Founded to Serve
of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.
“Some Thoughts on the ALAA and Land Access Issues”
Past President of SFMS
Current Member of the AFMS Conservation/Legislation Committee
Current Mississippi State Representative for the American Lands Access Association Inc.
I represent the SFMS as a member of
the AFMS Conservation/Legislation Committee. On September 27, 1997, I
received notice that I had been appointed Mississippi State Representative
for the American Lands Access Association Inc. This appointment probably
means that I am the only one in Mississippi that had sent in my dues up
to that date. I certainly hope that I am wrong, for this Association
is the only organized effort we who still like to go on outings have fighting
to defend and maintain our rights. This representation of our views,
preservation of our rights, and with great probability our future existence
unfortunately takes money and effort. We “Rockhounds” surprisingly
exceed in numbers those who want to restrain us. We are just more
passive and prefer to spend our money on items incidental to our hobby
while our adversaries’ sole purpose is to eliminate or severely restrict
everyone’s access to public lands. I think it is reasonable to assume
that once public lands are restricted, private lands will follow suit or
charge exorbitant fees, and then the unthinkable, someone somewhere will
surely start to question the origin and ownership of our rocks, minerals,
and fossils. Please do not for one minute believe that I am being
overly dramatic or imaginative for I have been detained, severely questioned,
almost fined/jailed, and escorted away from state/federal land and parks.
I never broke the law or violated any published policies or procedures.
It also might interest you to know that on several of these occasions,
I was employed by the U. S. Department of the Interior as a Geologist and
was just doing an approved job.
I do not believe that our hobby in
any stretch of the imagination represents a major environmental threat.
Quite the contrary, it exposes us to the wonders of our world, appreciation
of science, the recognition of the fragility nature, and the realization
that many of earth’s treasures must be protected and preserved for future
generations. Many if not most of the greatest discoveries in archaeology,
paleontology, and mineralogy were directly or in some part made possible
by the efforts of amateurs. Academia and the scientific community
do not have the people, time or money to search out every corner of the
world. Preserving known or suspected sites of scientific or educational
value, areas of particular beauty, popular retreats, etc. should be controlled
but to deny or severely restrict access to all federal lands in general
is ludicrous. All this will accomplish is cost us more (for permits),
give the government more control over where and when we can go and what
we can or cannot do, and create an outstanding black market for certain
John Wright is a Registered Professional Geologist, a published scientific author, a member of Sigma Xi (the scientific research society), a two term past president of his local club, served seven years as the SFMS Mississippi State Director, and a member of several SFMS committeesand past 2nd VP, 1st VP, and President of SFMS. His forte is carving.
The Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.
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