Home Up Site Map Contact Info Search
March 1999
1999 Editors' Awards January 1999 February 1999 March 1999 April 1999 May 1999 June 1999 September 1999 October 1999 November 1999 December 1999


A.F.M.S. Newsletter

Serving Seven Regional Federations

horizontal rule

Vol. 52 Issue 4

March, 1999

horizontal rule

Serving Seven Regional Federations

horizontal rule

A.F.M.S. Newsletter is published monthly
except January, July and August
by the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies.

A.F.M.S. Central Office
Dan McLennan, P.O. Box 26523
Oklahoma City, OK 73126-0523
(405) 682-2151

A.F.M.S. Newsletter Editor
Bill Luke, P.O. Box 237
Black Diamond, WA 98010-0237
(360) 886-2331
E-mail: bluke@foxinternet.net

horizontal rule


Address maintenance and mail labeling are the responsibility of the AFMS Central Office. All changes and questions should be sent there. Each club membership includes 3 monthly copies. Normally these go to the President, the Editor, and one other member. All others may subscribe. The publisher does the actual mailing.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: $3.50 per year
Remit payment to Central Office


Any communication concerning the content or format of the
Newsletter should be sent to the Editor.

DEADLINE IS 10th of the month preceding publication

horizontal rule

Material in this Newsletter may be duplicated
for non-commercial purposes with attribution.
For commercial use, the individual author(s)
must be contacted for approval.

horizontal rule

Executive Officers’ Reports:
President’s Message for February
Lewis Elrod

Another task completed. The committee assignments have been mailed as promised in the February Newsletter. This was quite a task as I added some items and really attempted to fill all of the spots prior to mailing. There are a few vacancies still and there will also be some corrections to be made during the year. Of particular importance to the success of the publicity campaign we are attempting will be the addition of as many email addresses as possible. Look over the listings and provide the requested information as quickly as possible. Much of the information will also be posted on our new web site.

We announced, in the February Newsletter, that our web site is now up and running. It is already proving popular. Even before the newsletter was delivered the word was spreading and we had several hundred "hits" on the site. As we polish up the site and begin to post it to the search engines I believe that it will be a very popular site on the Internet. www.amfed.org

As more and more of us gain access to the Internet and to email we will find communication much easier and faster. Last month I told of sending a document to an insurance company and the rapidity with which it was processed. This month we have an example that is much "closer to home." Ruby Lingelbach, President of the Rocky Mountain Federation tells in the February issue of the Rocky Mountain Federation News of her use of email to send a request for a room in the Tucson Convention Center to hold an "unofficial Rocky Mountain Federation meeting." She sent the email, finished another project in about an hour and checked to see if she had any mail and—there it was. The approval of the meeting room. The center office is, of course, in Tucson, Arizona but Ruby was in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Can you imagine how much longer it would have taken had she written a letter, addressed an envelope, placed a stamp on it, took it to the Post Office and then waited for days (weeks?) for a reply. This modern day is great.

Now, for another application for our hobby for this new, to many of us, thing. Let’s say we learn that an old collecting location will be available for a very limited time for collecting due to construction work being done. To attempt to call or write every person who might be interested would be extremely time consuming and might well not be possible. By the use of email a message could be sent to a large number of persons by simply typing the message one time and then sending it to the entire group at one time. Sounds great, doesn’t it? It is, I use it daily and it is a wonderful time saver. Marty Hart, our AFMS Webmaster, and I often send each other several email messages per day. To call each other this many times would interrupt our other work and cause much wasting of time. We can now read the mail when it is convenient, post a quick reply if needed and go on to other matters. I would really hate to do without it and look forward to the day when even more of us have this tool.

One thing that I have learned to look forward to is the many bulletins, which I am receiving. We have some really great people in this hobby. Their talents are displayed in the bulletin articles, which reflect the skills of the persons who are pursuing their interests in faceting, cabbing, silversmithing, etc. and then writing articles for the enjoyment and education of the rest of us. I am convinced that many of the rest of us are also capable of writing such articles and encourage you to give it a try. I believe you will find that you, as did I, will learn to enjoy this part of the hobby as well.

I am writing this column as I prepare to leave for New Mexico and Arizona on business. This will be my first visit to Tucson and it is with a great deal of eagerness that I await the trip. Next month I will tell of my visits with Bob Keller (Bob’s Rock Shop on the Internet), Bob Jones (Editor of Rock and Gem Magazine) and others who I am to meet while there. Keller is working toward coming to our convention and demonstrating rockhounding on the Internet and Jones is to write a two-page article on our Convention and Show for the June issue of the magazine.

Speaking of the convention, in the next few days the show packets will be mailed to all AFMS officers, Committee Chairs and to all Regional Federation officers. The Regional Federation Newsletters will then notify all member clubs of the details. The entire packet will also be posted on the Internet within a few days as well.

horizontal rule

Dan's Dealings
By Dan Lingelbach
AFMS President-Elec

It's been several years since you have seen my name in the AFMS Newsletter when my previous association was as 5th and 4th Regional Vice President. Now you notice it is President Elect. Therefore some biographical information maybe in order at this time.

