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There seems to be a lot of misinformation and confusion regarding public BLM land, mining claims, and public access to BLM Land on YouTube.

I have to answer the same questions over and over again, and I thought it would be a great time to educate the public on public land. I will just link them here to this thread when they say something silly about public BLM land.

Feel free to jump right into the conversation.

I will attach different documents to this thread, and if you have any more to attach, please do so.

The most common misconception I see on YouTube regarding BLM and Mining Claims is that owning a mining claim (unpatented), makes it private land. Here was a comment from this morning:

001DesertRat

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@ Explore With Us - ". . . plus it's on Public BLM Land, meaning it's owned by the public and it can be used by anyone." - NOT NECESSARILY ! - If you check with the County Recorder for that area & the BLM , I think you'll find that that is a current, legal MINING CLAIM and the people maintaining that cabin are paying annual fees ("Taxes") to the BLM, & recording it annually with the County Recorder for the USE of the land. Basically "Private Property" as long as it's Recorded and the Fees are paid on an annual basis.

As many here already know, owning a mining claim and paying the small annual fee does not grant one exclusive access to the land. Here is a quote from the attached BLM document, that you can also find here:

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The surface of an unpatented mining claim is NOT your private property, the ownership remains with the United States. The BLM or Forest Service has the right to manage the surface and surface resources on an unpatented mining claim. This includes recreational public use of the area and public access across lands covered by the unpatented mining claim.

To put it another way:

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A mining claim on public lands is a "possessory interest." This means that a mining claimant has a limited right to the location for mining or milling purposes only. No deed accompanies this right. It does not grant exclusive right to "vacation" or "fish" on the land to the claim holder. If the surface use is not otherwise encumbered, anyone may enter upon public lands for recreational purposes. 

Mineral claims are not a homesteading program. The federal government requires an initial payment to file a mining claim, followed by a annual maintenance fee. In addition, each of the individual states or counties may have their own recording schedules and fee requirements that a prospective claim-holder would need to research. Source

The next misconception is that a mining claim owner can keep people off their land. Again, according to the BLM:

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Can I keep the public off my claim? The public has the conditional right to cross mining claims or sites for recreational and other purposes and to access Federal lands beyond the claim boundaries

BLM Mission Statement:

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BLM Mission Statement It is the mission of the Bureau of Land Management to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Patented mining claims are no longer public land. Once they are patented, they become 100% private land. They do not show up as being owned by the BLM.

Quote

since October 1, 1994, Congress has imposed a moratorium on BLM accepting any new mineral patent applications.  Source

 

E-BAY WARNING NOTICE msg.pdf

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The above matches my understanding of the situation.  It would be nice to have a FAQ covering this, as well as laws related to taking things from public lands (rockhoundin and the like).  I think we discussed some of that in detail in another thread discussing to 'take or not'.

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Okay, got a few more silly comments about BLM land. Some people are under the impression that any building on BLM has to be private land. So, to once again expel that myth, here are some free public cabins and buildings on BLM land that anyone can use.

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Public Use Cabins

BLM manages several public use cabins throughout Alaska.   Few are located near roads, and most are accessible only during the winter.  Some cabins are available on a "first-come, first-served" basis, while others need to be reserved in advance. 

Most cabins are rustic with primitive amenities, such as wood stoves for heating, propane cookstoves and lanterns, and pit outhouses.  Users need to be prepared to "rough it."

There are 4 shelter cabins along the Iditarod National Historic Trail and 12 public use cabins in the White Mountains National Recreation Area. There are also free first-come first-serve trail shelters along the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail.

Contact the Anchorage Field Office or the Fairbanks District Office for more details on Public Use Cabins.

Source

 

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Steven's Camp - Stevens Camp is a popular camping area located at the North end of High Rock Canyon.  It is a convenient and accessible camping area that provides a good base camp for exploration of High Rock Canyon and the surrounding uplands - rich in game and not many people.  There are four established camping areas at Stevens Camp, including a large site near the free use cabin. The cabin site(s) includes amenities such as a vault toilet, picnic tables, fire pits and a grill. The cabin itself is available for public use on a first-come first-served basis and includes amenities such as running water (must be treated prior to drinking), a wood stove, a shower and hot water heater, and connections for generator to provide power and lights to the cabin.  There is a 14 day maximum stay limit.

The cabin is full most of the summer, so don’t expect to be the only person looking to use the facilities.

