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e-CFR data is current as of October 21, 2020

Title 36Chapter IIPart 228 → Subpart A


Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property
PART 228—MINERALS


Subpart A—Locatable Minerals


Contents
§228.1   Purpose.
§228.2   Scope.
§228.3   Definitions.
§228.4   Plan of operations—notice of intent—requirements.
§228.5   Plan of operations—approval.
§228.6   Availability of information to the public.
§228.7   Inspection, noncompliance.
§228.8   Requirements for environmental protection.
§228.9   Maintenance during operations, public safety.
§228.10   Cessation of operations, removal of structures and equipment.
§228.11   Prevention and control of fire.
§228.12   Access.
§228.13   Bonds.
§228.14   Appeals.
§228.15   Operations within National Forest Wilderness.

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§228.1   Purpose.

It is the purpose of these regulations to set forth rules and procedures through which use of the surface of National Forest System lands in connection with operations authorized by the United States mining laws (30 U.S.C. 21-54), which confer a statutory right to enter upon the public lands to search for minerals, shall be conducted so as to minimize adverse environmental impacts on National Forest System surface resources. It is not the purpose of these regulations to provide for the management of mineral resources; the responsibility for managing such resources is in the Secretary of the Interior.

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§228.2   Scope.

These regulations apply to operations hereafter conducted under the United States mining laws of May 10, 1872, as amended (30 U.S.C. 22 et seq.), as they affect surface resources on all National Forest System lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture to which such laws are applicable: Provided, however, That any area of National Forest lands covered by a special Act of Congress (16 U.S.C. 482a-482q) is subject to the provisions of this part and the provisions of the special act, and in the case of conflict the provisions of the special act shall apply.

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§228.3   Definitions.

For the purposes of this part the following terms, respectively, shall mean:

(a) Operations. All functions, work, and activities in connection with prospecting, exploration, development, mining or processing of mineral resources and all uses reasonably incident thereto, including roads and other means of access on lands subject to the regulations in this part, regardless of whether said operations take place on or off mining claims.

(b) Operator. A person conducting or proposing to conduct operations.

(c) Person. Any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity.

(d) Mining claim. Any unpatented mining claim or unpatented millsite authorized by the United States mining laws of May 10, 1872, as amended (30 U.S.C. 22 et seq.).

(e) Authorized officer. The Forest Service officer to whom authority to review and approve operating plans has been delegated.

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§228.4   Plan of operations—notice of intent—requirements.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, a notice of intent to operate is required from any person proposing to conduct operations which might cause significant disturbance of surface resources. Such notice of intent to operate shall be submitted to the District Ranger having jurisdiction over the area in which the operations will be conducted. Each notice of intent to operate shall provide information sufficient to identify the area involved, the nature of the proposed operations, the route of access to the area of operations, and the method of transport.

(1) A notice of intent to operate is not required for:

(i) Operations which will be limited to the use of vehicles on existing public roads or roads used and maintained for National Forest System purposes;

(ii) Prospecting and sampling which will not cause significant surface resource disturbance and will not involve removal of more than a reasonable amount of mineral deposit for analysis and study which generally might include searching for and occasionally removing small mineral samples or specimens, gold panning, metal detecting, non-motorized hand sluicing, using battery operated dry washers, and collecting of mineral specimens using hand tools;

(iii) Marking and monumenting a mining claim;

(iv) Underground operations which will not cause significant surface resource disturbance;

(v) Operations, which in their totality, will not cause surface resource disturbance which is substantially different than that caused by other users of the National Forest System who are not required to obtain a Forest Service special use authorization, contract, or other written authorization;

(vi) Operations which will not involve the use of mechanized earthmoving equipment, such as bulldozers or backhoes, or the cutting of trees, unless those operations otherwise might cause a significant disturbance of surface resources; or

(vii) Operations for which a proposed plan of operations is submitted for approval;

(2) The District Ranger will, within 15 days of receipt of a notice of intent to operate, notify the operator if approval of a plan of operations is required before the operations may begin.

(3) An operator shall submit a proposed plan of operations to the District Ranger having jurisdiction over the area in which operations will be conducted in lieu of a notice of intent to operate if the proposed operations will likely cause a significant disturbance of surface resources. An operator also shall submit a proposed plan of operations, or a proposed supplemental plan of operations consistent with §228.4(d), to the District Ranger having jurisdiction over the area in which operations are being conducted if those operations are causing a significant disturbance of surface resources but are not covered by a current approved plan of operations. The requirement to submit a plan of operations shall not apply to the operations listed in paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (v). The requirement to submit a plan of operations also shall not apply to operations which will not involve the use of mechanized earthmoving equipment, such as bulldozers or backhoes, or the cutting of trees, unless those operations otherwise will likely cause a significant disturbance of surface resources.