I've been a "card carrying rockhound" for over 25 years, with the Stillwater Mineral & Gem Society, Stillwater, Oklahoma, as my home club. Like others, I also belong to other clubs. My first Federation association was as Co-Chairperson of the Rocky Mountain Federation Directory Committee with my wife, Ruby. From there it was RMFMS Show Chairman and then on to President of the RMFMS.

My main interest, in addition to rock hunting, is fluorescent rocks and minerals, which I use in school talks. I have faceted several gem stones, but not recently and will get back to it when field tripping is no longer possible. Participation in other activities of the Federation and assisting Ruby in her rock hound interests and her RMFMS job as President, constitutes my main involvement now in this enjoyable hobby.

My greatest concern about this hobby is maintaining access to rock and mineral collecting areas, whether they be public or private lands. I think the reason it is getting harder to obtain permission from landowners to hunt is because of liability concerns. In regard to access to public lands, I'm afraid the trend of closing off roads will continue in spite of all of our efforts. However, this is a battle which we must continue to wage just to keep from losing access to everything.

My plan for next year is to examine other options and I think the most productive might be to begin acquiring and/or leasing existing or potentially interesting hunting areas. Some way we have got to pool the expertise of our members in such an acquisition program. From various newsletters, I see where some clubs own or lease their own collecting sites. The knowledge these clubs have in acquiring and operating these areas needs to be made available so we can develop a coordinated program to acquire and maintain access to collecting areas. For various reasons some clubs have had to give up some or all of their previously held collecting leases or sites, so maybe the Federations can find some way to help regain these sites. Maybe the title of this column should have been "Dan's Dreams", but if we don't get started it surely won't happen. Ideas or suggestions from anybody would be appreciated. My address is in the column to the left.

I understand the Gold Panners Association of America, and some others, have a program where its members have access to certain gold panning areas of other members or the association. I would appreciate hearing from any gold panning rockhounds who can explain how this system works. Maybe something similar could be developed for rock hounding areas for "card carrying rockhounds".

In the November issue you got to meet our new President, Lewis Elrod. He has some great plans for the Federation and I encourage you to support him in his efforts to make the AFMS a more helpful organization. Hopefully, I'll get to see many of you in the next couple of years as I attend Federation shows and meetings of other clubs.

horizontal rule


January 29, 1999

By George Loud, Chair, AFMS
Conservation & Legislation Committee

Proposed New BLM Rules
for Invertebrate Fossils and Petrified Wood

"BLM Bulletin - Fossils and Petrified Wood" (4310-84-P) announces proposed rules "to consolidate BLM's regulations and provide the public with a single reference to the agency's policies and regulations for collecting fossils and petrified wood on public lands." According to the BLM Bulletin the proposed rules would be responsive to an executive order of March 4, 1995 directing federal agencies to simplify their regulations. Currently, 43 CFR 8365.1-5(b) allows for the collection of "reasonable amounts" of common invertebrate fossils on BLM lands without a permit. The collecting of petrified wood on BLM lands is covered by a separate rule 43 CFR 3622.4 which provides "the maximum quantity of petrified wood that any one person is allowed to remove without charge per day is 25 lbs. in weight plus one piece, provided that the maximum total amount that one person may remove in one calendar year shall not exceed 250 lbs."

The BLM notice of proposed rule making characterizes the newly proposed rules as a consolidation and simplification. Further, it characterizes the difference between the proposed new rule and existing regulations as relating only to the extension of the 25 lb. per day maximum rule for petrified wood to additionally cover invertebrate and/or plant fossils. In point of fact, the proposed rules differ from existing regulations in other important details. Specifically, the language "plus one piece" presently found in 43 CFR 3622.4, relating to the collection of petrified wood, would be dropped. Thus, not only would the maximum amount of invertebrate and/or plant fossils be limited by the proposed rule, the collecting of petrified wood would also be restricted to 25 lbs. per day maximum (without the provision for the additional "one piece"). Further, the 25 lb. maximum for invertebrate and/or plant fossils would include "the surrounding matrix in which the fossil is imbedded" - another difference from the existing regulations which do not mention matrix.

In correspondence with the BLM I raised the following objections to the new proposed rules:

1. Insofar as the proposed rules would (1) include matrix within the weight limit and (2) drop the language "plus one piece" the new rules would impose significant new restrictions on collectors and go well beyond a "consolidation" or "simplification."

2. Inclusion of matrix within the weight limit would encourage removal of matrix from fossils in the field with several undesirable consequences. Firstly, proper development and exposure of fossils in the matrix is an art not well suited to practice in the field. Removal of matrix in the field, rather than later at the leisure of the collector, is much more likely to result in damage to the fossil. Secondly, it is often desirable to leave at least some amount of matrix attached to the fossil in order to provide information as to the geological context in which the fossil was found.

3. Deletion of the provision for "plus one piece" of petrified wood would encourage the breaking up of petrified wood in the field with the consequent loss of value to the collector.

The proposed new rules would inadvertently promote undesirable collecting practices.

