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What local parks prohibit metal detectors? Can coin hunters use them downtown?

Ken Little

John Kelly uses his metal detector to see what he can find at Wrightsville Beach on Jan. 2, 2008. Photo by Mike Spencer.

Q. Can you tell us what parks in Wilmington and surrounding areas specifically prohibit metal detectors? Can coin hunters use them around Wilmington downtown legally?

A. All land in downtown Wilmington is privately owned, so permission must be granted by the property owner, said Jim Lamonda, owner of Atlantic Jewelry & Pawn on South Kerr Avenue, which carries metal detectors.

Searching in the mud at low tide along some sections of the Cape Fear River is allowed, as long as it is “anything below the high tide line,” Lamonda said.

Metal detectors are permitted in Wilmington city parks.

“However, disturbing the landscaping by digging or otherwise disrupting the plants, grass (and other vegetation) is illegal,” city spokesman Dylan Lee said.

In New Hanover County parks, “We do not have an ordinance that directly addresses metal detectors at this time but I would say our main concern with the use is more with the digging that is often associated with the removal of ‘the find,’” said Tara Duckworth, county Parks & Gardens director.

“We would just ask that participants use good judgment and consider the (existing) ordinances when participating in metal detecting activities,” Duckworth said.

County parks include any park space, recreation center, playground, swimming pool, swimming area, ball field, tennis court or any other recreation facility, along with parking facilities.

In those areas, it is illegal to “willfully mark, deface, disfigure, injure, tamper with or displace or remove any structure, equipment, facilities or other property, either real or personal.”

It’s also illegal to “damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any tree or plant or injure the bark or pick the flowers or seeds of any tree or plant, or dig or otherwise disturb grass areas, or in any other way injure or impair the natural beauty or usefulness of any area.”

It’s illegal in county parks to “disturb or interfere unreasonably with any person or party occupying any area or participating in any authorized activities.”

Metal detectors cannot be used in state parks. In New Hanover County, that includes Carolina Beach State Park and Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, said Charlie Peek, a spokesman for the N.C Division of Parks and Recreation.

“The only exception is that a search with a metal detector can be mounted for a specific lost item with the express permission of park officials under a special activity permit,” Peek said.


Where are the best places to go around Wilmington for metal detecting?

Why did the Parks Department remove picnic tables from River Side Park in Castle Hayne?

What kind of wildlife can you see at local parks?

User-contributed question by:
Lem Woods

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3 Responses to “ What local parks prohibit metal detectors? Can coin hunters use them downtown?”

  1. On May 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm Clyde Breedan wrote:

    I used a white’s metal detector for years. I just lately bought a used white’s DFX and have began finding allot more targets. After reading about how to setup my new detector. The depth is great.

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