Daily Archives: April 23, 2012

Bad Advice! Don’t go Fossil Hunting Here!

Back in December, I had posted a blog post entitled “Best Day Ever”.  And it was!  My 8-year old son and I had heard about a place to walk along the shores of the Missouri River, where you could find fossils.  We tried it one weekend morning, and had a blast!  For a couple of hours poking around the shoreline, we found an ancient fish vertebrae, a Mosasaur vertebrae, and a “tube worm” fossil.  Coupled with some birding we did that afternoon, and that wonderful sunny December day was indeed one of my “best days ever”.

Sounds great, right? You bet!!  However, it seems in life there are no “best days ever” without some reciprocal thing happening to balance it out.  As I’ve just learned, you CANNOT actually disturb or pick up a fossil in this location!  Thanks to my “Best Day Ever” blog post, I just had a little sit down chat with a ranger from the Corps of Engineers.  Turns out the spot my son and I were at is Corps of Engineers land, and you are NOT allowed to collect fossils here. 

The spot…along the Missouri River, by the Platte-Winner bridge in South Dakota on the west side of the Missouri River.  I have my own thoughts about this topic, but for once, I’ll listen to the side of me responsible for self-censorship and won’t provide them here.  Suffice it to say that if you try to fossil hunt in this area, if you’re on Corps of Engineer lands, it’s probably illegal.  And if  you do it, you may get a visit like I just did.

The one great difficulty though…there are NOT signs in this area that point this out.  The guy told me that Federal lands each have different rules, depending on who is managing it.  In this area, there’s a mix of Federal land management types, and there are NO signs that warn you against fossil hunting, or where one management type starts, and another begins.

Think the only “safe” thing to do is to avoid fossil hunting here altogether.  Or you too may get a “visit”.    To avoid any more trouble…that’s the last I’ll ever say on the topic out here.