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A few comments regarding your post, or many others I have read on various forums, or heard stated.

May 13, 2011 08:16AM avatar
We are dealing with some black-and-white descriptions, some gray areas, some misconceptions of allowable activity, an ample dose of very errant 'off limits posting', and individual interpretations of what is and isn't allowable made by people who haven't got a clue. Add to that a little bureaucratic mumbo jumbo and it can get challenging.

From the nugget hunting forum, I got this terrific answer:

Basics: You can use metal detectors on BLM and Forest Service land with the exception of Monuments, National Parks, Wilderness areas etc.
That's correct with regard to Nation Parks and National Monuments. Unless it is a specifically granted and controlled search (such as the one at the Custer Battlefield), don't take a metal detector out of your vehicle or even mention you have one. It's best to have the batteries removed as well.

"Metal detecting is a recreational activity that people do to find coins, jewelry, and precious metals. Metal detecting is allowed on BLM lands as long as no artifacts are removed."

The main term used in the descriptions which restrict some sites is something like: Do not disturb or remove objects that are located in an archaeologically significant site. It wasn't just a simple reference to any object (artifact) located anywhere, but to those that are related to a historically significant site. An archaeologically significant site, which is one that has been determined by some government archaeologist, for example, as a site for future study to gather information, to remove and preserve artifacts that describe and depict the activities at the site, and at times might even be placed on public display for viewing.

"Metal detecting on the National Forests is recognized as a legitimate prospecting method under the General Mining Laws and also as a recreational activity for the casual collection of rocks and minerals."

Forest Service
Again, there are the ARPA laws that relate to USFS controlled land as well as to BLM monitored land. It's all the same, generalized reference to a particular site being of historical significance and the 'protection' is related to being an archaeologically significant site. Even that reference is a bit vague because when protection was first enacted, about 1906, it was to protect significant sites that were at least 100 years old.

That would be sites with human activity from 1806 and prior, basically sites that had activity prior to written and acknowledged use so that proper study could be made to learn of their activities. It was basically a rough reference to a pre-historic site. Not a dinosaur infested location, but any older site that pre-dated written and known history of activity. Places like Native Indian lodges and camp sites, or other places where records were not kept or specific activity wasn't known. Basics like what did they eat, how did they dress, what tools might they have had, etc.

If you're interested in artifacts, you can volunteer with the Forest Service :

"Passport in Time (PIT) is a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program of the USDA Forest Service (FS). PIT volunteers work with professional FS archaeologists and historians on national forests throughout the U.S. on such diverse activities as archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, survey, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts. The FS professional staff of archaeologists and historians will be your hosts, guides, and co-workers."

Passport in Time
I have been involved in several P.I.T. programs in the past and I can vouch for the enjoyment the individual can gain, as well as the interest in information we gathered. These are held at archaeologically significant sites and metal detecting hobbyists (or the government archaeologists who have acquired metal detectors for their own use when working such sites) certainly can assist in finding objects of interest that can help define the types of activity and placement or location of certain activities at those sites.

For those interested, we plan to have a presentation on PIT programs and individual volunteer opportnities at future Detector Owner Rendezvous programs.

I figure any regular BLM or Forest is okay, but anything special probably isn't.

Best bet is to check in with the local office. I walked in to BLM/Forest Service office this morning here in Idaho Falls and paid $4 for a map of local area I want to detect.
I told the lady why I was buying it and she asked about what interesting items I'd found.
It's nice that they ask what types of things we have found, but I use caution when I respond to such queries at such locations. I have met some good people who work for USFS and BLM and have a practical or logical way of thinking and know that metal detecting can be a pleasurable activity. It also depends upon where in which state you travel, too.

I've met BLM employees, even those who are or associate with archaeologists, who enjoy the hobby of metal detecting. They are just like most of us and they go to older-use sites, such as an old ghost town or mining camp or other early-day site of human activity in search of their own desired targets. They realize the original intention of the protection law and that most older sites are not really associated with 'archaeologically significant' activity and have no need to be protected.

You can search GPAA forum for more info on determining claims:

GPAA is a good source to determine some mining claim activity, or just attend a meeting of any gold mining organization to speak to active individuals who might direct you to quick info to describe ownership of the property and/or mining claim rights.

I have also encountered several private property sites where BLM archaeologists and other employees have posted signs, and even placed pamphlets, declaring it an archaeological site and stating protection against object removal. On private land, not public. I'm working on a couple of places now to try and acquire the private property for AHRPS ownership and activities, to include conducting site surveys, metal detecting, screening, and other recovery efforts. Partly to learn more about the sites and location of buildings,or even the trash dump area. Access and personal recovery (you keep what you find) will be open to those associated with controlled site searches as we log the various finds and mark their recovered locations.

Best of success as you travel, and in your site searches. Keep us informed of how you do, which detector works out for you at the locations, and ..... enjoy retirement! X(

Subject Author Views Posted

Prospecting newbie question

glabelle 1647 May 11, 2011 08:43AM

Prospecting newbie question : great answer

glabelle 1638 May 12, 2011 12:58PM

A few comments regarding your post, or many others I have read on various forums, or heard stated.

Monte 2405 May 13, 2011 08:16AM

Speaking of prospecting...

glabelle 1207 May 13, 2011 06:36PM

George, here is the simplest answer I can give.

Monte 1326 May 12, 2011 08:52AM

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