Table of Contents
The President's Corner
SMS Winning Ways
From The Exec Sec/Treas
Junior Activities
We Need a Little Dynamite
From the Editor
New Interagency Pass Program

New Forest Road Plans
CFMS Program Library
Jade Study Trip
Determining the Township
Member Recorgnition
Beware hidden mineshafts!
Premises Liability Coverage?

The President's Corner

By Dick Pankey, CFMS President

Dick Pankey - CFMS President -  2007

I am writing this in early January, so the time context may be a little out of kilter. Betty and I leave early Sunday morning for our annual winter pilgrimage. First to the Cloud's Gemboree at Avi, then to Burro Creek for a field trip, and ultimately ending up in Quartzsite. We have been going to Quartzsite every year since the early 1990's. Every rockhound should experience Quartzsite. There is something for everyone: shopping at the many selling venues, field trips to the numerous collecting areas, and spending time with other rockhounds. We usually spend about 2 weeks and camp with the Ye Old Timers Mineral Club on BLM land north of town. Ye Old Timers, friends and guests from around California and a few other states "circle up" their rigs starting in mid-January. The last few years we have had over 60 people camping with us. Group camping like this is a great way to get to know people. We have happy hour each afternoon, campfire each evening and several potluck dinners. Our big event and major money raiser is an auction held at the Senior Center in town that attracts over 100 people. Even though there are hundreds of thousands of people there, spread out over several venues, I am always running into somebody I know. I also attend the annual SCRIBE meeting. Like I said, there is something for everyone.

We start our pilgrimage at the Cloud's Gemboree at Avi. Cloud's moved from Quartzsite to the Avi Casino, south of Laughlin, NV about 5 years ago. It is just a slight detour on our way to Quartzsite. It is a good "tune-up" for the shopping and crowds at Quartzsite. It was just Betty and I the first year, and now 8 to 10 couples join us. So what do we do - have a potluck dinner.

Two years ago we added the field trip to Burro Creek. It is a great, diverse collecting area that has been popular with rockhounds for many years. It is only slightly out of the way and less than 100 miles to Quartzsite. There are over 40 people signed up to join us this year.

We have been returning home by way of Algodonas, Mexico (Yuma, AZ). It is a great place to get dental work, eyeglasses, medicine, Tequila and souvenirs. We cram in a lot in a month on the road, but it is such great fun.

I hope that many of you, also, had the chance to join the rockhound pilgrimage to Quartzsite this year, whether for just a quick couple of days or an extended stay.

Dick Pankey

Sacramento Mineral Society's Winning Ways

By Elizabeth Myers, Membership Committee

Anyone who has had the good fortune to speak with Barbara Foskett of the Sacramento Mineral Society knows what I mean when I say she is a delight. After a few minutes of speaking with her by phone I feel energized and ready to write about all the goodies she shared with me.

When asked to what she attributed the continued rise in the club's membership Barbara enthusiastically responded. The club participates at the annual Gem Faire stocking their table with club brochures, membership forms, information on their annual Open House and of course, rocks are on display. Their annual Open House, an informal affair held in August, the week following the Gem Faire, features a potluck and piles of rocks for people to hunt through. Barbara told of one year when the rain did not deter two determined ladies from hunting through the rock piles. They actually thought it a benefit - they could see the real colors of the rock. My kind of gals! The potluck is held at the clubs fully equipped shop at the old Mather Field facility, where the club rents two buildings from the county. One building houses the shop and the other is where they hold their general meetings.

The Sacramento Society's shop is kept busy every Wednesday and Saturday with lapidary projects. Barbara says they have great instructors and I don't doubt it. She spoke of a young lady from Yuba City, one of several new members from that town, who is already turning out beautiful lapidary. In addition to the lapidary, the club plans a specialty class at least once a month. Some of the specialty classes are bead stringing, casting, wire wrapping, bone carving, casting, fusion (using dichroic glass) and rock painting. A metal smithing class is in the works.

