Child with gold vial

Children are given free gold pans.

The term Small Scale Mining has its place on one side of the gold coin and Recreational Prospecting has its place on the other side. If you’re a member of any club or organization, you are most likely being told you are a Small Scale Miner and to never use the term recreational. The Mining Rights Groups want you to understand that by being a Small Scale Miner takes the action referred to as right of self-initiation. Your right to choose to become a miner stems from the 1872 mining act when you are on Public Lands or BLM or USFS property. By calling yourself Recreational, you possibly are consenting to a permitting system that would hinder your rights.

Unfortunately California and other states fell into this trap when the state started issuing dredging permits in the 1960’s. How could it have happened that the right to mine (but only if you have a permit) scenario took over, and the mining act of 1872 went out the window. Don’t blame the recreational dredgers for this. Many claims holders were active participants in the permit process, and California seized the opportunity to create a statewide ban. So it is evident that when you are on federally managed land you should never call yourself a recreational miner or even consent to a permit system. Too late for that and it’s still playing out, the outcome is sadly unclear.

Although federally managed land is in abundance and plenty to go around for everyone, it seems the counties and cities want some of this sweet stuff for parks and open space. Oh, and also the POTUS wants a bunch of it for National Monuments, oh and the environmental groups want it all for Wilderness Areas. The National Forrest Service wishes to close off all roads, and even the UN thinks they should be involved. After a 20 year nap we woke up and control of our public lands are being surrendered to outside forces by the BLM!

The very agency that has Statutory Authority issued by the Department of Interior to protect the Mining Act of 1872 and protect our Mining Rights abandoned their post. They forced us to play the money game with lawyer against lawyer except the state wins by default somehow (deeper pockets). Excellent play on their part (the BLM), it’s like calling the police, and they come and help the robbers load your stuff. When has the BLM stood up for the rights of miners to uphold the General Mining Act of 1872? The mining rights groups have their work cut out for them and need all of our support. OK, I’m going to calm down now and talk about the other side of the gold coin.
So the gold didn’t get the memo and decided to stay where it is or just “go with the flow” while cities and counties surrounded it and took possession. The cities passed municipal ordinances and codes setting up the same scenario for permitting, or did they? This is Gold Unlimited territory where you can’t file a claim but still want to prospect for gold!

Rangers taking turns dredging

Rangers taking turns dredging in Clear Creek

Let take a look at the Metro Denver area. There’re 29 gold bearing placer areas (and counting) surrounding this historic gold town touted by local prospecting groups as good to excellent places to prospect. The county of Jefferson has designated a historic park called Arapahoe Bar where you can use battery equipment. The city of Golden has recently passed similar and favorable regulations and still further up Clear Creek they allow dredging up to 4″.

Arapahoe Bar sign

Gold Unlimited worked with Jefferson County to get the Arapahoe Bar Prospecting Park established.

Other towns and counties are considering opening up sanctioned gold prospecting areas for recreational use like the historic town of Fairplay. For five bucks you get an annual pass to prospect in the enormous tailing piles loaded with gold! Sure you can’t file a claim anywhere on these properties, it belongs to the people of the communities. The town permits you to have some fun and get gold.

It’s interesting to note that many parks and recreation departments understand that getting outdoors with your kids is a very important priority for them. Visit a county meeting where they discuss “Nature Deficit Disorder.” How technology has created children that don’t know how to play, or kids believe they need to be within ten feet of an electric outlet in their home. It’s hard for some of us to understand how technology has changed our country for the good and the bad and it has affected everyone not just the kids. However, soon you will start to realize the opportunities to introduce gold prospecting to the community. Gold Unlimited got its start years ago by attending community meetings like this and many more since.

Trout Unlimited Sign

The Battle with TU continues.

Just as the Small Scale Mining has the Mining Rights Groups mentioned earlier, the Recreational Prospecting community has a voice too. Gold Unlimited has been working with counties and cities for years to adopt a working relationship that gives us an opportunity to plead a case. Are we outnumbered by the rafting, jogging, bike riding, fishing, and a hundred other group that have their spokespeople? Yes, but we feel gold prospecting needs representation, and our mission is to fulfill the needs of the community as well as the desire to find gold. However, our biggest challenge is not the authorities but other groups that feel they have a priority or stewardship over our activities. Sorry to say we also get chastised by mining rights groups quite often for promoting recreational activities in the city.

So you see, it’s a battle for us too.  I am proud to say we have overcome some of the largest groups and won. We have demonstrated that gold bearing towns can utilize their asset (gold) to provide safe, educational and non-structured recreational fun for the whole family without having to buy a uniform, pay dues, or strive to score a goal. Gold Prospecting allows us all to play in the water and enjoy the wonders of nature and spread gold fever even in the big city. Gold Unlimited even provides volunteers, gold pans, gold, snuffer bottles and educational materials for school outings. As the Federally managed land decreases the recreational land increases we all must stop and take a look at our prospects.

Gold Unlimited has a strong community-based outdoor program that has a powerful impact on Government strategies for sustaining Colorado’s outdoor heritage. Furthermore, children and families can foster greater support for natural resources and expand possibilities for personal growth, with fun, safe and educational easily accessible recreational opportunities. By the way were talking free or have minimal costs. The other side of the gold coin is worth taking a look at, it’s shining brighter than ever!