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Resurrection Creek Public Mining Site, Alaska

Resurrection Creek Gold Panning Area

The second discovery of gold on the Kenai Peninsula was on Resurrection Creek in about 1888. The creek has produced an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 oz. of gold since 1895. Below Palmer Creek, Resurrection Creek flows through a 1,000 foot-wide alluvial flood plain. Creek gravels rest on a tan to yellow clay hard-pan with streaks of blue clay present. Bench gravels are exposed on both sides of the creek. Gold is disseminated throughout the gravel, but is concentrated on clay and bedrock.

Resurrection Creek south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula

A half-mile stretch of Resurrection Creek lies within a withdrawal and is available for recreational gold panning. This area is a favorite site for recreational mining. Suction dredges (4-inch or smaller) are allowed from May 15 to July 15 with a free ADF&G permit and a ADEC permit ($25 annual fee). You can access this area via the Resurrection Creek Road out of Hope. The mining area begins at the Resurrection Pass Trail footbridge, 4.5 miles from Hope, and continues upstream for 0.5 miles to a patented (private land) claim (Forest Order No. 10-04-30-05-01). The claim boundary is marked with a gate.

Fine gold can be panned from gravels all along the creek. Try for fine, flat gold near the campsite 0.25 mile above the footbridge and along the creek bank near the recreational mining information sign. Bedrock is exposed on the east canyon wall just above the campsite and just below the private lands. Both spots are good bets for gold. Rounded boulders piled along the creek are tailings from old hydraulic operations. Much of the road has been built on these tailings.

Resurrection Creek Public Mining Site

 Here are a few simple rules and guidelines that all recreational gold panners must know:

  • Recreational gold panning on the Chugach National Forest consists of the use of hand tools, panning, sluicing, and suction dredging with a 4-inch or smaller intake hose.
  • You must follow all National Forest rules, such as camping limits, discharge of firearms, and use of trails. You can find regulations in Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), with general prohibitions in part 261. Review these regulations before you go gold panning. You can find copies of these regulations on the Internet and at Chugach National Forest offices in Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, and Moose Pass.
  • You can use gold pans and hand tools-fed sluice boxes year round in the streams listed in this booklet.
  • No hydraulic mining or use of earth-moving equipment is allowed.
  • Work only the active stream channel or unvegetated gravel bars. Do not dig in stream banks!
  • You are not allowed to build structures, cut trees or dig up archaeological, historical, or paleontological objects, nor are you allowed to obstruct others in their recreational pursuits. If you find those objects, please report them to the Chugach National Forest.
  • Suction dredges (4-inch nozzles or smaller) are permitted from May 15 to July 15 only. Remember that permits are required.
  • The Kenai Peninsula is home to brown and black bears. Stay alert and avoid bears whenever possible. For more information, get Bear Facts from the U.S. Forest Service or Alaska Public Lands Information Centers.
  • The water is cold and you can expect to get wet— after all, the gold is in the water. Wear insulated waterproof boots and gloves. Wool clothing can keep you warm even when wet. Bring extra clothing and dress in layers.
  • Keep Alaska green, do not trash or litter. Many places have a $1,000 fine for littering. Follow Leave No Trace principles.

Good luck and good prospecting!

Resurrection Creek, Alaska in 2014

Most of the information above was derived from GOLD PANNING, Guide to Recreational Gold Panning on the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Alaska (2018) found here - See the full text for more information and details.

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Good post, Steve. The added info that's not in the booklet is a nice touch. This is a favorite place to park the trailer for a few days of sluicing. Countless hours have been put in here but I've never detected here (nor the other public sites on the peninsula). Thus, have a few questions ... 

(1) Is metal detecting permitted here (and at the other sites in the booklet)?

(2) Given the published information in the Chugach NF booklet states the public mining area is 0.5 miles on both sides of the creek, from footbridge to the gated patented claim, why does their map show just six "gold panning sites" rather than the entire 1/2 mile stretch highlighted in gold ink to show it's open for mining? In the past a few times I have had folks come to me asking about this, wanting me to play tour guide on where those specific "panning sites" are! So this is a question not really for me but just wish to ask why the authorities don't show on their map that entire 1/2 mile being open rather than just six circled areas?! 

(3) Is mining allowed within the entire withdrawal contained in the 0.5 mile section, or only at the creek? The withdrawal extends well beyond the road; east of the road, about 1,000 or more feet from the creek, and roughly 500 feet west of the creek. So, can I mine (via detector) the ground between the creek banks and the east/ west boundaries of the mineral withdrawal? Tailings piles are fairly extensive and so I want to detect there. 

Am headed to these creeks this weekend and want to bring the detectors of course. 

Just for the hell of it, here's another Q -- why do you think the DNR/ BLM/ Chugach NF literature calls these sites a "mining area" -- not a "panning area" -- yet uses the term "panning sites" rather than "mining sites"? This confusion is had by many people and it is effective in keeping them from experiencing the rewards of using something other than a pan. 