Then there is the clubs connection to California State University (CSU). A geology professor is a member and the club helps with specimens for the geology department in addition to donating rocks for the department's annual rock sale. The president of the CSU Mineral Club, Melinda Fredrickson (winner of a $2,000 CFMS scholarship) is also a member of the club, along with several other CSU students. If the club does well at their annual show, they award two scholarships. This year they awarded a $1,000 and $500 scholarship to CSU students.

According to Barbara, the new editor of the club's bulletin, the SMS Matrix, does a fantastic job keeping the membership informed. Kris Janusevicius, the editor of the bulletin won both the CFMS and AFMS new editor awards. Congratulations, Kris!

Potential members sometimes sign up at the Gem Faire booth, mail in their applications or come to the clubs business meeting. After joining there is plenty for them to do, talented instructors to show them how and a well-written newsletter to keep them informed. And of course, the contagious enthusiasms of other club members like Barbara.


By Pat LaRue

Pat Larue

Golden Bear Award

Don't miss your opportunity to nominate that special person who has faithfully served the CFMS through the years. This award will be presented only to a person whom the CFMS wishes to honor in appreciation for and recognition of outstanding services to the CFMS. The person must be or have been a member of an affiliated society of the CFMS. Nominations can be made by a director of a member society, the Executive Committee or a CFMS Committee Chairman. The nominee shall not be informed of the proposal. Please send a resume of reasons why your nominee should be considered to:

Pat LaRue, Chairman
PO Box 1657
Rialto, CA 92377

Nominations by e-mail are acceptable and should be directed to Deadline for this year is May 1. Previous honorees are listed on the CFMS website at


By Jim Brace-Thompson, Juniors Activities Chair

Jim Brace-Thompson

As most all of us are well aware, in 2002 a new Rockhound symbol was developed consisting of a yellow circle with a rock pick and "Rockhound" written on the bottom. A three-and-a-half-inch version was first introduced for use on car windows and bumpers so that fellow rockhounds could readily identify one another. You can also get this as a three-and-a-half-inch sew-on patch, as a key chain, on coffee mugs, etc.

In addition, a smaller version of one-inch diameter was recently introduced. This is being sold in rolls of 100 for just a few bucks. Richard Pankey talked about these with me at the fall CFMS meetings last November, and I agree completely with him that these would make for terrific rewards for kids. Young kids love stickers. In fact, my own kids used to come home from pre-school with stickers of various sorts plastered all over their arms and shirts! Here are just a few suggestions for ways to use these one-inch Rockhound stickers with kids in your club and community:

  • At your local gem show, give them to children entering the gate to put on either the back of their hands or their shirts.
  • Award them to kids in your club who complete special activities or who enter a display in a show.
  • Use them as an official stamp or seal in creating certificates-of-merit to award to kids in your club.
  • Use them in conjunction with the AFMS/FRA Merit Badge program. To earn a badge in that program, kids must first complete several individual activities. As they work their way toward earning a badge, you might reward them with a sticker for each individual activity they complete.
  • Include them with your grab bags or other activities you may have at the Kids Table at your annual show.

To learn more about the stickers and how to get them, contact supplier and CFMS member Frank Mullaney: ROCKY FIVE, c/o Frank Mullaney, 5705 Begonia Drive, San Jose, CA 95124-6535, phone (408) 266-1791, email


By Nicole, Jr. President
Ted Zagwyn, Sr. President

Central Maine Jr. Geologist Club: A New Rock Club with a Twist Seeks Your Help.

