own rules for casual collecting under authority of existing laws and DRECP.

San Diego Mineral & Gem Society |