Ohio Laws, Bans and Permits
The first item in the FMDAC Code of Ethics is to "know the law." This is not always so easy, especially if you are detecting in an area not near your home. I'm writing letters and compiling this list so that all detecting in Ohio can know the law. State and National park rules are on the left along with a copy of ORC 2909.05 and my commentary on this law.
This list of restrictions is not complete but is as accurate as I have been able to make it. Please let me know if you have any laws, permit requirements, etc. for the state of Ohio that are not listed. I also like to see the proof of the requirement or law, so that I can quote it in the listing.
I have also listed places where I have received good news, information that metal detecting is specifically allowed.
Just a note here too that there are privately owned parks and playgrounds that may be open to the public but are not public property. Churches and religious schools are in almost all cases private property, not public. Please make sure you have permission before you detect.
So it's easy to see the prohibitions, cautions and permissions, I'm trying this color coding system.
• Green light, responsible detecting allowed
• Yellow light, limited use -or- permit required
• Red Light, prohibited
• Ohio University
Permissions granted at the discretion of the Grounds Supervisor. There have been many problems with digging and damaging grounds, even by those who "guarantee" they will cause no damage. You must have permission and check in with the OU Police Department. -Lt. Steve Noftz, Ohio University Police Department 07/21/2009
• New Bremen
Village Park Rules and Regulations Website
"Metal detector : No person in a park shall have in their possession, operate or use any metal detector or any kind or form without written authorization of the Village Administrator."
• Metro Parks of Butler County
"Currently we do not permit metal detecting in our park areas. The current version of our rules and regulations which were adopted by our Board of Park Commissioners in June, 2008, discontinued permitting this activity." -Kim Geisler, Visitor Services Specialist, Metro Parks of Butler County 07/09/2009
• Springfield and National Trail Parks and Recreation
“You can use your metal detecting equipment in the open park areas, you are required to return the turf to it's original condition. You are not permitted to go on any athletic areas; softball, baseball, soccer, golf courses, etc. You are not permitted to go into any fenced/secured areas, pools, stadiums, etc. You are not permitted to utilize your equipment while events are ongoing in the parks.” -Tim Smith, CEO, National Trail Parks and Recreation District 4/8/2010
Firestone Park, metal detecting prohibited.
• East Palestine
City Park, metal detecting prohibited.
• Shaker Heights
Metal detecting prohibited.
• Cleveland Metroparks
Permit is required. Metal detecting permits expire on December 31st of each year. This process takes about two weeks before you will receive your permit. You must request a permit by phone, fax or by mail. Restrictions also apply with these permits.
Cleveland Metropolitan Parks, Administration Office, Division of Activity Permits
4101 Fulton Parkway, Cleveland, Ohio 44144
Phone: (216) 351-6300
Fax: (216) 351-2584
• Erie County Metroparks
"Use of metal detectors in or adjacent to the parks is not permitted."
"Sec 25: It is forbidden to use metal detectors in any City Park"
Metal detecting prohibited.
• The Ohio State University
Metal detecting prohibited.
• Capital University
Metal detecting prohibited.
• Ohio Dominican College
Metal detecting prohibited.
• Upper Arlington Schools
Metal detecting prohibited.
• Bexley Schools (a sloppy digger has put this permission at risk!)
Suspected Bans, but unverified
• Hilliard Schools
• Worthington Schools
• Franklin County Metroparks
Park locations: http://www.metroparks.net/Parks.aspx
"Metal Detectors fall into our Permissibility Standards and this activity usually is permitted in general use areas. Metal detectors in general use areas, used in conjunction with probes (not knives) or where no digging will occur. Turf must be repaired where probes are used and valuable items turned into the park staff who will attempt to find the owners...Three locations where this activity is not permitted: Inniswood Metro Gardens, Blacklick Woods Golf Courses, Slate Run Living Historical Farm" -Bruce Dudley, Columbus & Franklin County Metroparks, 07/06/2009
"We do allow metal detecting in the Hilliard Parks, except inside the fenced areas of the pool." -Phil Schroeder, Assistant Director of Recreation and Parks 07/03/2009
Detecting is prohibited at Columbus Commons Park. Open detecting at other city parks, especially Franklin, Goodale and Schiller, are more at risk now than they have been in the past. There is not an official ban at Fort Hayes, which is Columbus Public Schools property, but detectorists have been asked to leave when discovered on the premises.