To our fellow members of the AFMS and other clubs participating in the FRA (Future Rockhounds of America) program: We are in need of some donations or funding assistance for our new mining expedition. We are in search of a rare mineral, "Generationite" (A.K.A., Future Rockhounds of America). So far, we have hit a few gem pockets in the form of 29 "Childrenites," "Parentites," and "Volunteerites." We are now hoping to hit the pocket of knowledge with "Bookanites," "Videolites," and information clusters on matrix--rocks, minerals, earth science, conservation, and astronomy. We will also need some heavy equipment to help us reach what we are looking for, such as lapidary equipment, microscopes, u/v lights, GPS's, telescopes, and other learning tools for our hands-on labs and workshops. In 2006, we started work on our museum (it is slow work, but we are gaining specimens). If you have specimens from your area of the country you would be willing to donate, please feel free to send it and we will display it in our museum and on-line. If you have any of the above items you no longer use, need, or want, we will be glad to put them to good use. We accept donations on-line at Or, you can send them to the Central Maine Jr. Geologist Club, 18 Littlefield Lane, Farmingdale, ME 04344. Watch your contributions and donations working to help us, and to help others at our Helping Hands page on our website. Thank you for your support!

From the Editor

By CJ Quitoriano

CJ Quitoriano

Hi everybody!

Well, it looks like Spring MIGHT come early this year, at least that's what old Phil says!

I am really looking forward to the upcoming shows and seeing all of the great people that I meet there.

Ray and I just bought a motor home, so now we will be better able to make as many shows as we possibly can!

As for the newsletter, I hope that everyone is enjoying reading it as much as I am enjoying putting it together?

I am putting together an email list for all of the chair people and will be sending out reminders in the future so no one will miss the deadline!

I REALLY want to thank everyone who sent an article for this month, as we can all see there are tons of articles this month!



By Chuck McKie CFMS Safety Chairman 2007

Chuck McKie

Safety Revisited

There are many people new to rock hounding and some of the older ones might need a little reminding. Lots of us will be going on field trips whether singularly or in groups.


Start by making sure your tools are safe. Chisels; heads of chisels should not have any mush-room heads. If the heads are rounded over with fingers (jagged pieces of metal) sticking out from the head of the chisel, grind them off even with the head of the chisel. I carry a piece of metal in my arm that flew off -like a bullet- from a mush-room head when I was beating on a chisel to beat off a ball-bearing from an axle. It could do the same to you if you were trying to break a rock.

Sledges: Use a size you can handle. I have a 1#, 2#, 4# 6#, and an 8# sledges. There are even larger ones. Be sure the heads are tight on the handles. You can obtain little pie shaped pieces of metal from hardware stores which can be driven into the wood of the handle where it goes through the head.

Hammers: The sane applies to hammers.

Rock picks: Most rock picks have handles formed from the same metal as the head. Do not use your rock pick to beat on a chisel. A rock pick is designed to beat on a rock, not on metal.

Safety glasses: Always use safety glasses when striking a rock or a chisel. A little flying chip can put your eye out in a heart beat. If someone else is striking with a hammer or a sledge, and you are near-by, be aware - turn your face away, wear glasses, and or move away. You, as a wielder of a hammer/sledge must be aware of others in your vicinity and wait for them to move to take preventative action.

Gloves: Use heavy gloves. When holding a chisel - especially when you become weary- you may miss the head of the chisel and hit your hand. THAT HURTS! We all do that. A heavy glove helps cushion the blow to you hand and helps to lessen the damage to your hand. A good idea is to take a short section of a garden hose, insert your chisel through the one end of the hose, and hold the other end of the hose.

Shovels, rakes, hoes: Tighten the handles - maybe drive a nail or a screw through the metal where the wood enters the head. You might have to drill a small hole in the metal. Shoveling, raking, hoeing, tossing rocks out of your way; Be certain that no one is in the path of your refuse or below you out of sight. DO NOT dig under a large overhang. If an overhang were to collapse upon you , you could suffocate before anyone noticed your predicament.

New Interagency Pass Program Will Help Public Enjoy Enhanced Recreation Sites on Public Lands

John Martin

By John Martin - PLAC South

WASHINGTON - Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett and Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Rey today announced a new interagency recreation pass that will benefit visitors to national public lands. The new pass, authorized by the Congress in 2004, combines the benefits of existing recreation passes from five federal agencies into one comprehensive pass, the "America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass."

