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Metal Detectors and Detecting

John B.

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Hi All

I was woke this morning by a freind and fellow forum member. Who told me he was in Greaterville detecting on one of the GPAA claims the other day. When he got back to his truck he was greated by a forest ranger who had been waiting on him for some time. The ranger promptly wrote him a citation for metal detecting without a metal detecting permit in the National Forest. Advised him he could confiscate his vehicle, GP4500 detector and everything involved. The ticket fine was $250.00 but being the genorous ranger that he is he only cited him and additional $500.00 at the price of $50.00 per piece of trash he had in his possesion. He actually had a couple dozen pieces of trash so he got out cheap. On my last couple of visits to the forest service they advised me rules and laws were changing but were vague as to any references. I thought I smelled a rat in the hen house. I'm willing to bet the permits are for archeologists, PHD and universities only and that these new rules apply on all public domain lands. I'm curious if mining NOI (Notice of Intent) or PoO (Plan of Operations) will suffice as a use permit if such use is listed ? I don't recommend metal detector stocks as investments right now !! Happy Huntin John B.

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John B

Your friend needs to contact a good mining lawyer.

That ranger is full of beans. Detecting on a federal

mining claim is allowed. If your friend is a member of

GPAA he was legal to detect and doesn't need a permit.

Since GPAA is the owner or lessee of the claim any

NOI's or permits beyond casual use is their responsibility.

Detecting falls under casual use on a federal mining claim.

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Hi John,

I agree with sawmill. Your friend needs to file suit against this law-breaking ranger as an individual. After all, the CFR's that the ranger is sworn to follow, do not allow him to supercede U.S. Law, now matter what is fashionable with the Green Gestapo this year. THE mining laws allow you to prospect anywhere you want WHITHOUT A PERMIT. AND, you don't have to be on a claim to prospect. Unless you have Freaking X-ray vision, why would anyone file a claim on a piece of ground unless they have sampled and tested in several locations by any number of means (detecting, panning, etc.) so that they know IF there is ANY gold there, and IF there is, if it's in paying amounts. That is the very definition of "prospecting". Congress has not changed those laws. Do not sue the department. Sue the ranger. He should know better, so he's flaunting the law. The others will get the message when the ranger has to pay megabucks plus legal fees for his brief lapse into fascism. Also, let his neighbors and his community know what an evil little S.O.B. he REALLY is. They hate publicity (cockroaches always run for a corner when you turn a light on). Wait till his kids find out he's Hitler. let the people in HIS community know that he's trying to bully folks just like them, with huge fines and working to kill their legal recreation. Help this dirty scofflaw leave his career, he's begging for it.


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Hi All

Greg where is that link page from ?? I hate to think this ranger might be right. But I'm not certain if this legislation has passed removing Pima County and Santa Cruz County from mineral entry ?? It might have something to do with it ?? According to my friend the ranger had a handbook that stated what he wrote him up for and apparently showed it to him. I'm hoping he'll jump in and post on his experience. Happy Huntin John B.

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The meteorite thing is straight off of a US Forest

Service web site. The claim information is from the

Forest Service rules and regulations.

The Forest Service can't impose new rules without

public notice,or a grace period. They will only write

warnings until a rule has had time to become public

knowledge. Some one is jerking you guys around.

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Hi John, try these on for size. Taken directly from Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property

Subpart 228.4 section 1 Current as of 25 Feb 2010. Here's a link to the full text: Title 36

(1) A notice of intent to operate is not required for:

(i) Operations which will be limited to the use of vehicles on existing public roads or roads used and maintained for National Forest System purposes;

(ii) Prospecting and sampling which will not cause significant surface resource disturbance and will not involve removal of more than a reasonable amount of mineral deposit for analysis and study which generally might include searching for and occasionally removing small mineral samples or specimens, gold panning, metal detecting, non-motorized hand sluicing, using battery operated dry washers, and collecting of mineral specimens using hand tools;

(iii) Marking and monumenting a mining claim;

(iv) Underground operations which will not cause significant surface resource disturbance;

(v) Operations, which in their totality, will not cause surface resource disturbance which is substantially different than that caused by other users of the National Forest System who are not required to obtain a Forest Service special use authorization, contract, or other written authorization;

(vi) Operations which will not involve the use of mechanized earthmoving equipment, such as bulldozers or backhoes, or the cutting of trees, unless those operations otherwise might cause a significant disturbance of surface resources; or

(vii) Operations for which a proposed plan of operations is submitted for approval;

Here's a link to a planning meeting yo might want to attend. I sent this to your email a while back, did you get it?


