Central Montana Prospectors
Central Montana Prospectors

DIY or Do It Yourself Right Protection

      Noticed that the Gold Prospectors Association was soliciting money to donate to the American Mining Rights group to help in legal work for fellow prospectors. Might be good for some, but not always necessary. In Montana protecting our rights with the USFS took ZERO DOLLARS, but lots of work to succeed. So it can be done without dishing out moola. 

      What it took, however, was this: 1. lots of support from mining advisors in this state in consultation, 2. synthesizing and summarizing events and dialogue, 3. the documentation of events with the USFS being sent to government officials, 4. a cooperative relationship with Governor Steve Bullock's staff and DNRC, and 5. some assertiveness to NOT BACK down from intimidation, and ignoring the little issues and going for the serious, bigger ones. There was some fallout, but the prospectors had to be led as they can be a sexist group of good ol' boys men's club, and assertive women are undermined, disregarded and stolen from, but success can be achieved with a goal in mind and not the use of fear or retaliation. There are so many violations that the USFS does, you can rack up a list, give it to them, do your research, and insist on your rights.

Some of the ideas for commenting on issues with GPAA claims in Montana

The Long Road of Getting the USFS to Their Knees: Just Know it Can be Done

     The USFS buckled; their long profile of trash and burn our access to the multiple claims on Stemple Pass ended today, August 21 with agreements. 

      It took documenting on paper a huge trail of due process violations, multiple meetings with the Governor's men, long emails and documents to Senator Daines' office, endless hours of consulting mining rights specialists, documented experiences taken to Congress and its men,  coordinating opinions and people, multiple trips to here there and everywhere, inner determination to prevail, getting kicked under the bus by club members, but we got liftoff. Hallelujah!!!

     A bridge can be built for heavy equipment and people over the creekbed to our claims. The USFS was on notice we were standing our ground, asserting our rights, and not backing down.  Copies will be posted online for you to see what it took to get the Smoking Bear poked enough he decided to behave. Pointers of sharing can help others.

Miners can prevail with the Forest Service!!! And now the supervisor is moved?? Hmm.....temporarily that is and replaced by a woman. Poor, Michael Stansberry. He needs the experience!!

Duplicating A Successful Stance with the USFS

      As a claim holding prospector looking for help in defending yourself or your club with the US Forest Service and their hideous plans to eliminate you from access to your claim with delays, denials, road closures, river access denials, or other unsavory tactics, you can confer or refer to some documents that proved movable mountains here in Montana.

      The road to negotiation from dictation by the USFS was built with documentation of multiple due process issue violations over an extended period of time by utilizing informational national and state government forces. If you want copies email us. You might be able to glean some modeling for success from what was accomplished here. Multiple documents had to be prepared because that is what holds up in court if you ever need to pursue that course. You can represent yourself without the costs of litigation if you use the right verbage and back yourself up with the law. A list will be posted eventually of what you can get.

The Power House of Prospecting

      Get to know the name of the Trump appointed Supreme Court Justice who just swung the deadlock on immigrant issues with the law because his decision can help the prospector. Neil Gorsuch made giant strides in regards to the law and decisions by governmental agencies that try to rule the roost and forget about the rights of others.

      What he did is this: he said that if laws are too vague or arbitrary, and due process has not been employed, then the law cannot be upheld to terminate the rights of the citizens, immigrants or not.

      This means that , as usually all provable, when the USFS or other agencies have not or choose not to honor the law of public access or rights of working your claim, their edicts or profiling with the prospector cannot hold up in a court of law. He held the agencies accountable to following the law. May they do that as that is their charge; when it is circumvented or disregarded, it's illegal behavior!!  Thanks is given to an insightful man. I honor this man because he stands for what America is based upon: some ethics!!

There's Advantages to Helena Prospecting

       There are some perks to belonging to a prospecting group (even though you have to look long and hard sometimes.) And that is: some clubs have claims you can access and you can bring friends to join you.

      The Helena Mineral Society is home to runaway Great Falls seekers and those who want to access the gems and minerals of the rich area. If you want the trouble of getting permission for access to the land one can take a vehicle into the area just off Canyon Ferry Lake, or you can hop in a boat and paddle across to dock at the shore. There were kayaks, boats and canoes at the dock Saturday, August 25th.