Please forward your comments to:
Bureau of Land Management
Administrative Record Room 401, LS
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20240


Department of Interior 1999 Appropriation Bill

The 1999 Appropriation Bill for the Department of Interior directs "the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with appropriate scientific, educational and commercial entities, should develop a report assessing the need for a unified federal policy on the collection, storage and preservation of these fossils ... The committee encourages the Secretary to assess the need for standards that would maximize the availability of fossils for scientific study. The committee expects the Secretary to submit the report to Congress no later than February 1, 1999. In addition, the report should evaluate the effectiveness of current methods for storing and preserving fossils collected from public lands." Earlier this month, on behalf of this committee, I wrote the Honorable Bruce Babbitt a letter requesting that the interests of amateur fossil collectors be taken into account in formulation of the report to Congress. This should be interesting. Stay tuned.


Loss of Mine Sites/Opportunities for Mineral Collecting

In the 1998 issue of "CRM" (Cultural Resources Management) entitled "America's Mining Heritage", published by the National Park Service, Homer E. Milford wrote:

A few short years ago our nation's mineral heritage dotted, if not covered, the landscape of the western states, with headframes and waste piles providing a romantic image of mining for tourists and locals alike. Millions still enjoy the vista of surviving mining remnants on federal lands. However, this landscape will probably be gone in a decade. After that, our mining heritage will only be available by reading "ghost town" books or through visits to the relatively few well preserved parks with mining features. The loss of our mining heritage in the wild will accelerate in the next few years, rather than diminish. Not because of the gradual effects of wind, weather and vandals, but primarily due to well-intended government programs, professional mining-oriented artifact collectors and new open pit mines.

A recent quarterly newsletter from the Yuma (Arizona) field office of the BLM, gives notice of "mine cleanup" for the Clark, Corley, Bellargeon, Stewart and Trigos Mines. Thus, one quarterly project list for one field office in Arizona gives notice of loss of five mine sites.

David Shannon in his November 7, 1996 price list wrote:

Arizona has lots of mineral localities, but like everywhere else in the USA, they are rapidly disappearing due to environmentalists and lawyers. BLM's bulldozers are sealing mines and paving dumps at an alarming rate.

More recently, Lanny Ream, the publisher of "Mineral News" writes:

However, this wholesale action of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to close all mines completely ignores the science and hobby of minerals. Mines that have recently been the site of discovery of new minerals have been rehabbed with the loss of any new information. A real shame and a loss to science and education. The perceived danger of mines is way out of proportion to the true danger, especially when compared to other recreation activities.

I would greatly appreciate receiving any suggestions you might have for slowing our government's obliteration of old mine sites.


Closure of Deer Hill Amethyst Locality, Oxford County, Maine

This one hits "close to home" because Deer Hill is a site where I collected as a participant in the July/August 1994 Collecting tour sponsored by the EFMLS. I vividly recall a long hike to the top of the hill with my collecting partner Norman Leppert, only to find ourselves thoroughly lost. We retreated to the base of the mountain to get better directions and again climbed the hill, and located the mine area.

Deer Hill is one of the collecting sites featured in Bulletin 41 "A Collector's Guide to Maine Mineral Localities" published by the Maine Geological Survey. It is reputed to be the only amethyst locality on public lands in New England. Shortly before the EFMLS 1994 collecting tour, Deer Hill yielded a treasure-trove of beautiful amethysts to a group of miners.

The information I have received indicates that the Forest Service intends to "close Deer Hill for a couple of years to rehab the hillside." You eastern collectors out there may want to write to express your interest in the reopening of Deer Hill to collecting as soon as practical.

Letters may be addressed to:

Donna Hepp, Supervisor
White Mountain National Forrest
719 Main Street
Laconia, NH 03246

George A. Loud
Chair, Conservation and Legislation Committee, AFMS
9709 Layminster Lane
Vienna, VA 22182

horizontal rule

February 10, 1999

George Loud, Chair
AFMS Conservation and Legislation Committee


I have now learned that the Department of Interior has requested an extension of the February 1, 1999 deadline for the report on "A Unified Federal Policy on... Fossils" required by Congress in the Department of Interior Appropriations Bill. I should have known that the February 1, 1999 deadline would not hold. I expect that the report will be several more months in the making. This delay offers us a window of opportunity to request Secretary Babbitt to weigh the benefits to amateurs deriving from fossil collecting on public lands, as well as the benefits of amateur contributions to museums and the advancement of paleontological research. If you can only write one letter this month, that letter should be to Secretary Babbitt. I suspect that the report of DOI to Congress will preempt or shape the proposed BLM rules discussed in my column. Comments should be sent to:

The Honorable Bruce Babbitt
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240

 SAMPLE LETTER - - It's better to use your own words, but you may follow this one as an example:

horizontal rule

February 8, 1999
The Honorable Bruce Babbitt
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240

Re: Federal Policy - Fossil Collection,
Storage and Preservation
Report Requested in 1999 Appropriations Bill

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am an amateur fossil collector and I am writing to request that the interests of amateurs such as myself be considered in your report to Congress which has been mandated by the 1999 Appropriations Bill for the Department of Interior.

