August 2019 by Scott Harn
As mentioned last month, the Trump administration is not waiting for Congress to act to fix many of the issues related to mining and exploration in America. (If you missed the details spelled out in the PLP Update column last month, you can find it on our website at www.icmj.com.)
Public Lands for the People and I have been included in this process, participating in two conference calls in the past with month with officials in DC.
The first two of many proposed changes are already underway.
First, the Bureau of Land Management is moving its headquarters from DC to Colorado, and several hundred DC-based BLM employees will be transferred to western state offices to be closer to the public lands they manage and to provide improved, expedited service to the public according to Interior assistant secretary Joe Balash. The relocation of employees is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.
And second, the Forest Service is currently seeking public comments as they revise their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. A link to their proposed rulemaking can be found with the online version of this article. Comments are due by August 12, 2019.
On the federal level, the largest volume of complaints we receive from our readers is related to access restrictions put in place by the Forest Service. We brought 412 such complaints to a deputy director at the USDA in a DC meeting last year.
We are happy to report that the current administration has issued a directive to the Forest Service and BLM to address this concern, which states:
Travel management plans identify which roads or trails are open to motorized vehicles, off highway vehicles, and identifies areas that may be closed altogether and blocked from motorized use. However, these plans do not adequately account for the importance of access to lands for mineral development. Accordingly, SMA’s travel management plans should be created or amended to prioritize access for mineral exploration. Further, existing infrastructure should be maintained or improved to allow access to mineral resources. Maintaining infrastructure may be the responsibility of the SMA or the private sector and depends on the purpose of the infrastructure.
There will be many proposed changes and rulemakings coming out in the next 12 to 24 months. Please stay engaged, and take advantage of each opportunity to provide constructive comments when public comments are requested. We’ll keep you informed as these opportunities arise.
How would you like it if you could make the actual rules and regulations governing your own business? A dream, right? Well, the existing Federal Mining Law gives a claimholder this ability in the context of organized Mining Districts.
We’ve built up some contacts in DC during our trips there over the past four years, and we believe we finally have the correct contacts who can get this petition reviewed by the proper people.
We definitely got their undivided attention with our presentations. As a direct result of our presentations, the Desert Advisory Council recommended a Memorandum of Understanding be put together between the council and the Rand Mining District. This MOU was recently completed.
Public Lands for the People is working on a Miner's Bill of Rights with the support of several members of Congress.
Face-to-face meetings in Washington, DC, with Trump administration officials and members of Congress are still on hold due to the coronavirus, but Public Lands for the People is continuing to work on mining-related issues via phone and email.
Now they have come up with a second guide (to be released on May 1) that they believe will allow dredgers in California to resume working.
We are quite pleased to report there are some courageous miners who have taken the time to learn their rights and have gone back to dredging while knowing they could be unlawfully harassed at any time by law enforcement…
The Bawl Mill • Our Readers Say • Ask The Experts - What is a 'wissbanger'? • Legislative and Regulatory Update • Papa's Got A Brand New Dredge! • Selecting A Low-Risk Region To Explore, Mine or Invest • Resurrecting An Old Hard Rock Mine--The Saga Continues • Research Tools for The Modern Prospector • Silver Peak, Nevada: A Little of Everything • Vindication for Montana Veteran Joe Robertson • Green Returns And Opportunity Is Almost Gone • Vehicles Equal Moving Deductions for Mining Operations • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices