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 Pans
Gold Panning Kits
Mining Equipment

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.

What's Likely

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


  1. Jim... I see good and bad points to this issue. The Bad is as you stated they will just keep trying to Bleed more money out of you however they can. The good is that people and Groups can not and will not Claim up large Tracts of Claims and Just sit on them and Do noting with them. Supposedly there is a woman in the area who has over 1500 Acres of Claims in a Prime area of the El Pasos and does not work any of them( which should be unacceptable to the People and the BLM) Like you said it will open up a lot of Claims in the future and thats good and bad. You can still File your Waiver fees from what I understand. Plus you can still get out and prospect and Not Own a Claim( for now at least).

  2. You make some very good points Paco. There are abuses on both sides of this issue, that much is certain and it's good to air that out. Still, I am very disillusioned with the whole claim thing...I'm done on that deal. Best to you, J.R.

  3. What it realy boils down to is that the forest nazis don't want us out there for any reason. The only sure way to get us to stop is to price us out. They are doing the same thing with grazeing permits for cattle and timber sales for logging. If you can't make a profit from a lot of hard work, folks will quit volentarly, they won't have to try to stop you. The same thing will happen with guns, it's our constituional right to "keep and bear arms" but what about ammo? if the price it where you can't afford to shoot anymore, whats the point in haveing them? If you don't reload, START! And stock up, it is comeing.........

  4. In my own paranoid way of thinking all of this could have underlying meanings or significance. Why just placer claims and not lode claims for the fee hikes? They want us off the rivers eventually...the "greenies" have been trying to do this since the 1980s, by the way. They have pushed their agendas forward successfully now... J.R.

  5. Thats exactly right. You are only paranoid if you are wrong, saddly you are not. Don Largent, an old life long prospector friend, that died several years back, told me you are better off fileing as a "lode" claim, then working it as a placer. At the time, it didn't make sence, I guess this is what he ment.

  6. Maybe so Gary...Thanks for the comments. J.R.

  7. I'm not so sure, I think you can file a placer claim on the same land with a lode claim, or vice versa. My experience with BLM Rangers is they are there to write tickets for petty non issues stretching to reach the infraction threshold. Their position seems that they don't want us on public land. They would prefer we just admire the land from the side of the highway. I own land next to BLM in Montana they are a pain in the butt to deal with. It seems that usually when I set out to prospect I encounter a ranger that stops to stick his d---k in my business, both here in Montana and California.

    Infact I just paid a ticket because of building a fence. MT law says both neighbors are supposed to split costs for fencing. I built mine BLM refused to build theirs I used a skid steer to cross a dry reviene built the fence. I got ticket for off road travel, there side was the only side to access the fence. Also if BLM obayed the local law I wouldn't have needed to drive there to begin with. A month later two BLM trucks cut across my land to access their public land, my local sheriffs offices refused to come out and ticket the BLM-byrights they should have gotten a trespass ticket.

    We have truly lost control of our government.

    JR, your blog is great! Your subjects are outstanding!


  8. Hi Buck, thanks much for your very good comments. I don't know if that's the BLM and the rangers don't want us on the land but the forces aligned against surely don't! That's be every greenie whack job out there that wants to dictate how "we" use the land. All in their world view, of course...

    By the way, if some of those rangers don't have their d--ks in your business, they'll usually have them in their hands!

    Thank you for the good words and your support. J.R.

  9. I'm afraid the law only applies the way they want it to. Whats "good" for us, isn't for them. Folks are getting tired of this crap though, hopefully there will be some changes for the better soon. If not, there will be anouther Claud Dallas type revolt sooner or latter. Like they say, "you can't fight city hall", it's not suppost to be that way...

    1. I know one thing for certain...if we don't fight back and get this BS turned around here in the U.S. we're gonna end up in a world of hurt. J.R.


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