AMRA is representing a miner who was cited for driving 80 feet off the pavement to access his mining claim. He was driving on an existing, old road which dates back to the late 1800’s and goes right through the middle of his claim.
USFS cited him for driving in a closed area. This claim with a very seasonal creek does not have water 90% of the time so he was hauling in two barrels of water for a recirculation high banker. Each barrel weighed in excess of 400lbs. It was the contention of the USFS LEO (law enforcement officer) that he did not need to drive down this road, that it was reasonable he hand carry his water to him mining site. Now, I know miners are tough, but I don’t know any who can put a 400lb barrel on their back and carry it even 5 feet.
There are several legal issues which we believe apply to this incident. USFS 2813.14 states:
“The right of reasonable access for purposes of prospecting, locating, and mining is provided by statute. Such access must be in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Forest Service. However, the rules and regulations may not be applied so as to prevent lawful mineral activities or to cause undue hardship on bona fide prospectors and miners”
It is not a question of if he is a bona fide prospector/miner. It is also not a question that by making him carry a 400lb barrel of water is an undue burden. Equally obvious is RS2477 which grants a fundamental right to use the road on his claim which has been there for 130 years. There are other legal aspects to this case, Supreme Court decisions, and the fact that property taxes are paid on this real property.
The officer who cited this miner is the same LEO who was present when his Captain pulled a Taser on one of our AMRA members last year for refusing to show her ID show she could determine “who was in her forest” (her words). He obviously is a little agitated they were called out by AMRA and a very intensive investigation was performed. This particular story about the Taser incident is also going to be aired by a major television news station shortly.
This is representative of the mindset of these management agency LEO’s. “Their forest”, not yours.
We will keep you posted as to the outcome of this incident.