Mining Claims

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Unpatented Gold Hill mining claims in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
Mining claims are a specific type of mineral right in park units. Mining claims are authorized by the General Mining Law of 1872, 30 U.S.C. §§ 22-42. Under this law and implementing regulations, U.S. citizens may stake a claim on federal public domain lands (lands have continuously remained in federal ownership) that are open to mineral entry, in order to prospect, explore, and develop these minerals. This act is known as claim location. Mining claims cannot be located on acquired lands (lands that were at some point owned by a state or private party and then were re-acquired by the federal government).
All park units are now closed to the establishment of new mining claims.However, approximately 1,100 mining claims still existing 15 park units either because the claims were established before the park was created or because they were established while that particular park unit was still open to claim location, see the Mining in the Parks Act of 1976, 54 U.S.C. 100734. In order to conduct a mining operation on any of the preexisting claims, an operator must submit a proposed plan of operations to the NPS under 36 C.F.R. Part 9, Subpart A. The NPS will evaluate the proposal, confirm the validity of the mining claim and associated property right, and add terms and conditions to any NPS permit in order to conserve NPS resources.
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