Who owns the west?

Mining claims in Lewis and Clark County

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The hardrock mining industry owns gold, silver, and other precious metals and minerals beneath an estimated 10,866 acres of U.S. public land in Lewis and Clark County, acquired for as little as $0.84 per acre and held in perpetuity for a yearly rental fee as low as $0.62 an acre. Under a 132-year-old law originally intended to spur development of the West, an industry dominated by a handful of multinational corporations pays no federal royalties, and leaves behind a landscape of dramatically diminished value, scarred with tunnels, pits, and toxic waste piles.

Quick facts about mining claims in Lewis and Clark County

• Total number of claim-holders: 158

• Acres of public land claimed by the mining industry, estimated: 10,866 (1,087 typical city blocks)

• Dollars paid for each acre: as little as $0.84, and as little as $0.62 yearly rental fee

• Reimbursement to the federal government for gold, silver and other precious metals taken from public land: $0

• Percentage of claims held by foreign companies: 36%

• Land area ever claimed by the mining industry nationally, estimated: 79 million acres (the size of New Mexico)

EWG analysis of data compiled by the Bureau of Land Management.

Top Mining Claim Owners in Lewis and Clark County Ranked by Acres Claimed

Companies have been consolidated to account for subsidiaries. View this table without consolidation.

 Company/IndividualHeadquartersNumber of ClaimsAcreage ClaimedDate(s) Filed
1 ASARCO, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico World HQ in Mexico 189 3,873 1890 to 1982
2 Arthur M Fredriksen Helena, MT 5 420 1979 to 1998
3 Fred A Fredriksen Helena, MT 4 400 1984 to 1998
4 Nancy Gepford Helena, MT 5 400 1980
5 Bud Guthrie Helena, MT 5 400 1980
6 Cynthia Stenhjem Helena, MT 5 400 1980
7 Kevin Stenhjem Helena, MT 5 400 1980
8 Roger Vick Kalispell, MT 9 325 1995 to 1997
9 Renee Vick Kalispell, MT 9 325 1995 to 1997
10 Robert P Miles Whitefish, MT 9 325 1995 to 1997
See all claim holders in Lewis and Clark County

Some of the claimants in this table may be in partnership with other individuals or companies with a claim to the same land.



Source: EWG analysis of Bureau of Land Management's Land and Mineral Records 2000 (LR2000) data system. For claims, acreages are estimated based on maximum allowable size of claims. For patents, acreages are taken directly from the LR2000 database where available, and are estimated based on maximum allowable size of claim that preceded the patent where acreages are not noted in LR2000. All notices are assumed to be five acres in size, and the size of plans are calculated directly as the size of the land represented by the legal land description in the LR2000 database. The acreages we estimate through these methods would tend to overestimate the actual amount. We welcome corrections here, and would welcome a federal data management system that included the acreages involved in these important federal land transactions.