Forest Products Permits


Berries, fruit and other “wild foods” are abundant and free for the gathering. When gathering berries and fruits keep in mind the following; plants with thorns are good habitat for chiggers. Protective clothing and insect spray will help prevent misery. Snakes should also be guarded against by wearing high-topped boots. Gather only the amount of berries and fruits that will be used; wildlife depends upon such foods for sustenance. Make sure you do not trespass on private land.

Plant Collecting

Personal plant collection is allowed on National Forest lands except for designated Wilderness and Natural Areas. Commercial plant collecting is restricted and requires obtaining a permit from the Shawnee National Forest Supervisors Office. Collection of endangered, threatened, or rare species is prohibited.

Use of Metal Detectors

Metal detectors on National Forest and other public lands are generally used to look for lost or abandoned items of monetary, historical or collectable value. However, on National Forest lands their use is governed by strict regulations in conformance with federal legislation designed to protect our nation’s heritage as well as other resources. They can be used for searching for treasure trove, locating historical features and artifacts, prospecting for minerals, and searching for coins and lost metal objects.

The term "Treasure Trove" includes money, unmounted gems, precious metal coins, plate, or bullion that has been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovering it later. The search for buried treasure can involve methods that are potentially damaging to forest resources, thus a special-use permit from the Forest Service is required. Each permit request is thoroughly evaluated and permits may not be granted in each case.

Archaeololical Sites 

The use of metal detectors to locate objects of historical or archaeological value is permitted in accordance with the provisions of the Antiquities Act of 1906, the Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979, and the Secretary of Agriculture’s Regulations regarding protection of heritage resources. This activity requires a special-use permit. Permits are available only for legitimate research activities conducted by qualified individuals.Unauthorized use of metal detectors in the search for and collection of historic and archaeological artifacts is a violation of existing regulations.

Mineral Deposits

The use of a metal detector to locate mineral deposits such as gold and silver on National Forest System lands is considered prospecting. In the State of Illinois permits are required for prospecting. For more information on the legal requirements of prospecting permits contact the Forest Headquarters, Lands Department.

Recent Coins/Metal Objects

Searching for coins of recent vintage and small objects having no historical value, as a recreational pursuit, using a hand held metal detector, does not require a special-use permit as long as the use of the equipment is confined to areas which do not possess historic or prehistoric resources.  In some areas this can be difficult to determine. On the Shawnee National Forest, metal detector enthusiasts are free to explore developed recreation areas(campground, picnic and parking areas) at Garden of the Gods, Pounds Hollow, and Lake Glendale, but are excluded from areas known historical significance such as the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial is the location of one of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas Debates and was a gathering place for the Anna-Jonesboro community prior to that date. As such there are artifacts embedded in the ground that may relate to that event

Gold Panning

Recreational Gold-Panning, along with Rockhounding, is permitted on the Shawnee National Forests in Illinois.

Non-ground-disturbing recreational collection of hand-size rocks and minerals is allowed except in natural areas and archeological areas and at developed recreational sites.  Collection of rocks larger than hand-size is not allowed.  No fee is required as long as the specimens are for personal, noncommercial use; no mechanical equipment is employed; no significant surface disturbance results; and collections do not conflict with existing mineral permits, leases or sales.  However, a copy of this letter should be in your possession while conducting gold panning.

The United States owns the surface of the land on many areas of the Forest, but may not own the mineral rights.  There is no objection to collecting specimens of the local rock types exposed on the surface; however, mineral specimens which may have some value (such as gold) cannot be collected without permission from the mineral owner(s).  These areas can be identified from maps in our Supervisor’s Office located in Harrisburg, IL, or the Ranger Office administering the land.

Included with rockhounding is panning for gold in streams that cross Shawnee National Forest land, with some exceptions.  Recreational gold-panning is allowed within streams on the Forest.  Gold-panning may involve the pan ONLY.  Picks, shovels, or mechanical and motorized equipment are prohibited.  Disturbance of stream banks during panning is prohibited.  No fee is required, as long as only a pan is employed and no significant stream disturbance results.  On the Shawnee National Forest land where the minerals are privately owned, panners should obtain written permission from the mineral owner(s) prior to beginning.

The following are measures to mitigate negative effects of gold panning:

  • To access streams by motorized vehicle, use only open system roads.
  • No damming or diverting streams.
  • No removal or damage to streamside vegetation.
  • No digging or washing of bank material.
  • No use of mercury in recovery of gold.
  • No panning in streams designated as critical habitat for T & E species.

Numerous publications are available regarding the type, grade and location of precious minerals in Illinois.  These can be obtained from:

  • Illinois State Geological Survey 615 East Peabody Drive
    Champaign, Illinois  61820
  • Branch of Distribution U. S. Geological Survey
    1200 South Eads Street
    Arlington, VA  22202
  • Bureau of Land Management Publication Division
    7450 Boston Blvd.
    Springfield, VA  22153-3121

Help protect the lands and streams by complying with the above mitigating measures and contact us to verify the mineral rights ownership for the area of interest prior to conducting gold panning activity.!ut/p/z0/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfIjo8zijQwgwNHCwN_DI8zPwBcqYKBfkO2oCADIwpjI/?pname=Shawnee%2520National%2520Forest%2520-%2520Forest%2520Products%2520Permits&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&ss=110908&pnavid=160000000000000&navid=160110000000000&ttype=main&cid=FSE_003759