Another rant is this: I'm perplexed as to why it's made into such a guessing game as to whether or not it's okay to use detectors at x public place, and whether or not the entire withdrawal zone can be mined within a given recreational mining area. I'm a fanatic as regards research ... I don't like and go to great lengths to avoid going into the field with ignorance. I put a lot of time into finding the answers I seek, and yet online as well as onsite visits to the DNR and BLM offices in Anchorage time and again have yielded absolutely nothing that is definitive. It's ridiculous and maddening ... only in the Forty Mile district/ Jack Wade is it specifically mentioned (detecting) as being allowed.

It's as if the state/ feds are uncertain about detector regs and leave it unsaid. Putting detectors/ prospectors at risk of being fined. For those who think ADFG regs are tough ought to have a look at mining regs! LOL 

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Hi Mac,

I am not the governing agency involved. I am more than happy to offer my understanding on these questions but things change constantly in this world and so anyone reading any of this needs to know that if you have serious questions - contact the governing agency for the latest information.

1. Metal detecting is defined as casual use and is allowed in virtually all locations in Chugach National Forest. This is not universal in all National Forests - forest managers have considerable leeway in setting management practices. The big no-no for metal detectors is historic sites (Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA)).

2. The authors are just trying to help point you at better locations within the overall sites.

3. The allowed activities as defined under the rules apply to the entire withdrawn areas. Most activities are confined to the active stream channel so creating any large holes outside the channel could be challenged. Again, detecting is normally exempt (see below) but not all rangers know where the lines are drawn.

Technically speaking "mining" is a legal term for an activity that under the law can only occur in locations that are open to mineral entry (mining claims are allowed). These areas are closed to mineral entry and current interpretation means that mining law does not apply in these areas. Which means that you are not "mining" you are "recreating"

The term "recreational mining" is an oxymoron under the law and can get certain parties quite riled up. "Gold Panning Area" is a less political phrase and caters more to the people most likely interested in these sites - tourists going gold panning.

If you want to go mining there are millions of acres of land open to mineral entry in Alaska where you can mine.

As far as rants - I am extremely appreciative of the fact that in Alaska both the state and the Feds have gone out of their way to make numerous sites like this available and that they document them at all. As a person who has researched the other states - you are in the best one as regards this subject.

More on casual use. Ironically, you have more protection regarding metal detecting if you get off the "recreation" areas and stay on land open to mineral entry. You need to operate as a "miner" under the mining law. Then the rules contained in the law can protect you as much as impede you. For lands open to mineral entry you have three basic levels:

1. Casual use - no paperwork needed.

2. Notice of Intent - basically is paperwork filed that asks if more paperwork is needed (plan of operations). This is specifically for situations where you are not sure, so you file a Notice of Intent to find out if what you want to do is casual use or needs permits.

3. Plan of Operations (POA) - needed for anything seriously regarded as mining.

Casual use:

Forest Service http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/oged/includes/leasing_regs_36cfr228.pdf

(1) A notice of intent to operate is not required for:

(i) Operations which will be limited to the use of vehicles on existing public roads or roads used and maintained for National Forest System purposes;

(ii) 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;

BLM Casual Use http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2010-title43-vol2/xml/CFR-2010-title43-vol2-sec3809-5.xml

"§ 3809.5 How does BLM define certain terms used in this subpart?

As used in this subpart, the term: Casual use means activities ordinarily resulting in no or negligible disturbance of the public lands or resources. For example—
(1) Casual use generally includes the collection of geochemical, rock, soil, or mineral specimens using hand tools; hand panning; or non-motorized sluicing. It may include use of small portable suction dredges. It also generally includes use of metal detectors, gold spears and other battery-operated devices for sensing the presence of minerals, and hand and battery-operated drywashers. Operators may use motorized vehicles for casual use activities provided the use is consistent with the regulations governing such use (part 8340 of this title), off-road vehicle use designations contained in BLM land-use plans, and the terms of temporary closures ordered by BLM. Code of Federal Regulations / Title 43 - Public Lands: Interior / Vol. 2 / 2010-10-01780

(2) Casual use does not include use of mechanized earth-moving equipment, truck-mounted drilling equipment, motorized vehicles in areas when designated as closed to “off-road vehicles” as defined in § 8340.0-5 of this title, chemicals, or explosives. It also does not include “occupancy” as defined in § 3715.0-5 of this title or operations in areas where the cumulative effects of the activities result in more than negligible disturbance.

Note that although the BLM mentions "may include use of small portable suction dredges" may is the key word and in fact all states now require a permit to run a suction dredge. While BLM may administer the land and not require notice for running a small dredge the water falls under other state and federal agency jurisdiction. In general assume anything with a gasoline motor and that discharges water into a stream may be subject to some level of permitting.

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