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Dakota Slim

Take another look at Micro Nuggets post. The question was not about detecting

being a legitimate method of prospecting or mining.

The question was can metal detecting be called legitimate assessment work. He

compared sorting junk metal and hot rocks to ,sampling as in taking mineral samples.

Sampling with a metal detector,by a claimant is not legal assessment work.

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I posted my observation and raised my question because $1120 is a lot of money to spend on maintenance fees for a 160 acre association placer claim. Up until now my friends and I have just been paying the $140 annual maintenance fee on two such claims. The small miner exemption is an attractive alternative for those with only a few claims. There are different strategies for placer gold recovery. In regard to recovering hillside placers the clearing of birdshot and bullet fragments from the surface layer and the raking aside of surface stones constitutes the first step of one of those methods. It improves greatly one's ability to locate and extract underlying values. By my lights an expenditure of such labor adds value to the claim's potential and thus should constitute legitimate assessment work within the meaning of the regs. No motorized machinery is involved -- just good old-fashioned labor with simple hand tools and a metal detector. But what seems reasonable for one person is not necessarily reasonable for others [or for BLM personnel]. Thus my curiosity whether any federal decision dealt with comparable facts. If there is no precedent, then maybe the time is ripe to establish one. All BLM has to do is reject the small miner exemption filings that will be coming their way later in the year because, as I said, we are not going to pay the maintenance fee in lieu of assessment work. Stay tuned... BTW, the replacement of vandalized corner posts also may constitute recognized assessment work but, again, I am not aware of federal precedent on this particular point.

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Slim and Martin

I honestly thought that Martin was joking,my bad.

Just for the record,My Son and I split the fees on 120 acres of claims,because we know

that the BLM does not grant wishes. Most of our work is done with detectors,and standard

dry placer operation,such as drywashing to bed rock. All work is hand work with hand tools.

We do use a highbanker at times too if the conditions will permit it. We sort the bullets and

scrap as we process the pay dirt from the washes with the concentrators IE drywasher. We

are darn sure not rich,but at the end of the day,I feel better knowing that I am not cheating

the system, or the public just for a hobby. We put more work and time back into rehab and

land improvement than we do actually mining. I don't feel that the government owes me one

dime for that either. I feel that it is just a matter of pride,and doing the right thing.

Digging bullets and nails on the hillsides is just part of the recovery process,it is not sampling

by any means. Here is the part that is hard for me to swallow. Most guys spend several thousand

dollars on detectors ,coils,campers,4wheelers ,and all sorts of goodies,but balk at the idea of

actually having to fork out a little cash for a place to use that stuff. This is like buying a golf cart,

and all the top of the line golf clubs ,then bitch about paying a greens fee,while sipping mixed

drinks at the clubhouse.

I replace posts and signs all the time,and clean up others trash,it is just part of having a claim.

If a person can't make enough off of a claim to pay the expense,by law they shouldn't have

that claim,it is just that simple. I am not exactly wild about the prospect of paying double fees

myself. The part that really pissed me off was the underhanded way it was done. But I will

hitch up my jeans, and bite the bullet if I have to. The day I can't afford to pay my way,I will pull

my claim posts and go fishing or start prospecting on open land. I will not waste time trying to

come up with dishonest schemes ,for a free spot to play. Freeloading is a lifestyle,not a form

of recreation.

Anyone that is actually working towards developing a working claim,and using the assessment

work in a legitimate fashion , should not have any problem with my statements. This is what the

assessment system was created for,and more power to you.

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This is a start to a bigger picture, When there are not a lot of claims they can shut down a area sooner ,They are not allowing horses in the calif high country, I think the green agenda is very strong in all of this madness, ,It is not them doing there work because we complained about paper hangers ,I always paid the full maintenace fees as If a claim was not worth a oz a year why have it and for other personal reasons, I was thinkng of resigning some of the club claims to do the small miners excemption but that can set us up to loose presidence of ownership, Open your eyes everyone there is no good out of this,No dregeing , need a plan of op to test a claim now this and i,am sure even more soon, They hinder us in retriving gold off of our own claim, What the hell. The curant addministration is doing a lot to take our lands and rights away, Both sides sold us out to pay back the risk takers losses, They both go to the same church so to say, They are whores and we are getting the f$#@&*g.So when does it make us mad enought to do something about it.My god we all need to wake up,It is the tip of the iceberg.What a mess.Our club has over 4800 acres of claims in 3 states, Yep it will open up areas but that outlook is selfish,They need to be stopped.Our land is not ours any more is it,

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We (citizens) are being attacked from all sides and our perimeter is shrinking rapidly, they are almost in the wire. It's all part of the agenda 21 plan to end up herding all of us into urban areas and take our access to resources away so we will be dependent on the government. Don't count on all that fishing if this country stays on this course for 4 more years........