The availability of public lands for amateur fossil collecting provides tremendous value in educational and recreational opportunities for amateur collectors. Moreover, many of the fossils on display in the public museums in our country and in other countries were contributed and/or located by amateur collectors. The man-hours required to save any significant portion of the fossils from public lands lost to the natural processes of weathering and erosion each year are available only within the community of amateur fossil collectors and "rock hounds."

Please do not neglect the rights, interests and contributions of amateur fossil collectors in the drafting of your policy statement to be reported to Congress.

Yours truly,


(signature) date

Name: ____________________________






By Bill Luke

I hope I can convey just a little of the meaning from the many messages that I have gotten this past couple of weeks. There is such a multitude of information out there that should scare each and every rockhound into action! We talk "around the fire", at our meetings, or wherever about what "they" are doing to us. Yes, they are doing it. But - what are we doing for ourselves?

I cannot even start to put into this column the volume of information available or that I received just this month alone, so I’ll mention a couple, put in some articles and hope to raise several red flags. Details are available from several sources. Please, get the details! And ACT, as you see fit.

We are developing Web sites on the Internet, but they will take time to get up to what they should be. Volunteers, anyone??? The ALAA needs you!

Enough introduction, here’s some of it:

UN Biosphere Reserve

Although it has been around for twenty-five years, few people have heard of the United Nation's Biosphere Reserve Program. The program's strategic plan states: "As the number of participating sites grows, so will the opportunities for the sites to coordinate their authorities and capabilities for applying ecological principles to regional conservation and development. The Plan is intended to be substantially implemented during the next decade with support from US MAB's [Man and the Biosphere, a related UN program] member agencies, private organizations and an expanding community of BR [Biosphere Reserve] stakeholders at the local level."

Just what is a Biosphere Reserve? You can get the answer to this question from: cranston@gj.net. Send an e-mail to Bob.

This report comes from the National Wilderness Institute. You can reach the NWI by going to www.nwi.org. Check it out. Find out about National Parks, and other listings under "National Parks"!


"President Clinton is beginning the 21st Century with a commitment to conservation that harkens back to the commitment made by Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of the 20th Century," said Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. "His proposed budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service underscores the American people's love for the outdoors and wild creatures and will open the way for the government to work in even closer partnership to conserve them."

"The increased funding in the President's budget will allow the Service to more effectively perform its mission to conserve our Nation's fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitat for the benefit of the American people," said Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark.

Get it all from: cranston@gj.net.

horizontal rule

Editor's Column
By Bill Luke

Update on the timeliness of delivery of the AFMS Newsletter - We cannot do much about USPS distribution/delivery. The January issue was late, in part, because Dan had been updating the circulation list and sent the labels to Idaho later than usual. Our printer is the Standard Journal Newspapers in Rexburg, Idaho. They seem to do a good, timely job at getting it out.

I hope you got the February issue much earlier. The labels were mailed on the 18th and the paste-up on the 20th. In the future, we are planning on mailing, and putting online, by the 15th. Please heed the input deadline of the 10th of the month preceding publication.

Dan McLennan has been "working hard for all of us" on updating the mailing list. He has written about it in the Exec. Officers’ column. This is a Major task. Now that the list is in much better shape than ever before, he can mail the labels earlier.

When someone says, "I’ve been working real hard for you", what does that really mean? In this case, Dan has written about going through all of the Regional Directories to get info for the three in each club who are to receive the AFMS Newsletter- a monumental task! Also, whatever other paper, or knowledge at hand, for the annual update of Officers, committees, and others who are to receive a copy. To give one example of what he didn’t write, he looks at (reads) every club bulletin he receives, looking to see if someone has passed away, changed office, etc. If so, who is the Editor, or President, to contact to get the right mailing for that club? When you consider that that attitude and devotion is applied to all aspects of his job, you begin to understand just a little of "what the Federation does for me".

We cannot emphasize too much, even if you get tired of seeing it, that each of you, in all clubs, offices, committees, have a responsibility to notify Dan of your correct title, address, etc. Please do your part. We, the AFMS, want every rockhound to be a participant in our wonderful hobby.

Visit our Web-site, www.amfed.org! I’ve sent some things from the AFMS Newsletter. Marty and I have been talking about some possibilities of what the content should be, and how to present it. Please, we want feedback. What is it that you like, dislike? What would you add, delete?

Notice that I’ve finally completed the list of Bulletin Editors Awards. The Hall of Fame list was put on hold due to the volume of other inputs. Hopefully, there will continue to be much input from Regionals, and reports on what our committees are doing.

Friends! Fellow Rockhounds!! I usually don’t get political, and maybe I shouldn’t; but since this is an Editorial, and your Editor has been "up to here" in news from ALAA, our Regional Federations and elsewhere, I believe I must share with you. Please notice the article in "From the Regional Directors", above, written by CFMS President, Ken Kruschke. It is well written, put in words that I think many of us wish we could do.

Also, these past few days, I have been receiving many articles from Bob Cranston, ALAA Secretary. The essence of them, or a summary, is and will be included in every issue of the AFMS Newsletter. You can find more on our Web-site at: http://www.amfed.org, or by e-mailing Bob at: cranston@aol.com.

Also, please read "Loud and Clear"
(pp 1, 8-9); then, Write !!

