State Laws

The following information was gleaned from various web sites and direct contact with state and local officials.

We, TC-RC, have done our best present correct and accurate information concerning laws, ordinances and guidelines relating to metal detecting in various locales, however, TC-RC assumes no responsibility and shall be held blameless for any inaccurate, misquoted, out-of-date, superseded or otherwise incorrect information contained within the TC-RC Official Website.
 

IT IS ALWAYS BEST TO CONTACT LOCAL AUTHORITIES WHEN DETERMINING WHERE TO DETECT.



  The Federation of Metal Detector and Archaeological Clubs also warns that if you are in a park that is designated as "historical" in any sense of the words, then you should consider it off-limits.
 


Added October 9, 2015
Originally Posted by US Army Corps of Engineers

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.

(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 Sections 327.15 and 327.16 except for non-identifiable items such as coins of value less than $25


 

Laws About Metal Detecting

  The laws that influence metal detector enthusiasts are the same as those that affect other treasure hunters, rock hounds and history buffs. The Antiquities Act of 1906 and The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 are federal laws that were created to protect history and make it illegal in almost all cases to metal detect on federal land. State laws vary from state to state; however, those allowing metal detecting on state property require a permit.
 

Federal Laws
  The Antiquities Act of 1906 was written before metal detectors existed; however, the law still exists and states that it is illegal to "appropriate, excavate, injure or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity situated on lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States."
  The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 defines an "archaeological resource" to include "weapons, projectiles and tools." This law makes it illegal to pick up, disturb, or dig up any artifacts that are more than 100 years old on federal property.
   Metal detectors are banned in all US federal and national parks. Additionally, no monuments or historical sites allow you to use a metal detector on their grounds.
  Additionally, in theory, you could be arrested for simply having a metal detector in your vehicle.
 

State Laws
  Metal detecting, collecting or digging on 34 state properties requires a permit, and 16 states do not allow recreational metal detecting on state property. The 34 states that allow metal detecting on state property have additional limitations within state park boundaries. Always check with the park ranger and obtain a permit. Other state properties may include wildlife management areas, state highways, navigable rivers, and--for states bordering the ocean--areas up to three miles offshore.
 

Virginia

Norfolk:Detecting on Public land (i.e. Parks, Schools, Beaches, etc.) is permitted.

Chesapeake:Detecting on Public land (i.e. Parks, Schools, Beaches, etc.) is permitted, however, you are not permitted to dig.

City of Gloucester:Chapter 13- Article II. Regulations Governing Public Parks and Recreation Facilities.
Sec. 13.5-23. Use of electronic metal detecting devices.
No person shall utilize any type of electronic metal-detecting device in any public park or recreation facility, unless the property is posted granting such permission, or unless permission is granted, in writing, by the director. The county shall retain ownership of all of the following items discovered or located on such property: human or animal remains older than 100 years; items having a value of more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00); and artifacts older than 50 years, unless such ownership intrest is relinquished, in writing, by the director.
Source  Revised June 1, 2010 - Board of Supervisors Meeting

Hampton:Detecting on Public land (i.e. Parks, Schools, Beaches, etc.) is permitted, however, certain areas (i.e. Buckrow Beach) require a permit issued by the city.

James City County:Chapter 16- Public Parks and Recreation Facilities*
Sec. 16-22. Use of electronic metal-detecting devices.
No person shall utilize any type of electronic metal-detecting device in any recreational facility.
(Ord. No. 154, 5-7-84)
Source

Newport News:Chapter 29 - Article II. General Regulations Governing Parks, Squares, Beaches, Golf Courses, etc.*
Sec. 29-49. Use of electronic metal-detecting devices.
No person shall utilize any type of electronic metal-detecting device in any recreational facility without first obtaining written approval from the director, except for the sandy portion of the beaches of Huntington Park, Anderson Park and King-Lincoln Park. (This code shall not pertain to Parks, Recreation and Tourism employees working in an official capacity).

Portsmouth:Detecting on Public land (i.e. Parks, Schools, Beaches, etc.) is permitted.

Suffolk:Detecting on Public land (i.e. Parks, Schools, Beaches, etc.) is permitted.

Virginia 
Beach:
Detecting on Public land (i.e. Parks, Schools, Beaches, etc.) is permitted.

Williamsburg:Chapter 13 Parks and Recreation - 'Article III. Regulations
Sec. 13-117. Damage to property.
(f) No person shall appropriate, excavate, injure, search for, remove or destroy any historical ruin, monument or area or any object of antiquity situated in any recreational facility, nor shall any person operate on park premises any type of electronic metal-detecting device without first obtaining written approval from the director of parks and recreation. Upon conviction, such locating devices shall be forfeited to the city and may be seized by an officer as forfeited, and as may be needed for historical purposes, such devices shall be devoted to that purpose.

