Phoenix Golf Course - Arizona
Par for the Course
This luxury resort boasts a championship golf course and spa facilities "entwined by carefully preserved Sonoran Desert terrain." Stay for a few days and you'll be spending more than one investor paid taxpayers for the property under the 1872 Mining Law.
In the early 1980s, an enterprising claimholder, who had bought federal land on the outskirts of Phoenix for less than $200 under the mining law, sold his parcel. He earned $400,000 plus a share of the newly planned hotel. Today, a lavish Hilton sits on what was once a public property—a testament to why this antiquated law needs to be updated.
The law's "patenting" provision, which allows such "bargain-basement" transfers, was designed as an incentive to lure pioneers westward to develop the frontier. But in modern times, savvy speculators have used it to claim public property near treasured landscapes or growing communities, eventually selling for a handsome profit. Under the 1872 Mining Law, it's just part for the course.
- Philip Shabecoff, "Federal Land Sales Are Assailed as Giveaway," New York Times, March 14, 1989
- General Accounting Office, The Mining Law of 1872 Needs Revision, March 1989 (PDF)