Environmentalists stake ‘mining claim’ near posh homes to protest old law
RENO – Environmentalists staked a claim on national forest land 300 yards from back yards of $250,000 suburban homes Wednesday to protest Congress’ refusal to reform a 130-year-old mining law authorizing such claims.
“Mining doesn’t belong near residential neighborhoods like this one, yet the 1872 Mining Law leaves communities and special places vulnerable to destructive mining operations,” said Elyssa Rosen, executive director of the Great Basin Mine Watch group based in Reno.
The law, intended to encourage development of the West in the 19th century, “is allowing a massive giveaway of America’s public lands and minerals and turning pristine lands and water sources into dumping grounds for toxic mine waste,” she said.
If it were a real claim, the group would have 90 days to file with the Washoe County recorder’s office and the Bureau of Land Management. A $135 filing fee is required, and an annual $125 maintenance fee. The groups said they do not intend to actually follow through with all requirements.
BLM spokeswoman Jo Simpson said the tract appeared to be open to mining, but establishing a mining claim involves more than driving stakes.
“Before you can start mining, you have to present a plan of operation, present a bond, do an environmental review,” she said.