The new pass covers recreation opportunities on public lands managed by four Departments of the Interior agencies - the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation, and by the Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service.

Access to most public lands remains free. The pass applies to those locations that currently have entrance or standard amenity fees.

The new program replaces the Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and the Golden Access Passports as well as the National Parks Pass. Existing passes will remain valid until expired, lost or stolen.

Sales of the new pass will begin in January 2007 and will be available at federal recreation sites that charge entrance and standard amenity fees, through government internet sites, and through select third-party vendors.

"Our federal lands boast scenic vistas, breathtaking landscapes, and unique historic and cultural sites. This new interagency pass offers a cost-effective and easy option for those who plan to visit multiple federal recreation sites," said Deputy Secretary Scarlett. "The family vacation to these destinations is an American tradition. Visitors can now travel from a site managed by the Department of the Interior to a site managed by the Department of Agriculture without getting a different pass.

"A sightseer in Utah , for instance, can view the majestic rock formations of Bryce and Zion National Parks and then explore Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area on the Ashley National Forest using only one pass."

"The interagency pass is a great New Year's gift both to the public lands and to their visitors," said Mark Rey, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, who oversees the Forest Service. "Annual interagency pass revenue will benefit public lands by providing funds for maintenance, new visitor services, and programs."

The officials noted that 100 percent of the revenue derived from passes sold at federal recreation sites will directly benefit the selling agency and no less than 80 percent of the revenue will remain at the site where the pass was sold.

The new pass program was created by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which Congress authorized in December 2004.

The four different passes in the new interagency program are:

  1. A new annual interagency pass costing $80--For visitors to multiple federal sites, the pass offers unlimited coverage of entrance and standard amenity recreation fees for a specific period of time, typically a year, beginning from the date of first use.
  2. a $10 lifetime senior pass for U.S. citizens 62 or over;
  3. a free lifetime access pass for citizens with permanent disabilities ; and
  4. a new, free annual volunteer pass for volunteers acquiring 500 hours of service on a cumulative basis.

The new interagency pass is good at vehicle-based entry sites for all occupants in a single, non-commercial vehicle. At walk-up sites, the pass is good for the pass holder and three adults (total of four adults). There is no charge for children under 16. This represents a particularly cost-effective opportunity for families traveling to federal recreation sites. For comparison purposes, Parks Canada offers a family/group annual pass for about $140.

Some specific examples of projects funded with fee revenues include: rehabilitating the Yellowstone National Park Canyon Visitor Center and creating new exhibits at Yellowstone National Park , enhancing boat launch facilities on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona , building an accessible boardwalk at Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in Wyoming , and improving the museum at Desoto National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa .

The new passes - which feature award-winning landscape photographs of federal lands - are part of a new interagency "Share the Experience" Annual Federal Lands Photo Contest. The contest, sponsored by the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, and Casio, encourages visitors to submit photos of federal lands for a chance to have their image chosen for the next year's annual pass.

The passes will be durable, plasticized, and designed with technology that will enable future improvements to the program.

For more information, please contact DOI's U.S. Geological Survey at or phone 1-888-275-8747 Option 1. The annual pass will be available for sale through the USGS store and through the government's federal lands recreation web portal at in January 2007.

Reprinted from News.bytes, issue 264 - BLM California

More information can be found at

As I find out more information I will attempt to keep all informed.


By Shirley Leeson & Dee Holland and

Shirley Leeson

Our most recent information on hearings was for the Stanislaw National Forest, public hearings were held in February and March, but contact your local forestry office and ask for information immediately. Get your name and email in their system.

We attended the 2nd round of Forestry Public Forums on Road Closures in our Salmon/Challis National Forest up here in Idaho.. The first meetings were last summer, and these meetings, if Blue Ribbon hadn't contacted us, were not published. None of the local people knew about the meetings till we contacted the local 4-wheel drive dealership and the taxidermy, hunter and fishermen's businesses. They were astonished they hadn't been informed.

