Central Montana Prospectors
Central Montana Prospectors


The Forest Service Shuffle: Let's Dance

     Isn't there a term for heads rollin? Start documenting the power hungry levels or inefficient bureaucratic bs and all of sudden things happen. Last year the United States Forest Service was dictating, "We're taking away your access to your claim (and we don't have to follow any rules!)

     Oops this year, with meetings with state level and national level advisors we have our access back, a 3 year stall on a Plan of Operation signed (too late for this season, due 3 years ago) but the USFS gets: a "Men's Club", the ability to write their  supervisor's letters, distribution of lies and promises, the opportunity to kick the woman under the bus, and make the prospectors provide the Forest Service's job of putting in access, all so they can negotiate instead of dictate.

     Now the supervisor Bill Avey is moved out of the district, a woman is brought in temporarily, and change happens. Trouble is the perpetrator is still there.  The prospecting claim holders made some movement up the food chain; it matters not who is eaten in the process by the Forest Service.

The Office of Civil Rights in Washington DC is very helpful. They ask questions, give you answers, send you forms to fill out for violations of your civil rights and want to know details. Then they explain the process of how they handle the reports with each step. The Lincoln Forest Ranger didn't sound too good to them. Using his office to discriminate against women. That's a NO No. Had a 120 days to report it; did it in one. A comment given: with all the jockeying of employees, it almost sounds like ADMISSION OF GUILT!

Mining Rights Turmoil: Expect to Fight for Your Mining Rights

       In the newspapers across Montana was the article about Arnold Bakie who finally won his 10-year battle with big mining companies to the tune of $2.6 million dollar settlement, just to lose his battle with life 2 days later.

      But some points in the articles about this story are things one learn after consulting for a time with mining rights activists in Montana. You learn very quickly there are conniving, deceitful behaviors when it comes to the minerals in the land. Big mining companies see the silver, copper or whatever as their right to access over the common man. But with determination, one can prevail, and in this case the family will benefit down the road.

       The big mistake that is made is the fact that some organizations such as the USFS or mining companies, in this case, want to determine how far below the ground a claim can go. A prospecting claim goes all the way to China, if need be. It is owned by the prospector with the claim, channeling through it sideways doesn't make it legitimate. 

        In this case, it meant huge sums of money to Manatore and its various subsidiaries or connections. It was worth $8 billion to them in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. The company wanted to tunnel through his claim, which they had no right to do and he won. He fought them and won!! He made mining history for us all. He set a precedence by fighting for his rights. I honor him and his family. The little guy can win because there are prospecting rights that go with governmental claims in forest land. 

      May Arnold get a spot in heaven to help shine down upon us prospectors who want to stand our ground. We need all the help we can get when it comes to greed and the heavy hand of mining interests especially from out of this country. Read more: https://apnews.com/a53bd8864e884b47920477ba88f32b2d

When a POO (Plan of Operation) Plan Works

      The US Forest Service has to approve your plan of prospecting on your claim. When the rigamarole of all that heap of paperwork and snarky comments, is over, and a group is set to go, it can be nice.

      Just outside of Avon there is a group using a front loader escavating the side of a hill and then using a metal detector to find the gold that has been unearthed. The two-step process is clever and working to amass lots of gold as there is a lot in the mountain tops out of Helena as a map shows and the history of what has been discovered in the area. So good to know the prospector can succeed despite government issues of delay, delay and delay. Success is a good thing.

Prospectors Take Another Giant Step in Montana!!

     We just have the best governor ever!! He is always on the outlook for the needs of a wide variety of people and interests. He recently formed a stewardship of forest lands which is a key statesman step towards protecting the interests of as many as possible for use of our forests in Montana. You couldn't ask for a more insightful man with solid leadership qualities than Governor Steve Bullock.