(4) If the District Ranger determines that any operation is causing or will likely cause significant disturbance of surface resources, the District Ranger shall notify the operator that the operator must submit a proposed plan of operations for approval and that the operations can not be conducted until a plan of operations is approved.

(b) Any person conducting operations on the effective date of these regulations, who would have been required to submit a plan of operations under §228.4(a), may continue operations but shall within 120 days thereafter submit a plan of operations to the District Ranger having jurisdiction over the area within which operations are being conducted: Provided, however, That upon a showing of good cause the authorized officer will grant an extension of time for submission of a plan of operations, not to exceed an additional 6 months. Operations may continue according to the submitted plan during its review, unless the authorized officer determines that the operations are unnecessarily or unreasonably causing irreparable damage to surface resources and advises the operator of those measures needed to avoid such damage. Upon approval of a plan of operations, operations shall be conducted in accordance with the approved plan. The requirement to submit a plan of operations shall not apply: (1) To operations excepted in §228.4(a) or (2) to operations concluded prior to the effective date of the regulations in this part.

(c) The plan of operations shall include:

(1) The name and legal mailing address of the operators (and claimants if they are not the operators) and their lessees, assigns, or designees.

(2) A map or sketch showing information sufficient to locate the proposed area of operations on the ground, existing and/or proposed roads or access routes to be used in connection with the operations as set forth in §228.12 and the approximate location and size of areas where surface resources will be disturbed.

(3) Information sufficient to describe or identify the type of operations proposed and how they would be conducted, the type and standard of existing and proposed roads or access routes, the means of transportation used or to be used as set forth in §228.12, the period during which the proposed activity will take place, and measures to be taken to meet the requirements for environmental protection in §228.8.

(d) The plan of operations shall cover the requirements set forth in paragraph (c) of this section, as foreseen for the entire operation for the full estimated period of activity: Provided, however, That if the development of a plan for an entire operation is not possible at the time of preparation of a plan, the operator shall file an initial plan setting forth his proposed operation to the degree reasonably foreseeable at that time, and shall thereafter file a supplemental plan or plans whenever it is proposed to undertake any significant surface disturbance not covered by the initial plan.

(e) At any time during operations under an approved plan of operations, the authorized officer may ask the operator to furnish a proposed modification of the plan detailing the means of minimizing unforeseen significant disturbance of surface resources. If the operator does not furnish a proposed modification within a time deemed reasonable by the authorized officer, the authorized officer may recommend to his immediate superior that the operator be required to submit a proposed modification of the plan. The recommendation of the authorized officer shall be accompanied by a statement setting forth in detail the supporting facts and reasons for his recommendations. In acting upon such recommendation, the immediate superior of the authorized officer shall determine:

(1) Whether all reasonable measures were taken by the authorized officer to predict the environmental impacts of the proposed operations prior to approving the operating plan,

(2) Whether the disturbance is or probably will become of such significance as to require modification of the operating plan in order to meet the requirements for environmental protection specified in §228.8 and

(3) Whether the disturbance can be minimized using reasonable means. Lacking such determination that unforeseen significant disturbance of surface resources is occurring or probable and that the disturbance can be minimized using reasonable means, no operator shall be required to submit a proposed modification of an approved plan of operations. Operations may continue in accordance with the approved plan until a modified plan is approved, unless the immediate superior of the authorized officer determines that the operations are unnecessarily or unreasonably causing irreparable injury, loss or damage to surface resources and advises the operator of those measures needed to avoid such damage.

(f) Upon completion of an environmental analysis in connection with each proposed operating plan, the authorized officer will determine whether an environmental statement is required. Not every plan of operations, supplemental plan or modification will involve the preparation of an environmental statement. Environmental impacts will vary substantially depending on whether the nature of operations is prospecting, exploration, development, or processing, and on the scope of operations (such as size of operations, construction required, length of operations and equipment required), resulting in varying degrees of disturbance to vegetative resources, soil, water, air, or wildlife. The Forest Service will prepare any environmental statements that may be required.

