A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Salazar: Time Has Come to Reform Outdated Mining Law
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Obama's agenda for reform, the time has come to update the nation's 19th century mining law to ensure reasonable royalty payments for extracting gold, silver and other minerals from federal land and to provide more effective regulatory, clean-up and reclamation tools, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today.
“While the responsible development of our mineral resources is critical to both our economy and our environment, this statute has not been updated in 137 years,” Secretary Salazar told members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “In those years, much has changed. It is time to ensure a fair return to the public for mining activities that occur on public lands and to address the cleanup of abandoned mines.”
“We must find an approach to modernize the General Mining Law of 1872 and ensure that development occurs in a manner consistent with the needs of mining and the protection of the public, our public lands, and water resources,” said Salazar, who also worked on mining reform as a U.S. Senator. “It is time to make reform of the Mining Law part of our agenda of responsible resource development.”
Under the General Mining Law of 1872, numerous commodities are extracted to provide the raw materials essential for the manufacturing and building industries. The U.S. domestic gold mining industry alone directly or indirectly creates more than 66,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in earnings annually. The United States is the second largest producer of gold and copper in the world, and the leading producer of beryllium, gypsum, and molybdenum.
The 5-year average for new mining claims staked annually under the law is about 76,000, with a current total number of claims at nearly 400,000. These claims generated almost $60 million in federal revenue in fiscal year 2008 -- mostly from the fees collected by the
Bureau of Land Management.
To read Secretary Salazar's opening statement before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, click here.