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Hey, it could be that the government has to sell off public land to stay afloat. The bottom line is that, under the current system, the high population blue areas of this country trump the red rural areas based on population and votes. These road closures and mining regulations mean nothing to the vast majority of Americans. The 45 million plus Americans who receive food stamps want to keep them coming.

America needs a miracle.

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Slim it may mean nothing to them right know {witch means they are pretty stupid} But it will when it is to late.Good luck fishing.Take some pics so you can look back in a few years, Sell the land to who China?

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Denny and all, I don't know if this is still true but not long go 40% of the US population could get to Atlantic City, NJ on one tank of gas (ask Donald Trump). That should tell us something. I think that the average American (particularly back east) knows nothing about mining -- except maybe the negatives which have been widely publicized (and distorted!) by the leftist media.

They might see a news article about road closures in National Forests, and if they do, they probably think it is a good idea. They are over 1,000 miles away and they probably don't even know what BLM stands for. They aren't stupid but but they only know what they have been taught and what they have learned by reading or through experience.

They all watched, as we did, as city and state governments across the US -- prompted by activists -- banned smoking in various places including on private property. As the owners of that private property were losing the rights to their property, so too were the American people losing the right to use and enjoy their public land.

It ain't right. It's wrong. It's very wrong.

Yes, I have gone fishing but I'll probably be back. Here's a few pictures...






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Thanks for the pictures,that is a nice out fit that you have. Looks like Nugget is

doing well too.

The biggest problem with what is happening,is that it has been going on since the

late 60's. People only pay attention when crap hits them,or lands at their door step.

Our school system is one place to look for a cause for the no one cares attitude. They

have been brain washing and force feeding the green agenda since the late 60's.

As has been stated above,most don't have a clue of how anyone makes a living or

lives outside of the city limits. They have been taught that anyone that works or uses

resources from public land are out to destroy the planet. This has been carried to

include anyone trying to manufacture or produce anything that provides an honest job.

This is the biggest reason that the politicians are going after the farm kids or any kids

that are actually taught how to work ,and how things really are by their family. They don't

want any independent thinkers to rock the boat in the future. They want these kids to be

trundled off to school at the age of three,so they can socialize them while their little heads

are still soft. This teaches them how to follow the leader and be good little zombies.

Hell even the kid shows and cartoons ,are mostly green propaganda. Most of the media

is nothing but a propaganda machine for the greens and socialism. The greens and

socialist's have created their own supporters ,with propaganda and lies for years. The

problem now is that they out number us. My kids have been ,involved and working on

public land since they were old enough to walk. My Son's were walking dozers and skidders

when changing job sites since they were 5 and 6 years old. They have seen what really

goes on ,and the restrictions,rules and regulations. The government and greens don't

like this,because it creates individuals that know better than to buy into their propaganda.

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This change in fee structure will affect miners, prospectors and paper hangers in various ways. Obviously, maintenance fees and the small miners exemption will dictate what many claim holders do, and the definition of what, exactly, constitutes acceptable labor in lieu of maintenance fees needs to be defined, in writing, or the only viable way to keep a claim will be by paying cash at the window. It is a game changer in many ways.

For what it's worth, I met Jim French at Rye Patch several years ago and he told me about bounty fishing in WA & OR. It is an interesting story. When the government allowed dams to be built, it decimated the salmon population. The courts then ordered the power companies to take steps to improve the salmon population. One of the things the power companies came up with was to reduce the number of squawfish (now called the Northern Pikeminnow) because they eat millions of smolts every year. They tried various ways to reduce the number of squawfish and found that paying a bounty on them to sport fishermen was the most successful.

