Alaska Miners Battle Illegal Seizure Of Valuable Claims

Alaska Miners Battle Illegal Seizure Of Valuable Claims

  William Perry Pendley, President and Chief Operating Officer of Mountain States Legal Foundation

DENVER, CO. - A husband and wife who own mining claims in Alaska that were illegally declared null and void by a federal agency have filed an administrative appeal en route to federal district court in an attempt to regain their property.  Donald E. and Judith Mullikin of Homer, Alaska, argue that decisions by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to invalidate their eight mining claims in Seward Peninsula were illegal due to the fact that they had provided the agency with the required documentation on a timely basis and had "cured" the alleged failure of the agency to process the documents that they had provided to it.  The BLM asserts that it did not receive the documents sent to it by the Mullikins and therefore may declare the Mullikins' claims null and void.  As required by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Mullikins today filed a Statement of Reasons with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA).

"All Americans should be offended by the outrageous conduct of the BLM in its treatment of the Mullikins and their property rights," said William Perry Pendley, president of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), which represents the Mullikins.  "The BLM has established a procedure by which it may unilaterally seize property belonging to others; this is unacceptable!"

On March 27, 2009, Ms. Mullikin mailed a completed small miner waiver certificate for the 2009-2010 assessment year to the BLM Office in Fairbanks.  She did not mail the form by certified mail because she was mailing it well in advance of the September 1 deadline.  On September 25, 2009, Ms. Mullikin received a telephone call from the BLM advising that it could not locate the Mullikins' certificate.  Ms. Mullikin offered to fax a copy of the certificate she had sent, but was told not to bother.  On November 12, 2009, the Mullikins mailed duplicates of the March 27, 2009, cover letter and small miner waiver certificate to the BLM and, on November 30, 2009, mailed copies of recorded Affidavits of Annual Labor for the 2008-2009 assessment year with a check to cover the $10 per claim filing fee.  The BLM cashed the check and mailed the Mullikins a receipt.

On December 8, 2009, the BLM issued two decisions voiding the Mullikins' claims but noting a right to appeal to the IBLA.  On December 28, 2009, the Mullikins mailed another set of duplicates of their March 27, 2009, cover letter and completed small miner waiver certificate to the Alaska State Office of the BLM, in which they advised that the resubmitted certificate was timely under the cure provision because it was submitted within 60 days of the BLM's December 8, 2009, decision.  On January 7, 2010, the Mullikins filed a Notice of Appeal and Petition for Stay with the IBLA.

Donald E. & Judith V. Mullikin, IBLA No. 2010-56.

Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest law firm dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.  Its offices are in the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area.