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Geology/Michigan rock collecting laws for State Land


Mr. Reszka, I am an avid rock and fossil collector as well as a general outdoorsman.  I am curious as to understanding the laws as they pertain to collecting (in a hobby, small rocks and fossils) rocks and fossils from state land in Michigan.

I hike state land often and come across many fossils both on land and in the bottom of small lakes and ponds in the state game/forest areas.

I just wanted some clarification on whether or not I can collect some of these for my personal collection or not.  I have to admit that the laws on Michigan's government website are rather confusing under DNR and DEQ.  

Also there has been some recent changes I have heard for metal detectors collecting relics and such, does this apply to me as well just hiking and picking up a fossil.

Any assistance in clarification would be helpful.



Hi Adam,
Sorry it took so long; I've been battling the flu...

Yours is a good question.  Michigan has no specific laws that allow collecting on State land.  There are laws that do NOT allow removal of items from State land, but rocks and minerals are not specifically mentioned.  But those laws are enough to allow State officials to ticket individuals for collecting on State lands.  The idea being that the specimens residing on State land belong to ALL the people of the State of Michigan, so no one person can actually remove them.  The only law that allows removal of specimens from State land are the Sand Dune Mining and Protection Act and the Mine Reclamation Act.  These don't call for recreational collecting, only for acts required during mining operations.

I have heard of some, perhaps too officious, Park Rangers warning and citing persons for rock collecting from Parks like the Porcupine Mountain State Park.  In practice though, most officials do not mind the occasional collector as long as it isn't abused.  Anyone backing up a truck and hauling away a ton of beach stones will, and should be stopped.  But if you are enjoying the parks and spy an intriguing specimen most won't be perturbed by your collecting it.

If you'd like to know more you should contact Milt Gere in the Mining and Metallic Minerals Section of the DNR.  He's handled this question before and you can reach him at 517-335-3249, or at

Hope this helps.


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C. Robert Reszka, Jr.


I can answer any general geology question (rocks, minerals, stratigraphy, geomorphology etc.). My expertise is in the geology of the Michigan Basin, PreCambrian, Paleozoic and Recent. I can answer questions concerning mining and petroleum exploration and production and the laws concerning those activities. I can also answer questions concerning stratigraphy of the Michigan Basin. I will also answer questions about mineral and rock collecting in the Basin. I won`t be able to answer many specific questions on hydrology, geophysics or geochemistry. I may be able to answer very general questions in those venues.


I have been working for the State of Michigan for 36 years as a Geologist and a Resource Analyst. I have experience with Subsurface Geology and Petroleum Geology, mining in Michigan, and Sand Dune Mining and Protection issues.

Michigan Basin Geological Society

Decade of North American Geology.
Bedrock Geology of Michigan

BS Wayne State University

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