(g) The information required to be included in a notice of intent or a plan of operations, or supplement or modification thereto, has been assigned Office of Management and Budget Control #0596-0022. The public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to vary from a few minutes for an activity involving little or no surface disturbance to several months for activities involving heavy capital investments and significant surface disturbance, with an average of 2 hours per individual response. This includes time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Chief (2800), Forest Service, USDA, P.O. Box 96090, Washington, DC 20090-6090 and to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20503.

[39 FR 31317, Aug. 28, 1974. Redesignated at 46 FR 36142, July 14, 1981, and amended at 54 FR 6893, Feb. 15, 1989; 69 FR 41430, July 9, 2004; 70 FR 32731, June 6, 2005]

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§228.5   Plan of operations—approval.

(a) Operations shall be conducted in accordance with an approved plan of operations, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section and in §228.4 (a), (b), and (e). A proposed plan of operation shall be submitted to the District Ranger, who shall promptly acknowledge receipt thereof to the operator. The authorized officer shall, within thirty (30) days of such receipt, analyze the proposal, considering the economics of the operation along with the other factors in determining the reasonableness of the requirements for surface resource protection, and;

(1) Notify the operator that he has approved the plan of operations; or

(2) Notify the operator that the proposed operations are such as not to require an operating plan; or

(3) Notify the operator of any changes in, or additions to, the plan of operations deemed necessary to meet the purpose of the regulations in this part; or

(4) Notify the operator that the plan is being reviewed, but that more time, not to exceed an additional sixty (60) days, is necessary to complete such review, setting forth the reasons why additional time is needed: Provided, however, That days during which the area of operations is inaccessible for inspection shall not be included when computing the sixty (60) day period; or

(5) Notify the operator that the plan cannot be approved until a final environmental statement has been prepared and filed with the Council on Environmental Quality as provided in §228.4(f).

(b) Pending final approval of the plan of operations, the authorized officer will approve such operations as may be necessary for timely compliance with the requirements of Federal and State laws, so long as such operations are conducted so as to minimize environmental impacts as prescribed by the authorized officer in accordance with the standards contained in §228.8.

(c) A supplemental plan or plans of operations provided for in §228.4(d) and a modification of an approved operating plan as provided for in §228.4(e) shall be subject to approval by the authorized officer in the same manner as the initial plan of operations: Provided, however, That a modification of an approved plan of operations under §228.4(e) shall be subject to approval by the immediate superior of the authorized officer in cases where it has been determined that a modification is required.

(d) In the provisions for review of operating plans, the Forest Service will arrange for consultation with appropriate agencies of the Department of the Interior with respect to significant technical questions concerning the character of unique geologic conditions and special exploration and development systems, techniques, and equipment, and with respect to mineral values, mineral resources, and mineral reserves. Further, the operator may request the Forest Service to arrange for similar consultations with appropriate agencies of the U.S. Department of the Interior for a review of operating plans.

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§228.6   Availability of information to the public.

Except as provided herein, all information and data submitted by an operator pursuant to the regulations in this part shall be available for examination by the public at the Office of the District Ranger in accordance with the provisions of 7 CFR 1.1-1.6 and 36 CFR 200.5-200.10. Specifically identified information and data submitted by the operator as confidential concerning trade secrets or privileged commercial or financial information will not be available for public examination. Information and data to be withheld from public examination may include, but is not limited to, known or estimated outline of the mineral deposits and their location, attitude, extent, outcrops, and content, and the known or planned location of exploration pits, drill holes, excavations pertaining to location and entry pursuant to the United States mining laws, and other commercial information which relates to competitive rights of the operator.

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§228.7   Inspection, noncompliance.

(a) Forest Officers shall periodically inspect operations to determine if the operator is complying with the regulations in this part and an approved plan of operations.

(b) If an operator fails to comply with the regulations or his approved plan of operations and the noncompliance is unnecessarily or unreasonably causing injury, loss or damage to surface resources the authorized officer shall serve a notice of noncompliance upon the operator or his agent in person or by certified mail. Such notice shall describe the noncompliance and shall specify the action to comply and the time within which such action is to be completed, generally not to exceed thirty (30) days: Provided, however, That days during which the area of operations is inaccessible shall not be included when computing the number of days allowed for compliance.

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§228.8   Requirements for environmental protection.

All operations shall be conducted so as, where feasible, to minimize adverse environmental impacts on National Forest surface resources, including the following requirements:

(a) Air Quality. Operator shall comply with applicable Federal and State air quality standards, including the requirements of the Clean Air Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1857 et seq.).

