Joshua Tree National Park - California
Stargazing, birding and backpacking are favorite activities at this National Park that features the rare Joshua Tree, named by 19th-century Mormon settlers because its unique shape reminded them of the prophet Joshua reaching to the sky in prayer. More than 18 million people live within a three hour drive to this California park that has over 550,000 acres of wilderness and encompasses three unique ecosystems. Just west of the park, you may not see the claimstaking signs, but government records show recent claims on both sides of the Twentynine Palms highway, running right up to the edge of the park.
What minerals claimants are looking for is generally unclear. Often records show only that the claimant has paid a one-time location fee of $34 and an annual "claims maintenance fee" of $140. A real bargain. Especially, when you consider that the price to reserve multiple acres of valuable public land for mining exploration is less than the cost of a week-long stay at a campsite inside this park.
From the outset, the Mining Law required $100 worth of annual "assessment" work to hold a claim. In 1993, yearly fees replaced the assessment requirement—a minor adjustment made to the law in its long lifetime. Revenue from the claims maintenance fees and a one-time location fee has been earmarked to expedite the management and review of mining plans. None of this money is used to clean up abandoned mines or buy back old claimes.
Bureau of Land Management, "Required Fees for Mining Claims or Sites," The Federal Register, Volume 74, Number 173, Page 30959-30962, June 29, 2009.