Public Policies Affecting Present Day Uses of Century Old Patented Lode Mines in Idaho

APA Idaho


Wednesday, October 11, 2017
2:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. MDT

CM | 1.25

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Like the artisanal breweries that disappeared throughout the nation when alcohol prohibition laws were enacted in the early 20th century, small-scale timber mining practices on PLMs have faded from use. Lode mining in the 21st century, when it occurs, uses industrial modern techniques, such as deep mines like Hecla’s Lucky Friday or an open pit technique like New Jersey Mining’s Golden Chest Mine. In the overall context of an industry that is nationally disenfranchised, where less than 0.3% of the pre-1920 PLMs assessment records in Idaho in 2015 showed active mining, any identified tension between the small-scale miner and multi-national mining corporations is secondary.

 More significant tensions regarding the use of pre-1920 patented lode mines in the 21st century are the changes in public perceptions and policies regarding mining over the past 150 years. During the first 50 years of the 1872 Mining Act, industrious miners thrived in the freewheeling milieu that westward expansion offered. During this period in Idaho, for instance, an average of 40 gold and silver lode mines were patented each year. By contrast, a century later in 2015, only five of Idaho’s nearly 2,000 former active gold and silver mines were active and instances of patented lode mine reclamation and, particularly, gentrification and neglect had risen significantly.


 In the context of the “Plan Big” theme, could Idaho map out a future for patented lode mine use that comports with Idaho needs and forward thinking public policy? Do planners recognize the distinct property rights attributed patented lode mines and the impact public policies have on land use? This session provides insights into not only these questions, but the distinction between surface- and mineral-estate properties and the impact that nested federal, state, and local policies have on the use of nearly 70,000 acres in Idaho and nearly 3,500,000 acres in the West.


 This information, data, and findings of this research touch upon a number of legal, ethical, and procedural planning-related training objectives. Professionally relevant, planners with 4 years of experience or more will discover that entitlement timeframes matter, but in the case of active mining, more facilitative county-level entitlement processes do not statistically result in more instances of active mining.


 Further, despite a general delegation of land use decisions to local government in Idaho, state and federal policies appear to drive the decisions patentees make with their previously mined properties. In particular, neglect and abandonment of patented lode mines are affected by Idaho taxation policies, as will be presented in this session on public policies affecting present day uses of century old patented lode mines in Idaho.



John Gaeddert, AICP

Mr. Gaeddert is President of the Corporation for Land Planning & Engineering (CLPE), a small Idaho-based firm with a solid and successful track record of planning and gaining approvals for a select group of clients on challenging projects. Areas of particular expertise include: * Development site planning and permitting * Comprehensive and special ... Read More

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