Tips and Suggestions on Filing a Mining Claim (Conclusion): by Reily Smith

In this post California gold miner Reily Smith offers final tips and suggestions on filing a claim. Those of you who aren't "claim experienced" would do well to read both posts in this two-part series.

5) As a gold miner looking for a claim, you'll eventually run into a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) internet program called the LR2000. You might as well plan on spending a couple of days dealing with this piece of junk. The LR2000 program is very difficult to navigate and user unfriendly, and its poor quality topographic map is difficult to use. Mining claims are shown on the LR2000 by the nearest 1/4 section, so you can't really plot exactly where the claims are from this information. The only advice I can give you is to persevere when using this program. All this said, the LR2000 is useful in the sense that you can get claim numbers and current claim statuses. This enables you to ask the BLM for claim notice copies. With a claim copy you can figure out exactly where the claim is and if any available land is in the area that you can investigate. As most of you probably already know, claim notices are also filed at the county courthouse (county clerk's/county recorder's office). However, finding these copies from the county is usually impossible. Your county may be different in this regard and maintains a nice and neat mining claim index, but I'll bet not. If you're out and about and run across a claim marker, write down the appropriate info (don't rely on county paperwork). Then you can check with the county and get a copy of the claim notice to make sure the claim has been filed properly, fees paid, and maintenance forms submitted.

6) Many people who file mining claims think they own the entire world. On one of my claims, a nearby claimant with eight names on the paperwork (probably an association) had described eight separate parcels over two sections (the maximum acreage for a single claim). This group had a map showing their claims over the the nearly two miles of creek I was interested in. Speaking bluntly, they were a bunch of aggressive, half-smart jerks who thought their map entitled them to 320 acres of creek territory for their mining activities. On closer examination, you could see they'd described the eight claims by their aliquot parcels (various and sundry 20-acre parcels). This leads me to think that all states should require group or association claims to be adjacent or adjoining parcels. In this particular case the parcels were scattered all over and didn't adjoin one another. If you plotted their parcels on the BLM quadrangle map it became readily apparent that the parcels weren't identical to the map that purported to represent their claims. More than half of the creek they said they'd claimed was open and interestingly enough several of their 20-acre parcels were NOT even on the creek! I called the BLM office and asked for copies of the claims along this stretch of creek and this documentation showed the error in the group's assumptions about their claims. Once I explained matters to this bunch and showed them my claim documentation I never had trouble with them again. Actually, I probably helped them out and I'm certain they hurried off to amend their claim and protect their interests.

7) My second claim is in an established area of old mining activity that at first seemed all claimed up. I looked at the LR2000 and didn't see any claims filed in one section of the north end of the area. I checked with the BLM and they didn't have any claims listed in that particular section, so after checking things out I filed on it. This area is next to the northern township and I suspect no one ever took the time to to check for claims up there. This was surprising because the claim encompasses three old hard-rock mines, foundations for several old cabins with established fruit trees, and a nice seasonal creek with placer gold on 60 acres. I'm not making any money mining here, but it's a beautiful site at an elevation of 5,200 feet near the southern end of Sequoia National Park. The claim also has drive-in access and is only 35 miles as the crow flies from my home. Oh, and one last thing...I rarely see other people there!

8) Here's a little more on the use of a ground positioning system (GPS). The little hand-held GPS units are typically only accurate to about 100 feet in the mountains and when you're near trees faulty readings are not all that uncommon. If you're lucky you can get airplane correction broadcast on Wide-Area Augmentation System (WAAS) reception. This increases your accuracy to around ten feet. If you use a GPS unit to lay out a claim, get check readings at different times of the day and don't argue with someone over a few feet. State-wide quad programs are very useful for laying out a claim and for determining the latitude/longitude of the boundary corners of an approximate location.

Good luck and have fun out there!

(c)  Reily Smith (for Bedrock Dreams) 2013  

(You can contact Reily at

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Hello, My friend Don who had the claim I want to file on (he died several years ago) had it as a lode claim. It was my understanding that filing that way was better because you could work it as a lode, or a placer. Is that true? The creek runs through the middle of it. Also, I suspect the BLM LR2000 thing is hard to use for a reason. Every time I have tried to do this, I run into a brick wall. They give me the run around back and forth from one agency to the next. Someone told me that even if I had the claim on the place, they could still burn the cabin. I think the cost of this is about $250 the first year, and $50 each year after that. Don told me there was not much gold on the place, but I would hate to see that cabin burned down. Then there's my dogs graves. This is a special spot for me, but I'm not sure I want to give them any money. Not real sure what to do. Gary

  2. Reily if you're monitoring this post, what are your thoughts? Can yo help Gary out here? Or, alternately, Gary why not e-mail Reily and run your questions by him? Me and claims don't get along these days, so I'm not the best guy for this. Best, J.R.

  3. Jim,
    Spent a great deal of time on the LR2000....only the government could design such a frustrating and under documented site like that. By would think I was tracking the gold from Fort Knox. (That's a topic for another day)

    So Reily was does take some getting used to...and some basic surveying skills. If you are like me....I can be patient....but have found a hinder at every turn. I guess if you have to have the claim....getting through hell is worth it. Great set of posts (2) Reily!

    Thanks Jim for allowing him to share!

  4. I've used the LR2000 too and I can be immensely frustrating at times. But Reily is correct...there's a whole series of steps that must be followed and completed correctly if you want a claim that's solid. Thanks for the good comments, J.R.

  5. The LR2000 is frustrating to use, but it still beats the old days of having to travel to a government office to look all this stuff up in musty books. I've also found the very useful. That mineral resources data is really nice for find info regarding past claims. the tool is also very nice AND it is nice enough to have the PLSS (boundary) lines on it for you!

    Yes the tools can be frustrating, but once you learn your way around them they are VERY helpful.

  6. Thanks for commenting Don. The readers can use your tips and they are appreciated. Best, J.R.


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