The Use of Metal Detectors on National Forest Land
The use of metal detectors has become a popular hobby for many people.
Here is direction on how or when metal detectors can be used on the Chequamegon-Nicolet.
Metal detector use is allowed in developed campgrounds and picnic areas
if they are not specifically closed to such activity. If archaeological
remains are known to exist in a campground or picnic area,
a closure to metal detecting would be posted. It is permissible to collect
coins, but prospecting for gold would be subject to mining laws. However,
you should know that agencies have not identified every archaeological
site on public lands, so it is possible you may run into
such remains that have not yet been discovered. Archaeological remains
on federal land, known or unknown, are protected under law. If you were
to discover such remains, you should leave them undisburbed, stop metal
detecting in that area, and notify the local FS office. I have included
the legal citations below for your information.
The Forest Service has conducted numerous projects in conjuntion with
metal detectorists and metal detecting clubs through our volunteer archaeological
program, Passport In Time (PIT). The cooperation has been fun for both
the detectorists and the agency's archaeologists. Locating
archaeological sites becomes a joint endeavor and we learn a lot! You
can receive the PIT Traveler, our free newsletter advertising the PIT
projects each year, by calling 1-800-281-9176. Look for the ones where
we request metal detecting expertise!
Here are the legal citations:
Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 261.9: "The following
prohibited: (g) digging in, excavating, disturbing, injuring, destroying,
or in any way damaging any prehistoric, historic, or archaeological
resources, structure, site, artifact, or property. (h) Removing any
prehistoric, historic, or archaeological resources, structure, site,
USDA Forest Service Manual Direction (draft): "Metal Detector
detectors may be used on public lands in areas that do not contain or
would not reasonably be expected to contain archaeological or historical
resources. They must be used, however, for lawful purposes. Any act with
a metal detector that violates the proscriptions of the Archaeological
Resources Protection Act (ARPA) or any other law is prosecutable.
Normally, developed campgrounds, swimming beaches, and other developed
recreation sites are open to metal detecting unless there are heritage
resources present. In such cases, Forest Supervisors are authorized to
close these sites by posting notices in such sites."
ARPA, 16 U.S.C. 470cc: "No person may excavate, remove, damage,
otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage or
otherwise alter or deface any archaeological resources located on public
lands or Indian
lands unless such activity is pursuant to a permit. . ."
For more information, contact Mark Bruhy, Supervisor's Office, 68
S. Stevens St., Rhinelander, WI 54501, 715-362-1361, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.