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Metal Detecting In Kentucky?
You Better Know The Law


Metal detecting in Kentucky has been under scrutiny. Certain areas such as some city, town, and village parks are now off limits due to new laws and regulations. And one law you need to understand is the ARPA Law.(Archaeological Resources Preservation Act).

Below is a link to the ARPA law. Be sure you understand what it reads. I have also paraphrased the important parts of the law to make it easier for you to understand.

This is one law in particular you do not want to break.




The ARPA law is not about metal detecting. It is about digging and removing artifacts either from below the ground, or on top of it. I have also provided you with links to additional information.

ARPA and YOU

Next is a brief definition of the above ARPA law as it pertains to Kentucky.

Summaries follow of burial/archaeological laws yielded through a keyword search for "archaeology" and "burial" on 2001 March 30 at the State Historic Preservation Legislation Database found at the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) web site, that database then updated through 1999. These summaries are reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law which may be found at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html §164.705 through §164.735

Section Title: Archeology Summary:

Declares it to be the policy of the commonwealth to preserve archeological sites and objects of antiquity for the public benefit and to limit exploration, excavation and collection of such matters to qualified persons and educational institutions possessing the requisite skills and purpose to add to the general store of knowledge concerning history, archeology and anthropology. Prohibits a person from willfully injuring, destroying or defacing an archeological site or object of antiquity situated on lands owned or leased by the commonwealth or a state agency or a political subdivision of the commonwealth. Requires a person to obtain a permit from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky before exploring, excavating, appropriating or removing an archeological site or object of antiquity located on such lands, upon recommendation of the agency owning or controlling the land. Directs that permits shall be regularly granted to reputable museums, universities, colleges or other recognized scientific or educational institutions with a view to promoting the knowledge of archeology or anthropology for the public benefit. Requires that permits shall be issued upon such conditions as the department shall deem advisable for maximum effective exploration with a minimum of injury to the surrounding terrain. Directs that each permit shall terminate upon the following December 31, subject to annual renewal on or before the following January 15. Allows the department to revoke a permit at any time upon finding that explorations or excavations authorized by the permit are not being conducted lawfully or properly. Authorizes the department to designate archeological sites and objects of antiquity and cause to be posted signs or markers at the locations thereof. Requires a person who discovers an archeological site or object of antiquity in the course of construction work or otherwise to report such discovery to the department. Enables the department to enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with private landowners relating to the preservation and property exploration of any archeological site or object of antiquity situated on such private land. Authorizes the department to acquire for preservation, with funds available to it for such purposes, an archeological site or object of antiquity.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities Secondary Topic: Permit / Site Investigation Authority

Code Book: Kentucky Revised Statutes Citation: §164.990 Section Title: Penalties: archeology Summary:

(1) Declares that a person is guilty of a Class D felony who willfully injures, destroys or defaces an archeological site or object of antiquity situated on lands owned or leased by the commonwealth or a state agency or a political subdivision of the commonwealth or who explores, excavates, appropriates or removes an archeological site or object of antiquity located on such lands without a permit obtained from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky. Requires that the violator shall forfeit to the state all equipment used in committing the offense. Primary Topic: Archeological Activities Secondary Topic: Violation / Penalty / Enforcement

Metal detecting in Kentucky Know The Law!

Code Book: Kentucky Revised Statutes Citation: §433.873 Section Title: Wrongful disturbance or damage to cave surfaces or material found therein Summary:

(1)(e) Prohibits a person, without the express, prior written permission of the owner, from willfully and knowingly excavating, removing, destroying, injuring, defacing or disturbing any burial grounds, historic or prehistoric resources, archeological or paleontological site, including fossils, bones, relics, inscriptions, saltpeter works, remains of historical human activity or any other such features that may be found in any cave, except those caves owned by the commonwealth or designated as commonwealth archeological sites or zones and are subject to the provisions of §164.705 through §164.735. Primary Topic: Archeological Activities Secondary Topic: Cave Activity

Code Book: Kentucky Revised Statutes Citation: §433.879 Section Title: Excavation permits; requirements; supervision by state archeologist and Kentucky Heritage Council Summary:

Metal Detecting In Kentucky Laws, and Treasure Hunting Laws Are Unconstitutional

Requires a person to obtain a permit from the state archeologist prior to excavating or removing any archeological, paleontological, prehistoric or historic feature of a cave, in addition to obtaining the written permission of the land owner pursuant to §433.873. Authorizes the state archeologist to issue such a permit if it is in the best interest of the commonwealth and if the applicant is a historic, scientific or educational institution, professional archeologist or qualified amateur. Directs that such permits shall be issued for a period of two years and may be renewed upon expiration. Requires that all field investigations, exploration or recovery operations undertaken under this section shall be carried out under the general supervision of the state archeologist and the Kentucky Heritage Council and in a manner to ensure that the maximum amount of historic, scientific, archeological and educational information may be recovered and preserved in addition to the physical recovery of objects.

As confusing as the above laws may seem, if you are metal detecting in Kentucky,  do not dig anything that you believe is an artifact, or anything that is older than 100 years. Especially if you are on any State Lands.

Metal Detecting In Kentucky State Parks Is Not Allowed

If you want to detect on private property, then be sure you get written permission from the landowner.

This page has more information regarding ARPA.

Do not let the beauracrats stop you from enjoying the hobby.

If you are a metal detectorist, or you are thinking of beginning the hobby, but afraid of all the laws and restrictions against metal detecting, let me say that you will be doing yourself a great disservice by not starting, or quitting the hobby.

The Archaeologists, and beauracrats want people to quit the hobby, or they want to discourage newbies from entering. And the more people who give in to their senseless laws, the more they win.

For years, many of us have been fighting the laws that are destroying our right to enjoy metal detecting. Had we given in, then the hobby would have vanished years ago under the pressure. What we need is to continue to fight against the laws, and we need people like you to help us. The more individuals who come forward to help, the better off we will be. If you are new to the hobby and discouraged because areas for metal detecting in Kentucky have been taken away due to unconstitutional laws, or you are about ready to give up, just remember, there are thousands of private properties that can be used for metal detecting in Kentucky, all you need to do is get permission from the property owners. It really is that simple. Do not allow the government, or the Archeologists to dictate how you should enjoy life.

Here is an organization that is fighting for our rights to metal detect.

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Metal Detecting In Kentucky?
You Better Know The Law!

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