York County Chapter 17 - ARTICLE: III. Public Area Property Use and Sanitation Regulations
Sec.17-35. Preservation of natural resources and public buildings and property.

(e)  Metal-detecting devices: Except as provided below, the possession or use of any mineral or metal-detecting device is prohibited in any county park or public area; provided, however, that possession of such a device within a motor vehicle is permitted if the device is broken down or packed in such as way as to prevent its use while in public areas. The following shall be exempt from the prohibitions of this section:
(1) Fathometers, radar equipment and electronic equipment used primarily for navigation and safe operation of boats and aircraft; and
(2) Mineral or metal-detecting devices used in pursuit of authorized activities under permit issued by the appropriate governing official.
(3) Metal detectors when used on the sand beach of the Yorktown Waterfront, except however portions of the beach owned by the National Park Service, and provided further that disturbance of any of the vegetated dunes shall be prohibited.
Source  Revised May 15, 2012 - Board of Supervisors Meeting

Virginia (and specifically the Tidewater Area) has numerious Military Installations and Historic Areas - DO NOT DETECT in any of these ristricted areas! Penalities may include confiscation of equipment, fines and jail time.

Virginia Antiquities Act (§ 10.1-2300 Code of Virginia)

Law applies to: Objects of antiquity located on archaeological sites on state-controlled land (§ 10.1-2302) and human burials located in the Commonwealth (§ 10.1-2305). Permitting agency: Department of Historic Resources Party responsible for compliance: The state agency or individual initiating the archaeological field investigation or removal of human remains from archaeological sites.

The Virginia Antiquities Act prohibits damage to or removal of objects of antiquity from archaeological sites on all state-controlled land. This act does not restrict a state agency from construction or other land disturbing activities on its own land, but does prohibit all "relic hunting" or any archaeological field investigations without a permit from DHR. DHR is charged with coordinating all archaeological field investigations and surveys conducted on state-controlled lands (§10.1-2301; 1, 2). The department is given exclusive right and privilege to conduct field investigations on state lands, but may grant those privileges to others through a permit process (§10.1-2302 and 2303). The department also has final authority to identify and evaluate the significance of sites and objects of antiquity found on state lands (§10.1-2301; 3). Permits are issued through the department's Office of Review and Compliance.

§ 10.1-2302. Permit required to conduct field investigations; ownership of objects of antiquity; penalty.

A:It shall be unlawful for any person to conduct any type of field investigation, exploration or recovery operation involving the removal, destruction or disturbance of any object of antiquity on state-controlled land, or on a state archaeological site or zone without first receiving a permit from the Director.

B:The Director may issue a permit to conduct field investigations if the Director finds that it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth, and the applicant is a historic, scientific, or educational institution, professional archaeologist or amateur, who is qualified and recognized in the area of field investigations or archaeology.

C:The permit shall require that all objects of antiquity that are recovered from state-controlled land shall be the exclusive property of the Commonwealth. Title to some or all objects of antiquity which are discovered or removed from a state archaeological site not located on state-controlled land may be retained by the owner of such land. All objects of antiquity that are discovered or recovered on or from state-controlled land shall be retained by the Commonwealth, unless they are released to the applicant by the Director.

D:All field investigations, explorations, or recovery operations undertaken pursuant to a permit issued under this section shall be carried out under the general supervision of the Director and in a manner to ensure that the maximum amount of historic, scientific, archaeologic and educational information may be recovered and preserved in addition to the physical recovery of objects.

E:If the field investigation described in the application is likely to interfere with the activity of any state agency, no permit shall be issued unless the applicant has secured the written approval of such agency.

F:Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.


(1977, c. 424, § 10-150.5; 1984, c. 750; 1988, c. 891, § 10.1-903; 1989, c. 656.)
See the Virginia General Assembly website: Legislative Information System - searchable database for more info. 
 

  Virginia Submerged Resources Law.

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  More coming soon.

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Alabama

Code of Alabama
Title 41 - State Government
Chapter 3 - Aboriginal Mounds, Earthworks and other Antiquities Section 41-3-1

Reservation of exclusive right and privilege of state to explore, excavate or survey aboriginal mounds, earthworks, burial sites, etc.; state ownership of objects found or located therein declared.

The State of Alabama reserves to itself the exclusive right and privilege of exploring, excavating or surveying, through its authorized officers, agents or employees, all aboriginal mounds and other antiquities, earthworks, ancient or historical forts and burial sites within the State of Alabama, subject to the rights of the owner of the land upon which such antiquities are situated, for agricultural, domestic or industrial purposes, and the ownership of the state is hereby expressly declared in any and all objects whatsoever which may be found or located therein.

