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Administrative Practice and Procedure before the IBLA - Cases and Recent Developments

David L. Hughes, Natural Resources and Environmental Administrative Law and Procedure II

The recent case dealing with this issue is Susan J. Kayler, 162 IBLA 245 (2004), decided on July 29, 2004, by Administrative Judge Hemmer, with Administrative Judge Hughes concurring. 1 The case presents a classic conflict between the old west of open prospecting and the new west of real estate development, thrown in with the exercise of asserted individual miners' rights to use the surface of public lands for recreation.

Appellant Kayler succeeded to ownership of the surface estate in lands in Yavapai County, Arizona, that were originally patented pursuant to the Stock-Raising Homestead Act of 1916 (SRHA), 43 U.S.C. §§ 291-301 (1970). 2 BLM described her land as being used for a residence in a low density residential subdivision called Pleasant County Ranches. As is usual for SHRA patents, ownership of all minerals in the lands was reserved to the United States.

The Roadrunner Prospectors Club, Inc. (Roadrunner) is “a nonprofit Arizona Corporation consisting of a group of enthusiasts that participate in the operation of suction dredges, dry washers, sluice boxes and other hand methods for the recovery of free gold and other heavy metals.” Roadrunners is organized and has rules and regulations specifying that its members “prospect and mine in accordance with the approved plan of operation” on mining claims located under the mining laws of the United States. On