As all of us know, money does not grow on trees. The power companies add the cost of funding the bounty fishing program into their overhead which gets passed on to their customers.

The moral of the story is evolution is inevitable and for every action there is a reaction. All we can do is roll with the punches and get up for the next round.

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The requirements for legal assessment work is spelled out in writing.

The problem is that very few people bothered to look for them or read

them. This is the main cause of any claim problems, only a few bother to

read and understand the laws ,before playing prospector.

This is a common mistake , that has caused the big problems,and that is

to fall into thinking that ,mining claims are for recreational use. Most claim

filers are not paying attention to details,or bothering to study,before acting.

Most are thinking backwards,and letting greed,and cheap sway their thinking.

The small miner waiver and assessment system was never intended for casual

use claims from the start. It was not intended as a means for someone to tie up

several hundreds of acres for personal use for free.

The waiver and assessment thing is intended for someone that is serious about

developing a claim or group of claims ,for commercial use. Small miner,does not

mean occasional ,casual recreational use. It does not mean nugget hunting with

a detector either. The government knows that in order to meet the legal requirements

for assessment work ,that a plan or notice will be needed on most claims,sooner or

later. They realize that if the claim is worth ,working that a real small miner ,won't

have any problem filing notices or plans,for exploration. Once these are in place

the assessment work can be continued in a real legal manner,without the claimant

resorting to creative claims of assessment work.

The fee system was created to let a less serious operator,or casual use claimant

hold their claims ,without worrying about notices or plans,or the legal hassle of

assessment work. As long as the fees are paid on time ,no one can jump your

claim,and the government ,will let you putter along at your own pace. The fee system

also allows a claimant to work under casual use,until the claimant decides that the

time is right to file plans or notices,and start mining.

The fee system does give some good benefits,and relieves a lot of stress with paper

work. As long as the claim was legally located,and there is a discovery,and you pay your

fees on time,you don't need to worry about creative documents coming back to bite you.

The main problem is ,most people try to twist the laws to fit their purpose,instead of

matching their purpose to the laws that fit.

I have three 40 acre claims and have paid the fees since the start. Here is the reason

for three claims instead of one large association claim. If things get too tough I can always

drop a claim. On one large association claim ,you can't just drop part of it,because it is

one claim under law. What looked like a heck of a cheap ,great deal ,will be an expensive

mess now,for a lot of people.

Here is an example of what I have been saying about people not paying attention to

details. I slipped some bad information into my previous posts, just to see if anyone

caught it. So far no one has noticed,or questioned it. You can not claim assay work or

sampling as assessment work,as most believe. This is why I questioned Micro Nugget's

post and the metal detector theory. The only type sampling that may pass the test would

be bulk sampling,as in several tons,shipped to a smelter or refiner for testing. Digging

this material and the resulting trenches,drifts, or workings would be the qualifier.

There is not really much that you can do on a casual use placer claim that does qualify.

The only real thing would be access road work,and this can be iffy. Since it is casual use

any road work would also have to be done with hand tools. Depending on the road you

may need a permit or bond to even do hand work. Expenses for your vehicle,camp,metal

detectors, lunch,and personal stuff can't be claimed either.

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Thank you for spelling that out sawmill. It makes sense. I'm sure lots of us now have a better understanding of the law and what this change means to association claims. The paper hangers will obviously throw in the towel and all the clubs are going to have to take a serious look at their claims and figure out how to react.

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Hey, it could be that the government has to sell off public land to stay afloat. The bottom line is that, under the current system, the high population blue areas of this country trump the red rural areas based on population and votes. These road closures and mining regulations mean nothing to the vast majority of Americans. The 45 million plus Americans who receive food stamps want to keep them coming.

America needs a miracle.


Something even more scarier is that countries that have our debt could go to world court & be awarded US public lands as reinversment for said debt. To do with as they please. & Americans will be screwed out of their public lands by currupt politicians & bankers greed.

I see a very organized attack to, on all fronts to curtail use of public lands. I went to a meeting in Morristown a few years back over access to the Table Mesa area as I owned a ATV at the time. Very few attended ( I guess people were to busy watching sports to be bothered). The differant groups (ATVers, miners, 4-wheelers, ect.) represented are very disorganized & had differant agendas.

