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This search result may include State Law, City Regulations and Federal Agency Metal Detecting Law
and a Link to a List of National Parks.

MDHTALK Metal Detecting City and County Regulations
and a Link to a List of National Parks

  Cities and Counties that Require a Metal Detecting Permit or do not Allow Metal Detecting

City:                      CA
Permit Required:    
Permit Fee:            
Phone Number:      
Website:               http://www.santa-cruz-criminal-defense.com/california-penal-code-485.html
Law:                  California Penal Code § 485 § 485. Appropriation of lost property by finder
One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.

City:                      Auburn State Recreation Area (park)CA
Permit Required:    
Permit Fee:            
Phone Number:      
Website:               http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/502/files/ASRABrochure032807.pdf
Law:                  See Page 10 of the pdf document for details on Metal Detecting and Gold Prospecting.

City:                      East Bay Regional ParksCA
Permit Required:    Yes
Permit Fee:            $35.00
Phone Number:      888-EBPARKS
Website:               https://www2.municode.com/library/ca/east_bay_regional_park_district/codes/ordinance_38_-_rules_and_regulations?nodeId=CHIVPAUSEN_S406DEI
Law:                  Section 406 Devices Metal Detectors No person shall use a metal detector or similar device on parklands, except as provided in a written permit granted by the General Manager of the District.

City:                      LivermoreCA
Permit Required:    Yes
Permit Fee:            ~ $25
Phone Number:      
Website:               http://www.larpd.org/board/documents/ordinance_8_1-25-12.pdf
Law:                  Regulation 709a
Section 709 Metal Detectors
It shall be unlawful to use a metal detector or similar device in any District Facility or Parkland without a permit.

City:                      RiversideCA
Permit Required:    
Permit Fee:            
Phone Number:      
Website:               http://riversideca.gov/municode/pdf/09/9-08.pdf
Law:                  No current ordinace against metal detecting.

City:                      RosevilleCA
Permit Required:    Yes
Permit Fee:            $5.00
Phone Number:      916-774-5200
Website:               http://www.roseville.ca.us/parks/default.asp
Law:                  Permit Required

City:                      San JoseCA
Permit Required:    Yes
Permit Fee:            $40.00
Phone Number:      408- 535-3570
Website:               https://www.sanjoseca.gov/your-government/departments/parks-recreation-neighborhood-services/permits
Law:                  Permit Required Metal Detecting
Application forms can be picked up at Leininger Center. Completed applications must be submitted to the park reservation staff at Leininger Center, 1300 Senter Road (inside Kelley Park), Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:40pm. There is a yearly application fee of $40 and $1 for each detector card (first card is included in the application fee).

City:                      San Onofre SBCA
Permit Required:    
Permit Fee:            
Phone Number:      
Law:                  This is a State Beach and the California Sates Regulations apply. No detecting other than in the beach sand and this may or may not be OK. Depends on the park management.

City:                      Santa Clara County ParksCA
Permit Required:    Yes
Permit Fee:            Free
Phone Number:      408-355-2200
Website:               https://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/AboutUs/Pages/Special-Event-Permits.aspx
Law:                  Permit Required

Metal Detecting is not allowed in the following park areas:
• Almaden Quicksilver County Park - all areas within park.
• Anderson County Park - Cochrane/Jackson House.
• Calero County Park - Bailey/Fellow House.
• Chitactac/Adams Heritage County Park - all areas within park.
• Coyote Creek Parkway - Coyote/Fisher Ranch house & Mala-guerra Winery.
• Coyote/Bear Ranch - Foreman's House.
• Ed Levin County Park - Laguna Cemetery
• Joseph D. Grant County Park - Joseph D. Grant Ranch House.
• Mt. Madonna County Park - Miller House Ruins
• Sanborn/Skyline County Park - H.P. Dyer House, Welch Hurst Site (youth hostel), Pourroy Homestead.
Villa Montalvo Arboretum - all areas within the park.
Santa Teresa County Park– North of Bernal Road
Sunnyvale - NO Digging allowed in parks

City:                      South lake TahoeCA
Permit Required:    
Permit Fee:            
Phone Number:      530-542-6056
Website:               http://www.cityofslt.us/index.aspx?nid=196
Law:                  There are no known regulations against metal detecting in the city.

