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Harry Polly
I had the chance to attend the Lincoln County Commissioners meeting on November 4th at which the landowner of the Reel Amethyst Mine was trying to get a new permit to allow collecting twelve times a year, instead of four. A group had been digging there since 2009 and did not wish to do anymore digs because they felt like the landowner had violated the terms of an agreement.  The county has agreed to issue the permit to the landowner for the 12 digs a year.  This will be open to all gem clubs, scout groups, or other organizations that can provide proof of insurance.  It will not be open to individuals that wish to go on their own.  YOU MUST PROVIDE INSURANCE INFORMATION TO THE LANDOWNER IN ADVANCE. 

Contact information is:

Francis Sutphin
375 Timber Road
Iron Station, NC 28080
Hi Harry that is graet news to hear. Istill have my Amethyst I got from Dave T.

KOR Carl from WI
Mike Streeter
Hey Harry,

I know your initial trip to the Reel Mine was by invitation from the owner, so the legalities were his responsibility and you had no idea about the details of whatever permit or agreement was in place at the time.  No doubt that when you told the owner you, as the club's field trip leader, didn't want to receive 40% of the total dig fee, which he had been made to believe was standard practice, and there are many more clubs and organizations that would be interested in collecting there, the proverbial light bulb lit up over his head and he decided to make a change.  Tripling the available collecting days, potentially lowering the daily digging fee and allowing any organized group with proper insurance to collect at the Reel is a win for the owner and all rockhounds, including the original club's members who remain eligible to go back with or without that club, so long as they are also members of another insured club or organization, such as the Catawba Valley Gem and Mineral Society.

Great job, Harry!

Ken Casebeer
So how do SAMS members find out if and when they can go to Reel? Thanks.
Harry Polly
Contact info is in the first post.  I suspect it will be after the first of the year that everything will be a go.  The planning board is supposed to give final approval on Nov 18th, and then the landowner will have to get all his ducks in a row to comply with the permit.  That should give everyone time to get their club insurance info to the landowner and approved. 
Hey, i'm sorry to say i used to be a member of that other club and i saw things at those Reel digs i always wondered about. First off, i never saw the leader do any digging on the group digs but somehow he got hundreds of quartz crystals from there for sale on his web site. Bet his private digs were a whole lot easier and he got lots of crystals easy cause he did his diggin with a big machine. Second, didn't know the guy got 40% of the fee money till i saw it mentioned here. Holy crap there were at least 100 people for 3 days at some of them Reel digs. i'm no math wiz, but i figure if 100 people paid $35 a day for three days, his take for a weekend was $4200. Good pay day for someone just sitting on his butt watchin others dig. He acts like he's doing the world a big favor for opening up new dig sites but the way i see it he's only doing it to make money. i can't remember a place he showed that didn't charge a fee and you wouldn't see him anywhere that didn't. i got nothin against anyone making honest money but not when its done on the sly. Heck he's making money hand over fist behind everyones back while acting like he's doing rockhounds a big favor. Anyway, thanks for lettin me blow off some steam. JJ
Gerald Reel

That is great news for local clubs.  Would you think the digs would be open to members of the North Carolina Fossil Club? Our club page says that we are members of the SFMS.  I was planning on joining a local (triad area of NC) rockhounding club at the start of the new year.  Do you know how active (out and about) the Greensboro club is on digs?

Harry Polly

According to the landowner, ANY club that can provide proof of insurance can participate.  I suggest you contact the club and have them send the landowner a copy of the insurance policy.  This is the first step.  After that, it is a matter of planning when the club wants to dig.  The landowner asked for twelve digs a year, which he got.  However, he was thinking of twelve days.  The county has given him twelve WEEKEND digs a year, or 36 days.  Much more than what he asked for.  Primitive camping is available onsite, so the club could camp and dig for three days.  Once you get your trip planned, you must give the landowner a list of those digging, which can be done when you pay your fee of $25.00 per day.  Again, I do not forsee anything happening before the first of the year. 
Gerald Reel
Thanks Harry!
So if we join the club, do we still pay to dig also, or the club pays for the dig? I guess I am kind of a loner when it comes to rockhounding but I have found everything except Amethyst and Reel is closer by than Diamond Hill although I am still looking for my own stray pocket. haha 
If you don't mind me asking where exactly is closer? Reason I'm asking is there are around a half-dozen or so rock clubs within a hour and a half from the Reel.
Mike Streeter