Until all affected parties get their collective heads out of their a**es & get organized, were scr*wed !

Greece is being dissmembered as we speak.......Look at that as handwriteing on the wall.....Sooner or later it will be our turn.


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If there is one thing that is the absolute truth in law, as well as mining law, it is that there are as many interpretations as there interpreters. Not all interpretations are as good as others. The best interpretations are those based on official authority and indisputable facts. Weak interpretations are characterized by reliance on personal presumptions, innuendo and derogatory insults in lieu of of a valid argument. The ONLY interpretations that count at the end of the day are those rendered by the courts and quasi-judicial administrative entities.

AUTHORITY: The Mining Law of 1872 still governs the regulation of gold extraction from federal lands. This law may be found in 30 U.S.C. section 21 et seq. Of specific relevance to the instant discussion thread is the following language found in section 28 which is still in the books: "On each claim located after the 10th day of May 1872, that is granted a waiver under section 28f of this title, and until a patent has been issued therefore, not less than $100 worth of labor shall be performed or improvements made during each year."

AUTHORITY: 30 U.S.C. section 28f(d)(1)(B) provides that a waiver of the claim maintenance fee may be available to those who hold not more than 10 claims and who [in pertinent part] "...(B) have performed assessment work required under the Mining Law of 1872."

AUTHORITY: 30 U.S.C. section 28-1 and 28-2 contain definitions. Of relevance to the instant discussion is the following express language in section 28-1: "The term "labor", as used in the third sentence of section 28 of this title, shall include, WITHOUT BEING LIMITED TO..." [the text then goes on to describe types of surveys]

AUTHORITY: FLPMA [Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976] established a federal recording system -- see United States v. Locke decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 1, 1985.

AUTHORITY: The Bureau of Land Management promulgated a massive re-writing of the BLM rules and regs pertaining to the locating, recording and maintaining of mining claims and sites. This is found in 43 CFR Parts 3710, 3730, et al. I highly recommend that anyone serious about comprehending how, at the administrative level, BLM construes and applies what Congress has enacted [as of October 24, 2003] takes the time to read and digest this highly detailed piece of work drafted primarily by Roger Haskins. The first several pages re-visit the statutory history of mining regulation on federal lands. See Federal Register / Vol. 68. No. 206.

AUTHORITY: A recent federal appellate court case was decided on January 23, 2009. Pertinent language from that case underscores the rule that failure to perform, "...not less than $100 of labor shall be performed or improvements made during each year." [see Orion Reserves Limited Partnership v. Ken Salazar, et al].

NOTES: Nothing in these authorities requires proof of a motive of a claim holder. What IS required for obtaining a waiver from the maintenance fee is the performance of $100 worth of labor.

ARGUMENT: By my personal lights the type of labor envisioned under the Mining Law of 1872 and its progeny is work [physical effort] related to the extraction of minerals from the claim. Metal detecting is a modern method of mineral extraction. Certain styles of mineral sampling consist of raking aside surface obstacles in long, narrow lines designed to intersect an discover the richer pockets, patches or deposits of placer gold, then removing the interfering metallic targets that generally occupy the top few inches of the hot spots thus identified with the use of a metal detector, and finally followed by a layered terracing of the deeper pay and final extraction of the mineral values. Some folks might think this is funny and they may find this type of labor not sufficiently dignified to call honest work. So be it. That's one opinion. I have a different opinion. To me, the hours of blood, sweat and tears poured into my metal detecting style is serious work that comes with serious rewards and it certainly is labor intensive using simple hand implements. But at the end of the day neither of these opinions means anything unless it is supported by authority and recognized by authorities such as the BLM or the courts. Hopefully, readers of this thread will benefit from this discussion and will be encouraged to contribute and share their own views. Owners of placer mining claims have just been dealt a serious financial blow. It is my suggestion that a new thread be created, the focus of which is to share knowledge regarding the required steps that claim owners may desire to follow in order to take advantage of the small miner exemption. Believe me, it can be a slippery slope and it will involve a lot of paper work. But, by having this common forum available for the free exchange of ideas, we all are better off because we then will be in a position, individually, of choosing in a principled way which course of action we may desire to follow.

