'Miner Dave' Sues Agencies

Southern Oregon miner David Everist, known to miners everywhere as "Miner Dave" after the United States Forest Service violated his rights and arrested him without a warrant, recently disclosed that he has filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management/Department of Interior.

As Miner Dave explains it, his recently filed lawsuit calls for BLM and the DOI to defend the Public Grant that was culminated in the 1872 Mining Act and to demand their intervention against the United States Forest Service, whom he says has no lawful authority over the Locatable Mineral Estate.

"I'm not suing for any financial damages," Everist says. "This Mining Law is a grant from Congress to the people of the United States, over which the BLM is supposed to be the trustee for the grantor to provide for the orderly disposal of the mineral lands to the people. It's about time that BLM do their job and protect this Grant. They have a duty to defend my property rights against the Forest Service who has no business getting involved in this grant. What I want is for the BLM to co-ordinate with me and other miners in this mining district about this trustee-grantee relationship".

By "co-ordinate", Miner Dave is reffering to the fact the Federal Land Policy Management Act and other legislation requires that agencies of the federal government are required to meet and co-ordinate with local government bodies, not limited to county or city governments.

"Mining districts are a type of local government, just like irrigation districts and agricultural districts," Everist notes. "The agencies routinely co-ordinate with those types of local government."

But unlike irrigation or agricultural districts, mining districts are not mere taxation districts created through state authority. Gold mining historian and past Chairman of the Jefferson Mining District, Kerby Jackson, says that mining districts are just a federal recognition of the long standing rights of miners to organize and to create local rules, regulations and laws pertaining to mining that first originated with the Harz Mountain miners of Germany in 1400's and later spread into the rest of Europe. Immigrants, especially those descending from the tin miners of Cornwall, England introduced the ideology to the mining camps of the Far Western States in the late 1840's and early 1850's where this idealogy melded together with American ideas on self government, says Jackson. Later on, the United States Congress adopted the customs and local laws of these early mining camps in the famous 1866 Mining Act.

"The 1866 Act mostly originated from the local laws of the miners in the Grass Valley District in California's Mother Lode in the 1850's," Jackson noted. "Congress recognized that the miners have the right to self government through the organization of mining districts. Many people think that this is a sort of pipe dream, but this is very much part of the current law of the land pertaining to this particular type of mining via the General Mining Act of 1872 which re-affirmed this particular provision of the 1866 Act. These mining districts, when they are recognized by the miners inside their jurisdiction, have the right to create mining customs, rules and regulations. When the miners observe those customs and regulations, there is a force of law that even the Supreme Court must recognize. Mining Districts are a unique form of local government, which in this area, are actually what evolved into our county governments. Dave Everist was among the hundred or so miners who petitioned to organize the Jefferson Mining District. As a miner in this district, he has every right to call BLM to the table through the co-ordination process and have his grievances addressed. That's all he's asking for in this case".

According to Jackson, "Miner Dave", as he is widely known, has had long standing problems with the United States Forest Service.

"Essentially, they've violated his rights over and over again and have went as far as arresting him for simply excercising his rights. In addition to the fact that they lack lawful authority over his mineral property on Sturgis Creek, they have burned his personal property, violated state and federal laws and even went as far as abducting him from his claim and spirited him off into neighboring Jackson County because they knew that Gil Gilbertson would not co-operate with them. There was no warrant. They locked him up for digging a little hole in the ground. Many people in the local community who've had dealings with these people, believed that Dave would probably wind up dead because the Forest Service's employees have a reputation for physical agression," Jackson said. "But the fact of the matter is, the United States Forest Service has no lawful authority over this type of mining and they have no jurisdiction on a mining claim located under the 1872 Mining Act even if the claim is inside the National Forest System. While they have certain limitations to their authority, the only agency with lawful jurisdiction over this mineral estate is the Bureau of Land Management who has been entrusted with the duty to foster and encourage private citizens to develop and obtain the mineral resources of the Public Lands."

Everist states that he made numerous written requests to the BLM over the last year asking for them to meet with him on the issue. To date, the government agency has remained silent, refusing to answer his requests.

"Unfortunately, it seems that you have to sue these people to get them to do their job," Everist remarked.


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