We found the following: Plans were already underway.

They had huge forest quadrant maps with roads already in red for open (at the moment) and black, proposed closures. and blue, private or county roads.

The Forestry people were friendly and helpful, but cautious. We got lots of printed material. The one for us that was the most important was a paper with the following:

For each road, trail, route or area that you would recommend for addition or deletion to the designated system of open motorized use, please provide the following information:

Forest System Road or Trail #_____
User-Created Route Description, please give geographical name ie: Deer Creek, and description beginning and end points.___________________ Why should there be a change in the existing Travel Management Plan?__________________ What is the condition of the road/trail/route that is being proposed for addition or deletion? Would you expect any environmental concerns over this addition or deletion? Please describe___________ What social conflicts might occur if your proposal is adopted? Will someone else's recreation experience be harmed by this addition or deletion?__________

Name, Mailing Address and Email at the bottom of the page.

For each road or trail, there must be a worksheet made out. Dee is in the process of checking each road and trail.

There will be another meeting in town next Wednesday, and we have alerted a number of people to attend. Again, this wasn't published and when I asked why they said they thought they had enough emails from the first meetings, so didn't bother..... and that's what we're dealing with.

Dee Holland has been sending information from the Blue Ribbon Alert System to all those CFMS members who we have emails for. Unfortunately, that's not too many. If you are interested in being a part of this National Forest Road Closure process, send us your email and we will alert you to information going on in your area. If you received something from Dee Holland or Shirley Leeson, and you can't attend, please make sure someone will represent rockhounds. We must get the fact that we exist out there to the Forest people.

The BLM is also doing a "Management Plan Program." There were meetings for Riverside, Imperial Counties and Yuma Counties, in Arizona recently. This is an area of real concern to CFMS rockhounds.

Will alert you to more when we have it.


By Bill Gissler, Program Librarian

Bill Gissler

Why don't more clubs use the CFMS Slide and Video Program Library in planning club meeting or workshop programs?

In 2006 the Library loaned 13 slide programs and 58 video programs.

Thirty one clubs used the Library service. There are 119 clubs affiliated with CFMS. So only 26% of CFMS clubs used the Library. Assuming that each club chairperson is responsible for ten programs, that computes to 1,190 programs. Yet, program loans from the Library account for only 6%.

The Library currently lists 153 slide, 131 VHS and 15 DVD videos, and 6 CD-ROM format programs. These programs, with a brief topic description are listed in a hard copy catalog and on the CFMS web site. An order form is provided in the catalog and on the web site. The catalog is published annually and distributed to Directors at the June meeting. The web site is updated monthly as new programs are reported in the CFMS Newsletter.

To get the most out of the Library, the club program chairperson should order the program well in advance of the showing date. After previewing it, the chairperson should decide if it is suitable for showing. This may take a little time, but it is worth doing. Just as prior to inviting a speaker, you want to know something about the person; so it should be when arranging for a library program loan.

Using the program suggestions in the "CFMS Program Manual and Directory of Speakers and Demonstrators," there is no reason why your club can't have interesting and educational programs throughout the year. It just takes a little planning and organizing.

Monterey Park Gem Society

By Bill Burns, CFMS Director

Bill Burns

The four day cruise to study jade was very successful. Over 250 people with an interest in learning about jade joined this cruise. There was a lecture on jade and 2 two hour jade workshops, where there was an opportunity to purchase a kit and be helped to make a necklace of jade and pearls, jade on a chain, or a necklace of different colored jade. These were very enjoyable lessons. The time was short but lots of fun. The club was pleased with the financial results of the cruise.

We had attendees from several other clubs, as well as, people from the public. If any club is interested in trying an adventure like this call me for details.

