Solar Geological Resources Assessment Overview (16)
Geological Resources Assessment Overview Process
16.1 to 16.2 Is the Project on Federal Land?
As an initial consideration, the permit described in this flowchart only applies to projects located on federal land. When on private land, developers may impact geology, soils, and paleontological resources without a permit. When on state land, the developer may need to abide by certain rules and restrictions, typically contemplated as part of a cultural resource assessment. If not on federal land, the developer may continue with the project.
16.3 - Assess Impacts to Geology, Soils, and Paleontological Resources
The developer must assess the potential impacts the project may have to geology, soils and paleontological resources.
16.4 - Are There Paleontological Resources on the Site?
If there are paleontological resources on site, then a permit or other action may be required.
16.5 - Paleontological Resources Preservation Act
Consult the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act for detailed information.
The Act continues to allow casual collecting of reasonable amounts of common invertebrate and plant fossils from public lands for personal use without a permit. The prohibition on the sale of common invertebrate and plant fossils will continue.
In addition, the PRPA does not change the BLM’s requirement for issuance of a paleontological resources use permit for the collection of vertebrate and other invertebrate and plant paleontological resources that are of paleontological interest to qualified researchers.
16.6 - Invertebrate Fossils and Fossil Plants
43 CFR 8365.1-5 states that it is permissible to collect from public lands reasonable amounts of "nonrenewable resources such as rock and mineral specimens, common invertebrate and common plant fossils, and semiprecious gemstones" for noncommercial purposes.
16.7 - Petrified Wood
According to 43 CFR 3622, persons may collect limited quantities of petrified wood for noncommercial purposes under terms and conditions consistent with the preservation of significant deposits as a public recreational resource. No application or permit is required unless the specimen weighs over 250 pounds.
As a type of government property, fossils are protected under 18 USC 641.
(See BLM Manual 8270)
16.9 - Paleontological Resource Use Permits
A paleontologist must have a valid paleontological resource use permit before collecting or disturbing fossil resources on BLM-administered lands. Casual collecting (also called hobby collecting) of certain common invertebrate and plant fossils on BLM-administered lands is allowable without a permit.
According to BLM policy handbook 8270-1 (chapter IV), the applicant must have received formal education and professional instruction in a field of paleontology equivalent to a Graduate Degree; and
- must demonstrate past experience in collecting, analyzing, and reporting paleontological data, similar to the type and scope of work proposed in the application;
- must demonstrate past experience in planning, equipping, staffing, organizing, and supervising crews performing work that is proposed in the application;
- must demonstrate experience in carrying out paleontological projects to completion as evidenced by theses, research reports, scientific papers and similar documents; and
- must provide a valid and current repository agreement with a Federally approved museum repository.
16.10 - Will There Be Impacts to Significant Geological Resources?
If the project will result in impacts to significant geological resources, then additional permitting and other action may be required.
16.11 - Federal Cave Resources Protection Act
The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act works to protect, secure, and preserve significant caves on federal lands. A "cave" is defined by the act as "any naturally occurring void, cavity, recess, or system of interconnected passages which occurs beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge...and which is large enough to permit an individual to enter, whether or not the entrance is naturally formed or manmade."
The Secretary of Agriculture or the Secretary of the Interior ("secretary") is authorized to issue permits for the collection and removal of cave resources under terms and conditions developed by the secretary.
- Any permit issued must include information concerning the time, scope, location, and specific purpose of the proposed collection, removal, or activity, and the manner in which it will be performed; and
- The secretary may issue a permit only if he determines that the proposed collection or removal activities are consistent with the purposes of this act.
16.12 - Areas of Critical Environmental Concern
43 CFR 1610.7-2 sets out the rules for designating areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC). Areas with potential for ACEC designation and protection management must be identified and considered throughout the resource management planning process.
16.13 - Continue with Project
If there will be no impacts to significant geological resources or if the developer has satisfied the requirements of any applicable regulations, the developer may continue with project.
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