There is a war on mining going on and a lot of lands that have been, in this legislation and others, or will be designated as "protected" are designated as such specifically to prohibit mineral exploration. Mostly, people get up in arms about the "big" mines, but it hurts the little guy just as much. That's one of the freedoms that we have that I enjoy and I don't like to see it get squashed everywhere.
As an avid amateur collector (not really good at much more than looking at the ground or hitting things with hammers, but it's paid off so far) I agree on a small scale. If I can scour the surface or a streambed without digging and perhaps keep any material that is not of archaeological significance, I'm happy. If designated areas for collecting with hand tools (hammers, chisels, prybars - no power tools or explosives) are defined for us that would also be great. Examples of such areas might be those that have formed in Ellensburg for blue hunters, or Republic for fossil hunters. The last thing I want to cause is lasting damage or animosity with property owners or fellow hikers/collectors, I would put the aesthetic and environmental impact of mineral hunting (on any scale) first when I'm in a protected area, and try to keep it foremost in mind when I'm anywhere in the field.
The Dirtbag Diaries podcast has a behind-the-scenes story about how this big public lands package got passed even during this administration when that seemed unlikely. For a podcast episode about legislation it's surprisingly interesting.
-------------- Even my best friends, they don't know, that my job is turning lead into gold. When you hear that engine drone, I'm on the road again, and I'm searching for the philosopher's stone - Van Morrison
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