Section 41-3-2
Nonresidents not to explore or excavate remains or carry away, etc., from state objects discovered therein, etc. No person not a resident of the State of Alabama, either by himself personally or through any agent or employee or anyone else acting for such person, shall explore or excavate any of the remains described in Section 41-3-1 or carry or send away from the state any objects which may be discovered therein or which may be taken therefrom or found in the vicinity thereof.

Section 41-3-3
Explorations or excavations of remains not to be done without consent of owner of land and not to injure crops, houses, etc., thereon.

No explorations or excavations shall be made in any of such remains without the consent of the owner of the land first had and obtained and unless such work is done in such way as not to injure any crops, houses or improvements on the land adjacent to or forming a part of such remains.

Section 41-3-4
Explorations or excavations not to destroy, deface, etc., remains; restoration of remains after explorations or excavations.

No explorations or excavations shall be made which will destroy, deface or permanently injure such remains; and, after any such explorations or excavations, they shall be restored to the same or like condition as before such explorations or excavations were made.

Metal Detecting in Alabama, or any treasure hunting can get you arrested.

Section 41-3-5
Disposition of objects taken from remains.
No objects taken from such remains shall be sold or disposed of out of the state, but when removed therefrom the objects so gathered shall be retained in state custody and either placed in the collection of the Department of Archives and History or in the museums or in the libraries of the educational or other institutions of the state or they may be exchanged for similar or other objects from other states, museums, libraries or individuals.

Section 41-3-6
Exploration or excavation of aboriginal mounds, earthworks, etc., contrary to law.
Any person who shall explore or excavate any of the aboriginal mounds, earthworks or other antiquities of this state contrary to the laws of this state shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $1,000.00 for each offense.
 

  Alabama Submerged Resources Law.

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Alaska

An Act for the Preservation of American Antiquitie

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who shall appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroyany historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on landsowned or controlled by the Government of the United States, without the permission ofthe Secretary of the Department of the Government having jurisdiction over the lands onwhich said antiquities are situated, shall, upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not morethan five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, orshall suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures,and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands ownedor controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and mayreserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confinedto the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to beprotected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bonafide unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as maybe necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished tothe Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishmentof such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

Metal Detecting in Alaska, or any treasure hunting can get you arrested.

Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites,and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictionsmay be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutionswhich they may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation,or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe: Provided, Thatthe examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions,with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall bemade for permanent preservation in public museums.

Sec. 4. That the Secretaries of the Departments aforesaid shall make and publish fromtime to time uniform rules and regulations for the purpose of carrying out the provisionsof this Act.

  Alaska Submerged Resources Law.

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Arkansas

  Arkansas Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Arizona

  Arizona Submerged Resources Law.
 

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California

  California Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Colorado

  Colorado Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Connecticut

  Connecticut Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Delaware

  Delaware Submerged Resources Law.
 

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in Florida State Parks

  According to the operations procedures manual of the Florida Park Service, metal detecting is only allowed in coastal parks between the waterline and the "toe of the dune," which is determined by the park manager.
You should check with a park ranger prior to detecting as this area varies from park to park. The use of metal
detectors in all other areas of Florida state parks is prohibited.
 

  Natural items and items of historical or cultural value are not allowed to be removed from the park. Also, individuals who find items such as rings or keys are encouraged to turn them in to lost and found. You should always check with the park manager prior to hunting to be sure you understand what you are allowed to keep from your search.
 

  Designated archaeological sites are located throughout the park system. A permit is required to use a metal detector in these areas, and any historical artifacts you find will become the property of the state.
 

  If you lose an item on park property, you are allowed to use metal detectors to retrieve it; however, you must be able to specifically identify the item. The park manager will arrange for a time to search, and anything found in addition to your item must be turned over to the park.
 

  Florida Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Georgia

  Georgia Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Hawaii

  Hawaii Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Idaho

  Idaho Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Illinois

  Illinois Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Indiana

  Indiana Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Iowa

  Iowa Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Kansas

  Kansas Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Kentucky

  Kentucky Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Louisiana

  Louisiana Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Maine

  Maine Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Maryland

  Almost anywhere you go in Maryland, you will need permission before you can use your metal detector to hunt for hidden objects. State law forbids metal-detecting by individuals in state parks, except for public swimming beaches -- and even there you have to ask permission. Cities and counties usually require you to ask permission before searching on their property. And of course you should never metal-detect on private property without permission.
 

  Ask permission from the property owner if you wish to metal-detect on private property. Talk to the owner in person if possible. Try to make a good impression by dressing neatly and treating the person with respect. The way you present yourself can make the difference between a yes or a no. Also promise that you will not damage any property or leave any holes in the ground, and it might help if you offer to let them keep anything you find.
 