      What this means to the prospector is there will be a statewide governmental format that our voices of needs for mineral search and responsible opportunity will be heard. With all that governmental contact we had with the Governor's office this year representing the prospector did something to the psyche of governmental views. When the Governor's policy advisor, Patrick Holmes was addresses with, "Certainly the State of Montana has some management over their forests and influence with the USFS!" It's true!  With this forum the Governor is not just leaving the management of Montana's forests and their use up to the federal government he is taking steps to ensure there is a cooperative approach, not just a power play dominant, intimidating role with the citizens of Montana like that which exists with the USFS administration regarding the prospector. Cudos to the Governor of Montana!! He makes opportunity happen.  We are not like Kentucky where prospectors can't even prospect on USFS land, thank heaven!

Fossils...Are they Minerals or Surface Ownership?

       The Montana State Legislature this season has decided overwhelmingly that fossils belong to the surface after years of legal battles over dinosaur bones. It didn't take too much arguing to convince member of both the house and the senate that a bill to stipulate who owns the fossils found on land in Montana.        Check out what the background is for determining such. https://www.abcfoxmontana.com/regional/montana-legislature-clarifies-ownership-rights-of-fossils/article_4becf106-0c51-5122-8dcd-9316f0d04ff1.html

The USFS is Under Heavy Scrutiny

     A BLM employee shared that the Uinted States Forest Service morale in the Great Falls office is low when I told her  that our prospecting group had representation this week in Washington DC to deal with the USFS.  She referred me to the following website for more information. We agreed that organizations and businesses can be evaluated on the basis of how they treat people and it is seen from the top on down. She said her BLM office is run really well with lots of training and good leadership after I told her if there was a competition for who was better, USFS or BLM, BLM would win. She cheered. But it is true.

      On the Big Dig this weekend BLM showed up and the guy was nice, not offensive and hostile like with the USFS; that's one big indication. It's all in the approach and honesty. She said all the issues we have seen are discussed in these videos. The proof is in the puddin'. https://www.pbs.org/video/on-the-fire-line-1520018893/



Make Plans to Make Change with the USFS; here's the scoop!

Prospecting Dilemmas

The 1872 Mining Laws call for prospectors to come to Montana and stake their claims to mine for gold and other gems. This law has never been changed and still stands; it takes precedence over the desires of a government agency to direct and control the activities of the prospector

      When the US Forest Service tries to exercise their power muscles, us prospectors have to stand our ground. One has the choice to solicit help locally, statewide or nationally. 

     The Blackfoot River Prospecting Club has had several years of negative profiling from the US government; the Governor's men have agreed to meet with us so we can talk about access to public land. We cannot be held hostage by a government agency with multiple districts interpreting their role differently and being discriminatory against the prospector.

      Governor Steve Bullock is very supportive of access to public lands and has Patrick Holmes assigned as an advisor for assistance as well as Ryan Weiss in the DNRC (Department of Natural Resources) who will mediate some equity in coming to the table for resolution of access to public land.

     When a government agency uses excuses, long standing ineffective procedures, targeting of the resident land uses, and a myriad of other unsavory tactics,  what is a club to do!!  

    There is also help nationally from those involved with the national  Mineral and Mining Advisory Council who are experienced people  willing to help us reign supreme!! And we will; we were here first!!


Pointers in Dealing with the US Forest Service

Follow the Brains

Learned recently of a variety of national mining organizations that assist mining issues in any state. When you hear the legal drivers of one jumped ship and went to another, take note. Key people who know their business are good to keep track of and enlist their help. This saves you time and money.

Network with Experience

When you have state reps for national mining associations who have history of taking the USFS to court without legal counsel and win their cases repeatedly, you listen to their stories and make them your friend. Willingness to serve and help is a key component of a connected person.  They can help you!!


Made up Rules Dismiss

 The USFS is full of this in some districts. When an advisor for our mining club heard we were told we could only dig 10 ft. down, he was shocked. No such thing. A mining claim means you own all the minerals down to China if need be. This "rule" is a control issue exlemplified by the USFS. Check out what they say with others in the know!!