City:                      SunnyvaleCA
Permit Required:    
Permit Fee:            
Phone Number:      408-730-7751
Website:               http://sunnyvale.ca.gov/Portals/0/Sunnyvale/DCS/Recreation/Info%20Bulletins/P09.pdf

Metal Detectors

  1. It is our goal to provide as many positive recreational opportunities for park visitors as possible, and

  2. The use of metal detectors, or "treasure hunting," in Sunnyvale's park system is not illegal. City code does not prohibit it; nor are there any park rules or regulations forbidding it, and

  3. It is our obligation to protect the park's resources and to ensure that damage to the park by visitors is minimized, and

  4. It is illegal to dig in any park area with any tool, and violators are subject to citation.

As a result, and with these four concepts in mind, park visitors with metal detectors are welcome in the parks so long as they do not do any digging. Parks staff have been directed to politely ask treasure hunters to leave all digging tools outside of the park and to inform them that sifting through the top few inches of sand or fir bark in play areas is acceptable so long as they do not use any tools or inconvenience playground users. The City is, in fact, grateful for any assistance treasure hunters might render with regard to the removal of any trash or debris they might find during their hunt.


Treasure hunters observed digging in the park or otherwise damaging park resources will be informed that they are breaking the law. If they continue to break the law, Park staff will contact Public Safety.

City:                      Tahoe National Forest - Bureau of Land ManagementCA
Permit Required:    Yes
Permit Fee:            Unknown
Phone Number:      
Website:               http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev3_028080.pdf

Use of Metal Detectors
Tahoe National Forest

Metal detectors are used by both hobbyists and professionals to look for hidden coins, pipes, and other metallic objects. Due to the need to protect archaeological sites, we’ve prepared this guide for the use of metal detectors on Tahoe National Forest ands. If you have questions, contact information is listed on the back of this document.

Help Protect History

Archaeological sites throughout California provide important insights and knowledge about the past that can be gained nowhere else. They are the repositories for people and cultures not represented in history books. Removing artifacts from sites destroys the context of the site, much like tearing pages from a book. Professional archaeologists depend on finding artifacts in their original location and association to other objects, so they can accurately understand and interpret the story of that site. Ultimately, this helps us learn about littleknown aspects of our past.

Sites on National Forest System lands are protected by the Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979 and the Secretary of Agriculture’s Regulations. You could be charged with a felony if you disturb, alter, remove, or damage archaeological sites and objects that are over 100 years old on Federal lands.

How You Can Help

The Forest Service’s “Passport In Time” program provides opportunities for citizens of all ages to participate in historical and archaeological projects as

volunteers. Many of these projects need metal detector volunteers. For more information on

Passport In Time, visit www.PassportInTime.com.

You can help preserve our history by leaving archaeological sites undisturbed. Report looting, vandalism, or looters to the closest Forest Service office. When making a report, ask for the District’s Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) or archaeologist.

Should you discover an archaeological or historic object or site, enjoy what is there, but please do not disturb anything. Feel free to call the Tahoe NF Headquarters with a report of your discovery, so our
Cultural Resources staff can evaluate it.

Metal Detector Use Definitions

Treasure Trove Treasure trove includes money, gems, precious metal coins, plate, or bullion that has been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovering it later. The
search for buried treasure can involve methods that are damaging to natural and cultural resources, thus a special-use permit from the Forest Service is required. Each permit request is evaluated before such permits are granted.

Archaeological Sites
The use of metal detectors to locate objects of historical or archaeological value is permitted subject to the provisions of the Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979 and the Secretary of Agriculture’s Regulations. This activity requires a special-use permit. Permits are only issued for legitimate research conducted by qualified professional archaeologists. Unauthorized use of metal detectors in the search for and collection of historic artifacts is a Federal violation.


Mineral Deposits
The use of a metal detector to locate mineral deposits such as gold and silver on National Forest System lands is considered prospecting and is subject to the General Mining Law of 1872. Permits are not required for prospecting. However, a Plan of Operations is required if the prospecting methods will involve ground disturbing activities, such as digging holes or moving rocks. Before metal detecting, it’s important to make sure the activity is not on an active mining claim. Prospectors can check mining claim records at Bureau of Land Management offices (where claims are filed), or contact the Minerals Officers at the Yuba River or Foresthill Ranger Stations.

Recent Coins/Metal Objects
Searching for coins of recent vintage and metal objects having no historical value, as a recreational pursuit, does not require a special-use permit as long as the equipment is confined to areas that do not possess historic or prehistoric resources.


For More Information
Tahoe National Forest Headquarters/
Yuba River Ranger District—South
631 Coyote Street
Nevada City, CA 95959
530-265-4531 (voice)
530-478-6118 (TDD)

American River Ranger District
22830 Foresthill Rd.
Foresthill, CA 95631
530-367-2224 (voice)
530-367-2226 (TDD)

Sierraville Ranger District
317 South Lincoln
P.O. Box 95

Sierraville, CA 96126
530 994-3401 (voice)
530-994-3521 (TDD)
Truckee Ranger District
9646 Donner Pass Rd.
Truckee, CA 96161
530 587-3558 (voice)

MDHTALK's List of National Parks in California

Remember it is illegal to Metal Detect in a National Park, Recreational Area or at a National Monument.
Find and Read Title 36 in the Right Column on this Page.