Are we a SILENT majority?? Are we going to read about, and get upset while we are losing those things of interest to us??? The ONLY way we can do something to defend our interests is to ACT!!! In numbers! And in Dollars! The reason ALAA was formed was for rockhounds to have a lobbing voice. We must support our interests through that organization.

Join. Pay dues. Contribute.
In numbers.

Allow me to share one of my favorite quotes, from Thomas Jefferson:

"Eternal Vigilance
is The Price of Freedom!"

I’m gonna quit now. This is the third time I thought this issue was complete and checked- then another time-critical input came in. If I refer to something that isn’t here, look next month, maybe it got put aside ’till April.

horizontal rule

Letter to the Editor:

horizontal rule

Bill Luke, Editor, AFMS Newsletter

I am pleased to see that the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies Commemorative Stamps Committee has proposed a set of twelve birthstone topical stamps. I will see that our editor is aware of your request for "reprinting" of your article. I commend and support the Stamp Committees efforts.

I am going to take the liberty to expand a bit and describe to your readers some aspects of stamp collecting. A "topical" is a stamp that recognizes a specific topic. The "Mineral Heritage Issue" of 10c diamond shaped stamps issued in 1974 featuring one each of petrified wood, tourmaline, amethyst and rhodochrosite was the only rock and mineral topical set ever issued by our postal service. I am sure most rock hobbyists would like more, such as those you have proposed.

More people participate in stamp collecting than in any other hobby. Due to the large number of collectors, most stamps, new or used, have some degree of value. For this reason, most rock clubs and organizations collect them for resale. The funds are channeled to some worthy cause such as TB or Cancer research, food and milk for needed children, etc. If you are one of the thousands of individuals that help rock organizations do so, the following is reasonable logic: Stamp values are like rock and mineral values, the greater the beauty, condition, and rarity, the greater the value. The best stamps to "recycle" into the program are the high denomination, colorful, pretty, undamaged stamps such as "duck" stamps, express mail and commemorative stamps.

Back to the purpose of this letter. Several years ago I unsuccessfully forwarded a stamp topic to the USPS Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee. It is a topic that our club eagerly supported. I believe it would be a worthwhile topic to pursue after the current birthstone stamps become a reality. Let me provide a little background. Earth science issues have probably been the most overlooked topic. We would like to see an issue of 50 stamps representing the 50 states "official state stones". I feel that this issue would be a logical continuation of the following sets already issued:

Multi-year issue of state anniversaries for historians & geographers. 1976- issue of state flags for historians & geographers. 1982- issue of state birds & state flowers for biologist and outdoors men.

State flags, state anniversaries, state birds and state flowers. Why not state stones?


Lillian Turner, Chairperson, AFMS Commemorative Stamps Committee, 6627 Radnor Rd, Bethesda, MD 20817-6324

Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee, C/O Stamp Management, US Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 4474EB, Washington, DC 20260-6756


Larry G. Field
4226 Autumn Lane
Billings, Mt 59106

(Signed by 11 Officers and Board of Directors of the Billings, MT, Gem & Mineral Club)

horizontal rule

From the Regional Directors:

By Ken Kruschke, CFMS President

We Americans are an easy going people; you might say sort of a sleeping giant. We generally feel that our lawmakers.… city, county, state, and federal, represent us in a fair and even-handed way with little or no help or say so from us. Unfortunately, this is not the way it always works. Small fringe groups with a dedicated following can use this easy going way of ours to their advantage. They come on as the good guys in the white hats saving the world from, or for, whatever their beliefs are. The spin on their causes are well financed and well done and of course they do convert some people to their beliefs.

These groups know what gets the attention of elected officials, from the dog catcher to the president of our land… ballots cast on election day. They need votes to get into power and to stay in power. If a group can convince a candidate they can deliver a large block of votes and then do, the candidate owes them big time. Votes are paid for by favors.

The individuals in these groups donate money for campaigns and they call on their candidates by mail, fax, e-mail, telegraph, telephone, and personal visits to communicate what they have on their minds. When election day arrives, these people all cast their ballots as a block. With the small percentage of registered voters casting ballots, it's no wonder that a small group can have its own way.

They communicate with candidates and public officials, we don't. They vote, and we don't.

We need to make ourselves aware of the things going on, not only in our backyard, but in every backyard in the United States. Communication between people of like persuasions across our land is a must. The lawmakers we elect to office need to know our views on issues they vote on in other states, just as voters in other states make their views about issues in our state known to their elected lawmakers.

There are organizations that track issues relevant to us. They need us to communicate with lawmakers, and they need money to defray expenses of their labors.

The silent majority, whether it's apathy or not taking the time and making the effort to communicate, registering to vote, and voting, are letting themselves be pushed around.

Freedom is not free. It was bought and paid for with blood and sacrifices. We can each help keep our freedoms alive and well with a little time, effort, and money.

From C.F.M.S. Newsletter,
February, 1999



Neil’s Notes
By Neil Snepp, MFMGS President

The unusually balmy weather I experienced in the U.P. in August and in Florida in November and December has given away to the reality of winter in Michigan and other MWF states. The "Blizzard of 1999" slowed things down, but most distressing was the loss of my phone service for a week. The cause is debatable but I think it is finally operable again.

