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Gold Basin and General meteorite Ownership info


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Hi All

Early in our initial Gold Basin hunt Jim Kriegh , Dr Kring and I met with a group of attorneys from the U of A. It was their best legal minds telling us what we could and couldn't do in the hunt to determine the Gold Basin Meteorite strewnfield boundaries. Dr David Kring was interested in trying to determine and compile the mass and strewnfield data for scientific reasons. As it turns out here is the lowdown. Half of the strewnfield is within the boundaries of the Lake Meade National Recreation Area. Apparently rock hounding and metal detecting are not considered recreational since those activities are not allowed within the boundaries of the park. Stiff fines and possible equipment and vehicle confiscations for those who do without a permit. Dr Kring , Jim Kriegh, Twink Monrad and I were issued a permit for hunting the park for several years thru negotiations between the U of A and the National Park Service. The conditions of the permit were that all meteorites found in the Lake Meade National Recreation Area boundaries were to be turned over to the Smithsonian, and that no map of the strewnfield within the park be published. I personally found and turned over to the Smithsonian between 20 and 30 kilos including several kilo plus sized whoppers that are probably in a shoe box somewhere in their basement. I never recieved a thank you , Christmas card or anything for my time , labor and expenses involved in that part of the hunt. I just chaulked it up to my donation to science.

The other half of the strewnfield that is off the rec area boundaries is either on PRIVATE or BLM lands. The area is a checkerboard Private and BLM sections with every other one either Private or BLM. All the Private property has no mineral rights. The early land owner Southern Pacific Railroad retained it and those mineral rights are now owned by Newmount Gold. The mineral rights have absolutly nothing to do with meteorites since they are not a locatable mineral ( the presidence for meteorites not being a locatable mineral was set in the Old Women Meteorite fight). That being said all meteorites that are on private land belong to the private land owner and are considered personal property of the land owner the same as stuctures or any other personal effects !! Early in our hunt in Gold Basin Jim and I went down to the Assesors office in Kingman and looked up the landowners in the areas we wanted to hunt. I personally called the major parcel owners to gain permission to hunt. That was how I found and purchased my land there when inquiring to hunt. There were a couple of sections that were subdivided into 75 x 150 foot parcels with streets but there ain't squat out there. Those we figured even the parcel owner wouldn't know where his boundaries were so we hunted it without actual permission from all the individual parcel owners. Althought there were several persons who owned the bulk of those parcels ( I assume the developers) we hunted that said have at it. Oddly I've run off many folks and put up no tresspassing signs on my property only to return and find the signs full of bullet holes laying in the weeds. I've had several people and groups ask or be invited to have at it with a liability release forms used.To my knowledge those that found space rocks on my property and the original Gold Basin Hunters are the only ones that actually have legally obtained meteorites with clear title the balance are stolen or clouded title meteorites.

The BLM parcels are a tough one and I will tell you what I know and how it works. Jim's and my original finds came from the GPAA claims which we are members and were hunting nuggets on when the first pieces were found. From our original apx 1500 pieces found all of them were turned into the U of A for classifying, cataloging and other various testing. There were random pieces found on the BLM lands that were taken and sent to the Smithsonian as thier piece of the action and the balance were returned to us. By the return of those pieces it is implied that legal clear title is passed when the rocks are returned to the finder and institutions are satisfied. BLM and I assume the Forest Service lands view meteorites the same way ( although every ones views may vary from officer to officer and district to district ). Here is what is in writing in BLM/AZ/GI-98/006 Free Rock, Mineral & Semi-Precious Gemstone Collection Limits 1)The specimens are for personal use and are not collected for commercial purposes or bartered to commercial dealers. Limits are set for personal use at up to 25 pounds per day with a total of 250 pounds per year. These are the restrictions for rock collecting and rocks are what the BLM and I believe the Forest Service classes meteorites as. The only exception from this is what the original attorneys told us was those items returned to the finders after the institutions were satisfied !! Another thought on BLM/Forest Service lands is hunting claimed ground, since metal detectors are considered a viable form of prospecting and mineral recovery it is suggested that the claiments be notified of your intent to hunt meteorites. Meteorites are not covered by thier mining claim and they really cannot keep you from hunting thier claim for meteorites . But it is a touchy subject with some primidonna type claim holders !! Of course their are exceptions to the rule and if you find something really unusual all the crap I just wrote is out the window and your at the mercy of how bad Uncle Sam wants it !!

In Arizona State Land and State Trust Lands are closed to rock hounding and metal detecting and it is against the law to remove anything from state lands unless it under an active mining claim, mining lease or prospecting permit !! There are a few state parks that allow metal detecting certain areas for coins and jewelry !!

