U.S. Mining Database: Mining Law Threatens Grand Canyon, other Natural Treasures

Publication Date: August 2007

Publisher: Environmental Working Group

Author(s): Dusty Horwitt

Research Area: Environment

Keywords: Grand Canyon; mining; west

Type: Report


A modern day land rush is sweeping the West, with mining interests and speculators staking thousands of claims that are encroaching on American treasures including the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Arches, and Yosemite National Parks. The United States' outdated mining law written in 1872 leaves these lands vulnerable to severe impacts.

A new Environmental Working Group analysis of government records shows that in 12 Western states, the total number of active mining claims has increased from 207,540 in January 2003 to 376,493 in July 2007-a rise of more than 80 percent. Between September 2006 and May 2007 alone, companies and individuals staked more than 50,000 claims (BLM 2007).