FEDERAL APPEALS BOARD ORDERS AGENCY TO “STAND AND DELIVER”
May 27, 2010 - For Immediate Release
DENVER, CO. Three Alaska miners who own mining claims in Alaska that were illegally declared null and void by a federal agency today were notified that the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to provide a timeline of when the miners’ files were transferred and to perform a diligent search for their waiver certificates. Donald E., Judith, and Christopher L. Mullikin of Homer, Alaska, argue that the BLM’s invalidation of their seventeen mining claims in the Seward Peninsula was illegal because 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 they provided to it. The BLM asserts that it did not receive the documents and, therefore, may declare the claims null and void. As required by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), on March 26, 2010, the Mullikins filed a Statement of Reasons with the IBLA. In its order today, the IBLA consolidated the family’s two appeals.
“This is very good news because the IBLA did not presume that the BLM was functioning properly,” said William Perry Pendley, president of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), which represents the Mullikins. “Essentially, the IBLA told the BLM to ‘stand and deliver’.”
On March 27, 2009, the Mullikins mailed completed small miner waiver certificates for the 2009–2010 assessment year to the BLM’s Fairbanks office. They did not mail the forms by certified mail because they were mailing them well in advance of the September 1 deadline. On September 25, 2009, they received a telephone call from the BLM advising that it could not locate the Mullikins’ certificates. The Mullikins offered to fax a copy of the certificates they had sent but were told not to bother. On November 12, 2009, the Mullikins sent duplicates of the March 27, 2009, cover letters and small miner waiver certificates to the BLM and, on November 30, 2009, sent the BLM copies of recorded Affidavits of Annual Labor for the 2008–2009 assessment year with checks to cover the $10 per claim filing fee. The BLM cashed the checks and mailed receipts to the Mullikins.
On December 8, 2009, the BLM issued decisions voiding the Mullikins’ claims but noting a right of appeal to the IBLA. On December 28, 2009, the Mullikins sent two other duplicate sets of the March 27, 2009, cover letters and completed small miner waiver certificates to the Alaska State Office of the BLM and advised that the resubmitted certificates were timely under the cure provision because they were submitted within 60 days of the BLM’s December 8, 2009, decision. On January 7, 2010, the Mullikins filed Notices of Appeal and Petitions for Stay with the IBLA.
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.
Christopher L. Mullikin, Donald E. and Judith Mullikin, IBLA Nos. 2010-53, 2010-56 (consolidated)
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