I had a large number of club bulletins to read when I returned from Florida. Thank you to all of the clubs who have added me to your mailing list. I enjoy learning about your activities. I am pleased to observe that a number of clubs are passing on information from the AFMS, MWF, and ALAA. I will air a commercial here for support of the ALAA both as individuals and clubs. It's the best voice we have in Washington. It keeps us informed and we, in turn, can make our opinions known to our legislators. I just read a study by another national organization concerning letters/messages - phone, E-mail, etc. – to Congress. Several Congressmen were quoted as saying that numbers do count; so let's give support to ALAA and make our opinions known about legislation that affects our hobby.

(part of the President‘s page)
From MWF Newsletter,
Feb., 1999

horizontal rule

News From the Regional Federations:


Welcome to Wildacres -
An Invitation to take
Competitive Judging

By Catherine J, Gaber,
Wildacres Functioning Committee

Each Federation is invited to send two representatives to study Competitive Judging at the Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland, NC. No experience in judging is required to participate. Experienced judges may wish to take the class to use it as a model for setting up a similar certification program in their own Federations. Eastern is the only Federation to currently sponsor this program. The class, using AFMS rules, is an essential part of the EFMLS certification process. Esther Dunn, EFMLS representative to the Uniform Rules Committee, will be the instructor.

The May 24-30, 1999 session will feature Jay Lininger, founder and editor of Matrix Magazine, as the guest speaker.

At the September 7-13, 1999 session, Nancy Koski, a New England collector whose specialty is Herkimer "diamonds", will be the speaker.

The cost is $250 per person, which covers the cost of housing (dormitory style, double occupancy with a private bath), meals (family style), daily lectures and instruction. A $100.00 deposit for each person is required to reserve a space. For an application form, please contact the registrar:

Angie Teixeira
24 Ford St.
Seekonk, MA 02771.

Applications should be completed ASAP. Directions, schedules and other information are sent to participants several weeks before each session.

Come join us for another magical week on the mountain top!

For more detailed information,
e-mail the author at bg@his.com,
or call (301) 654-7479.



Why Belong to a Federation?
By Dean Britt, Editor
Chattanooga Choo-Choo
Tennessee Valley Rock & Gem Club

I often wondered just why we, as a club, had to join a Federation. After our club was started, seemed like no time, until someone suggested joining a federation. At this time, 1971, it was the Eastern Federation. It was discussed and voted on, and we became members. After several years I was still wondering, just why we had joined a Federation. Oh, we received a newsletter several times a year, telling us about distance meetings and shows. In fact, a couple of our members even went to some of those. But for the most part, I felt like we paid our money to the Federation for, well a pedigree. Sort of like registering our dog with the AKC. Oh well, at least someone knew that somewhere in Tennessee there was a club called the Tennessee Valley Rock and Gem Club.

Then something changed. Vi Hicks was President and her last act of business before leaving office was to get us to join the Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc. I'll admit she worked hard, for a whole year, before convincing us that we needed to belong to another Federation. Now we belonged to two Federations! Wow, we were just right up town, so to speak. I think I was probably one of the last holdouts in voting for SFMS. I was still wondering why we had joined the first federation, much less joining another one. In fact, I'm not sure I even voted, since I was totally against throwing good money after bad. Well, as I said earlier something changed, we had joined SFMS. Within a month we received the Lodestar, plus lots of other information about what was happening in and around us. There were shows nearby and some place called Wildacres. There were meetings within a few hours drive of Chattanooga.

We had some great speakers from the SFMS come and share with us. Among them Frank Mayo, Herb Coe, David White, Rufus Speaks and Lewis Elrod, just to mention a few.

We joined the SFMS in 1981 and by 1983 we dropped out of the Eastern Federation in favor of SFMS. That was the year I attended my first Federation meeting and I loved it. I enjoy family reunions and this was like belonging to a huge family that liked the same things I did. Not even my own family understands why anyone would spend their vacation digging for rocks. In fact, they are sure I'm over the edge, washing rocks, looking for a tiny sparkle of color when I could be taking a cruise or flying off to Hawaii. But when I go to an SFMS meeting everyone there is just as crazy as I am, about rocks and minerals that is, and I feel right at home.

Now I know about that place called Wildacres and another place called William Holland Retreat. I know about the Slide and Video Tape program, and about competitive exhibits. I also know about an insurance we have because we are members of SFMS. I am even aware of the Bulletin Editors' Contest.

In the 10 years we have belonged the SFMS I have yet to meet an unfriendly rock hound at any of the meetings I've attended. I only wish I could attend all four meetings each year.

The Lord willing, I am planning to go to Jacksonville to the upcoming meeting and show. And, if you can possibly go, do. Then you too will know, as I do, just why we belong to a Federation. The Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.



American Golden Topaz
Friday, February 05, 1999

We have learned from Jeff Post of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC that reports being circulated concerning damage to the American Golden Topaz are totally untrue.

You will recall that this is the large topaz which was purchased and presented to the Smithsonian by the rockhounds of America through the efforts of the American Federation.

