Bureau of Land Management officials are scheduled to meet with Forty Mile area gold miners tomorrow. BLM Alaska spokeswoman Leslie Ellis Waters says Friday’s meeting in Chicken will include the agency’s top administrators.
Ellis Waters says they were invited to attend the meeting. It follows recent years of tensions, highlighted by an August 2013 Environmental Protection Agency lead armed raid of several mining operations. Miners felt intimidated, but a subsequent governor’s report found officers did nothing wrong. Ellis Waters says there’s no official agenda for Friday’s meeting, but reclamation regulations are likely to be a primary topic.
Ellis Waters says there’s a lot of confusion around the topic, but stresses that the BLM will be there to listen. She could not say what data the water quality assessment and regulatory changes are based on, but longtime Forty Mile area Miner Sheldon Maier of Fairbanks contends the science isn’t there.
Maier’s wife Yenna describes the conflict between miners and regulators as over control, not better practices.
The Maiers have refused to pay federal access fees for a road they say they’ve invested thousands of dollars to repair. Last year the state sued the federal government claiming ownership of numerous historic rights of way in the Forty mile region. The Maiers, who have been vocal advocates on behalf of Forty Mile miners, say they’ve grown weary of meetings that don’t yield changes, and don’t plan on attending tomorrow’s session with the BLM in Chicken.