ST. GEORGE – Not all that glitters is free for the taking.
Thanks to the internet, there’s a prevailing belief that “Glitter Mountain,” a pit on public land in the Arizona Strip and about 10 miles south of St. George, is an old, abandoned mine where the selenite crystals found therein can be freely mined and taken.
The Bureau of Land Management and Russ Feller, the owner of the selenite mine claim, would like the public to know the mine is not abandoned, but active, and is a source of revenue for Feller Stone, a family business in based in Veyo.
“We would love to ask the public’s help in honoring the claimant’s mine and not mine his claim,” said Rachel Carnahan, public affairs officer for the BLM’s Arizona Strip District.
While Feller said he doesn’t mind people visiting the mine and taking tiny pieces of crystal left on the ground (2 inches or smaller), he does take issue with people extracting large chunks from his claim.
“Mr. Feller, of Veyo, has the exclusive mining rights to this claim,” Carnahan said.
The mine site, which has come to be known as “Glitter Mountain,” “Sparkle Mountain,” the “Glitter Pit” and other names, has become an increasingly popular spot for locals and tourists to visit over the last couple of years thanks to blogs and travel sites.
These sites do not mention the mine is active or the restrictions that go with it though, possibly because they just don’t know, Carnahan said.
Feller Stone mines the claim a couple of times a year and then covers up where they dug, Feller said. That’s likely the reason people think the mine is abandoned, he said.
Regardless, this has led to increasing concerns over theft and safety for Feller, and he’s been working with the BLM for over a year to remedy the situation.
Originally, Feller told the BLM he wanted to put a fence around the claim.
“They didn’t want me to put up a fence because people love going there,” he said, and he understands why. “It’s fun to go into the hills and look for shiny rocks.”
While the theft issue is self-evident, Feller said, he doesn’t want people going up to the ledge around the pit or into the pit proper. Someone could fall in or have rocks from above fall on them and get hurt. That presents a liability problem, he said.
“Because of the issues of losing revenue on the rock they take and being unsafe about it, those are the issues that concerned us,” Feller said, adding that plans are already in the works to wall-off the steeper cliffs.
As a way to get the correct word out about the mine, the BLM recently set up a signs asking visitors to respect the active mine claim.
Guidelines listed for visiting the mine include not going in or near the mine’s pit, as well as a prohibiting digging and mining implements and machinery – so leave the picks and shovels at home.
“It’s nice to have the signs out there,” Feller said, adding that some of the people who actually pay attention to it have called the BLM or Feller Stone for information.
“It’s starting to help, so the education process is starting to work,” he said.
Feller Stone has four active mining claims in the general area, Feller said, and advises that people who go onto the public lands do their due diligence and learn who may have a claim here or there and respect those claims accordingly.
“It’s like I told other people, ‘If there’s a pretty unique rock out there in the hills, it’s probably claimed by someone,’” he said.
The selenite, also called “Utah Ice,” tends to be sold off as a decorative rock for inside and outside of homes as well as in aquariums.
Feller again emphasized that people taking “a few pounds of the little stuff” at the Glitter Pit isn’t a problem, and remains open to people visiting it as long as they respect his claim,
However, if people continue to go in with picks and hammers to fill buckets and boxes with selenite, he said, it will likely lead to the site being closed off.
“If people aren’t respecting the claim and respecting what we’re trying to do, then we’ll have to apply to the BLM to get a fence put up,” Feller said.
Ed. Note: The Glitter Mountain site was the subject of a “No Filter Show” episode featured on St. George News in February 2015 that was also rerun as a “No Filter Flashback” in August 2017. The information presented in the episode was based on the mistaken belief the mine was abandoned with the selenite open to the public for extraction. Both the 2015 and 2017 posts featuring Glitter Mountain have been updated to reflect the information presented in the article above.
- PDFs of the information featured on the signs at the mining site
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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.