• “Geauga Park District’s (GPD) policy on metal detecting in our parks: up until this year (2009), GPD’s long standing policy has been to not allow metal detecting within the parks. However, this year we issued a special use permit to a local metal detecting group (Buckeye Searchers) to explore the possibility of allowing metal detecting within certain areas of our parks under specific conditions. We will be evaluating the special use permit towards the end of this year.” -Keith McClintock, Deputy Director Geauga Park District 07/03/2009
“No digging allowed on the City of Chardon properties unless a building permit has been approved by the City.” -Joe Rodriguez, City of Chardon Recreation Director 07/03/2009
• Greene County Parks
Park locations: http://www.co.greene.oh.us/parks/parks-facilities.htm
“Our rules and regulations prohibit the use of metal detectors and in particular the digging and/or removing of materials from Greene County Park sites.” -Chrisbell Bednar, Director, Greene County Parks 07/14/2009
"• Metal Detector Permit – required in order to excavate any items from park property."
Adopted policy to allow metal detecting in the Commons and Palma Park which are village owned. There is no need for a permit. Other village properties are off limits. Policy adopted 10/21/09.
• Hamilton County Park District
Metal detector permit required. Park locations: http://www.hamiltoncountyparks.org/aboutus/directory.htm
Willie Zeinner of the Hamilton County Park District wrote “There is no charge for the permit. We ask that those who want to metal detect, read over the regulations,sign, and date the permit. The recipient keeps a copy to carry while they are out detecting. Our office maintains a copy.” Permit form at this link. 07/02/2009
• Hancock County Parks
Metal detecting is prohibited under this park rule:
1.1 Defacement, Destruction, Removal
No person shall injure, deface, destroy or remove any part of the Park or building, sign, equipment, or other property found therein, nor shall any tree, flower, shrub, or other vegetation, or fruit or seed thereof, rock or stone rip-rap, or mineral be removed, injured, destroyed, or disturbed. (O.R.C. §2909.05)
• Lake Metroparks
Permit required. Metal detecting permits are issued for ninety (90) days only. It normally takes about two weeks from the time they receive your application until you receive your permit by mail. There are areas that are restricted, please abide by their rules. Please make sure that your permits are current. Carry the permit with you at all times when detecting in the Lake Metroparks. You may mail, deliver or fax your completed use permit to this address:
Lake Metroparks, 11189 Spear Road, Concord, Ohio 44077
Phone: (216) 639-7275
Fax: (216) 358-7280
• "We discourage the use of metal detectors in the parks. We have had some poor experiences with some users digging up the parks and not replacing their "divots." -Brian Katz, Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Willoughby 07/13/2009
• Lorain County Metro Parks
“We allow metal detecting on sand beaches. We have a large beach at Lakeview Park. We have also issued a special permit before to people to use metal detectors in dry riverbeds. We are in the process of re-writing our rules so, the new rule # will be 25.2” -Pat McCaslin, Assistant Director, Lorain County Metro Parks 07/08/2009
• Metroparks Toledo Area
Park Locations:http://www.metroparkstoledo.com/metroparks/maps/ "17.0 Metal Detectors, 17.1 Use of Metal Detectors - No person shall use a metal detector within park lands.”
"The City of Toledo Law Department has issued the following response...about rules or laws regarding metal detecting in our City parks. 'There is no specific prohibition against the use of metal detectors in City parks. However, rule 19 of the rules of the director provides, in part, as follows. "It shall be unlawful: a) for any person, to deface, destroy, disturb, or remove any part of the park or building, sign, equipment, or other property found therein, nor shall any tree, shrub, or other vegetation, or fruit or seed thereof, or soil, or rock or mineral be removed, injured or destroyed, or disturbed without specific written permission from the Director or his (sic) designee..." The above referenced rule is seemingly broad enough to impact metal detecting activities, as at a minimum, soil would likely be disturbed. Therefore, please be advised that written permission can be sought and, upon reasonable request granted for reasonable metal detecting activity. The term reasonable would reference most any surface/above ground metal detecting. The removal of surface grass/ground would not be permitted without written request to the Office of the Commissioner of Parks & Forestry describing the specific area and digging request deemed necessary to remove a specified 'find'. Upon review your request would be approved or denied in writing." -Dennis M. Garvin, Commissioner, Division of Parks and Forestry, 07/15/2009
• Mill Creek Park
17.0 PRESERVATION OF PROPERTY AND NATURAL RESOURCES 17.1 No person shall in any way injure, deface, destroy, disturb or remove any part of a Park District owned building, sign, equipment or other structure or property, or any tree, flower, shrub, plant or other vegetation, or rock, earth or mineral located therein. (A) the use of metal detectors on Park property is prohibited (B) the excavation, recovery, or removal of any artifact or item of historical significance from Park property is prohibited. http://www.millcreekmetroparks.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013-General.pdf
• Medina County Park District
"1.3 METAL DETECTORS PROHIBITED - The use of metal detectors within the confines of park property is prohibited."
