The Cold, Hard Facts: BLM Hikes Placer Claim Maintenance Fees
A Changed Outlook for Miners
All of you placer claim owners out there should have already been notified that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has substantially increased your annual maintenance fees, effective July 27, 2012. The new fee rate is effective with your claim fee deadline on September 1st.
This fee hike by the BLM has really changed the outlook for those of us who own placer gold claims. Under the old maintenance fee guidelines $140.00 was charged for your entire placer claim, regardless of acreage. Additionally, you could file a fee waiver, do the assessment work required, and not have to pay a dime.
Placer Claims, Not Lode Claims
The fee waiver option is still in place, although there may be more stringent guidelines involved currently or soon to come. I'm not entirely sure. The fact of the matter is that the BLM now requires a claim owner to pay maintenance fees of $140.00 per 20 acres or fractions thereof. (IMPORTANT NOTE: This fee hike only applies to placer claims, not lode or hard-rock claims...go figure.)
Gold Panning Kits
Yep, you heard right. So, if you own a 20-acre placer claim your annual maintenance fees are $140.00. If you own a 60-acre claim your fees are $420.00 annually, and so on. Any fraction over 20 acres (e.g., 25 or 30 acres) is charged as another full $140.00.
Just Plain Crazy
Claim owners with large acreages really take it in the shorts. Along with my co-claimants, I own (until September 1st, that is) a 160-acre placer claim along Northern California's N. Yuba River. With this new hike in annual fees, our claim now costs us a whopping $1,120 in annual fees not to mention the $452.00 we must pay in annual property taxes to the Sierra County, California tax assessor!
"Where the hell are those new fees? I'm starving!"
This is what many folks out there who are claim hungry don't understand about gold claims. They can be expensive propositions over time. In some instances (such as my own), in just a few short years you'll be paying MORE in taxes and fees than you did for the actual claim itself. That's just plain crazy in my book, especially in a state like California where the most efficient river mining method, suction dredging, is a no-no.
Cold, Hard Facts
Sure, you can do the assessment work, jump through the bureaucratic hoops, and slog your way through reams of paperwork for both the BLM and the county. However if your claim is some distance from where you live (the N. Yuba claim is 1,100 miles away from my home, for example), all of this becomes a moot point.
Those of you who are newbies and still star-struck about owning your own placer gold claim need to realize the cold, hard facts. Unless you plan on working your claim consistently to recover decent amounts of gold, buying a claim just may be the worst decision you've made mining-wise. The fees, the taxes, and the bureaucratic BS and ever-increasing restrictions on small-scale mining will take a great deal of the joy out of the entire proposition and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.
A decent number of small-scale miners I know who own placer claims have told me they either can't afford the new fee hikes or are just sick and tired of the endless chain of crapola as it relates to claim ownership. So, many of these folks will let their claims lapse come September 1st (an attractive proposition for larger claim owners like myself and my co-claimants).
It's quite likely many new placer claims will be open soon in California and other western states. What's even more likely is that the claim hustlers and scammers will be having a field day filing over these abandoned claims and then trying to rip you off by selling them to you online via eBay or through fake mining company sites.
Me? I'm done with claims...period.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "More Advice Regarding Gold Mining Claims"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2012
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org