A Legacy of Lying by USFS

When our mining club went to document the troubles with the USFS, the review of the lies, downright big ones our list was almost 20 incidences long on the bullet counter. Apparently they can make up stuff and there is no accountability to the truth. Documentation of examples don't sit well with people who hear of this.


Governor Steve Bullock



Prospecting  with  the  Governor of Montana

     In November 2015 when the Fudge family made it through the storm to meet with Governor Steve Bullock to present him with raspberry brownie fudge for KFBB, there was time to gather in his conference room to wait for Amanda Roley, a KFBB reporter to come and record.
     Governor Steve Bullock so enjoyed his conference room filled with kids and family when he returned to his office area after freeing Barry Beach, he said, “I so needed this,” and he proceeded to enjoy our prospecting stories as he shared that his son Cam had asked for a metal detector and a gold pan. Bullock told us the experience of his son’s birth and the bonding with him immediately he was first born.  Governor Bullock is so glad Cam survived his heart issues at birth and supports all of his children’s lives. He shared his worries as a dad and raising his daughters too. He is such a personable man.
      He said to us that when he moved into the Governor’s mansion that his son was kicking soccer ball and knocked one of the paintings off the wall. A security person mentioned that it was a $145,000 painting to which the Governor said, “Just take it down as this is my children’s home now.” He supports his children, families and the needs as they grow. Governor Bullock wants to know more about how to pan and is willing to learn about recreational prospecting as well.
      On our recent stop at the capitol Governor Bullock’s, it was suggested that instead of him coming to sites such as the sapphire mines near Helena, he could peruse the places on our website and see what ones he might like to take his family to or he could have gold panning brought to him whenever he comes to Great Falls. We have a perfect gold panner with Bob Rosteck who could come to the Democratic Headquarters and teach him so he can show his son how to do it. Someday, maybe Governor Steve Bullock can show his son Cam how to gold pan from learning about recreational prospecting with the Central Montana Prospectors. How fun.


Prospecting Talk



Help With Prospecting

            When the Black Foot River Prospecting Club got word that the Forest Service had stepped up their requirements and monitoring of their claim on Stemple Pass, many contributors weighed in on the issues presented.

            There are organizations that assist miners in dealing with claim issues. One of those organizations is the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council. When contacted for help there were specific questions asked about our mining activity. The first one was: are you a non-profit? If your mining operation is a non-profit, this organization cannot help you they say.

            But if you have a registered claim as a for profit one and you have issues with the government, this organization will help you ASAP if you just go online to their website of http://www.mineralsandminingadvisorycouncil.org and write for assistance. We got immediate help in multiple ways from multiple people from all over the United States with great bios and many years of experience in working with government officials at all levels.

            Also to note, if your claim is a non-profit, with little effort one can switch with the Secretary of State’s office with just one visit to their website.

            In some of the conversations with the reps for this organization it was said that “It is all about bullying and intimidation.” How true the experience can be pinpointed with those on the other end of the stick. But the advice is: we are making headway and we have experience to give you in dealing with the red tape. It’s just good to know that there is a support system when the little guy is dealing with the giant government organizations.

Montana Resources Sheds Light On Recreational Prospecting 

       When out in the Montana outdoors the footprints of others who have gone before us become stark in your face and thoughts when you ask yourself, "I wonder what those piles of gravel were from? What was that old machinery and building used for? Why is this water so tainted looking?"

      There are places to go provided in Montana that can provide lots of good information about history of the land's mining history. Upon meeting up with Bruce, the owner of the Blue Jewel Mine, out of Helena in 2017 I reminded him about his story he shared about his grandfather hauling sapphires out of the area during the WWII era in tons to use in the airplanes of the times.

     He said, "Yeah, when you go to the Historical Society in Helena to look at their records you have to wear gloves and be in a special air controlled room and then when you go in another special room to view secluded records, it is real official." Sounds like a trip down history lane would be a good experience. But a physical appearance would be way different than on the internet. Bruce wanted to see what was written about his Grandfather.

