Couple sue over disabled gold minesA South Dakota couple filed a lawsuit Friday accusing the U.S. Forest Service of illegally bulldozing and gating two of the three gold mines in which they own mining rights.
By: By Carson Walker, The Associated Press , The Jamestown Sun
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A South Dakota couple filed a lawsuit Friday accusing the U.S. Forest Service of illegally bulldozing and gating two of the three gold mines in which they own mining rights.
The lawsuit filed in Rapid City by Arron and Judy Marston of Hot Springs asks for $400,000 or an order that the mines in the southwestern part of the state be restored to their prior condition.
Along with the Forest Service, the lawsuit names Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell, Black Hills National Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien and District Ranger Lynn Kolund of the Hell Canyon Ranger District.
Attorneys for the government are not allowed to comment on pending cases and have not filed a legal response. Government officials have not said why the mines were closed.
The Marstons bought the mining rights in August 2000 from a man who claimed the rights around 1975, and they have maintained and developed the mines since, according to the lawsuit.
The couple worked the mines in the Black Hills National Forest during the summer of 2006 and then left for the winter.
In August 2006, Forest Service workers bulldozed the trenches and shafts on one mine, making it inaccessible, the lawsuit states.
Around October 2006, agency workers installed a locked gate over the tunnel entrance to one of the other mines, blocking access to it, the lawsuit states.
The Marstons said they found out about the changes after returning to the mines in May 2007. Their lawsuit says they never agreed to the closures or were notified of them and accuses the government and its officials of trespassing, negligence and violating the General Mining Law of 1872.