       For a newcomer to the scene one didn't know what to expect, but certainly this group has taken great care in supplying the claim with materials to dig with.  (Certainly something the Great Falls group would never even think of.) There were lots of shovels, buckets, classifying tables and classifyers. The picnic table, water barrels, and obvious arrangements for the search was everywhere making the experience pleasurable. They think service to everyone without worry. It's worth the trouble. Check it out on Treasure Hunting 2018

Any Good Lawyer Could Do

    Knowledge came with the idea that any good lawyer could challenge the USFS's billion dollar four year project of forest use plan by knocking it at its knees. Its knees are the very foundation the process or project is founded upon.

    It does not include properly the rights and information distribution of the impact of the thousands of claim holders who own the mineral rights below the forest ground.        Where does the USFS tell the voting participants about other owners of the land they are making decisions on? The exclusion of information of right holders, and withholding pertinent information about the land from the majority of voters on this project virtually holds it illegal in its scope.

      So why are we spending endless dollars to exclude the small miners when large scale ones gain huge accesses without much work, but lots of coinage? Larger plans of theft of our public lands loom.

Strategery Develops When Working with the USFS

       When the USFS started playing games on the prospecting group up the Poorman's Creek out of Lincoln, MT, we felt like little fishies in their pond of play. But with the help of counsel, we are learning how to deal with them. Might call us: Stand Your Ground Group!! The USFS put us on notice it was going to take out our culvert, thus eliminating access to our claim. Nasty!!

      We negotiated, suggested alternatives, sought government help, but the best advice yet came yesterday: As a mining claim owner, you have a legal right of access going back to the 1866 and 1872 Mining Laws.  Your legal rights trump non existent rights of the bull trout so why even offer to replace a perfectly good culvert! Basically, let them try and pull the culvert out and see what happens to them. They are on notice to not pull it out; gotta do what the prospector asks. Ha! 

     Another important factor is the word "Statutory Right": miners don't need a permit to access their claims, they were granted the right by the US Government long before permits were given authority over the prospector. A prospector doesn't need a permit to prospect. 


Do Not Allow the USFS to Define Reasonable Access for You!!!

    Taking away your access to your claim with closing roads, taking out culverts, putting up gates sound familiar to you?  

     Here's the point: all the excuses in the world like: the USFS Forest Plan agreements, bull trout, or the typical one, of "We don't have to comply with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) don't pack it.

      The bone of contention is: we have miner's rights of access to our claims and restricting our access won't work. Here's some advice with a quote about powerful points in discussions with the USFS who are not your friend!!: "The Forest Service is trying to define reasonable access for you.  Of course walking in with equipment is not reasonable.  Besides reasonable, the Forest Service sometimes has to deal with the word traditional  and the traditional access you need to keep stressing is the past use of all types of vehicles plus heavy equipment.  A foot bridge is not acceptable for either." 


 Umm..What's That You Said???!!

Start a Volley of Letters and Documentation with the USFS and then actually look at what they are saying

      Do you think it is possible that the USFS doesn't even think? Think about what they are saying? Are they so used to creating a dust storm that they don't stand back and take a look? 

     Last year (2017) our prospecting club was told they were going to take out our culvert access and close the road to our claim.  Meetings were set up, and notes taken. Letters were sent to many people about this. July this year we get a letter from the district manager saying after two pages of more dust, pomp and circumstance and a lot of hot air with a conclusion of: nothing has been decided.  Hmm...then what was all the fuss about? You said there was a decision, now you say there isn't? Wait a minute... are you sure you know your name, your whereabouts and what you just said? Logic obviously doesn't prevail; negation of your own words is sensible? More later. 



You know you are a prospector when:

  • you go to an old tailing pile  outside a sapphire mine  to classify gravel  on a tip from a guy in a bar
  • you stop your mountain trek along the road to go dig gravel out of the middle of a creekbed to take home
  • you stop on a narrow mountain trail  to hop down the ravine to gather gravel from below a culvert for panning
  • you seek out an old lead of piles of rock from a sapphire mine in a remote gated forest area
  • you take time to compare different kinds of rocks from huge piles of them to find the right color matrix with stones embedded in them
  • you use what you have heard from others who have gone prospecting before you
  • you come back home with a truckload full of bags of gravel, and you carry a shovel with you for quick digs

New to You 

     In the mailbox there it was as predicted, the new mining guide to many aspects of mining in the United States.

