Wyoming Prospectors Association discuss BLM, EPA issues

(Riverton, WY) – The Wyoming Prospectors Association held its monthly meeting on Saturday at the Wind River Heritage Center, with members attending from Riverton, Pavillion, Kinnear, Lander, Hudson, Atlantic City, and Rock Springs.

WPA Treasurer and member Jacque Stoldt reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revising the definition of Waters of the United States. Stoldt said that these changes won’t affect them; however, they are keeping an eye on the Supreme Court judicial review of Sackett vs. EPA that challenges the definition.

“The Sacketts are fighting for the right to build on their land in Idaho without having to obtain expensive Federal permits,” Stoldt said. “It’s private land, they want to do stuff on their own ponds, and right now the EPA is saying they can’t. Like I said, it doesn’t really pertain to us so much because we’re all on state land as far as claims and things go, but you never know what it’s going to do to them.”

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BLM offices moving back to Washington D.C.

Stoldt also reported that the new Bureau of Land Management Director will be moving all offices back to Washington, D.C.

“The previous director moved them all out west,” Stoldt said. “A couple of reasons for that were to put people closer to where the actual work is being done, and also because the cost of living was so much lower out here.”

On June 22, 2021, US Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) called on President Biden to withdraw BLM nominee Tracy Stone-Manning because of ties to eco-terrorism. Stoldt said that it had been decided that all but a very select few of the BLM are being moved back to Washington, D.C.

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“For our immediate consequences, not so much; for down-the-road consequences, that’s going to be big,” Stoldt said. “I think we’re really going to be seeing a lot of battles being fought because the people aren’t going to be here to see what’s going on anymore, and we’re going to lose that connection with them again.

Minnesota mines shutting down

Noted was the cancellation of Minnesota mining leases under the Biden Administration.

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“During his running in 2020, he (Biden) said that he wouldn’t shut that down because it’s for nickel, copper, and other rare minerals that our country is so very short on already,” Stoldt said. “They are deciding to shut it back down again, stating that the ‘leases were improperly renewed in violation of applicable statutes and regulations.’ They’re really reversing a lot of things that have been happening in the past few years.”

Waterways and Sage grouse

WPA Secretary and member Joyce Raymond said that she was able to talk to a warden with Wyoming Game & Fish, who said that the department is not doing anything more with the closing of waterway areas. “That is strictly the BLM,” Raymond said, stating that the agency used the sage grouse as a reason for closing them down.

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Commissioner Chairman Travis Becker was invited to the WPA meeting but was unable to attend. Stoldt reported that Becker said there aren’t any concerns about closing off anything, and that the “sage grouse people and BLM were having discussions about different rights to waterways and fencing off waterways to keep animals out, but for right now they’ve backed off on a lot of that,” Stoldt said, adding that Becker advised the WPA to make a mining district to make their claims stronger.

The WPA is comprised of members from around the state who mine gold and other precious minerals in Wyoming. For more information, visit: wpagold.com

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