Recently, two park visitors reported to rangers that they observed another park visitor using a metal detector within the bounds of Sitka National Historical Park.
This activity is prohibited in all national parks by several laws and is most directly stated in the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 2.1(7)), which prohibits “Possessing or using a mineral or metal detector, magnetometer, side scan sonar, or other metal detecting device…” within the bounds of national parks.
Sitka National Historical Park Superintendent Mary Miller praised the visitors that reported the person using the metal detector, “Clearly these visitors saw something that should not be happening in a national park and promptly reported it to the first ranger they saw. Conversely, the person using the metal detector does not understand the National Park Service mandate to protect nationally-significant sites like the 1804 Battlefield and Russian Bishop’s House.”
Digging up or removing metal artifacts from a national park permanently damages the archeological resources of the park. In the case of the 1804 Battlefield, information about the battle and the Tlingít fortifications could be permanently damaged or destroyed by illegal digging. Due to the seriousness of this risk, metal detecting can be a felony violation of the Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA). “The best idea is to just leave your metal detector at home when you come to the park,” said Chief Ranger Neil Akana.
If you visit Sitka National Historical Park on a regular basis and see a visitor with a metal detector, note his/her location and appearance and report him/her immediately to the nearest ranger. During business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily), you may also call the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center at 747-0110 for immediate assistance. After hours, please call the National Park Service ARPA Hotline at 800-478-2724 or the park’s Chief Ranger Neil Akana at 738-3851.