Go Get em' Later...Jim P.

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Very upsetting situation when FS LEO's can't understand that casual "prospecting" is covered by 36 CFR 228A, and ARPA 36 CFR 261.9 MD permit is for individuals collecting cultural or historical resources. Huge difference...

Hi Don71, you are correct and your FS link is the proper one for casual prospectors using MD's on FS lands for mineral deposit detection.

"The purpose of the restrictions to metal detecting on public lands is to protect historical

remains. The Code of Federal Regulations, (36 CFR 261.9) states, "The following are

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, artifact, property." The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA, 16

U.S.C. 470cc:) also prohibits these activities, stating, "No person may excavate, remove,

damage, or 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...” ARPA exempts the collection of coins for

personal use if the coins are not in an archaeological context. In some cases, historically

significant coins and other metallic artifacts may be part of an historical-period

archaeological site, in which case they would be considered archaeological resources and

are protected under law. These laws apply to all National Forest System land and do not

vary from state to state."


"Prospecting: Using a metal detector to locate gold or other mineral deposits is an

allowed activity under the General Mining Laws and is subject to the 36 CFR

228A regulations. A Notice of Intent (36 CFR 228.4(a)) is normally not required

for prospecting using a metal detector."

Not sure how FS got so confused and again lumps prospecting MD activity as being covered by ARPA. Time for GPAA to re-visit the Forest Supervisor and District Rangers to straighten it out before it really gets out of hand. Requiring a "permit" for casual prospecting is contrary to federal court decisions. FS has lost this permit issue before, but they really want dictator control so they keep issuing citations.

Keep Smiling... :cigar:

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I hope your friend and fellow forum member wrote down the name and badge number of the ranger if the citation didn't include this info. I would also hope the citation incuded the regulations by number/code that he was in violation of. Also did the ranger confiscate the "trash" as evidence of the violation to the regs?

I'd also like to know who this rangers supervisor is and who his supervisors supervisor is as well!


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It would have been just fine, if he would have been bringing twenty illegals in through the forest land, and they were all throwing down trash and leaving crap behind, instead of picking up trash. :grr01::grr01::nutty: Grubstake

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The last paragraph of what Don71 posted caught my eye as a possible loophole the Feds could use.

"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. This policy does not permit the use of metal detectors in

or around known or undiscovered cultural or historic sites in order to protect our

valuable, non-renewable historical resources."

Especially this part,"This policy does not permit the use of metal detectors in

or around known or undiscovered cultural or historic sites".

They could declare a lot of ground as,"undiscovered cultural or historic sites".

Actually as archeaological and/or paleontological sites. There aren't many places man or prehistoric creatures have not left something on our public lands. They have laws on the books protecting these sites and they aren't new laws. They just haven't been enforcing them except on big time artifact looters. I believe this is what John B was pointing out with,"I'm willing to bet the permits are for archaeologists, PHD and universities only and that these new rules apply on all public domain lands."

I know one thing for sure, they are going to get us one way or another because they don't want us out there except in designated areas they choose. They have the backing of universities, archeaological and paleontological societies plus other greenies of all kinds.

This could be the way they are going to do it. The start of bigger and badder things for the recreational prospector and small miner.

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...follow-up information:

This is USFS Policy (not PL or CFR), it it FS Chief policy direction to all FS employees including LEO's.



(16 U.S.C. 478).

The relevant regulations are primarily set forth in 36 CFR Part 228, Subpart A and should be considered part of this directive.

2817.02 - Objectives. In managing the use of the surface and surface resources, the Forest Service should attempt to minimize or prevent, mitigate, and repair adverse environmental impacts on National Forest System surface and cultural resources as a result of lawful prospecting, exploration, mining, and mineral processing operations, as well as activities reasonably incident to such uses. This should be accomplished by imposition of reasonable conditions which do not materially interfere with such operations.

2817.03 - Policy. The primary means for obtaining protection of surface resources should be by securing the willing cooperation of prospectors and miners. The willingness of the majority of prospectors and miners to comply with regulations, reasonably administered, is a principal key to the protection of environmental quality in the National Forest System. Face-to-face dialog with operators is encouraged.