Select this Link to View the List of National Parks

MDHTALK Metal Detecting State Law

State Park Links and State Park Metal Detecting Laws & Regulations
The Archaeology website for a state maybe an official state site or a site that represents the archaeology law of the state.

State Archaeology:      https://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24684

On line State Park Regulations.

State Park Regulations: http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=21300

State Park Metal Detecting Rule and Regulation Detail:There is no specific law against use of metal detectors. However, they may not be used for mineralogical or historical / archeological collection.

The prying up or digging out of an object may be against the law as defined in Sections 4306,4307, 4308.
To re-enforce land / soil surface may not be disturbed while Metal detecting. See Sections: 4306, 4307 & 4308

§ 4306. Plants and Driftwood.
No person shall willfully or negligently pick, dig up, cut, mutilate, destroy, injure, disturb, move, molest, burn, or carry away any tree or plant or portion thereof, including but not limited to leaf mold, flowers, foliage, berries, fruit, grass, turf, humas, shrubs, cones, and dead wood, except in specific units when authorization by the District Superintendent or Deputy Director of Off-Highway Motor Vehicles to take berries, or gather mushrooms, or gather pine cones, or collect driftwood is posted at the headquarters of the unit to which the authorization applies.

§ 4307. Geological Features.
(a) No person shall destroy, disturb, mutilate, or remove earth, sand, gravel, oil, minerals, rocks, paleontological features, or features of caves.
(b) Rock hounding may be permitted as defined in Section 4301(v).

§ 4308. Archaeological Features.
No person shall remove, injure, disfigure, deface, or destroy any object of archaeological, or historical interest or value.

California State Park Laws were established to protect the park resources, to administer the parks and to maintain a park atmosphere. All the following sections are contained in the California Code of Regulations. All sections are misdemeanors which carry a maximum punishment of 90 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine. This is only a partial listing of the State Park laws which apply statewide.

§ 4610.10. Panning for Gold.
§ 4610.1. Units Open for Rock hounding
(a) Rock hounding is authorized by Section 5001.65 of the Public Resources Code.
(b) Units and portions thereof (o)pen for Rock hounding will be posted in accordance with Section 4301(i).
(c) Commercial Use.
Rocks or mineral specimens gathered within a unit may not be sold or used commercially for the production of profit.
(d) Maximum Take.
One person may gather, in one day in one unit, not more than 15 pounds of mineralogical material or not more than one specimen plus 15 pounds of mineralogical material.
(e) Use of Tools.
Tools, except gold pans to be used in gold panning, may not be used in rock hounding within a unit.
(f) Areas for Swimming and Boating.
In state recreation areas rock hounding may not be practiced in areas designated for swimming or for boat launching.
(g) Areas Limited for Collecting.
In state recreation areas rock hounding is limited to beaches which lie within the jurisdiction of the Department and within the wave action zone on lakes, bays, reservoirs, or on the ocean, and to the beaches or gravel bars which are subject to annual flooding on streams.
(h) Indian Artifacts.
Rock hounding in a unit specifically does not include the gathering of Indian arrowheads, Indian stone tools, or other archeological specimens, even when such specimens may be found occurring naturally on the surface.
(i) Panning for Gold.
Panning for gold is considered to be "rock hounding" as the term is applied in the Department. The gold pan is the only exception permitted to the exclusion of tools from rock hounding in a unit as provided in Section 4610.5. Muddy water from panning operations must not be visible more than 20 feet from the panning operation.

MDHTALK National or Federal Metal Detecting Regulations
Federal Agencies that have a specific Metal Detecting Regulation

Agency:              Army Corps of Engineers
Website:             http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title36/36tab_02.tpl
Law:                  Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property


§ 327.14 Public property.
(a) Destruction, injury, defacement, removal or any alteration of public property including, but not limited to, developed facilities, natural formations, mineral deposits, historical and archaeological features, paleontological resources, boundary monumentation or markers and vegetative growth, is prohibited except when in accordance with written permission of the District Commander.
(b) Cutting or gathering of trees or parts of trees and/or the removal of wood from project lands is prohibited without written permission of the District Commander.
(c) Gathering of dead wood on the ground for use in designated recreation areas as firewood is permitted, unless prohibited and posted by the District Commander.
(d) The use of metal detectors is permitted on designated beaches or other previously disturbed areas unless prohibited by the District Commander for reasons of protection of archaeological, historical or paleontological resources. Specific information regarding metal detector policy and designated use areas is available at the Manager's Office. Items found must be handled in accordance with §§ 327.15 and 327.16 except for non-identifiable items such as coins of value less than $25.

