Friday, March 19, 2010

Destructive collecting

This past weekend I took Little Guy to find a carnelian. One of the iphone apps I have gave directions to the site, which took us about an hour and a half to reach. It was a nice drive and to my surprise Grim and Mandy had decided to tag along. Upon reaching our destination we were confronted with signs that made no bones about how the property owners (a tree company) felt about looking for said rocks. I was pretty surprised, until I started to take a look around. Almost very bend I could see in the creek had huge areas dug out along the banks. The hills beside the gravel road also showed massive amounts of destruction from individuals digging away the sides. Further up the creek piles of rock and mud were evident from screening and dredging for these rocks. Since when is mining activity attributed to a "hobby"?

I came across two locals on horseback and they told me that the area used to be a madhouse on the weekends with groups of people who identified themselves as being from rock clubs. While not all bad behavior can be directly attributed to these types of clubs, I do think they bear a big part of the responsibility for the site being closed. To overtax an area with too many people can take a huge toll on the locals who live in the area and want to enjoy some peace and quiet over the weekends. Not capping arranged trips to a certain amount of members can result in chaos and possibly bad behavior due to competition for getting that "rock". I've seen it happen before at other sites when there is too little room, too many people. Total madness.

In addition, if you are using mining techniques to get said rock, you are no longer a hobbyist- you are a miner! Buy a plot of land and mine it, but don't ruin rock collecting for those who like to casually walk streambeds and pick up rocks already exposed. At the very most, only digging out a rock that is half in/half out with a rock hammer. But to tear away a creekbed, adding to the sediment load.. bad! If you can remove a rock and it makes little to no visual difference, then that is a hobby or getting a rock sample. But if you are removing massive amounts to the point an entire bank is cut away, you are destroying the environment!
So thank you very much greedy people- you just effectively ruined one of the few FREE & educational activities I enjoyed with my children. At least for that area. I'm sure if this continues unchecked, more and more sites will become off-limits.


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