Is It Legal To Collect Driftwood

Is It Legal To Collect Driftwood

For several DIY enthusiasts and crafters, driftwood is an asset. Collecting driftwood while taking a walk can sound easy, but there are legalities to it. Every state has a specific rule concerning the collection of driftwood, leaving a question if the process is legal. 

It is legal to collect small quantities of driftwood from public waters. If it’s a private-owned property, prior permission is required to collect it. Since each state in the United States has different rules about driftwood collection, it’s essential to look into the government gazette for clarity. 

If you’re someone thinking of collecting driftwood in the upcoming weekend, read this article before you step out. 

What Is The Driftwood Rule

The driftwood rule is a rule dedicated to gathering pieces of driftwood from public beaches. The Court in the United States has presented a comprehensive guideline for collecting driftwood and linked this process to property rights. 

If you’re thinking of taking driftwood directly from the shoreline of a public beach, you may be questioned on the grounds of law. Some states strictly prohibit the illegal collection of driftwood. While these are visible in rivers, lakes, and other public water currents, states have unique propositions and assumptions about them. 

If you’re around a private beach, you need to take written consent from the property owner, as driftwood is seen as an expensive asset. The property owner can sue you for not keeping him informed. This is where the driftwood rule comes into the picture. 

In Which State Is It Legal To Collect Driftwood 

Irrespective of where you go around the United States, you need to know if the state legalizes driftwood collection. Otherwise, you’ll be at stake. 

Here’s a table explaining the legal stand association with driftwood collection in each state. 

StateLegal or Illegal?
AlabamaLegal for small quantities
CaliforniaLegal up to 50 pounds of driftwood/day
Georgia Illegal
WashingtonIllegal; special permissions are offered by the park ranger
WisconsinIllegal; written permission is required
OregonLegal for small amounts

Traveling outside the United States? Here’s another table presenting you the stand of each country’s government. 

CountryLegal or Illegal?
AustraliaIllegal; needs a permit

Most governments require prior intimation about your requirement on driftwood since it’s considered a critical natural feature. Collecting it can result in the demolition or destruction of nature. 

Final Thoughts

Driftwood isn’t another art material that can be purchased or collected on the go. It needs proper awareness of local and state laws before you gather driftwood pieces for personal or commercial uses. 


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