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Legalities of prospecting on forest service lands
GNR
post Apr 5 2013, 12:19 PM
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Hello!

This is my first post on this forum, but I have been prospecting and mining for several years out in Nevada. I recently moved to colorado (summit county) and have been looking at staking some new claims out here. I have identified a few open to entry locations on forest service land, which have rivers or streams running through them. They all seem like ideal places to potentially prospect, but I am getting conflicting statements on what level of prospecting is legally allowed.

essentially, what im trying to figure out, is if the following methods are allowed, or if they require permits.

panning (i think this is allowed)

Sluicing (i believe this is allowed as well)

High banking ( this is what I really want to do, as I have a nice trommel sluice and pump setup. I believe that I Saw a post on another forum that says this is allowed, as long as there is a settling pond used before the water goes back into the waterway. But i am unclear on weather this would involve a permit or notice)

Dredging (ive never done this, but i Imagine it would be pretty effective. Regardless I dont have a dredge, so its not a priority, i think it requires a permit too)

So thats where I am currently at. I went out to one of the locations today with a small sampling pan and tested some bank gravel, got about 10 colors out of it, so I think there is some good ground to be explored. If anyone could help clarify these issues for me, that would be wonderful!

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swizz
post Apr 5 2013, 04:12 PM
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Hi GNR and welcome to CP! sign0016.gif
Nothing is banned in Colorado per se... at least regarding general Small Scale Mining equipment. If your equipment is hand-carried, non-mechanized, and you are exploring on Forest Service (or BLM) managed public lands you can use any (hand carried) equipment (motorized or other) to conduct your sampling. Everything you mentioned is fine. National Forests are Federally managed lands owned by We The People and still fall under the jurisdiction of The Mining Laws Of 1872.
If the NFS (or BLM) manged public land has a recreational designation (or other special designation) you are then subject to a different scrutiny... permitting, closures, and/or special regulations etc., which legally can exceed the Mining Laws Of 1872.
As long as you're on unclaimed NFS (or BLM) managed public lands that are not specially designated you're good to go! You own that land as an American citizen. emoticon-object-018.gif
'State Forest' can also be subject to special regulations or off-limits and often are.
The key is land status knowledge and knowing exactly where you are. If you are prospecting in Summit County this is very important as there is a high volume of active claims there.
Take care and good luck out there! Colorado has a lot to offer in terms of open land to prospect.


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GNR
post Apr 5 2013, 08:34 PM
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QUOTE (swizz @ Apr 5 2013, 06:12 PM) *
Hi GNR and welcome to CP! sign0016.gif
Nothing is banned in Colorado per se... at least regarding general Small Scale Mining equipment. If your equipment is hand-carried, non-mechanized, and you are exploring on Forest Service (or BLM) managed public lands you can use any (hand carried) equipment (motorized or other) to conduct your sampling. Everything you mentioned is fine. National Forests are Federally managed lands owned by We The People and still fall under the jurisdiction of The Mining Laws Of 1872.
If the NFS (or BLM) manged public land has a recreational designation (or other special designation) you are then subject to a different scrutiny... permitting, closures, and/or special regulations etc., which legally can exceed the Mining Laws Of 1872.
As long as you're on NFS (or BLM) managed public lands that are not specially designated you're good to go! You own that land as an American citizen. emoticon-object-018.gif
'State Forest' can also be subject to special regulations or off-limits and often are.
The key is land status knowledge and knowing exactly where you are. If you are prospecting in Summit County this is very important as there is a high volume of active claims there.
Take care and good luck out there! Colorado has a lot to offer in terms of open land to prospect.



so let me double check something with you here before I go off the deep end, at first you say non motorized, and then you say motorized. Are you saying i can highbank and dredge without and approvals?

Also, ive been checking land statuses all day, and i THINK I found myself a nice little 1000 foot long sliver of creek that is open to entry (thanks LR2000) here is a picture of 3 little pickers i pulled out of the creek today.


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amorton
post Apr 5 2013, 10:15 PM
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QUOTE (GNR @ Apr 5 2013, 10:34 PM) *
so let me double check something with you here before I go off the deep end, at first you say non motorized, and then you say motorized. Are you saying i can highbank and dredge without and approvals?

