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Metal Detecting In Michigan
And The Law

Be careful when metal detecting in Michigan. There are certain laws that you must follow when digging artifacts that are more than one hundred years old. The main law that protects artifacts on State or federal lands is the ARPA Law. This law was created by President Teddy Roosevelt. It was enacted to protect the sacred Indian burial grounds in the west. However, the ARPA law since has grown into a massive, out of control, bureaucratic land grab.

ARPA, The Archeological Resources Preservation Act.

The ARPA law can be confusing. Therefore, I have tried to encapsulate what that law is all about at this page. You will also read examples of what happens to certain individuals who break the law.

To confuse matters even more, if you are detecting in Michigan, you must be aware of another law. That law is the National Historic Preservation Act.

Again, the above laws deal primarily with State or Federal lands.

If you plan on metal detecting in Michigan State Parks there will be signs for designated metal detecting areas. Check with each park before you decide to metal detect in those areas. You also need to show what you find to the park staff for their review. Follow the rules. If you do not, then it becomes more difficult for us to have the parks grant permission the next time.

If you want to detect on private property, then be sure you get permission from the landowner. Many hobbyists are reluctant to ask for permission. They fear rejection. And yes people do say no. However, the more you ask for permission, the easier it will become for you to ask, and the more properties you will gain access to.

For detecting in Michigan, town, village and city parks, you'll need to check with those local officials.

I receive emails all the time from people who are contemplating starting metal detecting, but are fearful of the laws. I also receive emails from people in the hobby who want to quit the hobby because of the laws. My answer is always the same. DO NOT QUIT! Quitting means giving in to the beauracrats who write the laws. Besides there are so many places to metal detect in Michigan. There is no need to go onto State or Federal lands. Organizations like WWATS are helping us fight the laws. Be a part of the solution, join WWATS.

A few years ago I produced a metal detecting, TV series. I was actually the first to do so. After the first showed aired I began to receive calls and emails from Archaeologists who said we were breaking the ARPA law. In fact, we were detecting on private property with written permission. However, the archaeologists and beauracrats were incensed that we were showing people how to find and dig artifacts. That is the reason why they were so angry. They hired lawyers and tried to shut down my company. But I fought back, and I won. DO NOT QUIT!

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