Determining the Township

By Dave Muster
Fieldtrips North

To begin I will quote from the AFMS Code of Ethics, "I will keep informed on all laws, regulations of rules governing collecting on public lands and will observe them.

I will to the best of my ability, ascertain the boundary lines of property on which I plan to collect."

It is the responsibility of the fieldtrip chairperson to do the footwork mentioned before having a fieldtrip. I have normally used the BLM office in Sacramento to begin this process. One cannot go to the BLM in Hollister for this information because there is no computer for public access.

From my experience it is important to determine the Township, Section and Range of the purposed site. This is of course when it is public land. Land status can change so status should be checked up to date.

Obtain a surface management status map from the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, California State Office, Sacramento , CA 95825 .

Open the large map on a table with plenty of room and locate the site. Look at the west and east borders of the map. You will see a capital "T" with a number of the Township and a letter of direction, N or S. The number of the Township corresponds to the south of the line to the next Township line and west to east across the map.

The Township lines are thicker than section line borders and run horizontally west to east. Determining the Township is the first step in determining the Township, Section and Range of the purposed fieldtrip. Once these co-ordinates have been established and the exact site and its boundaries are found, then with the help of the BLM the status of the land may be ascertained.

Member Recorgnition

By Name, Loretta Ogden

Loretta Ogden

The South Bay Lapidary and Mineral Society would like to nominate Werner and Helga Wagener for the Member Recognition Award.

Over the years that they have been members of our club they have held field trips in their back yard. January of this year they will show and tell for 8 boy scouts 4 cubs, each gets about 10 minerals and crystal specimens plus a pick of different rocks. They also get to see and touch different specimens with explanations.

In the spring approximately 80 4th grade students from the Anza Elementary School are taken on a field trip to their back yard where they see a display of 60 to 80 different minerals and crystals from meteorites to coprolites. They all get an identified mineral and crystal of their choice.

Werner gives a talk on making jewelry and cutting and polishing stones in general.

They also gives talks about petrified wood to clubs and anybody else that will listen and are interested in the subject.

They have built a petrified wood library of identified specimens, the library is open to anybody who is interested in the subject. The Wageners love to share their knowledge about petrified wood which now contains over 1000 identified pieces. They have been doing this for 16 years.

Submitted by: Omer C. Goeden Federation Director


By Carolyn Weinberger AFMS Editor

Looks like things are heating up again in the US Congress pertaining to our collecting rights. I've just been sent the following information from Jon Spunaugle, ALAA Executive VP for Legislation. During the last session of Congress wewere able to get the House bill "killed" through swift action by a rockhound member.

Unfortunately this will not be possible again this year due to the manner in which the bill was introduced.

Let's get the word out and contact our Representatives and Senators sooner rather than later urging a vote AGAINST this legislation.

Remember that fossils today could well mean minerals and cutting rough tomorrow. Also do not forget to include a letter to Speaker Pelosi who can determine when this bill is brought out of committee and onto the House floor.

Here is Jon's message. You can read the full text of HR 554 at /> (By the way, if you received Jon's original e-mail, he had the bill number listed incorrectly. The correct Bill is HR554).

"Fossil Collecting Bill introduced into the US House. January 23, 2007.

On January 18, 2007 a Fossil Collecting Bill HR 554 "Paleontological Resources Preservation Act" was introduced into the US House of Representatives by Congressional Representatives McGovern of Massachusetts and Renzi of Arizona. It was sent to the Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture for a period of time to be determined by the Speaker of the House. (This means that regardless of what the Committee Chair people do, the Bill can be brought to the floor of the US House for a vote at any time with or without amendment or Committee recommendation).

Preliminary examination of the actual Bill language suggests that it is very similar to the Bills introduced and passed by the U S Senate in past years.

Casual collecting would be allowed as seen appropriate by the government land managers. Provisions for civil and criminal penalties remain in the Bill as does a rewards section for information on possible violators and other property confiscation including all paleontology resources."

Beware hidden mineshafts!

