Rockhounding in Ouachita National Forest

Rockhounding in Ouachita National Forest

by Ritika

Rockhounder can carry out the process of rockhounding in Ouachita National Forest either as a hobby or recreational activity. Ouachita National Forest is located in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains through the west central portion of Arkansas and the southeastern portion of Oklahoma. The Ouachita National Forest is the south’s oldest national forest, compromising more than 1.6 million acres. Rockhounding sites at Ouachita National Forest have abundant rock and quartz veins. Ouachita National Forest has many excellent mineral collecting rockhounding sites both inside the forest lands as well as in private land areas adjacent to the forest areas. Ouachita National Forest is one of the best sites for recreational rockhounders interested in quartz rockhounding.

Rockhounder can carry out the process of rockhounding in Ouachita National Forest either as a hobby or recreational activity. Ouachita National Forest is located in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains through the west central portion of Arkansas and the southeastern portion of Oklahoma. The Ouachita National Forest is the south’s oldest national forest, compromising more than 1.6 million acres. Rockhounding sites at Ouachita National Forest have abundant rock and quartz veins. Ouachita National Forest has many excellent mineral collecting rockhounding sites both inside the forest lands as well as in private land areas adjacent to the forest areas. Ouachita National Forest is one of the best sites for recreational rockhounders interested in quartz rockhounding.

Rules and Regulations

One of the important rules and regulations which rockhounders must follow while rockhounding in Ouachita National Forest is that they are allowed to carry only samples occasionally and that too only in small quantities in their hand. Also, the taken samples should be used only for personal purpose and should not be used for commercial ends. Only persons who have got appropriate permission from authorities and that too for digging in lands already under mineral contract are allowed larger amount of digging. All these rules and regulations are set by authorities of Ouachita National Forest which helps in preserving the natural environment and makes it the best site for all rockhounders.

It is vital that rockhounders who wish to do either a rockhounding trip alone for recreational purposes or as a group trip and would like to collect samples of rocks must give a written proposal to the district ranger. Only after the approval from district ranger, can rockhounders carry out the process of rock collecting.

About Rockhounding Sites at Ouachita National Forest

Rockhounding for quartz crystal started at Ouachita National Forest even when Native Americans occupied the Ouachita Mountains. In recent days there has been tremendous increase in rockhounding and mining activities for quartz crystal on the Ouachita National Forest. There is no demarcation made by the government regarding rockhounding activities conducted primarily for recreational and commercial purposes. However, the rockhounding sites or mines differ in this aspect. That is, commercial crystal mines present inside Ouachita National Forest make a daily fee charge on rockhounders for digging and removal of quartz from these sites. These rockhounding sites would prove best worth for serious rockhounders and an interesting point related to this is that there are new sites coming up in this region which help rockhounders hunt and collect excellent quality quartz pieces. The Fisher Mountain mine was the only underground quartz mine in the Ouachita Mountains. Rockhounders can refer to the book titled as Quartz Crystal Deposits of Western Arkansas written by A.E.J. Engle which details quartz rockhounding and mining throughout the Ouachita region.

In addition to the above, some of the important regulations which each rockhounder must follow while rockhounding in the Ouachita National Forest are:

Allowed Quantity for Rockhounding:

Only small quantities of sample crystals, that is less than 25 pounds are allowed for each rockhounder at all rockhounding sites of Ouachita National Forest. In addition, rockhounders are allowed to collect this small sample only in their hand.

Allowed Tools for Rockhounding:

Tools are generally not allowed while rockhounding at Ouachita National Forest. If a rockhounder needs tools essentially then the only allowed tools while rockhounding at Ouachita National Forest is a small screwdriver sized hand prying tool.

No Digging Allowed:

Rockhounders are not allowed to carry out the process of digging at rockhounding sites of Ouachita National Forest unless they have approved written permission given by contract holder of that relevant site chosen for rockhounding.

No Commercial Purpose Rockhounding Allowed:

Rockhounders are allowed to carry out rockhounding only for recreational or personal use and not for commercial use.

Important Quartz crystal collecting areas at Ouachita National Forest

The two vital quartz crystal collecting areas at Ouachita National Forest are

* Crystal Vista and
* Crystal Mountain

Both these above sites are developed by the authorities of the Ouachita National Forest. Both the sites are not active mine sites and so both do not collect any fee from rockhounders for collecting quartz from these sites.

Crystal Vista

Crystal Vista is located on the Womble Ranger District near Mount Ida at Arkansas. Rockhounders can contact Womble Ranger District for more information about this site.

Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain is located on the Jessieville-Winona Ranger District, midway between Jessieville and Perryville at Arkansas. Rockhounders can contact Jessieville-Winona Ranger District for more information about this site.

Minerals Sources at Ouachita National Forest:

It is vital to note that Ouachita National Forest is abundant with quartz. There are generally no gold producing locations or sites in Arkansas or Oklahoma. However, rockhounders can develop their gold panning skills by visiting specific gold producing sites in the country after knowing the rules and regulations of the same.

There are various minerals found in the rockhounding sites at Ouachita National Forest. Some of them to mention are:

* Asphaltite
* Barite
* Coal
* Common Variety Mineral Materials
* Copper
* Gas and Oil
* Gold
* Manganese
* Novaculite
* Slate
* Tripoli
* Turquoise
* Vanadium
* Wavellite

Thus, the Quartz crystal, the Arkansas State mineral, is abundant in a belt several miles wide, extending from Jessieville, AR to Broken Bow, OK. It is vital that rockhounders must take proper measures while carrying out their process of rockhounding at Ouachita National Forest. Some of the safety measures to mention are Ouachita National Forest has many abandoned underground mines which are gated for a specific reason. Thus these places result in dwelling of many creatures, including bats which require dark and isolated areas. So rockhounders must not enter abandoned mines that are not gated and must stay safe by staying out of abandoned mines. All these steps would helps rockhounders carry out their process of recreational rockhounding at the Ouachita National Forest.

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