A PAS Program Here? Why Not?

I received the following article from Jim Meaney, librarian for the
Massachusetts Treasure Hunting Club
and thank him.  Good article, and I hope you will read it….


After reading it I wanted to share my thoughts (Like my autograph, you can take my thoughts/views along with 10$ and get a cup of  coffee at Starbucks).


A quote from the above article….

“It wouldn’t work here,” said Chris Espenshade, a consulting archaeologist for Commonwealth Cultural Resources Group in Michigan. “It’s contrary  to our culture.” It’s the mindset of “It’s my property and I’ll do what I want” and an American individualism that expresses itself in “no trespassing”  signs”.

Mr. Espenshade’s comment pretty sums up the way it should be because people like him are against anything resembling the PAS here in the US, and until they change their mind, nothing at all will change what it is we do and how we do it.

We are detectorists or if your prefer, treasure hunters, and we should not be discriminated against for wanting to enjoy a healthy pastime just  because people like Mr. Espenshade think we are stealing history. Ironically what history we do find is history that would have rotted in the  ground if not for our efforts. They know this, and it really pisses them off.

While our country’s history is young compared to the UK, there’s no reason at all a PAS like program couldn’t work here when it comes to relics.  If  a detectorist is hunting a Civil War area site, and finds a rusty rifle, or belt plate, might they not be more inclined to share it with the local museum  if they were to receive fair compensation (small as it may be)?

There are a great many detectorists who already donate finds without any monetary  reward, but how many more would there be if a program like the PAS existed?  And come on now…any compensation would be a pittance compared to that  paid in the UK.

So it seems to me the next move is up to the archaeological community. Our side has begged, groveled and bent over backwards to work with them to no  avail. The next move is most definitely theirs. They can continue to make accusations, bitch, piss and moan, or they can  decide to accept us and work with us on a level playing field. We are not going away.

As for me.?  I am not holding my breath….



A Big thank you to Roger Horrom, president of the Midwest Coinshooters   for the following link. Lots of good viewing ahead …

Treasure Hunting America Videos

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Filed under Metal Detecting

13 responses to “A PAS Program Here? Why Not?

  1. I imagine a digitally-enhanced-PAS using tagged online galleries and social networks. Academics and detectorists alike would link to these galleries, and the photographs would be licensed via Creative Commons for free use in any educational work/lessons/presentations. All work (preservation, interpretation and publications) which use the object and its information should include crediting the detectorist, and the detectorists would be notified when something new is learned about the objects. They could easily share their finds, and the information, with their social networks including Facebook. This appeals to the patriotism and pride of detectorists over saving history. But participation should result in better access to permits for independent detecting of public lands, including historic sites. Physical objects would be available for proper study and use in educational settings.

    • Scott I always love your ideas, posts, and hope you will share all them with the Task Force, FMDAC, whatever, and
      urge them to incorporate them in any future efforts.

      I like what you offered here, but have to wonder if the archaeoloical community would buy into such a program.
      Would they now want to know more about “where” the finds were made, and might that information lead to areas
      being restricted?

      • Of course they’d want to know. And I’d be happy to report it to them. I’d swell with pride if my find snowballed into a major discovery that helped understand Kentucky’s history better. Just don’t toss me to the side of the road once gridding begins!!! My name and efforts should be recognized, and the respect should lead to more access and more trust. I should be able to point to my find and the resulting research as something I played a part in. I am *NOT* in this hobby to grow a gigantic artifact collection.

      • Scott, understand where you are coming from, but I have some doubts. Maybe I am just the “half empty glass” guy…..

        Hoping there are more responses to this post. Unfortunately topics like this don’t seem to interest too many.

  2. Mike Smith

    I think it is possible and needed in this country but unless we can get organized it will never happen.

    A couple of years ago I know that several congressmen were interested in this idea after they attended a meeting/convention to discuss the PAS program. One was from Texas, I beleive his name is Culberson or something like that. Not sure if I spelled his name correctly. Jimmy Sierra passed the information onto me in February 2010, but I never got to follow through as I resigned from the national organization shortly after that.

    Plus there are a few detectorists out there like the archaeologist said “It’s my property and I’ll do what I want”. A very selfish attitude but what can you say with the moral standards falling everyday and little common sense left in this country. I have experienced them on almost every detecting forum out there when the subject is brought up.

  3. Daren

    Oh, I think it WOULD work, but obviously there is that attitude that exists. As far as the metal detecting community coming together to support it, I share your belief that it won’t happen in present circumstances.