      At the same time when I brought up the search on the Montana Cadastral, Bruce chimed in right away with, "Oh, yah, that is the best site as it tells you who owns the land and what it is worth. You know who you are dealing with and all the details. It really works for me!"  Public record is handy, might you say!!

      With the history of Montana being well grounded in prospecting, one of the elements of research to answer the curiosity of those who want to know, is to go back in records. Mind you, it is easy to do from the convenience of your own computer chair.  With the Montana Department of Environmental Quality one has access to the historical records of any area by using their historical narrative section on their webpage. All you have to do is look up the area you have in mind and see who has done what in the area in regards to mining. It is fun, especially when you have grown up in an area such as Great Falls and there has been mining in the Monarch Neihart area when you were a kid and you heard so much about it as common place in your life. Just check out our links below the government agency that you would like to visit. Enjoy!




Proof that Montana is backwards in its approach to prospecting because it needs to separate out recreational prospecting from mining, just as Washington & Alaska does!


Prospecting Strategies

forest service



Government Agencies Don't Check to See How Their Rules Overlap Each Other

     Can't touch this!: Learned in Zortman to go back in time, like before BLM and the Forest Service were formed to gain access to mining rights. Then you have clout and rely on laws before the 1860 mining laws. I told a guy I wanted to be more current in the prospecting rights but the opposite was true for making our way to prospect. The power word is to supersede. Go to the laws that haven't been changed in centuries and there's clout. BLM & Forest Service can't do a thing!! Hallelujah! Go around them!!


Montana Legislative Update

    February 20th, HB502, a recreational prospecting bill, was heard at the Montana Capitol in the Natural Resources Committee.

     Proponents and opponents presented their case for the recognition of recreational prospecting to be a legal, recognized activity in the State of Montana. 

     Here  is the documentation presented for consideration to the committee.

     A week later the Dept. of Natural Resources brought Jean Price, the sponsor of the bill,  the following  document with their objections.

     The bill died in committee because one representative objected to the trekking of noxious weeds by the prospector. Many commented that of course he didn’t consider the elk that would eat them, digest it and poop it out up the hill. Nor did he consider the fisherman along the shore who do that all along the rivers and streams or the hunters who go in massive droves during hunting season all over the hillsides and valleys of Montana.

     Of course it is just fun to hate the newcomer at wanting something that has never been in the State of Montana. The conservative attitude is slash and burn anything new and it doesn’t have to be for constructive, reasonable reasons, just anything will do even though the idea would be good for many involved and the state already does it. This is illogical for sure.

     Given 2 years, the topic will be brought up again before the Montana State Legislature. It has been stated that it takes about 3 tries before a bill is actually passed. Hopefully we will get it done someday.


               Check out what Senator Jon Tester had to say in our March newsletter. He weighed in on the subject. Click on the newsletter tab on our home page and read all about it!

DNRC's Comments


Prospecting Justification

RecProspecting Sub

Spear Heading

   Pat Bailey of  The Yellowstone River Prospecting Club of Billings stated Memorial Day weekend May 2016 that, "The problem with Montana is that it does not recognize recreational prospecting."

     In order to change these conditions in Montana we have been pursuant of new nomenclature to separate out commercial mining from the casual tourist or treasure hunters recreational endeavors.

    Jean Price, Democrat from Great Falls has introduced a bill for the recreational prospector.

     On January 14th in Billings The Northern Plains Resource Council held a citizen lobbyist training to educate individuals on how to work with legislators to get a bill passed. It was very informative and will help the passage of our recreational prospecting bill.


Legislative Training

citizen lobbyist wb

Click Pic For link

Getting Legislative Support

    With multiple visits to the Montana State Legislature for the Northern Plains Resource Council and Montana Women Vote the citizen lobbying skills have come in handy to speak with legislators about separating out  commercial mining from recreational prospecting.

