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The General Public's Rights To Cross Mining Claims


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A very useful recent post and comments on mining claims left me with the impression that the public can be excluded from mining claims by the holder. It's quite possible that I misunderstood what was written. Perhaps others were left with some doubt as well.

The BLM pamphlet "Mining Claims and Sites on Federal and State Lands" reads:

The Public has the conditional right to cross mining claims or sites for recreational or other purposes and to access federal lands beyond the claim boundaries.

Technically, my post belongs in the previous mentioned post, but it would be buried and missed by many.  I hope Steve will permit it to exist as an independent post because of its importance to us all.

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The public can travel over, camp on, hunt and recreate on most mining claims where they are not obstructing, or in danger from, mining activities.

There is an exception to the public access rule where the mining claim was located prior to 1955 and has retained their right to the surface as well as the minerals. A pre 1955 mining claim owner can exclude the public, occupy, fence their claim, and use the surface resources (timber, stone, water etc.) for their mining purposes without a permit.

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I think posting this in this manner will be okay with Steve, it is a new topic and new thread.

Clay gave you the correct answer. Your private property interest in a claim is the minerals, not the land itself. As such you cannot keep people from recreating or traveling over your claim. The one exception to that rule is that, in being on your claim they cannot "materially interfere" with your actual mining activities. They can  hunt, fish, camp, off road, etc. but cannot  either prospect, mine, or interfere with your mining.

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Effectively the only case where the public can be excluded from access is cases of permitted mining operations where the public could be in danger and in those cases fencing and signage are both approved by the BLM and required under MSHA.

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