34 7. An Act to Repeal the Application of Mining Laws

Crater Lake National Park: Administrative History by Harlan D. Unrau and Stephen Mark, 1987

 

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CHAPTER NINE: Legislation Relating to Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present

 

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A. LEGISLATIVE ACTS

7. An Act to Provide for the Resolution of Mining Activity Within, and to Repeal the Application of Mining Laws to Areas of the National Park System, and for Other Purposes (90 Stat. 1342–September 28, 1976)

On September 18, 1975, Senators Metcalf, et al. (co-sponsors were Senators Dale Bumpers, Alan Cranston, Mark Hatfield, Henry Jackson, J. Bennett Johnston, Robert Packwood, Richard Schweiker, and John Tunney) introduced legislation (S. 2371) that dealt with the only areas of the National Park System in which mineral development was permitted under the Mining Law of 1872–Crater Lake and Mount McKinley national parks, Death Valley, Glacier Bay, and Organ Pipe Cactus national monuments, and Coronado National Memorial. This was done since the level of technology of mineral exploration and development had changed radically in recent years and continued application of the mining laws of the United States to National Park Service areas often conflicted with the purposes for which those parks were established. The sponsors of the bill asserted that all mining activities in the National Park System should be conducted in such a manner as to prevent or minimize damage to the environment and other resource values, and in certain areas surface disturbance from mineral development should be halted temporarily while Congress determined whether or not to acquire any valid mineral rights which might exist in those areas.

Section 3 of the bill stated that “Subject to valid existing rights,” various acts of Congress were to be amended or repealed to close the six aforementioned Park Service areas “to entry and location under the Mining Law of 1872.” In this section “the first proviso of section 3 of the Act of May 22, 1902 (32 Stat. 203; 16 U.S.C. 123), relating to Crater Lake National Park, was amended by deleting the words ‘and to the location of mining claims and the working of same.’ “

Section 7 of the bill provided that within four years after the enactment of the legislation the Secretary of the Interior would determine the validity of any unpatented mining claims within Crater Lake National Park, Coronado National Memorial, and Glacier Bay National Monument. The secretary was to submit to Congress recommendations as to whether any valid or patented claims should be acquired by the United States.

Section 8 of the proposed legislation provided that all mining claims under the Mining Law of 1872 which were in National Park Service areas were to be recorded with the Secretary of the Interior within one year after the effective date of the act. Any mining claim not recorded during that period would be presumed to be abandoned and declared void. Such recordation would “not render valid any claim which was not valid on the effective date of this Act.” [28]

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, and on December 16, 1975, the committee reported favorably on the proposed legislation with amendments. Relative to Crater Lake the committee found that:

There are no unpatented or patented mining claims or locations within the park and, thus, there is currently no mining activity within the park.

As part of its report the committee printed a letter from Assistant Secretary of the Interior Nathaniel Reed to its chairman Henry M. Jackson on October 6. One paragraph of the letter concerned Crater Lake National Park:

This National Park may be technically open to location, entry, and patent under the mining laws of the United States. There are no unpatented or patented mining claims or locations within the park and, thus, there is currently no mining activity within the park. The Act of May 22, 1902 (32 Stat. 202) that established Crater Lake National Park stated that “Crater Lake National Park shall be open, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe, to all scientists, excursionists, and pleasure seekers and to the location of mining claims and the working of the same.” However, the Act of August 21, 1916 (39 Stat. 522), provided that the Secretary of the Interior shall make rules for the protection of the property therein “especially for the preservation from injury or spoilation of all timber, mineral deposits other than those legally located prior to the date of enactment of this Act, natural curiosities, or wonderful objects within said park. . . . Since the Act of 1916 did not specifically repeal the mining languages in the 1902 Act, there is some confusion in the law as to whether Crater Lake National Park is open to mining activity. [29]

The bill was debated at length in the Senate on February 3 and 4, 1976, and after several amendments (none of which affected Crater Lake) were adopted it was approved by that chamber on the 4th. The bill was sent to the House where the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs submitted a favorable report with amendments on August 23. [30] After being amended (none of which affected Crater Lake), the bill passed the House on September 14. Three days later the Senate concurred in the House amendments, and on September 28 the bill was signed into law (90 Stat. 1342) by President Gerald R. Ford. [31]