By Name, John Martin - PLAC South

John Martin

BLM secures another one - many more left

A nine-year-old motorcyclist escaped with relatively minor injuries and no broken bones after falling 50 feet down a mine shaft south of Red Mountain, while visiting family over Christmas break. Rescuers said the boy fell into one of the old mine shafts outside the designated off-road recreation area.

Stay on designated trails - BLM workers at the site of the barely-visible abandoned mine shaft:

mine 1

"The lesson to be learned from this is stay on the designated trails," Kern County Fire Department Capt. Tony Plante told the Ridgecrest Daily In dependent. "There are so many shafts out there, it hard to know where they're all at."

Personnel from BLM's Ridgecrest Field Office contacted the Kern County Fire Department to find the exact location of the shaft, and installed a fence until a permanent closure could be completed.

A temporary fence surrounds the abandoned mineshaft:

mine 2

Only the fence and a sign make the hazard visible -
but there are lots more where this came from.
mine 3

Abandoned mine lands in California: Nearly 13,000 mine properties in California and northwest Nevada are listed in the Bureau of Mines Mineral Industries Location System database as on BLM land. An estimated additional 5,000 sites not recorded in the database are likely on BLM land. Of these 18,000, an estimated 3,000 significant properties contain hazardous substances or physical features and/or have environmental problems.

Reprinted from: News.bytes, issue 267 - BLM California

Does Your Club or Society Need Premises Liability Coverage?

From the desk of Patt McDaniel

We have all heard some very shocking stories about the outrageous claims that have been made and settlements paid for frivolous lawsuits. Many of these stories are fabricated . . . never happened. I have done some research, however, and find that there are true stories that are almost as shocking.

While Marcy Meckler was shopping at a mall, she was "attacked" by a squirrel . . . and "while frantically attempting to escape from the squirrel and detach it from her leg, [Meckler] fell and suffered severe injuries." The lawsuit demanded in excess of $50,000, based on the mall's "failure to warn" her that squirrels live outside.

Shawn Perkins was hit by lightning in the parking lot of Paramount's Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio. His lawyer has filed suit against the amusement park asking unspecified damages, arguing the park should have "warned" people not to be outside during a thunderstorm.

Often these types of claims are thrown out of court or settlements are greatly reduced, but the legal fees can be significant. These stories serve to show how owning or renting building space (or even the use of space without payment of rent) exposes clubs and officers -- and indeed, the entire Federation -- to the possibility of horrendous legal expenses for even the most frivolous claims. Although there are legal penalties for "frivolous" lawsuits, the courts are reluctant to find any but the most outrageous claims to be "frivolous."

Need we mention that more legitimate claims, such as tripping in a hole, can be far more damaging? Even the best maintained premises may be subject to changes of ground surface due to weather, erosion and settling. Building interiors, as well, are rarely completely free of hazards or slippery spots.

These types of claims are connected to premises, and if the premises are listed on a General Liability insurance policy, the company will defend the insured and pay claims for bodily injury or property damage as provided in the policy or ordered by the courts. This is an instance where the company is truly on your side. They will defend you and try to eliminate or decrease settlement amounts.

Since the CFMSI General Liability is intended to cover clubs for their normal operations (meetings, field trips, etc.) and assumes that clubs do not have any "premises exposure." Coverage for premises liability can only be obtained by adding specific coverage which lists the location address on the policy.

The concept of premises liability, as opposed to the "operations" portion of the General Liability, is that it covers liability (legal responsibility) for premises for which you are responsible by virtue of the fact that you own, or you rent (or have provided for your use) on an exclusive and ongoing basis. If you rent a venue for an event, that would not be considered ongoing use. If you use a venue once a month for meetings, that situation would not be considered exclusive use. If, however, you do have exclusive ongoing use of a space, you can be presumed to have primary oversight of maintenance and management. Legal precedent gives you the primary legal responsibility for any bodily injury at those premises.