Two Men Are Fined and Have Property Impounded for Relic Hunting in a National Park

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Date: November 15, 2010
Contact: Adam Prato, (319) 643-7855

WEST BRANCH, IOWA— A park ranger at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site issued a citation to two relic hunters on Tuesday, November 9, 2010. The two local area Iowa men were using metal detectors and digging in the park that commemorates the life of the 31st President of the United States. Both men received tickets for possessing and using metal detectors on federal land, a violation of federal law. After issuing the citation, park ranger Pappas impounded their metal detectors and other equipment awaiting payment of the fines and a background check to determine if either individual had a previous history of such violations. The men will recover their property upon payment of fines and adjudication of the investigation. The men did not remove any artifacts from the park.

The National Park Service, which administers Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, enforces the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and other federal laws protecting historic and archeological resources in national parks. Possession and use of metal detectors are prohibited on federal lands to help protect against the plunder of archeological sites and removal of historical resources vital to the preservation of American’s cultural heritage.

Penalties for violating archeological protection laws in national parks can be significant. In a recent case in Washington State, a man pled guilty to unauthorized removal of artifacts from Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area after a warrant to search his residence over 3,000 artifacts seized as evidence. A federal judge sentenced him to three years’ probation and ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine plus an additional $2,000 in restitution. The judge also ordered him to serve 30 days in home detention and banned him from the recreation area for three years.

 “The National Park Service has the responsibility to protect natural and historic resources for the enjoyment of future generations of the American public”, said John Slaughter, acting superintendent of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. “When relics and archeological items are removed by recreational detectorists, the item and the value associated with its context in telling the story of the site are lost.” Just as with hunting for game or birds, relic hunters should know who owns the land they are hunting on, obtain permission from the land owners, and make sure they comply with applicable rules and regulations. 

As of the issuance of this press release, a third person, not affiliated with the first group, received a citation on Nov. 13, 2010 for metal detecting at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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