The lucrative hobby of rock hunting is back in full swing for the summer 2022 season. Michigan is known for its diversity in rocks and minerals thanks to its surrounding bodies of water. These minerals have many reasons to be picked up for their contrasting colors and textures, but is this summer hobby actually harming our Great Lakes? 

Michigan Rockhounds 

People travel from different states, and sometimes even countries, for a chance to find rocks in Michigan. With common basalt stones to Petoskey stones, agate, and copper the Michigan shorelines offer a wide variety of minerals to find. During the summer in the Upper Peninsula, you will find beaches filled with people hunting for the glowing rock Yooperlite. A yooperlite rock can hide in plain sight, looking like an average grey stone, but underneath UV light the minerals that make up these stones are activated in a glowing type manner. Considering these rocks are so unique, it is hard to believe they were only discovered in 2017 by Michigander Erik Rintamaki. 

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Land Use and Laws For Rock Hunting In Michigan 

Michigan DNR states, “An individual is only allowed to remove up to 25lbs of stones per year.” This weight might seem like a lot, but just think about how heavy a single small rock is, filling a bucket can happen pretty fast. If a single Petosky stone were to weigh more than the 25lb limit, then Michigan DNR can confiscate it. 

People are allowed to collect rocks in USDA administered National Forests and recreation areas, private property with the permission of the landowner, state owned lands and lands held in the public trust. So essentially, anywhere there is a Michigan body of water not privately owned, people are able to take a small souvenir with them; but should they? 

Why You Limit What You Take 

Since Michigan has so many large and small bodies of water, we have an incredibly diverse population of animals living in these freshwater locations. Rocks, big and small, can vary in use by providing a secure place to hide, a spot to burrow deeper and get nutrients from the sand, or even a home. In removing beyond the 25lb limit set by the Michigan DNR, there are less and less rocks to provide these animals their different uses. Now, I’ve been collecting and keeping rocks with me for years in my travels, but I never take more than a handful for this purpose. I know people who take 5 buckets at a time regardless of the limit (especially when you don’t even have a use for this many rocks, we all have DIY projects in mind but do you really need 5 buckets?). With more and more people getting interested in rock hunting, it is even more important to remember the DNR regulations, for both legal and environmental reasons. 

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