(b) Water Quality. Operator shall comply with applicable Federal and State water quality standards, including regulations issued pursuant to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (33 U.S.C. 1151 et seq.).

(c) Solid Wastes. Operator shall comply with applicable Federal and State standards for the disposal and treatment of solid wastes. All garbage, refuse, or waste, shall either be removed from National Forest lands or disposed of or treated so as to minimize, so far as is practicable, its impact on the environment and the forest surface resources. All tailings, dumpage, deleterious materials, or substances and other waste produced by operations shall be deployed, arranged, disposed of or treated so as to minimize adverse impact upon the environment and forest surface resources.

(d) Scenic Values. Operator shall, to the extent practicable, harmonize operations with scenic values through such measures as the design and location of operating facilities, including roads and other means of access, vegetative screening of operations, and construction of structures and improvements which blend with the landscape.

(e) Fisheries and Wildlife Habitat. In addition to compliance with water quality and solid waste disposal standards required by this section, operator shall take all practicable measures to maintain and protect fisheries and wildlife habitat which may be affected by the operations.

(f) Roads. Operator shall construct and maintain all roads so as to assure adequate drainage and to minimize or, where practicable, eliminate damage to soil, water, and other resource values. Unless otherwise approved by the authorized officer, roads no longer needed for operations:

(1) Shall be closed to normal vehicular traffic,

(2) Bridges and culverts shall be removed,

(3) Cross drains, dips, or water bars shall be constructed, and

(4) The road surface shall be shaped to as near a natural contour as practicable and be stabilized.

(g) Reclamation. Upon exhaustion of the mineral deposit or at the earliest practicable time during operations, or within 1 year of the conclusion of operations, unless a longer time is allowed by the authorized officer, operator shall, where practicable, reclaim the surface disturbed in operations by taking such measures as will prevent or control onsite and off-site damage to the environment and forest surface resources including:

(1) Control of erosion and landslides;

(2) Control of water runoff;

(3) Isolation, removal or control of toxic materials;

(4) Reshaping and revegetation of disturbed areas, where reasonably practicable; and

(5) Rehabilitation of fisheries and wildlife habitat.

(h) Certification or other approval issued by State agencies or other Federal agencies of compliance with laws and regulations relating to mining operations will be accepted as compliance with similar or parallel requirements of these regulations.

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§228.9   Maintenance during operations, public safety.

During all operations operator shall maintain his structures, equipment, and other facilities in a safe, neat and workmanlike manner. Hazardous sites or conditions resulting from operations shall be marked by signs, fenced or otherwise identified to protect the public in accordance with Federal and State laws and regulations.

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§228.10   Cessation of operations, removal of structures and equipment.

Unless otherwise agreed to by the authorized officer, operator shall remove within a reasonable time following cessation of operations all structures, equipment and other facilities and clean up the site of operations. Other than seasonally, where operations have ceased temporarily, an operator shall file a statement with the District Ranger which includes:

(a) Verification of intent to maintain the structures, equipment and other facilities,

(b) The expected reopening date, and

(c) An estimate of extended duration of operations. A statement shall be filed every year in the event operations are not reactivated. Operator shall maintain the operating site, structures, equipment and other facilities in a neat and safe condition during nonoperating periods.

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§228.11   Prevention and control of fire.

Operator shall comply with all applicable Federal and State fire laws and regulations and shall take all reasonable measures to prevent and suppress fires on the area of operations and shall require his employees, contractors and subcontractors to do likewise.

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§228.12   Access.

An operator is entitled to access in connection with operations, but no road, trail, bridge, landing area for aircraft, or the like, shall be constructed or improved, nor shall any other means of access, including but not limited to off-road vehicles, be used until the operator has received approval of an operating plan in writing from the authorized officer when required by §228.4(a). Proposals for construction, improvement or use of such access as part of a plan of operations shall include a description of the type and standard of the proposed means of access, a map showing the proposed route of access, and a description of the means of transportation to be used. Approval of the means of such access as part of a plan of operations shall specify the location of the access route, design standards, means of transportation, and other conditions reasonably necessary to protect the environment and forest surface resources, including measures to protect scenic values and to insure against erosion and water or air pollution.

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§228.13   Bonds.

