Anyone who has met me knows I’m not an outspoken activist. Unless a child is in jeopardy, I usually mind my own business. Bob is more vocal, but in general we do what we can to get along with people, organizations and agencies.
So it is out of character that we are progressively becoming “miner advocates.” We’ve blogged recently on budget proposals by BLM which I will continue expanding on the subject as promised, but want to add to the “excitement” with our weekend expedition.
We went to an area we love and met up with some fellow prospectors. The weather was fine and we got a little digging and panning done. We also had the unfortunate experience of running into a new gate proclaiming “No Motorized Vehicles Allowed.”
I have spent the morning today sending an email to the US Forest Service about possible alternative access into this closed area. Then I did some research to see when this all came about… aren’t road closures by the US Forest Service supposed to be posted?
What I am finding is this. There are multiple Plan of Operations for various projects which seem to be piled on a desk somewhere, lost in the paperwork shuffle. I tracked not only our Plan of Operations but a variety of others. I can see about a two-year trail of “Decision Expected” and “Implementation Expected” being put off until the next quarter, then the next quarter. An example would be our mechanized mining Plan of Operations, submitted fall of 2013. It is there on the list. We had written communication that it would be ready after the first of the year 2015. The first quarter it stated a decision expected in March… we’re still waiting!
But back to the sign we encountered. I could not find, in the last fiscal year, a proposal to close that road to motorized traffic. So no comment period was allowed, no public meetings held, they just stuck a sign up there! We know it is very recent because there was still spray paint (ugh) on the ground around the gate.
So Bob and I are not pleased with the “system” and well aware there is something very fishy going on.
We are becoming pro-active and will start a Plan of Operations to access any of our claims that are not on main roads. We are getting paranoid that we will encounter a “No Motorized Vehicle Allowed” sign unless we do so.
It really bothers us that a “fun” day at the claims is becoming a “gearing up for battle” with claimjumpers and the US Forest Service. At least we understand claimjumpers; we don’t even try to understand what goes on behind the scenes with government!
THE GOOD NEWS IS:
We just ran across several really good claims in the Central Black Hills. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. It also appears there might be some available in the Northern Hills, so shoot us an email.