The American Golden remains on display in the new Gem Hall at the Smithsonian.

Carolyn Weinberger

horizontal rule

Bill Burns

According to Websters Dictionary, a hobby is an activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation in one's spare time. I am certain that is why so many of us became interested in this hobby. It is exciting to go on field trips and find beautiful gems and minerals. What a joy it is to cut a slab and see the beautiful colors and designs, or to clean a mineral and view nature's perfection, or to discover a good fossil specimen. Then taking these prizes to a club meeting or a show to share with others brings even more satisfaction.

Gem and mineral collecting is versatile; a person can enjoy it out on the desert, in a shop, at a society meeting, or at a show. But we have to become involved to gain the pleasure that we are seeking. People can not receive gratification from organizations unless they participate. The ninety year old man could not have enjoyed the field trip if he had not attended it.

We have a great hobby-let’s put the fun back into it. Get a little cab making going; get a little silversmithing started; get a little faceting done; get into rockhounding, WE'RE GONNA BE ALL RIGHT!

From Cobb-L-Stones, 10-95,
via: SCFMS Newsletter, et al

horizontal rule



By Mel Albright, AFMS Safety Chair

Like many rockhounds, I have some mineral samples. Like many rockhounds, the samples need cleaning up. Ugly stuff is on the surfaces of the pretty stuff. Like many rockhounds, my first thought is "I'll soak it in some acid." Like many rockhounds, I may be headed for trouble.

First, the perennial warning - AAA - always add acid. If you are going to dilute acid with water, always add the acid to the water. Why? The heat of solution of acid in water is high. If you add water to acid, it turns to steam and blows acid into the air. Very bad if your hand is still over the acid. Even worse if your head is, also.

Now - about cleaning up. The list of possible acids contains some that YOU AND I should NEVER get near. Hydrofluoric acid (HF) cleans fluorite. BUT, it is so dangerous that we should never consider using it. To quote from the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for HF: "Vapors may be irritating to skin, eyes, nose and throat. Inhalation of vapors may cause irritation or burns of the respiratory system, pulmonary edema, or lung inflammation. Liquid and vapor cause severe burns that may not be immediately painful or visible. Substance is readily absorbed through the skin, penetrating the skin to attack underlying tissues and bone. Ingestion may cause severe burns to the mouth, throat, and stomach. HF may have adverse effects on kidney function, and may be fatal." The MSDS goes on for some time. What the above does not say is all those bad things occur with VERY low exposures. Convinced? It is NOT something for amateurs to be around. It is something professionals treat with much protective equipment, safety hoods, training, and care and only when required.

Hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid) (swimming pool acid) (HCl) can be used for cleaning. Because it is so common, many people consider it as not too dangerous. WRONG! The HCl MSDS says: "Inhalation of vapors may cause pulmonary edema, circulatory system collapse, damage to upper respiratory system, collapse. Touching it is even worse. With eye goggles and rubber gloves, you can use this material. But you must be very careful with it.

Nitric acid (HNO3) is sometimes considered for cleaning since many nitrates are soluble in water. Trouble is that nitric acid is a strong oxidizer. That means it reacts strongly with all organic material - like people. It is also extremely corrosive. Contact with skin or eyes may cause permanent damage. The vapors can be dangerous, too. Most important - it is so reactive that it may well boil when you pour it onto your specimen to be cleaned. Use goggles and rubber gloves if you do try to use this stuff.

Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is also available for use. Vapors can cause severe irritation of the respiratory system. Liquid can cause severe burns to the skin and eyes. Ingestion may be fatal.

Now a couple of more benign materials. Acetic acid (vinegar) can be used to clean specimens. It is dangerous when in strong solution - corrosive, and can cause serious burns. In the form we get it from the grocery, it is safe for us, but still corrosive.

Oxalic acid is often used to remove iron stains from quartz. Again we often underestimate its danger because it is common. Contact with the skin or eyes may cause severe irritation or burns. Ingestion may be fatal.

In summary - DO NOT USE ANY ACID unless you are trained to do so. If you do, use protective gloves, eye protection, have good ventilation, and remember AAA and that use may generate heat and cause rapid and immediate boiling.

References: Applicable MSDS's 

horizontal rule

News 'N' Notes
Regarding Juniors
by Bob & Kathy Miller,
AFMS Junior Activities Chairmen

WELCOME to another new Future Rockhounds of America Club. We just received an application from the Lakeside Junior Rock Club of Kennewick, Washington. They are a strong club of 25 members and very active in the hobby.

We would like to reinforce our reminder to ALL people who plan on attending the national AFMS convention in Nashville, TN, to remember the Juniors. We will have a hand out booth at this show for Juniors, with lots of material in books, papers and many other items. We are lacking the actual rock, mineral and fossil specimens that juniors love. We only ask that what you contribute is not a "leaverite". We have been very successful in obtaining material from companies but NOT actual specimens. Won't you take a moment and check out your collection to see what you can spare?

Many clubs have juniors and are interested in organizing them into a youth club or program all their own, but not sure how to go about it. The following is a guideline for adult members or leaders to use.


