Rock hounds welcome at Rocky Fork collection site |

Rock hounds welcome at Rocky Fork collection site

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Residents hoping to pick up flagstones for home projects such as outdoor patios or landscaping can now get a permit to scavenge rocks at a sanctioned national forest site.

The Aspen and Sopris Ranger District of the White River National Forest on Wednesday announced the opening of the first-ever public rock collection site, known as the Rocky Fork, on a tributary of the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Dam.

Two more such sites may open in the future, although that decision has yet to be made, according to Forest Service spokesman Pat Thrasher.

Rock hunters are required to purchase a rock collection permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service to gather and remove red sandstone rocks in small quantities from the Rocky Fork area.

The rock that is removed must be for personal use, according to the Forest Service, and can only be gathered by hand. Wheelbarrows are permitted, but motorized or mechanized equipment cannot be used.

Rock collection at Rocky Fork is permitted from May 1 through Nov. 15 each year, and the site is open now.

According to Resource Specialist Karl Oliver at the Carbondale Ranger Station, the idea of setting aside a rock collecting point was a reaction to the fact that people already were doing just that in the Rocky Fork area.

Oliver said a survey showed that there are no paleoantological resources, meaning significant fossil evidence of prehistoric life that would be endangered by the rock hunting activity.

The sandstone formation, he said, is “basically old mud” that has been solidified by time and pressure.

The permits are available at the Aspen Ranger Station and the Sopris Ranger Station in Carbondale. The minimum purchase is a $14 permit to remove up to one ton (2,000 pounds) of rock.

Further questions about the rock collection program should be directed to Olivia Garcia at (970) 274-8526.

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