However, when reasonable efforts have been made to obtain compliance with the regulations and the noncompliance is unnecessarily or unreasonably causing injury, loss, or damage to surface resources, authorized officers shall take enforcement action. (See FSM 2817.3(5).)

In the evaluation of a plan of operations, consider the environmental effects of the mineral operation, including whether the proposed operation represents part of a logical sequence of activities, and whether the proposed activity is reasonable for the stage proposed. For example, consider if the volume of material to be extracted as a sample is reasonable. A 10,000 ton bulk sample may not be reasonable prior to geochemical sampling and assaying. Consult a geologist or mining engineer if there is a question of reasonableness.

The regulations at 36 CFR Part 228, Subpart A shall be administered in a fair, reasonable, and consistent manner and not as a means of inhibiting or interfering with legitimate, well-planned mineral operations.

The regulations at 36 CFR Part 228, Subpart A apply to all unpatented millsites, tunnel sites, and mining claims, including those not subject to 30 U.S.C. 612, and to activities, primarily prospecting, which may be conducted under the mining laws but not on claims.

Do not rely on the regulations at 36 CFR Part 228, Subpart A concerning operating plans as means of solving existing trespass and unauthorized occupancy problems (FSM 2818) on lands clearly open to location under the 1872 mining law.

The statutory right of the public to prospect, develop, and mine valuable minerals and to obtain a patent shall be fully honored and protected. Proprietary information relating to those rights and obtained through the administration of the agency's mineral regulations shall be protected to the full extent authorized by law.

Link: http://www.fs.fed.us/geology/mgm_locatable.html

We are casual "prospectors" not artifact collectors, coin shooters or meteorite hunters (those reguire a permit)...

Keep Smiling... :cigar:

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Since we do not know exactly what John's friend was

cited for. Its kind of tough to say who was right or


But if he is a GPAA member and was on a GPAA claim,

and wasn't digging so called relics or artifacts or

causing significant destruction,he is not liable for

any legal filings or permits for that claim.

Any NOI or mining permit problems is between the

claimant of record and the Forest Service. Since this

is a pre existing claim and casual use activities have

been allowed for years by hundreds,singling out one person

to hassle is discrimination .

If there was a known historical site on an existing claim

the Forest Service should have made arrangements with the

claim owners to post it for protection.Everyone including

the Forest Service knows that GPAA claims belong to a club

and are frequented by recreational prospectors that are not

familiar with the site.Digging metal junk and packing it

out of the prospecting area is just part of detecting.

It is kind of strange the ranger just happened to be

there and waiting. If any of the junk was of value this

proves the ranger knew about it in advance.Instead of citing

a club member ,why wasn't he using the time we pay him for

to work with the claim owners?

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I disagree on the potential loophole re: undiscovered cultural or archeological resources. Simply put, if you challenge the citation, they have to put up, or shut up - show actual PRYOR documentation proving those "resources" exist exactly where you were detecting, or retract the citation. This wouldn't be at the discretion or opinion of just any flunky ranger either. It would have to come from an archeologist, and even that, would have to be find-based, and not opinion.


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I'm the one who got the ticket so I better step in here. John might have missed understood me about being on a GPAA claim. I was not. I was on FS land close to a GPAA claim. I was shocked to be confronted by The officer for metal detecting because I thought FS land was open. After reading your postings and talking to John I see where there is some gray area on the law. I did learn the hard way and I want to give you guys the heads up on this. DO NOT bring the trash out with you. As I always do, everything that is not gold I bring out and throw in the trash can when I get home. In my pouch I had a couple dozen pieces of trash. He gave me a ticket $250.00 for metal detecting on FS land without a permit and 50.00 each for the trash. I though he was cutting me a huss and only fining me for some of the items but that looks like not the case. Reading your post and talking to John it looks like he nailed me for two square nails one lead ball and a shotgun shell. I told him I was looking for nuggets but he said I had historic artifacts, the nails, lead ball and shotgun shell and therefor had to have a permit. I told him that I thought all the stuff was trash and we always pack it out to not have to beep it again. He could care less. I guess I was in the wrong after reading your post so it is what it is. I told John I would post this so you guys know what could happen if you bring your trash out. DO NOT bring the trash out. It can cost you lots of money. I learned the hard way. Hopes this saves you guys some trouble along the way. I thought he was telling me I could not MD on FS land. But after reading your post it must have been the trash that got me. Thanks guys for the posts and John for starting it to get a little light on this. I guess this in the bottom line on this DO NOT bring out the trash.

