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Big win for small-scale miner

December 4, 2012

On October 3, 2012, small-scale miner Thomas E. Tierney was found "not guilty" of the criminal misdemeanor of using National Forest System land without special-use authorization.

In United States of America v Thomas E. Tierney the National Forest Service contended that, among other things, Mr. Tierney needed special-use authorization to conduct his small-mining activities consisting of a pick and shovel to mine minerals on his claim in Ash Canyon, Arizona. They also believed his mining activities were causing a "significant disturbance to surface resources."

United States Magistrate Judge Charles R. Pyle ruled in favor of the defendant citing the plain language of 36 C.F.R. 261.10 stating that Mr. Tierney's mining activities did not fall under "special-use authorization" nor was he in violation of causing a "significant disturbance of surface resources" partly because the wording of 36 C.F.R. 261.10 fails to adequately describe exactly what a "significant disturbance of surface resources" is.

The full document can be read here USA v Tierney.

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