Panning for gold is a Vermont tradition. It is a hobby that lets families and friends enjoy a summer day on a brook and it is used for recreation by many residents and visitors in our Green Mountains. Gold panning is a simple, easy and inexpensive way to try your luck with Mother Nature and enjoy all the outdoor benefits she offers.
Gold is beautiful and so long-lasting that gold represented wealth and immortality in historic societies. Gold “strikes” in history are legendary and mythical and date back to the Romans, Egyptians and Phoenicians.
As a pastime, gold prospecting by hand is a non-invasive and low-stream-impact and so is unregulated on State lands if done by only using a hand pan. Hand panning on private land requires landowner permission and operating a sluice is allowed only on private land and requires both landowner permission and a permit from the State. Aggressive gold panning practices such as dredging upsets stream systems and fish and wildlife habitat, ruins the experience for the next group arriving and takes the fun out of their new discovery and wild adventure.
Mineral prospecting in Vermont is allowed by statute with restrictions on sluice boxes and prohibiting suction dredges. Information on Mineral Prospecting Permitting and an application can be found at: http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/rivers/htm/rv_management.htm#gravel
As you leave your prospecting site, please fill any holes dug in pursuit of your treasure and pick up trash as you would in any other recreational pastime. Please be considerate of landowner’s rights and ask first for access permission to walk to your location on the brook. Please contact the Rivers Program at ANR.WSMDRivers@state.vt.us or 802-490-6195 with any questions.
Much can be learned online about gold prospecting history, prospecting organizations and traditions, hand panning equipment and techniques for discovery, regulations, gold mineralogy and more. Enjoy your hunt for some flakes of gold and please respect the rivers and mountains of Vermont!