  Contact state park officials for permission if you wish to metal detect on state swimming beaches. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources allows metal-detecting on all state-owned swimming beaches except for Point Lookout and Calvert Cliffs. But you first have to getpermission from the officials at the beach you wish to search. While you can then use a metal detector during normal park hours for most of the year, from May 30 through Labor Day, metal detecting is forbidden on the beaches between 9 a.m. and dusk. Park officials also have the discretion to suspend metal detecting at other times, such as during public events and festivals.
 

  Contact the city or county parks department if you wish to metal-detect in city or county parks. Usually you can get permission from the local parks department. If you want access to other local government properties such as courthouse squares, talk to the city or county department responsible for mintaining the property.
 

  Ask school principals or school superintendents for permission to metal-detect on school grounds or athletic fields.
 

  Maryland Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Massachusetts

  According to the Massachusetts Code of Regulations, the use of metal detectors on state forests and parks property is not allowed without permission of the area supervisor.

  Permission must be obtained beforehand.

  The use of a metal detector is restricted to designated beaches and campsites.
 

  Massachusetts Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Michigan

  Michigan Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Minnesota

  Has a statewide ban on the use of metal detectors.
 

  Minnesota Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Mississippi

  Mississippi Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Missouri

  Missouri Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Montana

  Montana Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Nebraska

  Nebraska Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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Nevada

  Nevada Submerged Resources Law.
 

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New Hampshire

  New Hampshire Submerged Resources Law.
 

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New Jersey

  New Jersey Submerged Resources Law.
 

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New Mexico

  New Mexico Submerged Resources Law.
 

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New York

  New York Submerged Resources Law.
 

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North Carolina

  Metal detectors are not approved for use at state parks in North Carolina unless they are used for the location of personal property. If this is the case, the metal detector user must be accompanied by a member of the park staff. This regulation does not include North Carolina ocean parks.
 

  North Carolina official recreation areas that are located on the beach do not allow the use of metal detectors during June, July and August. The rest of the year, metal detectors are permitted but are regulated by several state laws. Beaches that are not officially recreation areas or state parks permit the use of metal detectors.
 

  North Carolina follows The Antiquities Act of 1906 when it comes to metal detection. According to the law, a person cannot deface an archaeological resource on state lands by removing, damaging or excavating the resource without a permit. This person may not purchase, transport or exchange the resource after digging it up, and there can be up to a $5,000 fine and six months of jail time. The items excavated must be forfeited to the state. The term "archaeological resource" is left intentionally vague, and different archaeologists may look at the term differently.
 

  The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 adds to the potential illegality of metal detection in North Carolina. The law states you cannot dig anything you have reason to believe may be an artifact or something that appears to be over 100 years old. Because the age of an item or the identification of an object as an artifact is also open to interpretation, it is recommended you exercise extreme caution when digging up items from metal detection.
 

  North Carolina Submerged Resources Law.
 

  More coming soon.

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North Dakota

  North Dakota Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Ohio

  Ohio Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Oklahoma

  Oklahoma Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Oregon

  Oregon Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Pennsylvania

  Pennsylvania follows The Antiquities Act of 1906 (and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979) when it comes to metal detection. According to the law, a person cannot deface an archaeological resource on state lands by removing, damaging or excavating the resource without a permit. This person may not purchase, transport or exchange the resource after digging it up, and there can be up to a $5,000 fine and six months of jail time. The items excavated must be forfeited to the state. The term "archaeological resource" is left intentionally vague, and different archaeologists may look at the term differently.
 

Pennsylvania also follows The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.
  The law states you cannot dig anything you have reason to believe may be an artifact or something that appears to be over 100 years old. Because the age of an item or the identification of an object as an artifact is also open to interpretation, it is recommended you exercise extreme caution when digging up items from metal detection.

  Always get written permission, from the landowner, before you detect on private property.

  Always check with the local officals of the city, town or village before detecting.

  Pennsylvania Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Rhode Island

  Rhode Island Submerged Resources Law.
 

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South Carolina

  South Carolina Submerged Resources Laws.

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South Dakota

  South Dakota Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Tennessee

  Tennessee Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Texas

  Texas Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Utah

  Utah Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Vermont

  Vermont Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Washington

  Washington Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Washington DC

  You need to check with the local officials of the town, city, etc. if you plan to metal detect on public land.
 

  Washington DC Submerged Resources Law.
 

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West Virginia

  West Virginia Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Wisconsin

  Wisconsin Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Wyoming

  Wyoming Submerged Resources Law.
 

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Be polite and informative to those who inquire about our hobby. You are the ambassador of a passtime we want to protect and we will be judged by how we act and respond.

 

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We are Proud Members of

Federation of Metal Detector and Archaeological Clubs Inc.