The entire premise of Ms. Probert’s restricting the dredges on that river are based on a forged letter, as stated on the record by Ranger Nevius. Who forged the letter and why did this bombshell statement not stop the process?  Why is this process being allowed to continue when it is indisputably fraud? 

posted by Marjorie Haun

contributions by Shannon Poe (AMRA)

On August 10, Shannon Poe, President of the American Mining Rights Association (AMRA), penned a letter to numerous elected and appointed officials in key government offices, including Tom Tidwell, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) chief; Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior; Sonny Perdue, Agriculture Secretary; Representative Tom McClintock, of the House Committee on Natural Resources; Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho, and others.

Representing tens of thousands of small miners and mining claim owners in the United States, Poe has summarized a number of egregious actions taken against citizens by rangers and leaders in the USFS

Mr. Poe’s letter details instances in which U.S. Forest Service personnel are guilty of bureaucratic overreach, property destruction, illegal road closures, bullying, and violations of mining claim owners’ rights. Below are excerpts from the letter, and this post provides an accounting of just a few of those incidents. Free Range Report will provide additional stories about misbehavior and injustices on the parts of USFS employees in articles to follow. Section headings added by editor.


USFS culture of civil rights violations

      …we have been contacted by numerous miners all across the western states with accounts of the USFS agents not just stepping outside the scope of their authority, but violating the civil rights of its citizens.  Ignoring the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), locking and blocking legitimate mining claim owners from their properties, destroying private property, illegal searches and even pulling a Taser, pointing it at the face of a miner who was panning for gold on his mining claim after the miner asked why he needed to produce ID for sitting in a creek.  Incidents such as these are but the tip of the iceberg of a culture which seems prevalent among many within the USFS.  As public employees working for the public to manage the public’s lands, this must, and will be addressed.  When the USFS was formed in 1881, it was to manage the public’s land for the public and to encourage mining.  We question whether many within the USFS know of this motto, or are deliberately ignoring this.

USFS illegally blocks access to private mining claims, violating property rights

       …mining claim owners are not mere guests within America’s boundaries. As the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (US v Shumway) has stated “The court held that the unpatented “title of a locator” is “property in the fullest sense of the word.” Mining claims are real property.  Mining claim owners in many states pay property taxes on these properties, and rely on them to either provide, or supplement their incomes. The mining of gold and other natural resources is a matter of national security and nearly everything created by man on planet earth is either grown, or mined, from the smartphones we all use,  tothe computer I am using to type this letter, to the protective shields the Space Shuttle uses.  It is not just an economic issue, but one of national security.  America relying on other countries for their minerals for everyday items is not just dangerous, but economically unwise.

                Mining claim owners have a fundamental right of access to their mining claims.  As real property, blocking an owner from their claim (with gates put up by the USFS or  (Bureau of Land Management ) BLM) is analogous to putting up a gate to your home and saying you cannot drive in, but must walk and carry everything by hand; that you must carry your groceries from the gate to your refrigerator, or push that new dryer on a dolly to your laundry room.  Miners use equipment which is heavy, even a simple 6’ pry bar weighs 30lbs, then add a lunch, shovels, sluice boxes, buckets, crevice tools, backpacks and the myriad of other equipment and the typical miner has well over 100 lbs. of equipment for simple prospecting.  Forcing anyone to hike for extended distances, while carrying enormous burdens when an existing road protected by law provides a means of ingress and egress is not just an undue burden, it is illegal. 

               Even though the access issue has been extensively litigated by claim owners with the findings being that they have a fundamental right of access, the USFS, in many instances ignores our laws, courts and case precedents.  As recently as two weeks ago, the Utah Supreme Court ruled on RS2477 that roads which existed as a “public right of way” prior to 1976 must remain open for the public.  Additionally, in the USFS 2810 manual, which addresses the Forest Service’s authority concerning mining claims, under 2813.14 it states: “The right of reasonable access for purposes of prospecting, locating, and mining is provided by statute.  Such access must be in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Forest Service.  However, the rules and regulations may not be applied so as to prevent lawful mineral activities or to cause undue hardship on bona fide prospectors and miners”.  It is not a question if the mining claim owner has a right of access, the question is why is the USFS acting as if it is their land, not the public’s, and of how USFS has the right to disregard rulings by court, up to and including the Supreme Court of the United States?

National Forest Supervisor uses forged document to justify restricting suction dredging on Idaho river

Allow me to provide you with some examples which are not just concerning, but alarming in their illegality:

Nez Perce NF Idaho, 2016/2017

                The Nez Perce National Forest Supervisor, Cheryl Probert, has unilaterally enacted a new regulatory move to restrict the number of suction dredges which may operate on the SF Clearwater River in Idaho. She claimed her action was in response to a letter from her District Ranger. Terry Nevius. stating  that suction dredging caused a “significant disturbance.” 

               Suction dredging has been in operation in this area for well over 50 years with no negative impact on the fishery.  For many years now, the dredge period is limited to a one month window of time, July 15th to August 14th to protect fish runs.  On the outside looking in, this would seem to be something which could be debated, open for public comment, studied or use previous studies on the effects of suction dredging.  However, during a live public comment meeting on this very topic in 2016, District Ranger Nevius stated on the record, that he did not write, state, nor sign any letter stating what Supervisor Probert put forth as the premise for the restrictions. The entire premise of Ms. Probert’s restricting the dredges on that river are based on a forged letter, as stated on the record by Ranger Nevius. Who forged the letter and why did this bombshell statement not stop the process?  Why is this process being allowed to continue when it is indisputably fraud? 

                There are over 90 mining claim owners on the SF Clearwater, and restricting the number of dredges to just 15 is reprehensible, and to do so using forgery as a means to justify the restrictions is criminal.  Ms. Probert also adopted the Fish and Game study on suction dredges which conclusively, and quite succinctly stated the activity is not deleterious to fish or fish habitat in all of the categories studied.  In fact, there was very recently an active operation in the state of Idaho where Fish and Game were using a large suction dredge to “create fish habitat.” Studies conclusively prove suction dredging is not deleterious and the premise of her prohibition has been conclusively proven to be fraudulent by the statement of her own District Ranger. Yet Probert does not waiver in her march towards complete annihilation of suction dredging in her NF boundaries.

Shannon Poe, AMRA


Free Range Report will post additional reports as accounts are confirmed with sources.


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