HTML _ 96-161 - Mining in National Parks and Wilderness Areas
12-Feb-1996; Duane A. Thompson; 9 p.

Abstract: The National Park Service and other agencies are responsible for protecting and preserving national parks and wilderness areas, while recognizing and accommodating mineral exploration and development. Although there has been some omnibus legislation enacted that provides uniform standards for use, many units are also protected by site specific provisions in their enacting legislation. These provisions are typically designed to meet the needs of a particular unit and protect its unique, often fragile, and irreplaceable features. This report provides a brief explanation how these conflicting and often intractable land use policies evolved. It provides a background on the general laws establishing national parks and wildernesses. Finally, it offers more detailed information on restrictions for mineral exploration and development applied to specific park and wilderness units. Although the National Park Service and other agencies managing wilderness areas cannot deny access to mining claims by those having valid existing rights, they have authority to regulate development to control the impact on park, recreational, or wilderness values. Data show that 33 of 368 National Park System units have at least one mineral development activity occurring on them; at least 817 operations are ongoing, including 15 hardrock metals (primarily gold), 28 for sand, gravel, soil and similar substances, and 709 for nonfederal oil and gas. Conversely, available data suggests that there are no on-going mining operations in currently designated wilderness areas. [read report]

Topics: Mining

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