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Legislative And Regulatory Update

• Polar bear listed
The polar bear is the latest species to obtain “threatened” status from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Even though they continue to be hunted at the rate of 300-500 per year, government biologists estimate the polar bear population has climbed significantly in recent decades to around 25,000 bears.

“There aren’t just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears,” said Canadian government biologist Mitch Taylor.

It remains to be seen how much of a negative influence the listing will have on mining, but the listing will surely have ramifications for energy, specifically, as a tool for environmentalists to prevent energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas in or around their habitat.

According to Interior Secretary Kempthorne, the listing will provide no greater protections than are already afforded the polar bear under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.


• Forest Service trying to close off access
The Forest Service is continuing their assault on public land users.

In November 2005, the Forest Service issued a Travel Management Rule directing each forest to designate roads, trails and areas open to off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and to publish a map of open routes. After publication, use of non-designated routes would become illegal.

One of the first forests to request public comments was the Eldorado National Forest. Public Lands for the People (PLP) was one group that sent in extensive comments regarding the government’s duty to honor access to mining claims, RS2477 rights-of-way, and other rights guaranteed under the 1872 Mining Law.

The Eldorado National Forest announced their list of road closures in early April, which included placing over 1,000 miles of roads and trails off limits. There was no mention of access to mining claims, honoring RS2477 roads or the 1872 Mining Law.

PLP requested that forest officials provide a list of effected mining claim holders they contacted in regard to the closures. The Forest Service replied that there were no mining claims present. PLP subsequently contacted the Bureau of Land Management and obtained their list of valid mining claims in the Eldorado National Forest. BLM confirmed over 460 mining claims exist in the effected area.

PLP has retained an attorney for an appeal of these road closures and others that should be made public as Travel Management Plans are completed. If you are a mining claim holder in a National Forest, or you feel that you may be affected by these closures, please contact PLP President Jerry Hobbs at (909) 889-3039. PLP is looking to add effected parties to their planned lawsuit against the Forest Service.

PLP is a non-profit organization and they need your tax-deductible contributions to continue the fight. More information is available on their website at www.plp2.org.

PLP has already filed an appeal in this case along with a notice of intent to sue.
© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.
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