Tag Archives: stealing natural resources

A little late, but here’s my new year’s resolution

Way back in 1966, my wise old grandmother told me, “You can’t argue with a person’s beliefs.” It was true then, and I believe it is even truer in today’s world.

In less than two weeks I have had experiences with three people and their beliefs. The first was in person when I had sold one of my books, Nature’s Geometry: Succulents, to a person in Carlsbad, a coastal city about 40 miles from me. I consider that “close by,” so they can get personal delivery if they’d like.

When I arrived at her house, she had the beginnings of a beautifully landscaped front yard. Gorgeous river rock lining the curb walkway, the driveway, and the walkway to the front door. I asked her where she got the beautiful river rock. She said that she got it from the South Carlsbad State Beach. When I told her that taking rocks from the beach like that was illegal, she informed me that one could take up to a bucket full of rocks per day.


She said she would send me a link to the site that told her that, and I told her I would send her a link to city, county, and state laws.

When I got home, I found that she had sent me a link to a blog that said one could take “up to a bucket full of rocks on each visit, but no more than one bucket per day.” No citations or links to appropriate law. Well, golly gee. That’s like me saying here in my blog that if you go to Amazon you can get free doohickeys just because I say you can. Many decades ago, if it was in print, often, but not always, it was true. In today’s world that is so far from true that it’s laughable.

I sent her a link to city, county, and state law. Basically, they all say something similar to this, from the State of California government web site:

No person shall destroy, disturb, mutilate, or remove earth, sand, gravel, oil, minerals, rocks, paleontological features, or features of caves except rockhounding may be permitted as defined and delineated in Sections 4610 through 4610.10.

Undisturbed rocks

A-ha! (not the group). I knew when I read “rockhounding” exactly what was going on. Rockhounding is defined as

the recreational gathering of stones and minerals found occurring naturally on the undisturbed surface of the land…. Rock or mineral collection is limited to 15 pounds per day…. [E]xcept for the use of goldpans, no other tools may be used for rockhounding.

In other words, rockhounding is to let children (and even adults) collect pretty or unusual rocks for their home collection. If one is on an extended walk along the beach or up in the mountains, one can collect up to 15 pounds per day, which is about a standard 5-gallon bucket full. Note, though, that one cannot use tools, so shovels and pick axes, as well as actual buckets, are not allowed. They are tools. See a pretty rock siting sitting naturally on the undisturbed surface of the land? Yes, you may pick it up and take it with you. If it’s small enough, you can put it in your pocket. If it’s too large for your pocket, you can carry it by hand. You may not use a wheel barrow or get assistance from your friends to carry a huge boulder back to your car. Yes, even friendly assistance is a “tool.”

I told my new acquaintance two things: First, imagine just 1% of the 1 million visitors annual to South Carlsbad State Beach taking 15 pounds of rocks. By the end of the year, there would be no rocks left for us to enjoy next year. Second, taking rocks for your own personal landscaping is not “rockhounding” by any stretch of the definition. That is defined as theft under the law, making one a thief. It’s stealing.

She got all upset. Yes, facts and citations will do that to people who have beliefs.

The second and third instances were in the new year of 2020 in two Facebook groups of which I am a member. I provided citations, sources, and references, and links to same. As one person said, “Those don’t match my belief.” Indeed, and no facts or truth will.

I like to help people on Facebook when I can. When I can’t, I just scroll on by. I do not find it necessary to leave a comment like, “I don’t know what that is.” Leaving such comments is the written way to hear yourself talk.

After those two Facebook instances, I decided that, for the first time in my life, I would make a new year’s resolution, albeit a few days late:

I resolve NOT to try to help anyone on Facebook that I don’t know well. If I see a post asking for help, I’ll just scroll on by.

There are people sitting behind their desks who know far more than me because they watched a YouTube video, or read it on a blogger’s website. Screw my links to reputable sources in peer-reviewed journals, magazines, books, and—gasp!—the law.