You'd still have to pay the digging fee when you go there as a member of a club.  But, the cost of membership to any NC club shouldn't cost you more than around 20 bucks for the entire year.  To put the cost of a club membership into perspective, the fee is about the same as purchasing a single 20-ounce bottle of coke one day per month.  As a bonus, club membership in the Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies entitles you to participate in all field trips hosted by the Dixie Mineral Council, a coalition of around 30 rockhounding clubs throughout the Southeast. Don't feel as though you have to attend club meetings in order to participate in field trips.  Chrissy and I are members of several clubs, including the Georgia Mineral Society and we are not able to attend its meetings since they are a 4 hour drive away from where we live.  One exception to the meeting rule is the Catawba Club, a member of the Eastern Federation of Mineralogical Societies, that has a two meeting requirement before applying for membership.   Lastly, you can still do your loner thing even if you participate in a club field trip as nobody will force you to interact with the others if you don't want.  Trust me, there are plenty of club members who prefer to keep to themselves and nobody cares - after all, digging holes and busting rock do not generally lend themselves to a whole lot of chatter.

Harry Polly
Well said, Mike.
Thank you for the Info Mike, I think I should join a club, I love the hobby and plus I really would love to find some Amethyst 
I live in Union county NC btw thanks
Harry Polly


I don't think anyone has said it yet, but welcome to the board.  Living in Union County will put you in close driving distance to the Forsythe club, the Greensboro club, the Charlotte club, the Gaston club, or the Hickory club.  I cannot speak for the other clubs as to how active they are with field trips, but being the field trip chairman of the Hickory club, I can tell you about ours.  We try to  hold a field trip every month except January, weather permitting.  Our field trips are usually held on the Saturday after the second Tuesday.  That would put this month's field trip, tomorrow.  We are planning a trip to the Sinkhole mine in Mitchell County.  If you know the way, and wish to join us, we should be there around 9:30 am.  If you do not know how to  get there, e-mail me off list for directions.  As Mike stated, our requirements to join are to attend two meetings, at which you may join at the second meeting.  The meetings do not have to be consecutive.  Our dues are $12.00 for individual, or $18.00 for family.  By joining a club, you are automatically covered by the club insurance on any sanctioned field trips.  This insurance does not specifically cover the individual if they get hurt on a dig, but mainly is to protect the landowner if any property gets damaged by an individual of the club.  If an individual gets hurt, it is usually from their own stupidity, not because something the landowner has done or not done.  This is the main reason  that individuals are not allowed to dig at the Reel Mine.  The only way that I can go personally is with a sanctioned dig from the club, not as an individual.  Our club policy has a limit of $2 million in liability.  All clubs must furnish the proof of insurance well enough in advance to be approved by the landowner and the county planning board.  E-mail me of list if you have any specific questions that I can answer.

Mike Streeter
Harry raised an important point about the liability insurance when he wrote that the insurance does not specifically cover the individual if they get hurt on a dig, but mainly is to protect the landowner if any property gets damaged by an individual of the club.  If an individual does gets hurt, it is usually from their own actions, not because of something the landowner has or has not done.  But, to protect the property owner from being sued by anyone getting hurt, all club members will be required to fill out and sign liability release forms holding the property owner harmless regardless of how any injury occurred.  It is not possible for a club member to sue his own club because legally this would be the same as trying to sue himself.  Therefore, it is important to invite only active club members to any dig because a participating non-member could potentially sue the club, although the likelihood of this happening is extremely remote.
Harry thanks for the welcome, I have plans already this weekend or I would go check it out, I have never been to the Sinkhole. I am pretty sure I am going to be joining somewhere considering that the yearly fees are so reasonable and I love the hobby. Happy rock hunting ya'll
I am VERY new to the rock hunting scene in North Carolina and I would really like to get a chance to dig along an experienced crew. I know the "winter" season is coming upon North Carolina, so I'm assuming you all don't dig a whole lot (?)...I'm not trying to sound like a jerk I promise, but I'm from Detroit, Michigan and weather doesn't phase me for rock hunting. Anyone want to give me any advice for rock hunting in NC?
Harry Polly

Look at the weather forecast for the area you plan to DIG in.  If the weather calls above freezing temps, no snow, ice, or rain, go for it.  Digging in the winter in adverse conditions can be dangerous.

The weather on the east side of the mountains can be totally different than on the west side.  One side my have rain.sleet, snow, while the other side have sunshine.  Check your weather predictions for the side of the mountains you wish to go. 
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