"Metal detection devices are not permitted in public parks...in the City of Piqua. Under the Piqua Code of Ordnances Section 94.23, letter J, the ordnance states that no person shall possess or use any type of metal detection device in the public parks of the city. Under the same section, letter K, states that no person shall excavate, dig, or remove sod, turf or soil in the public parks of the city without authority from the city to do so. Authority to do so does not come in the form of a permit." -Rob Stanford, Recreation Director, City of Piqua 07/10/2009
Dayton Parks (lax enforcement)
• Five Rivers Metro Parks (enforced)
“Rules for Metal Detecting in City Parks:
1. Metal Detecting is only allowed during normal park hours which are typically dawn to dusk unless otherwise posted.
2. Metal Detectors shall respect other park users. Detecting should be limited to low use times at the activity fields, pavilions, boat landings, and other areas within the park.
3. A reasonable effort should be made to return items of value or significance to its original owner. The Parks and Recreation Department would assist you in this process if you desire.
4. All excavations must be returned to their original condition.
5. Metal Detectors are subject to all rules and laws regulating conduct on County property.” -Jim Kraus,Director, Parks and Recreation, City of Aurora 07/08/2009
“The City of Streetsboro Parks & Recreation Department currently does not restrict the use of metal detectors within its city parks. Happy Hunting!” -Greg Mytinger, CPRP, Director Parks & Recreation, City of Streetsboro 07/06/02009.
• Sandusky County Park District
Park Locations: http://www.scpd-parks.org/parks.htm
"Metal detectors on beach require special use permit, but may be used in all other facilities year-round." http://www.scpd-parks.org/whitestar.htm
"Our City ordinance...prohibits any digging in the parks (925.11(b)). We do allow metal detecting within our parks, but there is absolutely no digging allowed. If someone is metal detecting in the parks they should not have on their person any equipment that could be used for digging (i.e. shovel, trowel, spade, knife, etc.)" -Duane Gaier, Parks Director, City of Sidney 07/06/2009
"925.11 DAMAGING OR TAMPERING. No person in any City park or beauty area shall: (b) Dig or remove any soil, rock, sand, stones, trees, shrubs, plants or other wood or material, or make any excavation by tool, equipment, blasting or other means or agencies.”
"The policy for (metal detecting) is established by the Canton Parks Department which is: No person shall use a metal detector to find and recover metal objects in the parks with out the approval of the Park Commission Board." -Nadine L. Sawaya, CPRP, Recreation Director, Canton Joint Recreation District 07/06/2009
According to our policies, Metal detectors themselves are not prohibited in our parks; however, destroying, altering or disrupting park property is prohibited. If you are looking for items on the surface, like keys or jewelry, that would be fine, but you are not allowed to dig in the ground like at the beach because it destroys park property." -Jessica Quirk,
Marketing and Special Events Supervisor, Massillon Parks and Recreation Department 08/18/2010
• Plain Township
"Plain Township Parks and Recreation Department does not permit metal detecting within its’ parks. Even though there are responsible people participating in this hobby, there are also many people who are not careful on how they replace the soil and turf. Our biggest park has many sport fields that we rely on for the Parks Department income and budget each year. These fields need to stay pristine. Since it is hard to monitor who and where people metal detecting, we currently do not permit the hobby."
-Todd A. Alexander, Plain TownshipParks and Facilities Director 12/10/2009
• Stark County Park District
"According to our policies, no person shall use a metal detector on any park lands unless in the case of a professional surveyor attempting to locate metal pins." -Kristine Eash, Administrative Assistant, Stark County Park District 07/08/2009
• Metro Parks Serving Summit County
Park locations: www.summitmetroparks.org
The Summit Metro Parks website, in the FAQ section, states, "Q: Are metal detectors allowed? A: No, metal detectors are not permitted in the Metro Parks." http://www.summitmetroparks.org/InsideMetroParks/FAQs.aspx However, in a response I received, I was informed that, "Metal detector devices are not specifically prohibited by park rules and regulations." - Keith D. Shy, Director-Secretary, Metro Parks Serving Summit County 07/06/2009 Lost and found property regulations enforced. "All articles found by or turned in to a Metro Park employee by a park patron will be turned in to the Area Manager or designated supervisor..." lost items are returned to their owners or become the property of Summit Metro Parks. (See park office for complete details, Park District Operations 03-14, 6/10/2004) Park Rules Sec. 2.1 applies as well, "Destruction of Park Property: No person shall knowingly injure, deface, disturb, or destroy and part of the Park, including but not limited to any tree, flower, shrub, rock, building, sign, equipment or any propery found therein."
