How to make your garden rock |

How to make your garden rock

There are mulitiple ways to get rocks for your garden, but check with the proper authorities before removing rocks from public lands.
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Dear Quandary,

I’m Doing some landscaping and want rocks for my garden. Where can I get large rocks, Not boulders, in summit county? I need to carry them to my car, so I need easy access.

Thank you,

Rock solid

This gets to be a bit trickier than you might anticipate for the do-it-yourself gardener. While packing a few rocks in your trunk may not sound like that big of a deal, it greatly depends on where you are and what you’re taking.

The easiest way for you to obtain landscaping rocks is to speak with a landscaper. We have several companies in the county that could help you create a rocking garden, complete with stone staircases and firepits. I know this might not sound as fun as running around on a rock hunt, but it will keep you out of trouble, and minimize your physical output. In other words, it works well if you’re as lazy as this old goat.

If you’d prefer to tame some wild rocks, there are ways to do this as well. There are several different organizations that have authority on public lands, and several different types of public lands. This can all get pretty complicated so before going out and building your own boulder field, consult with the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to ensure you don’t spend a lifetime breaking rocks for taking rocks.

According to the BLM, you are allowed to collect rocks and do some gold panning on public lands. However, you can’t do so on lands that are considered wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, developed special management areas or recreation sites. You are also not allowed to use any mechanized support in your removal process. This means you can’t jackhammer your way through a mountain and pick out the good pieces. Also, no blasting is allowed. Remember, everything is more fun with dynamite, except the jail sentence. To further the list of no-no’s you cannot disturb; damage or destroy the environment; wildlife; cultural, historical or paleontological resources; or government or private property.

There are a ton of rules for anything near an archaeological dig or historical site, so it is best to avoid these areas all together, if removal is your end game. Finally, don’t pull an EPA move. You might not break the whole Animas River, but you can be guaranteed that if you contaminate a creek, you’ll pay. These policies mostly apply to smaller rocks that you could pick up and fit in a pocket, it does not apply to the larger rocks used for decoration. These larger decorative stones cannot be removed from public lands, but luckily the BLM still has you covered.

The BLM has several community pits where they have already gone through the large rocks to make sure you don’t take anything you shouldn’t. These pits are then made available to the public for a fee, of course. The tricky thing here is that only large orders will be accepted, so you either need to have a lot of land or a lot of neighbors on the same page. Prices are given by the cubic ton, so that gives you an idea of how much you’ll need to purchase. If this does tickle your fancy, contact the Colorado River Valley Field Office at (970) 876-9000 for more information. As mentioned, just because the BLM’s rules do allow for removing certain rocks, doesn’t mean other authorities will allow it. In general, be a good steward, do your homework and please try not to break the wilderness for your gardening purposes.

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