Planning and organizing youth activity clubs for the mineral, fossil, and lapidary hobby dictates that immense pre-planning be undertaken.

It is not a one person job but one requiring input from many. Teachers, scout leaders, church youth organizations leaders, parents, and adult mineral hobbyists and professionals.



 As evidenced by the above it will take a lot of follow through and not just agreeing that a club would be nice. If you do not get behind the effort in earnest then do not start as it would be a tremendous let down to the youngsters if you fail to come through.


horizontal rule

By Louellen Montgomery, President, AFMS SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION, INC. January 1999

horizontal rule

The Honorary Award Winners from six Regional Federations have selected students to receive AFMS Scholarship Foundation grants for the 1998-99 school year. All grants are for $2,000.00 each per year. 375 students have received grants from the Foundation since the first grant of $300.00 was given in 1965, totalling $870,650.00. The AFMS societies and their members have made this possible by their generous support of the Foundation.

Following is a list of the students receiving scholarship grants this year, plus those students receiving the second year of the 1997-98 grants:

California Federation:

Robert A. Bielinsky is studying for his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, coming from the University of Oregon. His special interest is the Earth's natural electrical and magnetic field, looking at mountain ranges around the Pacific Rim to determine whether or not they have deep crustal "roots".

Mark Webster is completing work on his M.S. in Geological Science and continuing to the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Riverside, coming there from Cincinnati. As a paleontologist, he is studying trilobites from the Cambrian time. He has also written papers on the evolution of scorpions.

The 1997-98 students, Isabelle Sacramento Grilo continues study for her M.S. in Geological Science at San Diego State University, and, Michael G. Sommers continues his work on his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Eastern Federation:

Benson Chow graduated from Mississippi State University with a B.S. in Geology and is studying for his M.S. in Geology there. His thesis research is on the ground water and surface water interaction in Choctaw County, Mississippi.

Cynthia L. Abbott received her B.S. in Geoscience from Mississippi State University and continues her studies there for her M.S. in Geoscience. She is an active member in the MSU Earth Science Club and a member of the Mississippi Gem and mineral Society.

James W. Nizamoff, one of the 1997-98 students, continues work at the University of New Orleans, Louisiana, for his M.S. in Geology. Lila S. Taylor, receiving the second year of the 1997-98 grant to Peter E. Tice, is working on her M.S. in Geology, also at the University of New Orleans.

Midwest Federation:

Michael A. Brennan received his B.S. in Environmental Geology at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, and is working on his M.S. at Michigan State University, East Lansing. His studies concentrate on Hydrogeology with his research interest on groundwater contamination and developing an easier way to determine their extent.

Karen R. Stockstill received a B.A. in Physics at Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, and is working on her M.S. in Geology at Michigan State University, East Lansing. Her thesis concerns the origin and evolution of the Burroughs Mountain lava flow on Mount Rainier, Washington. Her future plans are to pursue a Ph.D. in Planetary Geology and the study of igneous processes on both the moon and Mars.

At the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, the 1997-98 students, Nicole Albright continues work for her M.S. in Geosciences, and, Connie Kaplan continues her work for her Ph.D. in Geology.

Northwest Federation:

The 1998-99 scholarship grant recipients have not been named at this time.

The 1997-98 students, Arvid K. Aase continues his work for his Ph.D. in Geology at the University of Kansas, Lawrence; Forest J. Gahn continues his work for his M.S. in Paleontology at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rocky Mountain Federation:

Katherine A. Kelley received her B.A. in Geology at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota and is studying for her Ph.D. in Geology at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. Receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, she spent one year in the Philippine Islands concentrating her studies on volcanic rocks and ophiolites. In the Spring of 1999 she will be doing study work on the JOIDES Resolution, the drill ship for the Ocean Drilling Program.

Justin Foslien received his B.S. in Geoscience at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington and is studying for his M.S. in Environmental Geology at Kansas State University, Manhattan. His specific area is in environmental hydrogeology, pursuing the study of groundwater quality and the application of remedies to polluted areas of the country.

One of the 1997-98 students, Sara-Eva Martinez-Alonso, continues her studies for her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Daniel P. Miggins is receiving the second year of the grant to Juan Carlos Moya, and is working on his M.S. in Geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

South Central Federation:

Justin A. Zumbro, a native of Gainesville, Florida, received his B.S. in Geology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and is working on his M.S. in Geoscience at the University of Texas, Austin. His field of interest is igneous and metamorphic geology as it applies to the Llano Uplift of Texas. The field of environmental geology is his future occupational goal.

Receiving her B.S. in Geology at the University of Texas, Austin, Cori A. Lambert continues her studies there for her M.S. in Geological Sciences, specializing in tectonics and metamorphic petrology. Her field area is located in the Central Range, Irian Jaya, Indonesia, studying and documenting the meso-scale structural geology and metamorphic petrology of an enormous porphyry deposit there.

The 1997-98 students continue their studies at the University of Texas, Austin, with Susan D. Anderson pursuing her M.S. in Geology and David M. Hirsch working on his Ph.D. in Geology.


horizontal rule

� 1998-2020 American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.
Send suggestions to webmasteramfed.org