Wilderness areas all have different rules and should be checked before hunting to make sure detecting or removal is allowed. Warm Springs is open to metal detecting and removal of finds as per BLM rules for those hunting Franconia but it is closed to all motorized vehicles except on authorized roadways !! Happy Huntin John B.

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John B.,

That is one of the best informational posts on the Gold Basin Meteorite strewnfield and Meteorite hunting and collecting rules in general that I have ever read. I think that most everyone should gain some very valuable knowledge from your post. :wubu:

Jim

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The conditions of the permit were that all meteorites found in the Lake Meade National Recreation Area boundaries were to be turned over to the Smithsonian, and that no map of the strewnfield within the park be published. I personally found and turned over to the Smithsonian between 20 and 30 kilos including several kilo plus sized whoppers that are probably in a shoe box somewhere in their basement. I never recieved a thank you , Christmas card or anything for my time , labor and expenses involved in that part of the hunt. I just chaulked it up to my donation to science.

Happy Huntin John B.

Doesn't this remind you of the last scene from the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" Where they put the Ark into a crate and store it in a warehouse- probably never to be seen again..... I think that stinks. What purpose did keeping the meteorites serve? :hmmmmmm: :boorb:

Each year thousands of people donate things to the Smithsonian and other museums - only to probably disappear forever. I know someone who donated some mineral specimens to a local museum - only to never see them again..

You'd think they could sell some of these items off every now and then through an auction or something instead of building a new storage facility or having to rent warehouse space for newly donated items. The Smithsonian alone has numerous warehouses throughout the D.C area for undisplayed items...

Steve

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Hi John,

Wow, that's a real eye opener. Thanks for the in-depth explanation of who, what where, and why. Just goes to show how government really works FOR the people. I think many people know where new finds can be made in the furutre, and I have a feeling that after being discovered, they'll be "re-found" in more owner-friendly territory. At this time, we may only determine what is currently legal and illegal. Posterity will later determine what was actually right or wrong. Until then, take heart, and try to find a small plot of earth that isn't completely overrun with Government meteorite hunters trying to save the stones for Science before they oxidize into meaningless terrestrial detrius. Dig it.

Ben

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Hi Ben & All

It's amazing how we underestimate the ownership even on a dry lake bed. There are those that would see a beautiful housing development even in the middle of nowhere. All of the coordinates now given for finds in the past could be private property on any given day. We, like the gold people, with all the rules, must prepare ourselves to hunt only on the land available by the current standards set, I guess by the government. To assume that a dry lake bed is open territory, is to put yourself in jeopardy. We must, like the gold hunters, go stricktly by the maps and know exactly where we are hunting. Here's one on Red Dry Lake that may shed some light on the parameters.

I am posting this map to show what's going on in the real world. We better all get a grip!

MH Good Hunting

post-1528-1187410813_thumb.jpg

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Sorry!!! The grey is private property.

Wayne,

You got that right, almost all the productive prime meteorite hunting area on the south end of the lake is private.

Sections 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 23 and 24.

Jim

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  • 3 weeks later...

In general;

A meteorite that is "on the ground" isn't part of the mineral estate and it would belong to the surface land owner. In the case of Federal lands, a meteorite located on top of the ground belongs to the Federal Government and the American Antiquities Act of 1906 (16USC431-433) Preservation Laws would apply.

When a meterotite or fragment of a meteorite is located "in the ground", for instance buried due to an impact cratering event, then it is considered part of the mineral estate. The mineral rights holder is the rightful owner of the buried meteorite specimens.

Of course this is only my opinion. You should always seek your own legal advice.

Sincerely,

Astrobleme

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Hi Johnny

My you've been very quiet lately ?? The presidence of the Old Women meteorite leaves the conclusion that Meteorites have no geological indicators and are a random events. Craters although a possible indicator would mean major impact and generally leaving an insignificant amount of unvaluble or void of minerals :twocents: !! A valid legal mining claim must have viable minerals and be able to prove a prudent man could earn a living :Huh_anim]: !! At least that was the intent of the mining law :confused0013: ?? I think :hmmmmmm: ?? Happy Huntin John B.

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Hi Johnny

My you've been very quiet lately ?? The presidence of the Old Women meteorite leaves the conclusion that Meteorites have no geological indicators and are a random events. Craters although a possible indicator would mean major impact and generally leaving an insignificant amount of unvaluble or void of minerals :twocents: !! A valid legal mining claim must have viable minerals and be able to prove a prudent man could earn a living :Huh_anim]: !! At least that was the intent of the mining law :confused0013: ?? I think :hmmmmmm: ?? Happy Huntin John B.

