Land provision dumped from federal budget bill
December 14, 2005
SUMMIT COUNTY – A provision that could have potentially opened millions of acres of public land to privatization has been dropped from the federal budget bill by its sponsor, U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, a Nevada Republican.The contentious language would have lifted a moratorium on the privatization of mining claims on National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands. Critics said the move could have opened millions of acres to potential real estate speculation and development.Gibbons said the measure was aimed at modernizing the 1872 Mining Law and reducing the country’s reliance on foreign sources of strategic and economically important minerals. Gibbons said he may try to revamp the mining law again in the future, but recognized that the measure had little chance of finding support in the U.S. Senate.Before the moratorium was enacted under the Clinton administration, local real estate speculators used the mining law process to acquire 160 acres of National Forest land straddling Keystone Gulch Road for a few thousand dollars. Ralston Resorts, which owned Keystone at the time, eventually bought the land, then traded it back to the Forest Service, when it was appraised for $3 million.