"Chapter 1062.02 article B of Hudson’s Codified Ordinances states that: No person shall injure, deface or disturb any part of a park or any building, sign, equipment or other property found therein, nor shall any tree, flower, shrub, rock or other mineral be removed, injured or destroyed. As a result, we do not allow metal detecting at this time." -Eric Hutchinson, Parks Superintendent, City of Hudson 07/08/2009
Metal detecting prohibited.
Bristolville Park, metal detecting prohibited.
"We currently do not have any laws prohibiting the use of metal detectors in our parks." -Chris Pozzuto, Assistant City Manager, City of Springboro 07/13/2009
• Wood County Park District
"1.1 Defacement, Destruction, Removal
No person shall injure, deface, destroy, or remove any part of the Park or building, sign, equipment, or other property found therein, nor shall any tree, flower, shrub, or other vegetation, or fruit or seed thereof, rock or stone rip-rap, or mineral be removed, injured destroyed, or disturbed. (2909.05)"
Ohio State Parks
Metal detecting is prohibited in Ohio state parks, except sandy beach areas. Written permission must be obtained from the park manager at the state park of your choice to use a metal detector in any other park area.
I have some information on some specific state parks that have issued permits:
Geneva State Park (440) 466-8400
Permits may be obtained at the park manager’s office. Time limitations and restricted areas may apply.
Punderson State Park (440) 564-2279
Permits are issued at the ranger’s office. Enter park from SR 87, pass sports chalet and sledding hill road. Park office is the first building on the right.
"Use of metal detectors is allowed on the sandy portion of the beach area at any of our state park beaches. Written permission must be obtained from the park manager at the park of your choice to use a metal detector in any other park area."
Ohio Administrative Code, 1501:3 Division of Forestry, Chapter 1501:3-2 Rules for Visitation, 1501:3-2-20 Metal detectors prohibited.
No person shall use or offer for use any device for the purpose of locating or removing any metallic objects or any other objects of value from any lands or waters administered by the division without first having obtained written permission from the chief of the division or authorized agent.
Rule promulgated under: RC 119.03; Rule authorized by: RC 1503.01; Rule amplifies: RC 1503.01
Ohio Administrative Code, 1501:41 Division of Parks and Recreation, Chapter 1501:41-7 Hours of Operation and Recreational Activities, 1501:41-7-08 Metal detectors prohibited.
No person shall use or offer for use any device for the purpose of locating or removing any metallic objects or any other objects of value from any lands or waters of the Division without first having obtained written permission from the area manager, except that sand beaches shall be exempt from the prohibition.
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 03/04/2005 and 03/01/2010
National Forests and Parks
Check with the Director of the park you are interested in FIRST! Tangling with the Feds can get your detector and vehicle seized!
“Metal detector use is allowed in SOME developed campgrounds and picnic areas if they are not specifically closed to such activity. If archaeological remains are known to exist in a campground or picnic area, a closure to metal detecting would be posted. It is permissible to collect coins, but prospecting for gold would be subject to mining laws. However, you should know that agencies have not identified every archaeological site on public lands, so it is possible you may run into such remains that have not yet been discovered. Archaeological remains on federal land, known or unknown, are protected under law. If you were to discover such remains, you should leave them undisburbed, stop metal detecting in that area, and notify the local FS office. I have included the legal citations below for your information.
The Forest Service has conducted numerous projects in conjuntion with metal detectorists and metal detecting clubs through our volunteer archaeological program, Passport In Time (PIT). The cooperation has been fun for both the detectorists and the agency's archaeologists. Locating archaeological sites becomes a joint endeavor and we learn a lot! You can receive the PIT Traveler, our free newsletter advertising the PIT projects each year, by calling 1-800-281-9176. Look for the ones where we request metal detecting expertise!”
Here are the legal citations:
Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 261.9: "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."
