Depends entirely on the beach. Some are in National or State Parks or other protected areas, and taking anything, including driftwood, may be very much illegal. Other beaches, maybe not. You need to check with the jurisdiction covering the beach you are interested in.
It is illegal under a few circumstances: if it is taken from a national park, if the beach is legally part of someones private property, or if it is taken from an area that is legally considered critical (in some states). For instance, in King’s County on Maury Island Aquatic Reserve in Washington, taking driftwood is illegal because the area is considered critical and driftwood plays an important ecological role. Driftwood supports the food web in coastal areas and prevents erosion by supporting dunes and creating a buffer between the water and the water.
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