Also, ive been checking land statuses all day, and i THINK I found myself a nice little 1000 foot long sliver of creek that is open to entry (thanks LR2000) here is a picture of 3 little pickers i pulled out of the creek today.


Attached Image


He means no mechanical mining which is interpreted as earth moving equipment. If it is hand carried equipment then its legal, "pump, dredge, sluice, small trommel, ect" There are other restrictions on motor size dredge inlet size that you will have to look up but yes they are all legal.
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russau
post Apr 6 2013, 04:26 AM
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Swizz, very well put!
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swizz
post Apr 6 2013, 04:32 AM
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QUOTE (GNR @ Apr 5 2013, 09:34 PM) *
so let me double check something with you here before I go off the deep end, at first you say non motorized, and then you say motorized

That is not what I stated but I can see how it could be easy to misunderstand. slaphead.gif Allow me to clarify.....
I indicated "non-mechanized" and also mentioned that "motorized" equipment is okay. There is a distinct and legal difference between the terms "mechanized" and "motorized" as the law is written. It is important that you know this if you are interested in "legalities" as your thread title suggests.
Amorton is correct... "mechanized" legally refers to backhoes, excavators, and things of that nature. "Motorized" refers to your hand-carried equipment.

As far as "open to mineral entry" (legal term)... that does NOT automatically mean that you can legally prospect there. It means (legally) that the land has not been removed or withdrawn from mineral entry. Claims can and may already be filed on land that is "open to mineral entry". The legal term "entry" (used in the context of mineral entry) pertains to "entry of filing"... not the "entry" of your boots on the ground with equipment in hand. The LR2000 is a good starting point for land status research but you still need to visit the County Clerk/Recorder to obtain critical information such as accurate claim boundaries mapping (found only in the County and BLM physical public records) and whether or not anyone has filed for a Certificate Of Location within the last 90 days (which LR2000 does not reflect). Just because a chunk of land is "open to mineral entry" (National Forest or other) does not mean that you can legally walk up and remove mineral resources. Not even close. For your purposes, it means that the area may be worthy of further research and might be available for you to explore for mineral resources or stake a mineral claim... IF there are not other active claims or pending Certs Of Location filed there. I strongly recommend that you do more research (we are glad to help with this) and I sincerely hope you weren't mineral trespassing. Deep doo-doo if you are caught doing that and ignorance to the law is never a good excuse (pay fines, court costs, estimated mineral loss, estimated damage reclamation, etc if you are busted). music037.gif order.gif
I don't mean to discourage or scare ya but....
If you are walking around on National Forest lands (or other) with prospecting equipment in your possession it is legally presumed by land management personnel (NFS or other), claim owners, and law enforcement (County Sheriff's Dept) that you already know all of the legalities/illegalities of your actions. It's been that way since the 1800s, still actively enforced, and costly to violators whether they are aware or not. Mining laws are Federal and most violations are classified as a Class C Felony.

Mining claims are seldom well-marked. The only markers that are required by Federal law are: Discovery Marker (one) and Boundary Markers (typically four). No further markers or signage is required and maintenance of the Boundary Markers and Discovery Marker by the claim owner(s) is not required by Federal law. It is the legal responsibility of any prospector to research land status PRIOR to exploring and NOT to rely on a claim owner's markers or signage. Part of the reasoning behind this has to do with potential perpetrators attempting to capitalize on damaged, vandalized, illegally removed, or unseen (overgrown) claim markers, etc and stating that "there were no markers when I got here", or "I didn't see any markers or signs" or anything to that effect... it protects the claim owners from that type of bs and places the burdens of research and compliance solely and legally upon the perpetrator.

Again.... land status research is paramount to your success and insurance of legality of 'where you are' in the field if your plan is to explore National Forest or other public lands that are open to mineral entry.
It is the cornerstone. research.gif
You're on the right track by inquiring about legalities. All Commercial/Professional and Small Scale Miners appreciate that... keep asking questions and we can help you to better understand the legal aspects. happy088.gif


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GNR
post Apr 6 2013, 11:44 AM
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QUOTE (swizz @ Apr 6 2013, 06:32 AM) *
That is not what I stated but I can see how it could be easy to misunderstand. slaphead.gif Allow me to clarify.....
I indicated "non-mechanized" and also mentioned that "motorized" equipment is okay. There is a distinct and legal difference between the terms "mechanized" and "motorized" as the law is written. It is important that you know this if you are interested in "legalities" as your thread title suggests.
Amorton is correct... "mechanized" legally refers to backhoes, excavators, and things of that nature. "Motorized" refers to your hand-carried equipment.

