Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area - Oregon
Mining the Beach...and the Bank
This 40-mile stretch along the scenic Oregon coast is a recreation haven for swimming, fishing, horseback riding or sitting back and enjoying the ocean breezes. But under the 1872 Mining Law, the popular vacation spot could have been marred by mining operations.
Before the land that would make up the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was "withdrawn" from the mining law, 4,000 acres were staked with mining claims. As the protection plans were being finalized, the claimholder filed to buy his claims outright. The state objected and the Department of Interior didn't want to sell, but the mining law prevailed. After buying the land at 1872 prices under the mining law, the new owner offered to sell the property back for $11 million.
Thanks to the outdated law, the Oregon case is one many where strategically located claims, opportunely times, have put a monkey wrench in widely supported plans for open space and public recreation.
- Bill Dietrich, "Mining-Claims Law is Paydirt for Many - Legislation Would Change Cheap Sale of Public Lands," The Seattle Times, July 30, 1991.
- "New Mining Claims at Dunes Complicate Land Swap Plan," Eugene Register-Guard, December 28, 1989.
- Democrat Staff Report, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, House Committee on Natural Resources, Taking from the Taxpayer: Public Subsidies for Natural Resource Development, August 1994.