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Casual use mining on USFS land

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Just curious to know if anyone knows why a gas operated dry washer or a recirculating sluice is not considered casual use under 36 CFR 228.4? I would like to use both on my claims but would like to avoid the NOI/POO process. Just curious to know how some of the clubs and other small scale miners use gas powered drywashers or recirculating sluices on USFS land? Do people typically file a NOI?


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I have always understood that it was gas powered earth moving equipment that was regulated. Not gas powered processing equipment.

As far as I know there is no federal regs for gas powered drywashing equipment.

I could be completely out in left field with that but that is how I understand the regs (or not). I have always used a gas powered air plant with a vibrating box and fed it with a shovel. No BLM people have ever indicated I was doing anything wrong. 

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There are no restrictions on gas powered drywashers or recirculating sluices.

The management agencies only have the power to prevent "undue or unnecessary" disturbance of surface resources. They do not regulate mining or mining equipment. If you plan on creating a "significant surface resource disturbance" you will need to interface with the surface management agency to coordinate that disturbance.

Edited by clay
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Thanks for the clarification I was hung up on what was written about battery powered dry washers and metal detectors. See below.

“Prospecting and sampling which will not cause significant surface resource disturbance and will not involve removal of more than a reasonable amount of mineral deposit for analysis and study which generally might include searching for and occasionally removing small mineral samples or specimens, gold panning, metal detecting, non-motorized hand sluicing, using battery operated dry washers, and collecting of mineral specimens using hand tools.“

But that makes sense they regulate the disturbance not the equipment. Thanks for the input and it’s good to see you back on the forums Barry.



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This is right in your mining area Desertpilot

USA v Tom Tierney

Tom didn't need permission either.  :D

It's an important mining case to understand your right to mine no matter what "regulations" the local Forest Service comes up with.

If you see Tom give him a big Thank You! for seeing this to the end.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Funny that you posted that Clay.

The same people are suggesting that I file a NOI for the metal detecting/dry washing Im doing. As of now I have only dug two holes, both did not exceed 10ft across and was promptly backfilled when I was done drywashing. Even though I backfilled the holes they seem to still think that my actions are causing a possible significant disturbance. Im sure I will have to get some legal help at some point if I choose continue to conduct casual use mining on FS ground. 

Is it normal for club claims that see moderate use to file a NOI? If I knew the FS would be reasonable I'd file one but I have a suspicion that a NOI will lead to a POO and a bond just to dry wash and metal detect.  

Edited by Desertpilot
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