Agency:              Bureau of Land Management
Website:             https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/documents/files/collecting_on_publiclands.pdf
Law:                  Cultural materials on public lands may not be removed, damaged, disturbed, excavated or transferred without BLM permit. Cultural resources include prehistoric and historic artifacts and sites, broken objects and debris more than 100 years old that were used or produced by humans.

Protected materials include arrowheads and other stone tools, grinding stones, beads, baskets, pottery, old bottles, horse shoes, metal tools, graves and trash scatters. Historic sites such as cabins, sawmills, graves, trail traces, mining areas, townsites, ranches and railroads are not open to collecting.

Metal detector use is allowed on public lands. Modern money may be collected, but coins and artifacts more than 100 years old may not be collected.

Agency:              Bureau of Reclamation
Website:             http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2008-title43-vol1/pdf/CFR-2008-title43-vol1-sec423-27.pdf
Law:                  Section 423.29 Natural and Cultural Resources
(f) You must not possess a metal detector or other geophysical discovery device, or use a metal detector or other geophysical discovery techniques to locate or recover subsurface objects or features, except:
(1) When transporting, but not using a metal detector or other geophysical discovery device in a vehicle on a public road as allowed under applicable Federal, state and local law, or:
(2) As allowed by permit issued pursuantto subpart D of this 423.

Agency:              National Forests
Website:             http://www.fs.fed.us/outernet/r9/cnnf/rec/heritage/metal_detectors.html
Law:                  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 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."

USDA Forest Service Manual Direction (draft): "Metal Detector Use. Metal 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, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage or otherwise alter or deface any archaeological resources located on public lands or Indianlands 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 mbruhy@fs.fed.us.

Agency:              National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, Forests, and Public Property
Law:                  Title 36 Parks, Forests, and Public Property Website

§ 2.1 Preservation of natural, cultural and archeological resources. Website Section

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the following is prohibited:
(1) Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or disturbing from its natural state:
(iii) Nonfossilized and fossilized paleontological specimens, cultural or archeological resources, or the parts thereof.
(iv) A mineral resource or cave formation or the parts thereof.
(3) Tossing, throwing or rolling rocks or other items inside caves or caverns, into valleys, canyons, or caverns, down hillsides or mountainsides, or into thermal features.
(5) Walking on, climbing, entering, ascending, descending, or traversing an archeological or cultural resource, monument, or statue, except in designated areas and under conditions established by the superintendent.
(6) Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or disturbing a structure or its furnishing or fixtures, or other cultural or archeological resources.
(7) Possessing or using a mineral or metal detector, magnetometer, side scan sonar, other metal detecting device, or subbottom profiler.

This paragraph does not apply to:
(i) A device broken down and stored or packed to prevent its use while in park areas.
(ii) Electronic equipment used primarily for the navigation and safe operation of boats and aircraft.
(iii) Mineral or metal detectors, magnetometers, or subbottom profilers used for authorized scientific, mining, or administrative activities.

Agency:              USC : Title 16 - Conservation
16 USC Chapter 1B - Archaeology Resources Protection

Website:             http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/16/chapter-1B
Law:                  16 USC § 470ee - Prohibited acts and criminal penalties website

(a) Unauthorized excavation, removal, damage, alteration, or defacement of archaeological resources. No person may excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface, or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any archaeological resource located on public lands or Indian lands unless such activity is pursuant to a permit issued under section 470cc of this title, a permit referred to in section 470cc(h)(2) of this title, or the exemption contained in section 470cc(g)(1) of this title.
(b) Trafficking in archaeological resources the excavation or removal of which was wrongful under Federal law No person may sell, purchase, exchange, transport, receive, or offer to sell, purchase, or exchange any archaeological resource if such resource was excavated or removed from public lands or Indian lands in violation of—
(1)the prohibition contained in subsection (a) of this section, or
(2)any provision, rule, regulation, ordinance, or permit in effect under any other provision of Federal law.
(c) Trafficking in interstate or foreign commerce in archaeological resources the excavation, removal, sale, purchase, exchange, transportation or receipt of which was wrongful under State or local law. No person may sell, purchase, exchange, transport, receive, or offer to sell, purchase, or exchange, in interstate or foreign commerce, any archaeological resource excavated, removed, sold, purchased, exchanged, transported, or received in violation of any provision, rule, regulation, ordinance, or permit in effect under State or local law.