Sportsmen United for Sensible Mining

December 14, 2007

Sportsmen United for Sensible Mining
Fact Sheet on Revising the 1872 Mining Law
 
Mining is a legitimate use of public lands, but there are few laws more in need of an overhaul than the 1872 Mining Law. The 1872 Mining Law, signed into existence 135 years ago by President Ulysses Grant, is the most outdated natural resource law in the nation. Under the 1872 law, mining takes precedence over all other public land uses, including hunting and fishing. The Secretary of the Interior must sell public land to mining companies, often foreign-owned, for as little as $2.50 per acre. Furthermore, mining companies pay no royalties for hard rock minerals, gold, copper and zinc that belong to all citizens. It is estimated that since the 1872 Mining Law was enacted, the U.S. government has given away more than $245 billion of minerals through royalty-free mining and patenting. 
 
On November 1, 2007, the House of Representatives passed HR 2262, the Hardrock Mining Reform and Restoration Act, by a strong bipartisan vote of 244 to 166. Now is the time for the Senate to take up a hardrock mining bill that will provide sensible reform and protect fish and wildlife resources on America’s public lands.
 
This issue is especially important to hunters and anglers because public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service harbor some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat and provide some of the finest hunting and fishing opportunities in the country. For example, public lands contain well over 50 percent of the nation’s blue-ribbon trout streams and are strongholds for imperiled trout and salmon in the western United States. More than 80 percent of the most critical habitat for elk is found on lands managed by the Forest Service and the BLM, alone. Antelope, sage grouse, mule deer, salmon, steelhead, and countless other fish and wildlife species are similarly dependent on public lands.
 
Sportsmen support a common sense reform of the 1872 mining law that achieves the following goals:
 
•              Provide funds generated from royalties and fees assessed on mined materials toward state fish and game departments, conservation organizations, and others for fish and wildlife habitat improvement projects associated with past mining.
•              Allow federal resource professionals maximum discretion to deny mining permits in areas of high fish and wildlife value, such as refuges, backcountry roadless areas, and other places important to wildlife.   
•              Keep public lands in public hands by prohibiting the patenting or sale of public lands.
•              Strengthen protections for fish, wildlife and water resources. 
 
For more information contact:
Lew Carpenter, (303) 834-0998, carpenterl@nwf.org
www.sensiblemining.org
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