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Kantishna Hills Mining Court Cases, Denali National Park

Alaska Support Office
Bob Strobe
Background: In 1980, ANILCA (Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act) was passed. It expanded McKinley National Park into present-day Denali National Park and Preserve. One portion of the new park included the Kantishna Mining District, an area with many placer and lode mining claims (mostly gold). NPS management of the mining claims has included buying claims when possible. This entails appraising the fair market value of the claims. Litigation with some of the miners has ensued- with some ending up in court. The use of GIS, aerial photography, and topographic/planimetric mapping has become instrumental in explaining some key issues to the courts.

The following is one example of the many exhibits produced by the Alaska Regional Office GIS, Lands, and Physical Resource teams for use in mining claim litigation. This product was instrumental in showing the extent of mining that occurred in the upper reaches of Caribou Creek in the Kantishna Hills of Denali National Preserve. The exhibits were used by geologists, mining claim appraisers, engineers and other witnesses to show there had been more mining than attested to by the plaintiff. The courts determination of value was approximately seven million dollars less than the amount argued by the claimants.

The maps are made of several components. The mining claims were photogrammetrically-mapped in AutoCAD with two foot contours by a private contractor. The contractor was furnished NPS survey control that was tied into geodetic control monuments. The photogrammetrist was also furnished aerial photography. After the topographic maps were made, this data was then used to control a digital photo mosaic and the map data was overlain on the mosaic. Aerial photography flown at different phases of the mining was used to show detail of the mining activity.
April 08, 2004