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Metal Detecting In West Virginia?You Should Know The Law


Metal detecting in West Virginia follows the Antiquities Act of 1906.

President Teddy Roosevelt sign this act into law to protect Indian artifacts that were being looted in the western states.

However, throughout the years this law has been used to violate the rights of Americans. As you'll see, because of this law, more and more laws have been added to the point to where now, it's very difficult to enjoy American lands as we would like to.


Metal Detecting in West Virginia and The Antiquities Act

The Antiquities Act is not a metal detecting law. It is a law that that prohibits the removal of any artifact from state, or federal lands that is more than 100 years old.

However, the Antiquities Act is not the only law that prohibits anyone from removing artifacts from these lands. Another law that is an expansion of the Antiquities Act is ARPA, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

And like the Antiquities Act,  ARPA does not specifically mention "metal detecting", you need to understand what ARPA says about digging artifacts.

For more about these laws read what has happened to individuals that unknowingly break the law. 

Below is a synopsis of West Virginia law as it pertains to archaeology. If you are metal detecting in West Virginia be aware of this law as well

Code Book: West Virginia Code Citation: §20- 7A-5 Section Title: Archeology; permits for excavation; how obtained; prohibitions; penalties

Summary: Prohibits a person from excavating, removing, destroying, injuring or defacing a historic or prehistoric ruin, burial ground, or archeological or paleontological site, including saltpeter workings, relics or inscriptions, fossilized footprints, bones or any other such feature which may be found in any cave.

Requires a person to obtain a permit from the director of Natural Resources in order to excavate or remove archeological, paleontological, prehistoric and historic resources. Directs that permits shall be issued for a period of two years, may be renewed, but may not be transferred. Requires an applicant for a permit to: provide a detailed statement to the director giving reasons and objectives for excavation or removal and the benefits expected to obtained; provide data and results of any completed excavation, study or collection by the first of each calendar year; obtain the prior written permission of the director if the site of the proposed excavation is on state-owned land and prior written permission of the owner if the site is on private land; and carry the permit while exercising the privileges granted. Declares that a person who undertakes any archeological activity without a permit from the director shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, and may be imprisoned in the county jail for not less than ten days nor more than six months. Declares that a person who violates the provisions of an authorized permit may be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, and the permit shall be revoked.

Code Book: West Virginia Code Citation: §29- 1- 8b Section Title: Protection of historic and prehistoric sites; penalties

Summary: Prohibits the disturbance or destruction, except as permitted under §29-1-8 and §29-1-8a, of historic and prehistoric landmarks, sites and districts identified by the Historic Preservation Section of the Division of Culture and History, on lands owned or leased by the state, or on private lands where investigation and development rights have been acquired by the state by lease or contract. Declares that a person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $500, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than six months, or both.

West Virginia like every State also has another law that you should understand, the National Historic Preservation Act. (NHPA)

NHPA of West Virginia
To keep this law stuff as simple as possible;

If you are metal detecting in West Virginia, especially on land that is not privately owned,

do not dig anything that you believe is an artifact, or anything that is older than ugh 100 years.

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

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

I cannot be responsible for any outdated laws from the time of this posting.

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