Is it legal to treasure hunt Lake Mead's exposed shoreline? Here's what you need to know

Is it legal to treasure hunt Lake Mead’s exposed shoreline? Here’s what you need to know

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LAS VEGAS(KLAS) “Take only memories and capture only photos,” is an excellent way to remember the rules when visiting Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The recent discovery of a barrel with human remains found on the lake’s shoreline and lower lake levels has some treasure hunters looking for goods that were once deep underwater.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area covers much more than just Lake Mead and its shoreline. The National Park Service oversees the park’s 1.5 million acres, including Lake Mead, Lake Mojave, miles of the Colorado River, and miles in every direction of the shorelines.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area with Hoover Dam. (Photo: Duncan Phenix, KLAS)

While the area is excellent for all kinds of recreation, there are some rules everyone is required to follow when it comes to picking something up and taking it home.

The rules within the park boundaries are straightforward: it is not legal for anyone to remove anything from land, underground, or underwater without permission from the National Park Service, including rocks, plants, animals, artifacts, and anything that has any historical value.

One activity seen often on this federal land is metal detecting. According to the National Park Service, metal detecting of any kind is forbidden within park boundaries.

If someone were to find something on the surface that could be removed, the park service gave 8 News Now this statement, “Collecting surface finds is still a violation of the Archeological Resource Protection Act. Because we do not see a lot of sediment deposited out here in the desert, many archeological sites are only located on the surface. Removing any cultural material from that site not only disturbs the site itself but prevents future generations from researching or connecting to these cultural sites. Furthermore, artifacts lose their context once they’re taken away from their original provenience or location they were last used by historic people.”

Another popular activity that has gained much attention in recent years is magnet fishing, which is when a person ties a strong large magnet to a rope, lowers it to the bottom of the water, and pulls it back up, hoping to have attracted a treasure from the depths. Magnet fishing is also illegal anywhere within the park boundaries.

The park service told 8 News Now: If someone does find anything that might be of cultural significance at Lake Mead, they can email Lake_Cultural@nps.gov with photos, locational information such as a dropped pin or a GPS point, and contact information. By informing the park of these finds, the visitor is helping preserve cultural resources and not break any laws.



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