Laws and Utah native plants

Proof of ownership is required to harvest or transport timber, forest products, or other native vegetation in Utah. This includes Christmas trees and seeds. Transport would typically be via a vehicle driven on a road in Utah. The proof can be as simple as a purchase receipt, or a written letter of permission from the landowner. For more information see the Utah code reference below:

78B-8-601 Transportation of Forest Products or Native Vegetation

The Utah DWR accordingly requires a permit for trees and other forest products taken from lands they manage, see R657-28 Use of Division Lands.

Contrary to popular belief, our state flower (the Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttallii) enjoys no specific legal protections. But like any other native plant material, landowner permission is required for removal and a written permit if transported on a Utah highway. Moral/ethical considerations also apply. Native plants usually do not survive being transplanted and many require specific soils and/or have other special requirements. Grow native plants from seed or purchase locally grown native plants appropriate for your area.

Many western states have few to no laws that protect sensitive, threatened or endangered plant species. See for example Threatened plants on state lands have few protections (HCN Nov. 2017 article).

Other than the proof of ownership requirement (above), Utah has few laws that afford any protection whatsoever to native plants. However various federal laws do come into play (see below).

Additional resources:

Plants or parts thereof may not be removed or destroyed in U.S. national parks

Federal agencies require permits and even these permits do not allow the removal of special status plant species/varieties nor their seeds on federal lands:

U.S. Forest Service-Collection Permits
BLM Seed Collection Policy and Pricing
BLM Rare and Cultural Plant Conservation
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

The BLM does allow for the incidental collecting of flowers, berries, nuts, seeds, cones, plant parts, campfire wood, petrified wood and invertebrate fossils at "reasonable" levels and only for non-commercial purposes. See: Collecting on Public Lands

See also: BLM Forest and Wood Product Permits

We urge the public to not collect plant fossils unless they are about to be destroyed. Instead take photographs. The indiscriminate picking of attractive wildflowers that is often done thoughtlessly or without adequate education should also be strongly discouraged.

Please also see our rare plants page with respect to the Endangered Species Act and other pertinent laws.