Due to a lapse in federal funding, this USDA website will not be actively updated. Once funding has been reestablished, online operations will continue. On-going operational updates will be posted here (https://www.fs.fed.us/shutdown) as we are able to provide them.


Resource Management

Minerals & Geology

Following are links to information you may need to prepare and submit a Notice of Intent or Plan of Operations for mineral prospecting, exploration or mining on NFS lands.

Questions about the Minerals & Geology Program should be directed to:

Clint Hughes
(208) 634-0756

Helpful Mining Information:

Forms and Examples

General Information

Rockhounding and Mineral Collection Information

Suction Dredging Information:  

Suction dredging is permitted in several areas of the forest but is not open on the east side of the forest under the Idaho Department of Water Resources Letter Permit or the EPA’s General NPDES Permit. The following information pertains to all locations.

  • Panning, Sluicing and Suction Dredging on the Payette NF
  • Idaho Department of Water Resources: The Idaho Stream Channel Protection Act requires that the stream channels of the state and their environment be protected against alteration for the protection of fish and wildlife habitat, aquatic life, recreation, aesthetic beauty, and water quality. This means IDWR must approve in advance any work being done within the beds and banks of a continuously flowing stream.
  • More information from IDWR, including Stream Alteration Permit and Recreational Mining Permit
  • Environmental Protection Agency NPDES Permit: EPA issued an NPDES general permit in 2013 for small suction dredge operations in Idaho. To comply with the Clean Water Act, operators of small suction dredges must obtain NPDES permit coverage prior to operation. The general permit covers small suction dredges with an intake nozzle size of 5” in diameter or less, with equipment rated at 15 horsepower or less.
  • More information from the EPA, including the Idaho Small Suction Dredge Mining General Permit

Regulatory Agencies

The U.S. Forest Service manages the surface estate of National Forest lands and is charged with ensuring that no adverse impacts to resources such as endangered species, water quality, fisheries, etc. result from prospecting and mining activities. Normally, panning or sluicing for gold using hand tools and non-motorized equipment is allowed without a Forest Service permit or bond. If an operation requires use of motorized equipment, suction dredges, results in the removal of vegetation, or causes significant ground disturbance, a prospector must contact the closest Forest Service district office to file a Notice of Intent to prospect or mine. (Please note: Some specified areas require a Plan of Operations to be submitted.) Once a Notice of Intent is filed, the district office will determine if a bond and reclamation plan is required.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the federal agency responsible for managing the mineral estate of the United States. The BLM Idaho State Office manages minerals in Idaho and is the office in which a claim staked in Idaho is recorded. Please contact the BLM Idaho State Office at 208-373-4000 if you wish to stake a mineral claim in Idaho.   https://www.blm.gov/programs/energy-and-minerals/mining-and-minerals/about/idaho

The State of Idaho also regulates mining and prospecting. Visit their website for information on Idaho requirements for obtaining permits.


Payette National Forest Timber Sales

Aerial photo of a stand of conifer trees

Information about currrent sales, bids and ads.

Noxious Weeds and the Payette NF

Noxious weed infestations pose a serious threat to the diversity, integrity, and health of the plant communities in the Payette National Forest, which in turn can have negative impacts on recreational experiences, timberlands, wildlife/fisheries habitat, and watershed stability