USDA Forest Service Manual Direction (draft): "Metal Detector Use. Metal detectors may be used on public lands in areas that do not contain or would not reasonably be expected to contain archaeological or historical resources. They must be used, however, for lawful purposes. Any act with a metal detector that violates the proscriptions of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) or any other law is prosecutable. Normally, developed campgrounds, swimming beaches, and other developed recreation sites are open to metal detecting unless there are heritage resources present. In such cases, Forest Supervisors are authorized to close these sites by posting notices in such sites."
ARPA, 16 U.S.C. 470cc: "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. . ."
Ohio Trespassing Law
2911.21 Criminal trespass.
(A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall do any of the
(1) Knowingly enter or remain on the land or premises of another;
(2) Knowingly enter or remain on the land or premises of another, the use of which is lawfully restricted to certain persons, purposes, modes, or hours, when the offender knows the offender is in violation of any such restriction or is reckless in that regard;
(3) Recklessly enter or remain on the land or premises of another, as to which notice against unauthorized access or presence is given by actual communication to the offender, or in a manner prescribed by law, or by posting in a manner reasonably calculated to come to the attention of potential intruders, or by fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to restrict access;
(4) Being on the land or premises of another, negligently fail or refuse to leave upon being notified by signage posted in a conspicuous place or otherwise being notified to do so by the owner or occupant, or the agent or servant of either.
(B) It is no defense to a charge under this section that the land or premises involved was owned, controlled, or in custody of a public agency.
(C) It is no defense to a charge under this section that the offender was authorized to enter or remain on the land or premises involved, when such authorization was secured by deception.
(F) As used in this section:
(2) "Land or premises" includes any land, building, structure, or place belonging to, controlled by, or in custody of another, and any separate enclosure or room, or portion thereof.
You may see this referenced as parts of the park rules at left that are used as justification to prohibit metal detecting. ORC means Ohio Revised Code, and this is the name for the laws that govern the state of Ohio. Section 2909.05 is a specific subdivision of the law.
I am posting the text of the law here. You can see it does not specifically mention metal detecting, nor does it appear to even come close to a prohibition of what responsible detector users do while using a metal detector and retrieving targets in an ordinary way.
You can see in the section I highlighted in blue that refers to property of governmental entities that it specifies "serious physical harm" - if you see the last paragraph of ORC 2909.05 below, it defines "serious physical harm" as being loss of value of $500 or more. Do you believe detecting and target retrieval by responsible detectorists could cause $500 in damages to a park? I don't.
(A) No person shall knowingly cause serious physical harm to an occupied structure or any of its contents.
(B)(1) No person shall knowingly cause physical harm to property that is owned or possessed by another, when either of the following applies:
(a) The property is used by its owner or possessor in the owner’s or possessor’s profession, business, trade, or occupation, and the value of the property or the amount of physical harm involved is five hundred dollars or more;
(b) Regardless of the value of the property or the amount of damage done, the property or its equivalent is necessary in order for its owner or possessor to engage in the owner’s or possessor’s profession, business, trade, or occupation.
(2) No person shall knowingly cause serious physical harm to property that is owned, leased, or controlled by a governmental entity. A governmental entity includes, but is not limited to, the state or a political subdivision of the state, a school district, the board of trustees of a public library or public university, or any other body corporate and politic responsible for governmental activities only in geographical areas smaller than that of the state.
(C) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly cause serious physical harm to any tomb, monument, gravestone, or other similar structure that is used as a memorial for the dead; to any fence, railing, curb, or other property that is used to protect, enclose, or ornament any cemetery; or to a cemetery.
(D) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly cause physical harm to a place of burial by breaking and entering into a tomb, crypt, casket, or other structure that is used as a memorial for the dead or as an enclosure for the dead.
(E) Whoever violates this section is guilty of vandalism. Except as otherwise provided in this division, vandalism is a felony of the fifth degree that is punishable by a fine of up to two thousand five hundred dollars in addition to the penalties specified for a felony of the fifth degree in sections 2929.11 to 2929.18 of the Revised Code. If the value of the property or the amount of physical harm involved is five thousand dollars or more but less than one hundred thousand dollars, vandalism is a felony of the fourth degree. If the value of the property or the amount of physical harm involved is one hundred thousand dollars or more, vandalism is a felony of the third degree.
(F) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Cemetery” means any place of burial and includes burial sites that contain American Indian burial objects placed with or containing American Indian human remains.
(2) “Serious physical harm” means physical harm to property that results in loss to the value of the property of five hundred dollars or more.
Effective Date: 09-30-1998
Links for Further Reading