If you are walking around on National Forest lands (or other) with prospecting equipment in your possession it is legally presumed by land management personnel (NFS or other), claim owners, and law enforcement (County Sheriff's Dept) that you already know all of the legalities/illegalities of your actions. It's been that way since the 1800s, still actively enforced, and costly to violators whether they are aware or not. Mining laws are Federal and most violations are classified as a Class C Felony.

Mining claims are seldom well-marked. The only markers that are required by Federal law are: Discovery Marker (one) and Boundary Markers (typically four). No further markers or signage is required and maintenance of the Boundary Markers and Discovery Marker by the claim owner(s) is not required by Federal law. It is the legal responsibility of any prospector to research land status PRIOR to exploring and NOT to rely on a claim owner's markers or signage. Part of the reasoning behind this has to do with potential perpetrators attempting to capitalize on damaged, vandalized, illegally removed, or unseen (overgrown) claim markers, etc and stating that "there were no markers when I got here", or "I didn't see any markers or signs" or anything to that effect... it protects the claim owners from that type of bs and places the burdens of research and compliance solely and legally upon the perpetrator.

Again.... land status research is paramount to your success and insurance of legality of 'where you are' in the field if your plan is to explore National Forest or other public lands that are open to mineral entry.
It is the cornerstone. research.gif
You're on the right track by inquiring about legalities. All Commercial/Professional and Small Scale Miners appreciate that... keep asking questions and we can help you to better understand the legal aspects. happy088.gif



Thank you for your clarification on that subject of motorized v.s. mechanized.

As far as claims on the properties go, I do understand the importance of checking with the county, and the fact that claims may be staked in the field, but not yet recorded on the county or BLM systems. From what I can see there are only a few other claims that are valid in my system from the LR2000, only 2 of those are placer, and one is clearly in a different quadrant of the section. So there is one other 20 acre claim, within the 160 quadrant we are looking at. I will go down to the county on Monday to get its map, but as it appears to be located by aloquit part, even if he claimed along the particular stream I am interested in, at least half of it is still open.

And interestingly enough, in Nevada you can have up to 90 days to file with the county, as long as you put your corner monuments in place, in Colorado it seems that you only have 30 days to do that. Also Colorado seems to have additional monumenting guidelines, It states in the law below that all 4 corners of a claim must be marked as well as any other angles in the claim shape in addition to those at the corners.

QUOTE
34-43-112 CRS 1973 states " a discover of a placer claim, shall within 30 days from the date of discovery, record his claim in the office of the recorder in which his claim is situated by a location claim which shall include
1) the name of a claim, and its designation as a placer claim
2) the name of the locator
3) the date of location
4) the number of feet claimed and
5) a description of the claim (and reference to known location)
a) posting a notice of location within the claim
b) monumenting all bends in the claim (which could actually require more than 4 posts per claim, if you bend them in the middle to follow the meandering of a stream.

that above law was taken from the below link, i paraphrased a bit of 5 because it was long, and I have to go to work.
https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/...prdb5368226.pdf

Also, can someone point me to a copy of a law or statute that says hand carried motorized equipment is okay to use?



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russau
post Apr 7 2013, 05:11 AM
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your link wont pop up!
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swizz
post Apr 7 2013, 05:23 AM
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It opened for me russ..... do you have Adobe installed on your pc?


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russau
post Apr 7 2013, 10:48 AM
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yes i think so! my wife and daughter have been dumping things and right now im not sure.
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CP
post Apr 8 2013, 02:06 PM
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QUOTE (GNR @ Apr 6 2013, 12:44 PM) *
And interestingly enough, in Nevada you can have up to 90 days to file with the county, as long as you put your corner monuments in place, in Colorado it seems that you only have 30 days to do that. Also Colorado seems to have additional monumenting guidelines, It states in the law below that all 4 corners of a claim must be marked as well as any other angles in the claim shape in addition to those at the corners.


that above law was taken from the below link, i paraphrased a bit of 5 because it was long, and I have to go to work.
https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/...prdb5368226.pdf

Also, can someone point me to a copy of a law or statute that says hand carried motorized equipment is okay to use?


