I am a net researcher (hobby level).
I have done a bit of
research I wanted to share with everyone.
I asked a simple question and received a reply that you should know.
The outcome as I understand it, you should use caution when looking for gold in a creek or river.
You could be breaking some laws somewhere, but it's not against the law until you get caught.
Also, if a club grants use on a creek or river without getting the required permits from the corps
, they may also be breaking the law. This should be reviewed from a legal standpoint. Paying a land use fee may not be the only thing that is required. A land use fee would only grant permission to dig on the landowner's property and not cover a creek.
For those whom say it is legal and considered recreational prospecting, read this http://www.au-prospecting.com/gold/viewtopic.php?p=762&sid=f104b49d18efec8832ae9121c2db25da
No other information or location has been provided to the corps
To: Corps of
I would like to inquire about creeks and rivers in Virginia.
(a) Does the Corps of Engineers
oversee and manage the creeks and rivers?
(b) Are there any regulations related to metal detecting or gold panning in a creek or river?
(c) Who really owns a creek or river?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
regulates certain work in creeks and rivers
under our authority contained in Section 10 of
the Rivers and Harbors Act and
Section 404 of
the Clean Water Act. The Norfolk District is one of
operating districts in the United States, and our borders for regulatory
purposes encompass all of
Virginia. You can find an overview of
Regulatory Program at http://www.usace.army.mil/cw/cecwo/reg/oceover.htm
Under Section 10, we regulate many kinds of
dredging/excavation, filling) in navigable waters of
the United States. By
definition, "navigable waters of
the United States" includes all tidal waters
(up to their mean high water shorelines), as well as many traditionally
navigable rivers (up to their ordinary high water shorelines). You will find
a list of
"navigable waters of
the United States" found in Virginia at
Under Section 404, we regulate the discharge of
dredged or fill material into
the United States. "Waters of
the United States" is a broader term
than "navigable waters of
the United States" and the former incorporates all
the latter, as well as most wetlands and smaller creeks and streams.
When I use the term "regulate" I mean that we require that a permit be issued
before work may legally begin. We issue close to 4000 permits a year within
Virginia. We also have enforcement power under both of
Simply moving a metal detector over or through the water requires no permit
from the Corps
. Moving a metal detector through the sediment on the bottom
a waterbody may require a permit from us, depending on the amount of
sediment being moved (which could constitute dredging/excavation and/or a
dredged material). Removal of
any found metals may also
constitute dredging or excavation and may also require authorization. You
should also be aware that any proposed disturbance or removal of
artifacts and/or military materiel would trigger a more detailed review and
may not be allowed. Gold panning typically involves removing sediment from a
waterbody and (often) dumping it back into the waterbody again. This work
usually requires a permit from us.
You can find a copy of
our joint permit application at
In Virginia, the bottoms of
natural waterbodies are typically owned by the
Commonwealth. This means Virginia usually owns bottoms channelward of
mean low water shoreline in tidal waters, and lands that are submerged by
ordinary high water in nontidal rivers, creeks, and streams. Use of
bottoms is administered by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, located
in Newport News. The Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality also
regulates some kinds of
work that might be accomplished by metal detecting
and gold panning, depending on the equipment used and the amount of
and water being affected. In addition, many Virginia localities have local
wetlands boards as well as boards with regulatory authority pursuant to the
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. The VMRC, DEQ, and local wetlands boards
all use the same joint permit application form, so you would only need to
fill out one application form to satisfy all of
these agencies' needs.
In order to give you a definitive answer as to whether the work you're
thinking about pursuing requires a permit, we would need to have a better
the kind of
equipment you propose to use, how much
sediment/water you plan to move, whether you would place the waste material
back into the water or wetlands, and where you propose to conduct these
operations. You could either accomplish this by writing or calling each of
these agencies with the specifics of
your project, or else by filling out and
submitting the joint permit application. If you choose the latter route,
agencies that do not require permits for your work would respond with a
letter indicating that no permit is required.
Chief, Regulatory Office
Norfolk District Army Corps of Engineers
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