Mining claims extend the right to collect minerals on federal land to private citizens and companies. Today’s practices are largely guided by the Mining Act of 1872 which allows any unclaimed federal land that is not otherwise restricted to be locatable for a mining claim. This precedent of staking a claim makes mining on federal land one of the least encumbered private commercial uses of public land and, as such, represents one of the richest data sets of land use on public land. The Diggings traces active and closed mining claims as old as 1976. Older claims are archived in the Land Patents™.
Historic Homesteads, Mining, Rangeland, Timber, and Other Land Rights
As the United States progressed across North America, acquiring new land, it became the role of the federal government to document and manage the distribution, sale, and use of these properties. These could be in the form of homesteads, grants, sales, indian trust, timber, rangeland, and many other uses. The historic transition of federal land to private, corporate, or trust holding is catalogued in The Land Patents.
Map of oil and gas leases in the USA from The Coal Fields
The Coal Fields™
Coal Mining Leases
Coal collection on public land is in a state of flux. At the moment, there is a hiatus on authorizing any new coal mining leases while federal policy on coal is under review. In the mean time, preexisting leases continue to be honored. While this is a blow to coal mining on federal land, applications for new coal mining leases were already on the wain, as our trends reporting demonstrates. The Coal Fields™ tracks coal mining on federal land back to 1976 and will continue to be updated as new information comes to light. This may soon join The Land Patents™ as an archive of historic land use.
Map of coal mining leases in the USA from The Coal Fields
More recently, public land has become a host to alternative energy generation. The wide open plains and near desolate deserts have always possessed the natural resources of wind and sun, but only recently have these become truly efficient power sources. The Solar Energy Zones, Wind Energy Zones, and Thermal Zones list and analyze solar, wind, and geothermal activity on public lands.
Solar Energy Zones™
Solar Power Collection
Solar permits on public land may be rare, but when they are authorized, they are for huge tracts of land. A single permit can cover hundreds and even thousands of acres. Solar permits can include a wide range of uses, from right of ways, plants, as well as fields for solar panels. For any of these uses, Solar Energy Zones™ keeps up-to-date records of current, pending, and closed solar power leases on public land.
Map of geothermal power leases in the USA from Thermal Zones
The Film Locations™
Filming on public land requires permitting through the Bureau of Land Management. Applications and permits for films, commercials, and other shoots staged on public land are aggregated and analyzed on The Film Locations. Applications from 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Brothers are among many by 6,699 the permit entities listed on the site.
Map of filming permits in the USA from The Film Locations
The Recreation Sites™
Outdoor Activity Permits
Permitting for human enjoyment of public land is also available. Businesses and organizations around outdoor activities have also received permits for running rafting, hiking, hunting, tour groups, off road vehicle, even rodeo operations on public land. The Recreation Sites™ provides data on the locations and status of recreation leases on public land.
Map of outdoor activity permits in the USA from The Recreation Sites
A much lower impact usage of public land is beekeeping. Compared to many other permits released by the Bureau of Land Management, apiary permits are few and far between. The process to gain one can be onerous and with concern to protect native pollinators increasing, introducing the European honeybee can be considered more of a threat than a necessity in many American wild lands. With the environmental concerns limiting potential apiary locations the number of authorized permits tend to hover in the 60s. The Apiaries™ tracks the trends and locations of these and past apiary permits on BLM land.
Map of beekeeping leases in the USA from The Apiaries
Water permits on public land are few and far between and represent the smallest dataset within the BLM Collection. Years can go by without any new water rights being authorized by the BLM. Yet, The Watersheds™ continues to keep up-to-date records of locations of current, pending, and past water rights on public land.