    However, I’m a firm believer that the shows on metal detecting are going to end up closing off areas and cities / towns enacting ordinances against the hobby at an ever escalating rate. Garrett knows what it’s doing sponsoring Diggers for one….call around, the AT Pro is sold out from dealers across the country. That’s great for them, at least in the short term, but how many people are they encouraging into the hobby without showing / stressing proper recovery techniques? Stop by Friendly Metal Detector Forums and you’ll see it’s a constant bombardment of “new from…” posts in the General area.

    Those escalation of banning areas for metal detecting will only be overcome by the pulling together of the metal detector community to help push for a law similar to that in the UK.

    Unfortunately, even if that was passed, a lot of city public property taken off the table in the coming years will never return.

  4. Phil

    An excellent article and one that should be passed on to all “Archys”. Here in Canada we have the same issues as in the US. The arguments used to “protect the lands” from evil detectorists is shameful. They’ll never have the funding to dig the whole country meanwhile the artifacts continue to deteriorate in the ground. Right now it’s their way or no way. Sad.

    • It is sad Phil, and it has gotten worse over the years. We had problems in the 70’s and 80’s but nothing like what we face today. I think social media has had a hand in it all.

  5. No, it will not work here. Anytime the subject of “permits” or the “British system” comes up on USA md’ing forums, people’s eyes wax romantic, and they have images of just being able to run around, and never fear supposed bootings, hassles, etc…. I mean, think of it: the idea of a “permit” conjurs up images of just waiving that paper in front of anyone and everyone, and you get to run nilly-willy and dig holes, and take home goodies to display on your own mantle place. But it doesn’t work like that. Anytime there’s ever any place (very few by-the-way) that has any sort of “permit” system, it’s more restrictive & silly than it needs be. Stuff like “not around trees” or “on sandy beaches only” “and you can’t dig”. Or quite frankly, the program gets yanked later, simply because it’s all-the-more reason for archies to scrutinize the subject, since it’s always up for their “princely sanction” at annual meetings.

    The British system is very mis-understood by USA hunters as well: All they hunt over there, is farmer’s fields with permission. They do NOT hunt city parks (and perhaps not even beaches?). All public land is a no-no. So you’ll never hear of British hunters hunting public parks for silver, like we do. WOULD YOU LIKE THAT? Of COURSE not. Now over there, perhaps it’s not a problem, since they have SO much history, that any cultivated field has 2000 + yrs. of continual usage. In fact, those “pesky” new coins in parks (less than 300 to 500 yrs. old) are probably a nuisance anyhow, haha.

    And let’s be honest: With all the govt. cut-backs, bureaucracy, and headaches to start anything new, do you REALLY think that uncle sam wants to start yet another “program” ?? It’s simply not going to happen. And it will only bring INCREASED scrutiny and restrictions, not “open doors” to go nilly willy anywhere.

    In my opinion, this “PAS” system therefore, is nothing more than another name for a giant “permit” system, where uncle sam (via their princely archies on public payrolls) will be tasked with signing off on our “allowances”. Thus, no, it will not lead to increased places to detect (as the lovely notion of “permits” or “systems” conjurs up), but will instead lead to restrictions. I mean, let’s face it fellows: They dis-like md’ing. The British system evolved totally differently, and their national laws are different from ours, to begin with. Whatever’s “under the ground” *already* belonged to the queen. Yup, even on private land, if you discover oil on your land, you are not “rich”, but rather, the crown now has it (so much for the beverly hillbilly success story, eh?) Such is not the case for us here in the USA: If you go to your buddies farm land, and dig up an item worth $1 million, it’s yours to keep! Why oh why oh why would anyone want to change that? Why oh why oh why would you want the British system of not being able to go to public parks, schools, turf, etc… and be “restricted” to farmer’s lands with permission ? Over there perhaps it’s no problem, because even the most mundane farmer’s lands if you roam around, you’ll eventually find coins.

    • Thanks Tom for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it….

      You make some very good points, and one of them was the idea of bringing archaeologists into the mix, which would be necessary if such a program were to work. I hadn’t given that a lot of thought, and you are right, they would probably not be too agreeable to anything.

      Perhaps the answer is “status quo”….?

      • Tom Tanner

        Sometimes …. I hate to say it ….. but LESS visibility is better, than more visibility. It’s sometimes the lesser of 2 evils.

  6. The advantages of a UK style PAS are obvious. The time is not yet ripe for such a scheme in the US where many arkies oppose such a scheme funded by government money, as it give a legitimacy to the detecting hobby…something which many of these reptiles will fight to thier dying breath.
    So, let the bastards gasp for breath!

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