• Forest Service proposes further changes to mining regs
Mike Doran, from the Locatable Minerals section of the Forest Service’s Minerals and Resource Geology Division, announced at the recent Northwest Mining Association tradeshow in Spokane that the Forest Service intends to make further changes to their regulations governing mining.
They are expected to expand on their recent proposal to issue criminal citations for occupancy and attempt to place further restrictions on the use of public lands by miners.
Doran said one of the proposed amendments would create a new level of approval called a Bonded Notice. A Bonded Notice would require the posting of a financial guarantee for activities approved under a Notice where activities do not warrant a Plan of Operations.
According to Jerry Hobbs, president of Public Lands for the People, this change in the Forest Service mining regulations will make mining activities in the Forests unaffordable to most small miners.
"There are no bonding companies that will bond a small-scale mining operation. The bond would have to be cash, which most small miners cannot afford. We had better get serious about this one and start raising funds now to stop it."
Doran said the Forest Service would publish the proposed changes in the Federal Register soon, though he could not provide a specific date.
A comment period will be provided. No public meetings have been scheduled, so miners will have to make a request for public meetings following publication of the proposed amendments.
See page 28 for more information about Public Lands for the People.
• Preble’s mouse resurrected
Remember all the back and forth decisions by the Fish & Wildlife Service involving the Preble’s jumping mouse?
FWS listed the mouse in 1998. Developers spent millions to mitigate projects, and several new freeway interchanges in Colorado were reconfigured to prevent possible harm to the species. Then, following a lawsuit by environmental groups, FWS proposed critical habitat of another 237 miles of rivers and streams and over 20,000 acres of land in Wyoming in 2002.
FWS made an about face in 2005, proposing to de-list the mouse following two studies that indicated the mouse was genetically the same as another common mouse. The de-listing proposal has been postponed several times since then.
Now FWS has said their decision to de-list the mouse was in error, and they announced in the Federal Register their plan to retain the Endangered Species listing.
A link to the Federal Register proposal can be found under the Pending Rules & Regulations section on our website, www.icmj.com