Original Gold Diggings

Bill Holcomb

(6.8 miles) Look in the meadow (the stream is not usually visible).

In this field Bill Holcomb made his original discovery. “Pannin’ and diggin'” along the intermittent seasonal stream yielded some of the purest gold recovered in California.

In 1861 and 1862 thousands of claims were staked throughout the valley. Staking and recording a claim was easy -protecting it from someone else was often a more difficult task. One old claim paper says, “Joe Brown, takes this ground, jumpers will be shot.”

WHO MAY LOCATE A MINING CLAIM?

Any citizen of the United States, a minor who has reached the age of discretion, a corporation, and non-citizens (aliens) who have declared their intention to become a citizen. (43 CFR 3832.1)

WHERE CAN I LOCATE A MINING CLAIM?

A mining claim can be located on federal lands (BLM and Forest Service) that are open to mineral location (entry). If you have a specific location site in mind, you may verify that the lands are open to mineral entry. This can be accomplished by checking with the BLM State Office Information Access Center (Public Room), who will assist you in determining if the lands are open to mineral entry by checking master title plats, records, files and other pertinent information.

WHAT TYPES OF CLAIMS/SITES ARE THERE?

Lode – A classic vein, ledge, or other rock in place between definite walls. A lode claim is located by metes and bounds. The maximum length is 1,500 feet by 600 feet. (43 CFR 3841)

Placer – All deposits, other than lodes. These include placer deposits of sand and gravel containing free gold and other minerals. Placer claims are located by legal subdivision. An individual may locate up to 20 acres with a maximum of 160 contiguous acres with 8 or more people (an association). A corporation is consider a single locator. (43 CFR 3842)

Tunnel Site – A tunnel site is where a tunnel is run to develop a vein or lode. It may also be used for the discovery of unknown veins or lodes. To stake a tunnel site, two stakes are placed up to 3,000 feet apart on the line of the proposed tunnel. Recordation is the same as a lode claim. A Tunnel Site can be regarded more as a right-a-way, than a mining claim. (43 CFR 3843)

Mill Site – Public lands which are non-mineral in character. Mill Sites may be located in connection with a placer or lode claim for mining and milling purposes or as an independent/custom mill site that is independent of a mining claim. Mill Sites are located by metes and bounds or legal subdivision and are up to 5 acres in size. (43 CFR 3844)

WHAT IS A LOCATION NOTICE AND WHERE MAY I GET THE FORM?

A location notice is a form that must be filed with the BLM, California State Office and your local County Recording Office. The following information must be included on the form; date of location of the claim/site, description of discovery monument, name of claim/site, legal description (metes and bounds or legal subdivision), and the names and addresses of all locators. There are separate notices for placers, lodes, and mill sites. You can obtain location notice forms from the BLM Public Room and stationary stores. (43 CFR 3833.1-2)

HOW DO I RECORD A MINING CLAIM?

You must file your mining claim/site location notice with the BLM, California State Office, within 90 days from the date of location of the claim or site and you must also file with the County Recording Office.

All new locations must be accompanied by the required fees of a $15 service charge, $30 location fee, and a $125 maintenance payment fee for the first year of location, for a total of $170 per claim or site.

By September 1st of every year or before, $125 maintenance payment fee must be paid to the Sacramento office, or a Waiver with an assessment form and a $10 per claim assessment fee must be turned into the Sacramento office. (43 CFR 3833.1-2 and 43 CFR 3833.1-4)

MAY I CHANGE A LOCATION NOTICE AFTER I HAVE FILED WITH THE BLM?

You may file an amended location notice in order to change the name of the claim/site, clarify the legal description, or provide information that was incomplete. Also, you must file these amendments with the county that the claim is in. You may not add or delete locators or change the location date of the claim/site. There is a $10 filing fee for filing an amended location notice. (43 CFR 3833.0-5[p])

WHAT MUST I DO TO MAINTAIN A CLAIM?

Once a claim/site is serialized, an annual filing must be made on or before September 1, of each year to maintain the claim/site. If you have more than 10 claims, you must pay the $125 maintenance fee. If you have 10 or fewer claims/sites, you may choose to file either the maintenance fee payment or file the Maintenance Fee Waiver certification (a.k.a. small miners waiver). If you choose to file a small miners waiver, then you must also perform $100 worth of labor or improvements on all placers or lode claims during the assessment year (September 1, noon through September 1, noon). An Assessment Work Notice (Proof of Labor) form must be filed on or before December 30, along with the $10 filing fee per claim. For mill/tunnel sites, a Notice of Intent to Hold must be filed on or before December 30, along with the $10 filing fee per site. To learn more about mining claims/sites filing instructions, please visit our web page mining facts. (43 CFR 3833.1-5 and 43 CFR 3833.1-6)

WHAT IS A SMALL MINERS WAIVER?

A small miners waiver is short for maintenance fee payment waiver certification. A small miners waiver may be filed by those claimants holding 10 or fewer claims/sites, instead of paying the $125 maintenance fee by September 1, of each year. If you choose to file a small miners wavier you must also perform assessment work and file an assessment work notice by December 30, of each year. (43 CFR 3833.1-6)

WHAT QUALIFIES AS ASSESSMENT WORK?

Some of the activities that qualify for assessment work are construction and maintenance of access roads, development drilling and sampling, and buildings that benefit the claim. For more information about what qualifies as assessment work please contact your local BLM office.

HOW DO I TRANSFER A MINING CLAIM?

A mining claim is transfered by recording a Quit Claim Deed with the County Recorder where the mining claim is located, and then by filing the Quit Claim Deed with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) State Office. The cost to file the Quit Claim Deed with the BLM is $10.00 per claimant, per claim. (Please call the County Recorder’s Office for their fees). Quit Claim Deeds are usually found at office supply stores.

LAWS AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING MINING CLAIMS/SITES

Mining Law of 1872

Federal Land Policy Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) – See Section 314

Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR 3800

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Now available in the Information Access Center is our mining book titled, “Location and Patenting of Mining Claims and Mill Sites, Latest Edition – Updated 2006.” This book explains how to locate and patent mining claims in California. It shows locations, monuments, and claim maps. This book is written by the Bureau of Land Management. To order, call (916) 978-4400.

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