We were contacted by one of our members who was at our claim on the Yuba and told by somebody that “they” owned the claim and not AMRA. This probably explains why our sign was just recently torn down. We will be going to… this claim shortly to address the claim sign and hopefully meet this man in person. We want to explain how to handle this situation if it ever arises for our members.
As can be seen in this picture at the bottom of the post of the LR2000 (BLM report for Federal mining claims), the yellow circled claim is owned by the Wegners (PLP donated this claim to us, Walt Wegner is the Vice President of PLP). The other claims in the SW section are also owned by PLP and have been donated to AMRA. Our member told us the person who approached them was named “Jim”. As also can be seen, there is no person listed as even owning a claim in this section named Jim. You cannot file another claim over an existing valid claim legally, and in this case our placer claim. If someone had, this report would show it. What we found out is there have been some people squatting on the claim for several years and were friends with the former owner (now deceased) listed on this report as Jack E. Nixon. This Jim is apparently paying the maintenance fee illegally (on behalf of a deceased man) and stating the claim is his……again, illegally. We will be addressing this immediately.
First of all, let us qualify something here. All AMRA claims are valid, in every state we have claims in. We have just completed all the required paperwork, assessments and waivers (for the next year) and recorded the claims with county the claim is in and provided each BLM office with those original recorded documents. They are valid, legal and we own them period. As an AMRA member, since we are an Association, you too are an owner of our claims. Along with that ownership comes the Federal Mining Claim rights, all of them. The fundamental right to mine the claim without an undue burden created by USFS (as per their regulations, including 2813.14), and the Riparian rights, or water rights. Meaning you do not have to purchase any kind of water permit, no matter how many times they try and tell you different. You also have the surface rights which allows you to mine the surface for minerals like gold and nobody else can (except other members) period. Not the USFS, some guy named Jim or the President of the United States.
If someone approaches you while you are on one of AMRA’s claims and tells you it is theirs, here is how to address this. Be polite, but know it is your claim. Be absolutely certain you are on your AMRA claim. Ask them their name and contact information. This is important, because we cannot talk to these people if we don’t know who they are. Ask them for the claim name, number and if they have their paperwork. Write this down. If he tries to kick you off the claim, you have the right to mine it. Have him contact the Sheriff. We recommend you copy and carry our claim paperwork (printed from the website) with you for the claims you mine. This establishes clear ownership. Obviously there are many different scenarios which could play out here and nothing is worth getting in a fight over. We cannot address people like “Jim” unless we have a way to contact them, please get us a name and phone number at least.
We also heard that this same member was approached by a USFS agent who asked for his “small engine operating permit”. We were surprised by this as we had never heard of a small engine operating permit. What we learned is that on this particular claim, in the Tahoe National Forest, the Forest Supervisor has declared an emergency declaration because of the fire danger. They are allowed to do this by law. If you plan to work the claim in the Tahoe NF with a gas powered water pump, you will need to get a permit (I know, it is frustrating) from the Camptonville office of USFS. Their number is (530) 288-3231(530) 288-3231 and the contact is Jack Kemp or Dave Brown. The permit, we are told, takes a few days to get so you might call in advance, fill out the paperwork, fax or scan it to them and then start the process a few days in advance. There is no cost for the permit. You can find quite a bit of information on the USFS.gov website for the forest you are going to be in. We recommend you check before you go. We are heading to the Feather tomorrow and fortunately there are no restrictions for us.
We are getting calls from all across the country now with similar issues. You need this permit or that permit, the USFS gated our road or completely destroyed it. They are denying me access to my claim. The EPA tells me I need a pollutant discharge permit. The water board tells me I need a permit for a water pump……….on and on. Last night Texas called us, the day before was Montana, today it is California. We need to band together.
Please consider joining AMRA, we are fighting every day for you.