BLM to Grab 3 Million Acres In Idaho

BLM to Grab 3 Million Acres In Idaho

3 million acres of prime rockhound territory in Idaho is about to be grabbed by the BLM……..of course, it’s for the Sage Grouse, right?  What other reason would the government be taking mineralized land away from the American public hand over fist.

I haven’t gotten an answer to my question of why the Sage Grouse, which I’ve seen neither more or fewer of in recent decades, only seem to be in trouble where the land is highly mineralized and should be rightfully protected for our use by current law.

Here is a link to the article in the region’s local paper:

http://freerangereport.com/index.php/2017/03/06/blm-idaho-management-plan-to-prohibit-hobby-rock-collecting/

This “environmental” action is actually a threat to the people and towns in the effected area – as are such areas in other states fighting the same BLM land grabs. These little towns thrive on the tourism from these mineral rich lands. When the BLM decides to shut down whole towns, we need to start taking a lot closer look at what they are actually doing.

The letter below, written by Gerald Gibeault, President of the Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral society will give you more information about the situation, and

Gerald Gibeault President                                                                                                         Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral Society                                                                                           2246 Brandon Dr.                                                                                                                             Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402 March 2, 2017

 

Subject: BLM to Ban Rockhounding with Hand Tools in Areas Targeted by the Draft Environmental Statement (EIS) for the proposed Sagebrush Focal Area Withdrawal.

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is written to local jurisdictions on behalf of the Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral Society and recreational rockhounds everywhere. As president of the Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral Society, I am concerned that the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Sagebrush Focal Area Withdrawal could be bad news for recreational rockhounding in our Gem State. Specifically, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to ban recreation rockhounding using hand tools in withdrawn areas. Only surface collection will be allowed.

I attended BLM’s EIS Public Meetings on February 16, 2017 in Idaho Falls and in Boise on February 24, 2017. I also discussed my concerns in a follow-up telephone call with Mr. Adam Merrill (BLM Geologist, Washington D.C. Office) on March 3, 2017. Mr. Merrill said that he had spent some time with the BLM’s lawyers discussing the rockhounding concerns that I had raised with him previously. I’ve summarized my understanding of the conversation with Mr. Merrill below:

As the BLM lawyers see it, the problem boils downs to whether or not the 1872 Mining Act (mining act) is in force. According to the lawyers, the mining act authorizes public right to locatable minerals on Federal land. While the rules that apply to rockhounding may be different from those that apply to hard rock mining operations, both get their authority to access locatable minerals from the mining act. Withdrawing land from the mining act also withdraws the public’s authorization to collect locatable minerals. It must be noted that the public will still be allowed to pick up rocks off the surface; but materials collected on the surface are typically very weather, fractured and therefore of little use to rockhounds.

The text shown below was taken from a BLM website:

https://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/minerals/locatable/locatable_minerals.print.html

“The federal law governing locatable minerals is the General Mining Law of 1872 (May 10, 1872), which declared all valuable mineral deposits belonging to the United States … to be free and open to citizens of the United States to explore for, discover, and purchase.”

“Mineral deposits subject to acquisition in this manner are generally referred to as “locatable minerals.” Locatable minerals include metallic minerals (gold, silver, lead, copper, zinc, nickel, etc.), nonmetallic minerals (fluorspar, mica, certain limestones and gypsum, tantalum, heavy minerals in placer form and gemstones) and certain uncommon variety minerals. It is very difficult to prepare a complete list of locatable minerals because the history of the law has resulted in a definition of minerals that includes economics.”

What every Idahoan should know!

Approximately 3 million acres are targeted for withdrawal in Idaho. Affected areas include much of the land in and around the Lost River basin between Challis and Arco, much of the Lost River mountain range, as well as huge swaths of land around Carey. Some of these areas are prime rockhounding country. If the proposal proceeds as currently planned, the public will no longer have access to the locatable minerals in the withdrawn areas for the next 20 years. For example, I will not be allowed to collect a piece of tube agate near the Doyle Creek road for the rest of my life!

How are local jurisdictions affected?

Idaho is called the Gem State for a reason. We live in a mineral paradise. Rockhounding is a tourist attraction. Because of our fortunate geology visitors are drawn to Idaho from around the world. The minerals of interest to rockhounds typically include jaspers, agates, and other minerals and rocks that have little or no commercial value. Rockhounds start with rough materials and create beauty. The activity provides an opportunity for both the young and the old to enjoy areas of our backcountry that are seldom visited by others.

Rockhounds stay in hotels and campgrounds, eat at restaurants, and buy gas and supplies. Revenue flows into communities with no more investment or effort than allowing access to minerals in nearby Federal lands.

What to do?

Help rockhounding survive in your area. PLEASE write a comment and send it to the BLM. Send a note to your congressman too. We are the Gem State! We live in a mineral paradise! Rockhounds are not a threat to sage-grouse habitat! There has to be a reasonable solution.

A sample comment form is attached at the end of this letter. A comment may also be submitted by email.

The last day to submit comments to the BLM is March 30, 2017. The BLM has to receive comments by that date. So, allow time for delivery if you use postal services.

Thank you for considering our concerns.

Gerry Gibeault (contact redacted to prevent spam)

HERE IS THE ONLINE COMMENT FORM for the Sage Brush Focal Area:

Sage Brush Focal Area Withdrawal Comment Form

Here is the map of that land that they are set to grab:

http://blm-egis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=45b2d7896c36467aac3990b739d75a26

Other Links:

Contact information for BLM:

https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/Dear_Reader_Final.pdf

BLM information about sage grouse:

https://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/sagegrouse.html

 

Hello Viewers

Hello Viewers

RHS1 is up and running again after some very tedious rebuild,  and we’re getting ready for another great year of rock hunting and story sharing here.  So stay tuned!

Why Rockhounds Love Halloween

Why Rockhounds Love Halloween

T’is the season to be spooked!

Of course, summer is usually a rockhound’s biggest hunting season, but there’s a lot nature does to help us celebrate that night the spooks and goblins break through their vortex and invade us here on earth. If you don’t believe it – I have the proof right here.

There are some pretty spooky places attached to where people go to hunt rocks — and they aren’t all  ghost mining towns and eerie graveyards.

Where else will  you find as spooky a place to be close to dark than this location in Succor Creek, a favorite rockhound hangout. You can’t look at Screaming rock in the near dark without a chill or two running down your spine.

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And exactly who is this that has been sent from the netherworld to protect a great crystal hunting area in California? If you’re in the area near dark, you can almost hear the banjo playing.

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It’s not just places that are ripe for the halloween loving crowds – it’s the rocks themselves that lend us such a willing hand at decorating for fright night.

Bat cave, in Oregon, isn’t just an apartment complex for the local bats. It’s also full of jasper just screaming to be cut and included in the season’s decorations.

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Where there is someone celebrating Halloween, there’s need for a Jack 0′ lantern.  This agate nodule takes on that job for Halloween rockhounds very finely.

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Along with ghosts and goblins, and spooky places – Halloween isn’t complete without some form of zombified remains.  What could be more apropo for the savvy Halloween celebration than a diseased, leaky, lesioned brain?

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It’s so great that nature is so willing to help chill and thrill us on the night we unleash reality and run with the demons.  If you have any natural spookers – please feel free to post them in the comments!

Happy Halloween from all of us at Rockhoundstation1.com

Life’s short –  Rock hard