Welcome to the forums GNR and great Q&A's folks, it's been answered fairly well but I'll chyme in here for a couple clarifications.

Mining law (federal) is to be consistent by law from one state to another (Nv. to Co. for instance), there are no differences in time lines for filing as they are federal level requirements for staking and filing as well is the corner marker requirment at the federal level no matter how many corners are needed 4 or 20 to describe the boundries.
I think what you may be thinking of on 90/30 days is the different timeline for filing a placer vs lode with the county once staked in the field. For placer it's 30 days......for lode claims there is a 90 day timeline to file with the county. However both placer and lode have a 90 day timeline for filing with BLM.

The hand carried equipment termonolgy doesn't relate to any law I don't think but rather it's a FSM/FSH guideline for how to do their jobs correctly in the field. The law states we have the right to prospect for and develop mineral deposits.....so you need to look at it from "a right to do it" rather than "am I allowed to do it". Only the prospector/claim owner can determine what prospecting/extraction equipment might be used and still allow a profit to be made from the deposit.
If an official were to attempt to tell a claim owner how to or what to use to extract his/her minerals would be paramount to taking ownership (control) of the claim outright from the rightful owner.

Good luck out there GNR and kudo's to you for diggin' in to find the right info. I'd also like to toss in a plug for the Colorado Prospector club here too......I know, I know rolleyes.gif but someones got to do it! thumbsupsmileyanim.gif
You'd love being part of the club, we all dive into this sort of information to really find the needed answers for proper field decisions.


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GNR
post Apr 8 2013, 04:06 PM
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So after some deep digging at the county recorders office, I have determined that the land I was hoping to claim (actually I did put a notice of location into the ground on sunday) has a pre-existing placer claim on most of it, including the only part with the creek!

I spent the rest of today doing a little hiking and exploring of some other areas. I found one new area, that DEFINATELY does not have any active claims on it. It had some nice well rounded bench gravels and a stream running through it as well. I pulled a few colors out of it in 3 pans, If its not a Blizzard out tomorrow, I will go explore it some more.

As for the legalities, I have been trying to get in touch with the local Forest service, who has been little to no help. I believe that perhaps this may be one of those situations where it is better to ask for forgiveness (or blindly start quoting the mining law of 1876) than to ask permission.
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swizz
post Apr 8 2013, 04:59 PM
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QUOTE (GNR @ Apr 8 2013, 05:06 PM) *
I have been trying to get in touch with the local Forest service, who has been little to no help. I believe that perhaps this may be one of those situations where it is better to ask for forgiveness (or blindly start quoting the mining law of 1876) than to ask permission.

Why would you contact the Forest Service?? IMHO that's asking for trouble. They are merely a management agency in charge of surface resources... you know, trees and the like. Are you planning on cutting down some trees? They are not there to regulate mining unless it involves a significant disturbance of surface resources and sometimes involved with the POO or NOI process if necessary. Why on earth would you ever ask them for "permission"? Your dealings should be strictly with the County at this stage. Forget about the Forest Service, you'll only falsely empower them as so often happens with naive prospectors. Some of them like to capitalize on that perception and tend to make life miserable for would-be miners. Fair warning.


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GNR
post Apr 8 2013, 08:59 PM
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I suppose I try a little too hard to stay on the right side of the law some times.

However, that being said, Im no dummy, I didnt disclose any of my personal information or potential claim locations.

and for what its worth, its not like they even call me back anyways.
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swizz
post Apr 8 2013, 09:22 PM
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QUOTE (GNR @ Apr 8 2013, 09:59 PM) *
I suppose I try a little too hard to stay on the right side of the law some times.

I understand your logic.
By all means we must stay on the right side of the law, that's definitely one of the most important factors that this club and forum professes.
There is nothing in the law that dictates having to inquire with the Forest Service for mining information, at least in your situation. Trying to save you from a nightmare of misinformation and confusion that they occasionally and openly delve in. Opening those doors can lead to much frustration, poor information, and undue discouragement. The NFS is there to manage the surface resources... NOT mining. They are not qualified and it is not in their job descriptions, not the right agency. The BLM is responsible for the management of subsurface resources on public lands which includes minerals.


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