I read with interest the In One Ear piece "Dirt fishin' find" (The Astorian, Jan. 23). My biggest concern is that it is quite possible that someone — who had never previously thought of using a metal detector — might have been intrigued by the piece, and decide to try it themselves.
While it would seem from his description that Don Kelly was using his detector in a tidal zone (which is permitted as long as the find is not shipwreck remains, which are protected archaeological sites), I think it would have been important to have pointed out that there are some pretty stringent restrictions on where metal detectors are permitted.
Federal, state and sometimes even local laws prohibit the use of detectors on public lands without a permit, except under some very limited settings, and it is the responsibility of the user to know and understand the laws that apply to the land where they intend to prospect.
Online metal detecting forums will sometimes provide links to the relevant government regulations, but again, it is the responsibility of the user to be aware.
I spent over 30 years as a professional archaeologist, and it has always been a source of fascination for me to read about people who dig holes in the ground and then call themselves "amateur archaeologists." I wonder, are there amateur dentists or surgeons out there, as well?
Astorians should know that there are, indeed, laws which regulate the use of metal detectors that they should investigate before heading out to prospect.