This old home has an interesting history. From what I remember reading in Nevada Magazine, this old home was once owned by a country music star, although I cannot remember his name. I found another source that says something else about the history, so who knows who is right, but plenty of photos here: http://www.rimworld.com/brx/stevenscamp/index.html

Source

 

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Massacre Ranch - Located along the historic Applegate Trail in northwestern Nevada, Massacre Ranch is a primitive cabin that is open to recreation use on a first come first serve basis. The cabin has a wood stove, lights and electrical outlets (generator required), a table, and an outside fire pit. Water may not be available on site and all water should be treated prior to use. There is a 14 day maximum stay limit.  Massacre Ranch sits at over 6,000 feet above sea level and can be a comfortable location in the heat of the summer.

Source

And just to add another to the short list, http://www.boxcarcabin.com/.

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In regards to BLM leased land:

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Most public lands administered by BLM are open year round to public use. The public can use these lands for recreation unless the lands have been officially closed to fire danger or other emergency hazard.

Public roads, thoroughfares or waterways may be used to gain access to public lands. The public cannot cross private lands to reach public land if no public thoroughfare exists. The landowners permission must be obtained before crossing private lands to reach public lands.

Leasing does not alter or restrict authorized public use; therefore, lessees cannot maintain locked gates, signs, or other devices on public lands. Some lessees participate in a formal program in which BLM lands can be closed to public use IF a corresponding amount of private land is made available to the public. Such lands must be clearly posted with open and closed signs. Any questions should be referred to the appropriate field office.

Source

 

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Looks like an awesome place to spend some time. Only problem, I would hate to drive all the way up there and find the cabin occupied, but since you have a trailer, that won't be a problem. :-)

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9 hours ago, Bob said:

Looks like an awesome place to spend some time. Only problem, I would hate to drive all the way up there and find the cabin occupied, but since you have a trailer, that won't be a problem. :-)

Exactly, and there should be plenty of places we can boondock.

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8 minutes ago, Bob said:

I think you can boondock right on the property.

I'm fairly certain you are correct, who would kick you off?  Have you ever seen any BLM officials while out on BLM land?  I haven't, I've seen county Sheriff rarely.. but never any BLM 'officers' of any sort.  Just too much land to cover I'd think.

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I agree, it's extremely rare to see a BLM official when out exploring. I think I have once. They have four additional sites that can accommodate 20-27 Ft. Trailers / RVs Possible, so you would be good to go. I would rather stay in my trailer anyway to be honest.

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5 minutes ago, Bob said:

I agree, it's extremely rare to see a BLM official when out exploring. I think I have once. They have four additional sites that can accommodate 20-27 Ft. Trailers / RVs Possible, so you would be good to go. I would rather stay in my trailer anyway to be honest.

No doubt, once you're got an RV setup it's like home on wheels.  You know where everything is, you bring your own bathroom/fresh water/etc...  pretty handy.

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I've had BLM visit us at Trego a couple of times, several years ago.  I think that's the only time I've seen them.  I saw Pershing County Sheriff folks once, several years before that.  Otherwise, our group brings our own 'law enforcement' and doesn't sweat it.

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Another comment I get so often is, "Just because it's on BLM doesn't mean it's not a patent land" or something to that affect. Correct me if I am wrong, but land that has been patented is no longer public and is private land. I have checked this with the BLM GloreRecords and county assessor records. Every time I find a patent listed in the BLM records, and I cross reference it with the county records, it always shows up as private land in the county records. Therefore, this should be a non issue if you are using county records to research a piece of real property. Backcountry Navigator and MyLandMatters does a good job,but it's not perfect. I think the county records are the most reliable source of information on this. Am I missing anything?

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I found a place, but have no clue on how to check it as to what it is. I think it would be a cool trip, but its kinda out there. if any of you guys are interested i can give you the gps. I wont post it here. all I will say its two buildings hidden away.

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I'm all ears (or eyes).  It's also possible one of us has already been there and can give you information about the place.  Bob seems to have been everywhere, and he seems to find stuff well off the beaten path.

 

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I will add that it is possible to have a non patented mining claim and with a "plan of operations" approved by the BLM, it is possible to camp on your claim past the normal time limit in a trailer or you could even build a skid shack and leave it year round.

It is also possible to have a locked gate to the entrance of your claim that you would share with BLM, this happens more often if it is a hard rock mine and you are storing dynamite or you have heavy equipment.

 

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So basically, if you have a permit to mine on BLM land, the permit covers the activity of mining and only mining. You can't control general access, fishing, etc. A permit holder can only stop someone who tries to interfere with the mining process or "claim jump". Is this an accurate read of it?

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3 hours ago, coyote said:

So basically, if you have a permit to mine on BLM land, the permit covers the activity of mining and only mining. You can't control general access, fishing, etc. A permit holder can only stop someone who tries to interfere with the mining process or "claim jump". Is this an accurate read of it?

That's how I read it. 

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