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Collecting leaves, rocks, shells and seeds

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  • Collecting leaves, rocks, shells and seeds

    I am planning a den meeting in which the scouts organize collections of leaves, rocks, shells and seeds. I am wondering about how to collect these things without violating leave no trace guidelines. Leaves and seeds don't bother me so much, but I've been advised before to leave rocks and shells where I find them. What do you think?

  • #2
    Go to an already obviously disturbed site to collect rocks. In terms of shells, I don't see the big deal, provided the local laws allow.


    • #3

      If I were debating this, I'd consider bringing a camera and taking pictures instead. Most collections can be accomplished through photography.

      Beyond that, my question would be - what's the location where the items are being gathered from and do you have permission to gather the items?

      If it were a high traffic, public place, and you had permission to do so, then it could be OK. For example, collecting rocks on a school playground could be fine. Similarly, gathering shells on a city beach could be OK too. Getting permission would be great too as it would give you the opportunity to talk about land management too.

      If it were a natural setting, state park, or national park, I'd avoid it all together.


      • #4
        Also, some places are designated for youth to collect things. For example, a local bike trail passes by an outcrop of fossils (the usual shellfish etc ...). The placement of the trail was very intentional so that young people could engage in fitness and science at the same time! Point is: get to know the areas where this activity is approved of (and safe to do!). Make sure what you are getting is distinct from what you've already had. Collect the minimum sample. Record where/when you got it.

        Private property? Asking permission.

        (Note: there are some places where leaf and seed gathering is problematic. Many arboretums would prefer that you call and ask permission before you "harvest.")

        Question for fun: if you acquire a fossilized bi-valve, does that count as a rock and a shell?


        • #5
          Unless something has changed recently, National Forests have allowed 'harvest' of all kinds of things by the public. At one time, in this area, we could get a permit to dig up azaleas, for example, and there have often been 'wood lots' where we could cut trees for firewood, etc. You're not going to leave a scar on the earth compared to the people who clear-cut the woods so I'd take some of that earlier advice and collect where destruction is either happening anyway, or else it's allowed by policy.

          Edit is working again!
          One more thing, no one is going to care if you collect something that is an invasive species, like the shell of some invasive mollusc, or a leaf off some kind of noxious weed. Just make sure it's legal to have them in your possession and make sure you don't spread them even more.
          Last edited by packsaddle; 02-24-2014, 03:14 PM.