     While speaking with Rep. Mike Hopkins R. from Missoula, Montana discovery of support with him for our recreational prospecting bill was found. He agreed that the idea of a separate category for the sport enthusiast needed special identification from the avid business man after minerals from Montana's land. He welcomed the opportunity to learn that this bill was coming up and gave his affirmation of support for our bill.

     This puts Rep. Andrea Olson and Sen. Jedidiah Hinkle have both given verbal support for our prospecting bill. We thank them so much!

Recreational Prospecting Bill

It's a many stepped process to get a bill put into law. First step is to see a need. Certainly separating out recreational prospecting from

commercial mining is a blaring need. 

     Legislators are contacted, timelines and procedures are shared and deadlines are given.

     Once a bill is formulated it gets put into the hopper and up comes Joe Kolman who researches out the feasibility and former laws and puts your thoughts into official language.

     What you see to the right in the form of a bill is a many stepped process to come to this presentation level. 

      The United States government recognizes recreational prospecting but the state of Montana does not until this bill gets through the house and the senate.

     We are hopeful that this separation will occur through our efforts this legislative session.


2017 Legislative Proposal

Unofficial Recreational Prospecting Bill


man on moon

Capital Visit

tyler campbell

     While visiting the  capitol, Citizens' Advocate, Tyler Campbell, learned about our webpage www.centralmontanaprospectorscoalition.com

     He looked at it right there,  highly approved, and could see how it could help Montana Outdoor Recreation efforts.



One Giant Step for Recreational Prospecting

       August 30, 2016 the heavens opened up with the stars aligned just right for the sights of the recreational prospector. On a trip into the Montana State Capitol to bring some complimentary penuche and kahlua chocolate fudge to Governor Steve Bullock, Tyler Campbell, the head of the Citizens’ Advocate Department, struck up a conversation and assembled an impromptu meeting in his office to discuss the points presented to him June 17. It is so great to have the concepts given to him then organized, addressed, and shot out into a formalized plan of action. The responsiveness of the Bullock administration is amazing.


     Apparently the needs of recreational prospecting being separated from commercial mining sunk in as it was presented to the Governor and his staff June 9th at Giant Springs State Park. The embracing of the idea that recreational prospecting brings in huge revenues to the State of Montana and the data on it is not tabulated. Recreational prospecting is not an official activity in the state even though it is recognized at the national level. He remembered the plight of the recreational prospectors with BLM and the Forest Service in Montana plus he could see how recreational prospecting would fit perfectly into the Governor’s new plan for a Montana Outdoor Recreational Department. He mentioned there are meetings with Patricia Dowd handling regular meetings on different themes and he would make sure to get our representatives scheduled on these committee meetings. Yeah!!


     We also discussed: how to get the state to get into law, the commonality of people who love to seek rock adventures, how recreational prospecting is a draw for out-of-state visitors, how Montana has had a long legacy of support of it with Virginia and Nevada City plus Crystal Park, the commentary of my dialogue with people at my Great Falls Farmer’s Market booth, and how to gather data from other states as how they handle the topic of recreational prospecting. I told him how it is done in Alberta as a guy at my market booth told me it is $50 dollars for 5 years. Licensure could be similar so citizens can know the difference between commercial mining and recreational prospecting.


     Even though it was a long time from initial contact with the state government, the giant pause to brew and formulate a fit into the state government was well worth it. A plan of action has been put into place and we are on the road to helping affect the landscape of the recreational prospector. It feels inspirational to observe the positive change.

Fudge Lady




 RecreationalProspecting Progress!


Political Direction

Formor Governor Brian Schweitzer shares his advice on pursuing recreational prospecting recognition in the State of Montana.


  June 5, Georgetown Lake at former governor Brian Schweitzer’s lakeside home when this situation was discussed, he truly listened. His recommendation was to start with the Department of Natural Resources with Mr. Tubbs.

· June 5, Governor Steve Bullock said he had no idea of where to start but said that he could arrange a meeting with Adam Schafer to discuss it. He also suggested that I speak with DEQ, the Department of Environmental Quality.

