BLM (Bureau of Land Management) in California is trying to close more and more public lands in Nor-Cal. We have written a letter opposing this on your behalf and encourage you to submit your comments to oppose this closure.
Navigating their proposal and trying to understand the content of their plan is a bit challenging with all the acronyms they use but in short…they plan to eliminate metal detecting in certain areas and close others completely from mineral entry and from filing of mining claims.
Here’s a link to the plan and our letter to them below:
Re: Commenting on 2022 BLM Management Plan NCIP
Date: June 9, 2022
As President and founder of American Mining Rights Association, America’s largest small-scale mining advocacy association, I write on behalf of our thousands of members, supporters and fellow mining claim owners in the state of California, many of whom this plan affects. This is our formal comment on the proposed Management Plan.
May I first state navigating through the myriad of links was a bit tenuous and the volume of acronyms used was daunting for us and we are mostly versed on them. We were required to have the acronym definition page up on one screen and the plan on the other to understand what the plan actually was and what it entailed. Given that a large portion of the people this plan affects do not have the experience dealing with “government speak”, we wanted to go on record to state it is difficult to navigate and understand for nearly all whom we’ve spoken to about the plan. May we make a recommendation of writing these plans in plain english and typing out each acronym so as to make it easier for the proposal to be readable for those not familiar with government speak.
Mining claim owners are true stakeholders and to our knowledge and from our investigation have not been contacted about this. We certainly were not. Mining claims are “real property in every sense of the word” (USA v Shumway, 9th Circuit) and access is “granted” by the mining acts. Mining is not recreational and in most cases and counties in the state, claim owners pay property taxes on their claims on an annual basis. So we can be clear, mining claim owners are true stakeholders and require, by law to be notified as would someone who owns their residence in the proposed plan. As the BLM, the agency could perform a simple mining claim search in their own claims database (MLRS) and notify these real property owners of the plan. We request an explanation of why these stakeholders have not been notified and what the plan is to notify them.
We take this from the BLM’s “Locatable Minerals” page:
The Mining Law of 1872, as amended, is the major Federal law governing locatable minerals. This law allows U.S. citizens the opportunity to explore for, discover, and purchase certain valuable mineral deposits on Federal lands that are open for mining claim location (open to mineral entry).
As can be seen here, lands must be open to mineral entry to “discover” a valuable mineral deposit and for a claim to be established. Closing wide swaths of our public lands at the request of environmental groups is adverse to what our public lands were intended for. By placing the proposed lands into a restricted mineral entry status, the agency is taking away lands congress slated for the public and eliminating the opportunity to make a mineral discovery and mining claim. Minerals mined on these public lands are essential to national security, gold for electronics, lithium for batteries and even silver for the computer I am typing on. The closure of yet more and more of our public lands is not what congress intended, nor is it beneficial to national security in the trying times we are all experiencing. Closing these lands would also create an undue burden for those who actively seek valuable mineral deposits in the public domain if access is limited or eliminated.
RS2477, a subpart of the mining act of 1866 grants access to the public lands. This is the intent of congress and they felt so strongly about that, they made it a grant which was again recognized with the passage of FLPMA so as to not interfere with this granted right of access for any roads predating the 1976 passage. The proposal being put forth strips that access for the public, especially for the disabled, eliminates the ability to “prospect” for a new valuable mineral discovery and mining claim. Requiring someone to walk in, instead of using an existing RS2477 route is by definition an “undue burden” considering the weight of equipment one uses to prospect. We request the agencies justification and legal
reasoning for closing RS2477 roads.
We noted a reference to metal detectors and an accusation of damage to historic sites by the use of these simple handheld tools of mining. Metal detectors are an extremely valuable tool for the location of valuable mineral deposits with very little disturbance to the prospected ground. We request documentation and evidence of this as we are unaware of any damage caused by metal detecting to historic sites.
Mining claims are not to be ignored, nor are the stakeholders who own them. On behalf of the small-scale miners in California, the stakeholders who own mining claims in this proposal we represent, we oppose this proposal and respectfully request answers to our questions (in bold) above in a timely manner.
Mr. Shannon Poe
President/Founder American Mining Rights Association (AMRA)
PO Box 467
Coulterville CA 95311