Rocks & Minerals

Thinking about using your metal detector on public lands? Tempted to pocket that arrowhead you kicked up while hiking on the Forest?  While it might seem harmless to take that arrowhead or historic bottle you find on the National Forest, it's actually illegal.  Cultural resources on public lands belong to the public as a whole, and leaving them in place maintains the integrity of the historic site.  Sites left intact may one day be excavated in order that we can all better understand our collective history. 

So, next time you're tempted to take an artifact, take a picture instead. Remember that this single item is part of the history of your National Forest.  Leave the artifact where you found it, and stop by your local ranger station to report the site.

While on the Hiawatha National Forest, the following rules apply:

Grand Island NRA--  Metal detectors are not allowed in Grand Island Recreation Area. 

Hiawatha National Forest -- In other areas of the Hiawatha National Forest, possession of a metal detector is allowed, but in order to protect historical resources, there are legal restrictions on activities related to the use of metal detectors on public lands.  Specifically, 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...” These laws apply to all National Forest System land and do not vary from state to state.

So, in a nutshell, you can operate a metal detector in most areas, but you may not dig up, remove, or disturb any prehistoric, historic, or archaeological resources. 

Areas & Activities


https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/hiawatha/recreation/rocks-minerals