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"It is my suggestion that a new thread be created, the focus of which is to share knowledge regarding the required steps that claim owners may desire to follow in order to take advantage of the small miner exemption."

Good idea Martin. Thanks to Bill Southern and supporting forum members there is plenty of room in this Miner's Rights and Land Use forum.

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Martin glad to see you join in ,Sawmills info is spot on and we need to colaberate, we need to get this changed or at least ,Use the precidnce of law and abide by the 1872 laws, I,am 99% sure that or club claims can be filed under small miner exemption as there are no more than 5 signatures per claim.We used to pay the fees thinking we were doing a good citizen type deed ,We will not pay these outragiouse fees ,I just hope that we did not set some type of presidece by paying those fees originaly, I will expect multiple letters from the BLM asking questions and for more validation of true labor on the claim . I agree that metal detecting can be a gray area as Proof of Labor..But drywashing re setting stollen post,light work on gradeing and general sampeling, Can not be disputed. I mentioned the canceling of permits in Calif, For horses in the high country ,well everyone called in and within a week it was reversed,The main point was loss of income and no definate plan ,Well cant we stand on this and change it, we need media coverage and claim ownwers to speak up it can change over night, but we need to get everyone to flood there phones and get national coverage,I would bet it could be stopped in a week, Any other ideas guy,s Lets get this all over the forums and clubs time is short and there is no time to hide ................................................................ :miner: :hmmmmm: :twocents: :twocents: :twocents:

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Denny: There is a provision for miners who wish to switch back from paying maintenance fees to obtaining a waiver. See 43 CFR 3835.15. This type of question and numerous related procedural and chronological issues are the reason I suggest we dedicate a place on this forum to address and discuss the plethora of questions I anticipate soon will be boiling up as folks begin the scramble to save their claims.

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great idea i will call Bill.

Also all those who prospect or are in a club need to get on the phones, I,am calling a few clubs today like gpaa and try t get a message for all there members to call also

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Regardless of other peoples opinion ,the advice that I gave Slim above is

not just my opinion. It is the opinion of one of the most well respected and

successful mining attorneys in the USA. It is also the opinion of the BLM and

their mining claims adjudicators.

When I filed my claims ,I was following the advice of all the above. I only brought

my thoughts up,to warn folks of some problems before it is too late. Besides having

spent the last 50 plus years of actually dealing with the BLM and Forest Service in

person,I have had the good fortune of meeting and working with several noted mining

attorneys.If anyone thinks that I am a little rough around the edges,they should meet

my attorney. He will talk to you ,like he was talking to a government mule,to make a


You can take this to the bank...........There is no hand sampling or assays allowed as

assessment work. Bulk sampling is allowed if it meets the standards,there is no way to

conduct bulk sampling on a casual use placer claim,and stay within the laws for casual


Yes you can change from assessment work to the fee system,and vice versa. But you

have to do it before someone contests your claim. Writing letters and making phone calls

is in my opinion a big waste of time on this issue. What you are trying to do is have ,

congress overturn current land use laws and mining laws ,or fit them to your situation.

All that is needed is for people to know and conform to the existing laws. In recent court

cases it has been shown that the BLM and Forest Service does have the authority to

enforce all the current laws ,rules ,and regulations ,for surface land use. The key is to

learn the laws and work with them,and not spend your time butting your head against the

wall. Most of these CFR's ,rules,and regulations have been around for quite awhile,and

they are not going to change them any time soon. Those of us that have been involved

on the ground with the government ,for years are familiar with theses rules. I am amazed

at how many think any of this is a new deal.

In reality we prospectors and miners are just a small dot on a really big world in numbers.

Contrary to what we think,there is a lot of people that think that we are all free loaders,

and abusers of the public land system. The BLM is in a tough spot trying to keep land

open for mining. Most of the public think that we should have to pay ,like loggers,and other

users for the resources we take. They are putting real pressure on the government to treat

mining ,the same as any other industry,and show a profit,or reimbursement for use of the

land. I believe that the higher fees are just an effort to help appease the rest of the public,

in the meantime.

Since the mid 70's this claim thing has turned into a land stampede,and got out of control.

I believe that it has overwhelmed the BLM,and that they are just trying to bring it back into

a more manageable situation. For anyone that doubts my so called opinions,I am one of

the few that is in the position of not having to rethink my claim situation,or worry about

losing them.