Hi John B:

I've been quietly digging 'rites so I haven't had time to post much lately.

Meteorite impact craters are the most common geological formation in the universe. You can see them on our Moon, all the other planets and even impact craters on small asteroids and comets. All the minerals found on Earth have accumulated from meteor impacts over the eons. We just don't see many craters on Earth due to erosion and many meteors slow too much through our atmosphere to make an impact. The Old Woman meteorite was lying on top of a bunch of boulders. It did not penetrate into the Earth so therefore it wasn't part of the mineral estate. I believe you are mistaken in your comment that mineral rights have nothing to do with meteorites. It would surprise me if Union Pacific or Newmont Gold would allow meteorites to be dug up out of their mineral estate without their consent. There are lots of lawyers that can help with understanding mineral rights and mining claims as well as the numerous case laws that set legal precedence that guide us.

The only legal precedence set in the Old Woman matter is what was determined by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 618 F.2d 618 9th Cir (1980). That case only confirmed that the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Army have broad discretionary power to dispose of objects of Antiquity found on federal land. There's nothing in that case about mining claims or mineral rights. The gold prospectors who found the 2nd largest US meteorite, David Friburg and Mike Jendruczak, weren't parties in that case yet many people seem to think that their claims had been heard.

I suppose the best historical example of how meteorites and mining claims interact would be the Barringer family's ownership of Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Sincerely,

ASTROBLEME

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Hi Johnny

The Barringer Crater was pattented by expenses expended :broke: . There were two ways to pattented land ,one was by proof of values and the other was by expenditure of funds and work to attempt to prove ground in a mining venture. Both ways were ways of gaining a pattented tittle . Keep in mind that meteorite impacts weren't a realized consideration in those days :shrug: . It was purely considered an iron mine :hmmmmmm: ! The old women meteorite ,David and Mike had a valid mining claim on the sight of the meteorite but lost it anyway :sadwalk: . Both of those gentlemen dropped thier fight for ownership because of attorney expenses :angry-smiley-010: . These were some of the indepth conversations and studies the U of A attorneys had done to keep Jim and I on the straight and narrow ( outa jail ) :innocent0002: !! I mentioned a Dept of Interior Publication on rock collecting in my initial post. There is bag limits on rock collecting and only for personal non commerial use. The commercial use only has restrictions to the collector. The hiers of the collection can commercially dispose of it. As explained to me by the folks at my local BLM office :smrt1: . I can collect meteorites (classified as rocks) up to my daily bag limits per day and per year but I cannot barter, trade or sell them commercially in my lifetime. My hiers can legally barter, trade or openly sell my collection legally !! To the best of my knowledge this law or rules are not enforced if it was enforced there would be oddles of criminals and most if not all domestic meteorite dealers or hunter/sellers would be in jail or heavily fined :confused0013: . Just some food for thought :Huh_anim]: !! Happy Huntin John B.

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Hi Johnny

The Barringer Crater was pattented by expenses expended :broke: . There were two ways to pattented land ,one was by proof of values and the other was by expenditure of funds and work to attempt to prove ground in a mining venture. Both ways were ways of gaining a pattented tittle . Keep in mind that meteorite impacts weren't a realized consideration in those days :shrug: . It was purely considered an iron mine :hmmmmmm: ! The old women meteorite ,David and Mike had a valid mining claim on the sight of the meteorite but lost it anyway :sadwalk: . Both of those gentlemen dropped thier fight for ownership because of attorney expenses :angry-smiley-010: . These were some of the indepth conversations and studies the U of A attorneys had done to keep Jim and I on the straight and narrow ( outa jail ) :innocent0002: !! I mentioned a Dept of Interior Publication on rock collecting in my initial post. There is bag limits on rock collecting and only for personal non commerial use. The commercial use only has restrictions to the collector. The hiers of the collection can commercially dispose of it. As explained to me by the folks at my local BLM office :smrt1: . I can collect meteorites (classified as rocks) up to my daily bag limits per day and per year but I cannot barter, trade or sell them commercially in my lifetime. My hiers can legally barter, trade or openly sell my collection legally !! To the best of my knowledge this law or rules are not enforced if it was enforced there would be oddles of criminals and most if not all domestic meteorite dealers or hunter/sellers would be in jail or heavily fined :confused0013: . Just some food for thought :Huh_anim]: !! Happy Huntin John B.

Dear John B;

Happy Hunting to you as well.

ASTROBLEME

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