We will be challenging the USFS and their road closures in the south mother lode today. The closure for the rim fire ended on the 18th, but we have seen and heard there are at least 30 gates still up on the roads blocking mining claim owners and the general public from their own lands.
We have also been informed that the USFS is requiring some mining claim owners to fill out a “request for access” form, along with drivers license information, who, what , where, when and why they need to access their claims. This is fundamentally illegal and frankly, we are quite angry over this. A request for explanation was sent to Jim Junette at the USFS Stanislaus NF and he has ignored our request. We will be aggressively pursuing this today.
John and I have been wanting to get into a specific spot we have been looking at for claiming for over a year now and intend to access this spot, gate or no gate today.
We urge you to review some specific items (below) in reference to access of public lands. The first is RS 2477 known as the “grant of right-of-way to public highways”. This is not just for what most people think in terms of a highway, it is also for trails, wagon roads etc… One can simply Google RS2477 and there is a wealth of information on this law.
The second is USFS 2813.14 of the Forest Service enforcement manual. The very same manual ALL the USFS agents are supposed to be trained on and know cover to cover. 2813.14 states:
2813.14 – Right of Access to Claim
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.
2811.1 – Lands Open to Mineral Entry
All National Forest System lands which:
1. Were formerly public domain lands subject to location and entry under the U.S. mining laws,
2. Have not been appropriated, withdrawn, or segregated from location and entry, and
3. Have been or may be shown to be mineral lands, are open to prospecting for locatable, or hard rock, minerals (16 U.S.C. 482).
In prospecting, locating, and developing the mineral resources, all persons must comply with the rules and regulations covering the national forests (16 U.S.C. 478).
2814.21 – Respect Claim and Claimant’s Property
The Forest Service must respect claims and claimants’ property by using precautions to avoid damage to claim corner markers, excavations, and other mining improvements and equipment.
2814.24 – Provide Reasonable Alternatives
Forest officers should provide bona fide prospectors and miners reasonable alternative access routes, exploration methods, special use permits, and operating plan provisions in order that they may carry out necessary mineral associated activities without violation of laws and regulations.
2817 – SURFACE MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES UNDER 36 CFR PART 228, SUBPART A
The regulations require that operations conducted under the authority of the mining laws which might cause significant surface resource disturbance must be covered by an operating plan approved by an authorized officer of the Forest Service, generally the District Ranger. Certain activities of little impact are specifically exempt from the operating plan requirement. Operators who are uncertain that their operations require an approved plan may submit a notice of intention to operate. Based on that notice, a determination is made by the District Ranger that a plan is or is not required. All notices and plans are submitted to the local District Ranger.
2817.03 – Policy
The statutory right of the public to prospect, develop, and mine valuable minerals and to obtain a patent shall be fully honored and protected. Proprietary information relating to those rights and obtained through the administration of the agency’s mineral regulations shall be protected to the full extent authorized by law.
The regulations at 36 CFR Part 228, Subpart A apply to all unpatented millsites, tunnel sites, and mining claims, including those not subject to 30 U.S.C. 612, and to activities, primarily prospecting, which may be conducted under the mining laws but not on claims.
The regulations at 36 CFR Part 228, Subpart A shall be administered in a fair, reasonable, and consistent manner and not as a means of inhibiting or interfering with legitimate, well-planned mineral operations.
Sick of the agencies ignoring their own rules, regulations and laws?
Join us and lets change this.