Denny if you are interested in the rules and official opinions PM me . I am done with this

thread and any future claim discussions on any forum.

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Here's what the BLM says about assessment work.

Examples of Work That Qualify As Assessment Work

  1. A building that benefits and improves the claim. Bryan V. McCraig, 10 Colo 309, 15 P 413 (1887).
  2. Reasonable value of meals to miners who receive board in addition to salary. Fredricks v. Klauser, 52 Or 110; 96 P 679 (1908).
  3. Value of blasting supplies. Id.
  4. Construction of road to mining claim. U.S. v. 9,947.71 Acres of land, More or less, in Clark County, State of Nev., 220 F. Supp. 328 (DC Nev 1963); Silliman v. Powell, Utah 642 P2d 388, 393 (1982).
  5. Maintenance of access roads to mining claim. Pinkerton v. Moore, 66 NM 11, 340 P2d 844 (1959).
  6. Sinking shafts and running tunnels or drifts. James v. Krook, 42 Ariz 322 (1933).
  7. Installation of mining machinery or fixtures. Id.
  8. Employment of a watchman when necessary to protect structures or property used in developing a claim. Ingersolt v. Scott, 13 Ariz 165, 108 P 460 (1910).
  9. Drilling and removal of samples from a mining claim. Eveleigh v. Darneille, 81 Cal Reptr 301 (Cal App 1969).

Examples of Work or Improvements That Do Not Qualify As Annual Labor on a Mining Claim

  1. Removal of water from a mine for inspection of prospective buyer. Evalina Gold Mining Co. v. Yosemite Gold Mine Co., 15 Cal App 714, 115 P 946 (1911).
  2. Erection of a house outside the boundaries of a claim for the shelter of miners. Remington v. Baudit, 6 Mont 138, 9 P 819 (1886).
  3. Eating utensils, groceries, and bedding. Fredricks v. Klauser, 52 Or 110, 96 P 679 (1908).
  4. Amount paid for horses used in development work; however value of their use will qualify. Id.
  5. Payment for iron rails or tools, but their value in developing the mine may qualify. Id.
  6. Material taken to a claim but not used. Id.
  7. Sampling and assaying. Bishop v. Baisley, 28 Or 119, 41 P936 (1895).
  8. Reconnaissance surveys of mining claims. Pinkerton v. Moore, 66 NM 11, 340 P2d 844 (1959).
  9. Use of a claim to deposit wastes from other claims and building a flume to carry tailings to claim. Jackson v. Roby, 109 US 440 (1883).
  10. Employment of a watchman to prevent relocation. Justice Mining Co. v. Barclay, 82 F 554 (CC Nev 1897); or where there is no valuable improvement or machinery to protect. James v. Krook, 42 Ariz 322, 25 P2d 1026 (1933).

Access Roads and Qualifies

The construction of access roads as well as improvement of existing access roads qualifies as assessment work, even though the road is not on the claims. For example, the cost of installation of water bars on an existing road to prevent erosion and reduce the need to rehabilitate or maintain the road is sufficient improvement to qualify as assessment work. United States v Herr, 130 IBLA 349, 365-65 (1994).

From: Mineral Law, by Terry S. Maley

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I tried to PM you Sawmill it said you can not get messages so i will put my message here

Sawmill, I guess you might have taken my statment with offence, I sure hope not I was a good friend of Paleface and he always held you in good regards So i have always felt the same, I used to fall and set chokers ,And cut off pig ears before loading,I also have many years of dredging and prospecting,What i first saw was the desimation of claims buy burning down cabins,{to get rid of the hippies} Well It seems they are tring to run us off I,am not a spotted owl in this.The fact that You need a plan of op to do work is BS, I know of a man in Oregon who has been fighting for his rights and has one on every count,He has patt land,When a friend of his purchase a pat claim up there the FS said if he cut the trees he might go to jail Well he cut those trees and when the sheriff showed he was recited the law and guess what nothing happened to the miners they are alowed to work with out hindrence or Prejudice, I do not want to lay down any more I do not understand why you are done unless you feel we are beating a dead horse.Sorry for my spelling just the way it is.

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