     I quickly slipped it out of its see through plastic jacket and looked up Montana to see the claims I could go to in Montana as a member of GPAA. There were some familiar names and some new ones.

     Rapidly, I made plans to go out and check some out this very weekend. Great to have the opportunity to do that. Wondered what happened to the other ones. Happy prospecting. Forthcoming news.

Checking out the GPAA Claim out of Helena in the new Mining Guide

      Just call me "Scout." When I see something I would like to do, I go check it out and then tell the other prospectors I know about it. Then they are ready to go and check it out. Here's the skinny on the three claims that run donw Ten Mile Creek just off the 4th Ten Mile Creek bridge crossing.

      Just as it says in the 50th anniversary GPAA Mining Guide it is about 4.6 miles off US 12 down Rimini Road. You can span out in either direction in the creek bed; you just can't dig on the banks or sides. Digging in the creek is for sluice and gold panning.

      When I arrived I could hear voices under the bridge. I hollered and found out how they got to pan there since they weren't GPAA members. They took the class from Tim in Helena who gave them permission to dig on the site. It is the Bessie and Kamsie one and two.  Taking out concentrates was a good idea even though the blacktop is close, hauling buckets can be laborious. Just having the concentrates was perfect.

      This site is quick access off the highway and a good one for newcomers. Hop down and dig. The photo shows you the terrain. There is a pathway to the water that is well traveled and takes you to the creek bed. Any group or family could access this area it seems. It's on national forest land. See more photos  and write up on treasure hunting 2018

The Zortman GPAA claim: It's in Phillips County???

              Over the potluck dinner at the end of the two days of the Big Dig in Zortman, a conversation began about the possibility of heading up the hills to the GPAA claim. Uncle Mike as he likes to be called said, "Well, I was the one who started that claim fifteen years ago." To which I began to ask questions about assessibility to it.

      Last year a group were going up there through the back roads and our team couldn't go, so this year I wanted to try again. "You have to get an ATV to take you up there," I was told. In the search it became evident that there wasn't much hope of arriving on the land to dig some gravel, but the contact was made so further information can be obtained and a future dig maybe in the offing with a Little Monster from Gold Fox!! 

     But the town of Zortman is so small most residents know the wheres and why's of the town folk, so if you ever want to set foot on the GPAA claim Uncle Mike donated to the GPAA, just give a call and ask for him. He's got all the answers and can get you on a claim that is blocked off from the front source. The Zortman Hotel is the place to call.

Traditional Gold Maps



Historical Gold Panning Insights

      When searching the internet historical documents surface that give us details in bringing the tradition if recreational prospecting to the modern day forefront.

     The link to the right has a 2001 version of how to gold pan the Alaskan way. We put together a historical tab so you to may enjoy the evolution of recreational prospecting knowledge.

      The lure of gold draws many a soul to outdoor adventure and a read of this might help you in your application of your dreams.


Alaskan History



Footage of The GPAA Claim in Libby, Montana

GPAA Newsletter


Gold Prospectors Association of America

     A very important factor in learning about gold prospecting in America is the GPAA. A part of their membership is regular delivery of their Pick & Shovel Gazette Publication which features gold panning activities throughout the United States informational articles and access to local contacts.

     A Gold Prospectors magazine is also a part of membership. All kinds of topics keep you informed of current information in regards to gold panning.

     Information provided from this organization is different from teaching yourself gold panning from a book or in a class. It gives you a more universal look at the topic of gold panning without being dependent on an individual or club. The view points are strong and helpful.  It's a good source of gold panning information with all of its publications.

GPAA Magazine



The Supreme Court of California has ruled against suction dredge mining in the People v. Rinehart case


“We have one option left, and that’s the Supreme Court of the United States,” AMRA President Shannon Poe said.


Read the GPAA exclusive article here to see what happened and what options we as prospectors have left >>>



The Official Court Ruling


"We conclude the state‘s moratorium is not preempted. The federal laws Rinehart relies upon reflect a congressional intent to afford prospectors secure possession of, and in some instances title to, the places they mine..."  

Read More >>>

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GPAA 145 oz gold nugget

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