Happy hunting AL.C

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Thanks Al,

I won't bring any trash out when I go detecting on FS land. HOWEVER............................

I still DON'T require a permit to detect on FS land. Policy does not supercede CFR's, and CFR's do not supercede LAW! This is FACT. The ranger is still violating Federal Law if he cited you for no permit. I pledge the first $100 to fund suing this jerk. Who'll join me?


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Hi Al, so sorry this happened to you. I appreciate your frankness on the event. I agree it's that darn "fine line" we can all cross by mistake. You were just backhauling trash, which is outside the mineral prospecting legal protections.

The other fine line for prospectors is saying word "recreation". Another casual prospector was stopped by FS LEO and his legal activity was ignored once he said the word "recreation". At that point the LEO issued him a citation for no permit. The only legally protected activity is casual prospecting, as recreational prospecting does not exist in 36 CFR 228. So if it's recreational you fall under both recreation and ARPA (archy/historical) CFR regulations, which means you need a permit.

Hi Sawmill, IMO you are correct. The FS Chief’s policy states: “when reasonable efforts have been made to obtain compliance with the regulations and the noncompliance is unnecessarily or unreasonably causing injury, loss, or damage to surface resources, authorized officers shall take enforcement action”

In the past that FS policy statement has always meant that non-compliance “administrative notification” is given FIRST, and “administrative resolution” is attempted BEFORE the LEO issues a violation citation.

What makes the event so frustrating is the FS by law and policy is to “foster” mineral prospecting, exploration, and development on open Forest Service lands. The local District Ranger is suppose to be the prospectors advocate, assisting individuals (yes even GPAA members) to be compliant with 36 CFR 228 subpart A. But… to the FS it’s easier and more fun to just hit the guy with a citation.

Good Luck, Keep Smiling… :cigar:

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Thanks for coming forth with the facts Al C. I've said this before and I'll say it again. If you pick up a nail or a bullet or some such thing you could be in violation of the antiquities act. If you throw it back you could be guilty of littering. The bottom line is you are at the mercy of the ranger. That ain't right but that's just the way the liberals who write these bogus "grey area" laws want it.

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AL, I'm a little lost here......you were cited for trash, WHAT the heck would have been the case if you were carrying a plastic bucket,bag or cloth sack with some soil for testing, or maybe worse yet what if you were carrying on you some rock samples, or gold itself, Holy Bejesus this sounds crazy, they let you on the land to detect but heaven forbid you find something and have it in your possession ???????? And OH MY GOD if you had a meteorite on you and the oppisser (forgive me I studder when I'm nervous :hahaha: ) recognized it as being one We'd probably be tryin to bail you out of the slammer. This should ALL be POSTED at any and every ENTRANCE or EXIT of these federal areas for the common good just as they post other information and warnings.

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Hi Ben. After reading the posts and some of the links it seems clear to me that the ticket for no permit was because I had the trash, nails, lead, bullet, etc. By having that, they call it historic artifacts, I would have needed a permit. If I had no trash then I guess I would not have needed a permit. I'm a rookie at this metal detecting but I'm learning fast. I'm okay with what happened now that you guys pointed out some of the gray areas and fine lines. I'll move on and leave my nails where I find them. Thanks guys and John for using your pointy finger to point out some of the fine lines. AL.C

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Use your pointy finger and type the link and then

hit search. :yuk-yuk:

If that don't work I will try and copy the page for


Al C

You seem to be a very honest and decent fellow.

I hate to see you get hammered by some by the book punk.

Does the ticket just say to remit the fines to the Forest

Service,or does it give a court date? The reason I ask is

if you can get this in front of a judge there is a good

chance he will throw it out. You do not need a permit to

prospect on Forest land with a detector. You were not looking

for artifacts. The trash was just recovered from a legal

activity and they have to show intent,to prove you were

purposely looking for relics.

The LEO or ranger does have to show some discretion and

common sense ,before writing tickets. Also the judge has

the final say about what is a artifact,relic,or just junk.

Frank C

You hit on one important point with the buckets of dirt.

You can carry out your cons or small samples from public

land. But you need a permit for removing dirt over just a

small sample. Taking several buckets to work at home requires

a material removal permit.

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