Good Question: Does New York State own any gold you find on your property?

Does New York State own any gold or other precious metals that you find on your property?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Does New York State own any gold or other precious metals that you find on your property?

The state had something called the Mined Land Reclamation Law. It says that “gold and silver found on private and state lands, and minerals/fossils found on state land, are owned by New York State.”

The law stems from a statute sometimes referred to as The Kings Law which dates back to 1776. Keith asks: “Why do we still have this law?”

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees the law, says it’s meant “to return areas affected by minerals development to a condition that allows productive use of the land.”

A representative from the DEC says that, if you want to search for metals or minerals, you’ll need a mining permit from the state. However, you won’t need a permit for what the state calls “recreational panning activities.”

The DEC says “recreational panning activities are not considered mining and are allowed but must not disturb the waters of the state.”

Recreational panning is defined by the DEC as “using a pan and water to separate material in the sediments of a stream.”

So, if you happen to find a hunk of gold on your private land, technically, it belongs to the state. But what about Herkimer diamonds? There’s an area of New York State outside of Utica that has an abundance of quartz crystals known as Herkimer diamonds.

The DEC says that, if a site wants to offer the removal of Herkimer diamonds, it must have a valid permit from the state.

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