· June 9, at Giant Springs State Park, Governor Steve Bullock announced his plans of public access job for July and the development of a Montana Outdoor Recreation Department to which would help in the issues of recreational prospecting. I mentioned on camera and in the group gathered the plight of recreational prospecting which no one was aware of. So we have introduction to the topic and headway.

· June 9, at Giant Springs State Park, the chief advisor to the Governor was addressed with this issue and was found to be very interested as there is a connection to tracking income for state data. Future connections were made at this time.

· June 17, met with Josh K. Saksa in Helena about creating a recreational prospecting plan and set goals for the State of Montana to recognize it separate from mining.

· June 17, met with Tyler Campbell, the Citizens Advocate for the State of Montana to discuss the issue of separating recreational prospecting from mining. We agreed that we would like to move forward and set up a meeting with Governor Steve Bullock’s chief advisor, Adam Schafer to set up initial direction for this step.


Govenor Steve Bullock always enjoys any kind of fudge from the Fudge Lady.

Log Cont.

·· June 18, Jeffrey Walker, the owner of the Shack Restaurant in Twin Bridges who knows all the people in the prospecting corridor was contacted about finding local residents from Alder area that would like to be on a statewide committee to develop a recreational prospecting nomenclature.         

  June 18, the local Virginia City librarian was willing to solicit knowledgeable people form the area who would like to participate in a statewide committee as well. The pulling of viewpoints from all over the State of Montana is key to creating a comprehensive plan of change for the common folk who want to prospect without the label of mining.

· June 25, Jean Price, a Montana State legislator was contacted at our booth in the Great Falls Farmer’s Market and the indications of this intent was made known to her and she sees it as well totally different concepts. She has described to me the process of making a new law for another topic and is willing to help her constituents write laws to take effect. This might just be the way to get the recognition done so that we can create a separate identification category. Certainly time for this!!

· July 8, with the launching of the website for this coalition, we have the ability to share our story with multiple people everywhere who can help in our cause. We will keep you posted about events happening in this direction for state recognition of the category of recreational prospecting. Please feel free to enter your comments in the blog section of this website. We look forward to your comments as to how you can help. We especially want people who would like to be on a statewide committee to discuss plans for this significant demarcation.




Making Change for Recreational Prospecting

Former Governor Brian Schweitzer and Governor Steve Bullock bid adieu to guests at the Schweitzer residence on Georgetown Lake, MT

     Pat Bailey of the Yellowstone Prospecting Club said in Zortman Memorial Day weekend 2016, “The trouble is: Montana doesn’t recognize recreational prospecting. It all  is considered mining.”

     So any time a Montana wants to go outdoors in search for sapphires, gold, fossils or minerals, the government considers it MINING. To the general public the two activities are vastly different.

     It is like saying if you want to pan in the local creek bed you have to be connected with commercial endeavors. There is a huge difference.

     The reason this scenario is ludicrous is because:

The State of Montana engages in recreational prospecting but does NOT recognize it and therefore tracks no data, statistics nor has records to prove the revenue it provides for jobs and income are not tracked.

     If you look around Montana we have recreational gold panning in Nevada and Virginia City. We have claims all over the state that people access on ATV’s and roadways just for the sake of panning for gold. Montana sets aside Crystal Park for years just so families can have the opportunity to dig for crystals. Now just why aren’t we responsible enough to see these activities are way different from what Tintina Mine is engaged in?

     Just because the government has always done this and the mining laws of 1872 might apply, it does not mean we can’t do something different and make a change.

     We, at Central Montana Prospectors intend to do something about this.


Former Governor Brian Schweitzer, LT. Governor Mike Cooney (center) and Governor Steve Bullock give the state of affairs economically and politically on Schweitzer's beach June 5, 2016.

It takes political power to make change.

The Federal Government Recognizes Recreational Prospecting But The State of Montana Doesn't. That's The Problem!!

An interesting mining experience with the government over a long period of time

As Stated This Was My First Official Act After Obtaining the Name of Central Montana Prospectors

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