Legislative and Regulatory Update
March 2021 by Scott Harn
• Additional access restrictions proposed in Arizona
In 2009, the Arizona Trail, which runs 807 miles from Utah, through Arizona, to Mexico, was designated a “national scenic trail” under the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act.
A hiking trail through the back country sounded like a great idea, but then the Forest Service and the National Park Service proposed expanding the footprint of the trail to “provide the maximum retention of natural conditions, scenic and historic features, and primitive character of the trail area,” to include connecting trails and trail systems, prohibit motorized vehicle use within this expanded corridor, and include prioritizing “patented claims for land acquisition where the owner is willing to sell.”
Past experience dictates that additional restrictions to prospecting and mining operations, including the lack of motorized access, will be used to push many of those people in the “unwilling” seller category over to the “willing” category.
More details are online at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=49535
• Oregon senators introduce bill to place state rivers and streams off-limits
Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) introduced the “River Democracy Act of 2021,” which would designate 4,700 miles of rivers and streams across Oregon as Wild and Scenic. These designations also include a one-half-mile easement on each side of the river or stream if approved.
As Ken Alexander, president of the Eastern Oregon Mining Association, pointed out in his letter to the senators:
“If you had actually looked at these streams in Eastern Oregon, you would have learned that they would not be found to be in near natural condition, with all, or almost all, of their natural values intact,” which is a requirement to qualify for designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
We would like to encourage our readers to fire off a letter of opposition to Senators Wyden and Merkley.
Senator Ron Wyden
221 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Jeff Merkley
531 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
If you had any intentions to file for a mining claim on or near a waterway in Oregon, now would be the appropriate time to do it so you have some leverage in case the proposed legislation passes and it becomes impossible to be “grandfathered” in.
• Pacific Legal Foundation joins effort to overturn California dredging moratorium
• PLP fund drive continues
• Congress heading into summer recess
• Maintenance fees due!
Public Lands for the People is working on a Miner's Bill of Rights with the support of several members of Congress.
• Actions speak louder than words
• Biden nominee for BLM director has ties to eco-terrorist groups
In every sense, this was a witch hunt with a preconceived agenda to heavily restrict or outright prohibit most small-scale mining in Oregon.
• Good news on EPA regs
• California rewards key appointment to dredging foe
• Republicans seek to block creation of National Monuments
• Zimbabwe threatens seizure of mining rights
- Budd-Falen in line to become next director at BLM
- Ten national monuments slated for changes or reductions
- California adds another fee
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