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Current Issues in Acquisition and Maintenance of Development Rights on Public Lands

Constance E. Brooks, Public Land Law II (1997)

While most land personnel and company executives religiously check plat books and land management plans for possible land withdrawals or classifications which limit mineral development, they often find that it is more difficult to determine if there are other controversies or proposals which could impede development and thus affect the decision to either acquire or pursue a particular prospect or play. Acquiring and maintaining the right to develop minerals on lands owned by the United States entails a number of restrictions, including lease stipulations, surface rights, competing mineral rights arising from multiple mineral development policies, or terms and conditions in a mine plan of operations.

This paper addresses land management policies or issues, which are often outside the scope of the average title search or records check, but which can directly affect development of a mining claim or a mineral lease. These include (1) wilderness related issues, other than the well-documented wilderness designations or wilderness study areas, such as abeyance management or new wilderness inventories; (2) other preservation mechanisms, such as the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, and the Antiquities Act; and (3) possible clouds on mineral development, such as proposed land exchanges or leases under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act. The