(a) Any operator required to file a plan of operations shall, when required by the authorized officer, furnish a bond conditioned upon compliance with §228.8(g), prior to approval of such plan of operations. In lieu of a bond, the operator may deposit into a Federal depository, as directed by the Forest Service, and maintain therein, cash in an amount equal to the required dollar amount of the bond or negotiable securities of the United States having market value at the time of deposit of not less than the required dollar amount of the bond. A blanket bond covering nationwide or statewide operations may be furnished if the terms and conditions thereof are sufficient to comply with the regulations in this part.

(b) In determining the amount of the bond, consideration will be given to the estimated cost of stabilizing, rehabilitating, and reclaiming the area of operations.

(c) In the event that an approved plan of operations is modified in accordance with §228.4 (d) and (e), the authorized officer will review the initial bond for adequacy and, if necessary, will adjust the bond to conform to the operations plan as modified.

(d) When reclamation has been completed in accordance with §228.8(g), the authorized officer will notify the operator that performance under the bond has been completed: Provided, however, That when the Forest Service has accepted as completed any portion of the reclamation, the authorized officer shall notify the operator of such acceptance and reduce proportionally the amount of bond thereafter to be required with respect to the remaining reclamation.

[39 FR 31317, Aug. 28, 1974; 39 FR 32029, Sept. 4, 1974]

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§228.14   Appeals.

Appeal of decisions of an authorized officer made pursuant to this subpart is governed by 36 CFR part 214 or 215.

[78 FR 33724, June 5, 2013]

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§228.15   Operations within National Forest Wilderness.

(a) The United States mining laws shall extend to each National Forest Wilderness for the period specified in the Wilderness Act and subsequent establishing legislation to the same extent they were applicable prior to the date the Wilderness was designated by Congress as a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Subject to valid existing rights, no person shall have any right or interest in or to any mineral deposits which may be discovered through prospecting or other information-gathering activity after the legal date on which the United States mining laws cease to apply to the specific Wilderness.

(b) Holders of unpatented mining claims validly established on any National Forest Wilderness prior to inclusion of such unit in the National Wilderness Preservation System shall be accorded the rights provided by the United States mining laws as then applicable to the National Forest land involved. Persons locating mining claims in any National Forest Wilderness on or after the date on which said Wilderness was included in the National Wilderness Preservation System shall be accorded the rights provided by the United States mining laws as applicable to the National Forest land involved and subject to provisions specified in the establishing legislation. Persons conducting operations as defined in §228.3 in National Forest Wilderness shall comply with the regulations in this part. Operations shall be conducted so as to protect National Forest surface resources in accordance with the general purposes of maintaining the National Wilderness Preservation System unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness and to preserve its wilderness character, consistent with the use of the land for mineral location, exploration, development, drilling, and production and for transmission lines, water lines, telephone lines, and processing operations, including, where essential, the use of mechanized transport, aircraft or motorized equipment.

(c) Persons with valid mining claims wholly within National Forest Wilderness shall be permitted access to such surrounded claims by means consistent with the preservation of National Forest Wilderness which have been or are being customarily used with respect to other such claims surrounded by National Forest Wilderness. No operator shall construct roads across National Forest Wilderness unless authorized in writing by the Forest Supervisor in accordance with §228.12.

(d) On all mining claims validly established on lands within the National Wilderness Preservation System, the operator shall take all reasonable measures to remove any structures, equipment and other facilities no longer needed for mining purposes in accordance with the provisions in §228.10 and restore the surface in accordance with the requirements in §228.8(g).

(e) The title to timber on patented claims validly established after the land was included within the National Wilderness Preservation System remains in the United States, subject to a right to cut and use timber for mining purposes. So much of the mature timber may be cut and used as is needed in the extraction, removal, and beneficiation of the mineral deposits, if needed timber is not otherwise reasonably available. The cutting shall comply with the requirements for sound principles of forest management as defined by the National Forest rules and regulations and set forth in stipulations to be included in the plan of operations, which as a minimum incorporate the following basic principles of forest management:

(1) Harvesting operations shall be so conducted as to minimize soil movement and damage from water runoff; and

(2) Slash shall be disposed of and other precautions shall be taken to minimize damage from forest insects, disease, and fire.

(f) The Chief, Forest Service, shall allow any activity, including prospecting, for the purpose of gathering information about minerals in National Forest Wilderness except that any such activity for gathering information shall be carried on in a manner compatible with the preservation of the wilderness environment as specified in the plan of operations.

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