More than 8,000 gold and uranium mining claims have been staked on public land around the Grand Canyon since 2004, an increase of 2,000 percent, the Pew Environmental Group says. As prices for precious metals continue to rise, mining claims near the Grand Canyon and other natural landmarks are soaring, according to a report (available as a PDF here) produced by the Pew group.
The Denver Post reported on Friday that mining claims have also been staked around Joshua Tree National Park in California, Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in Washington state, Siskiyou Wild Rivers in Oregon, Gila Wilderness in New Mexico and Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah.
The Pew Environmental Group says that the culprit is the 1872 Mining Law, signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, which allows mining companies — including foreign-owned ones — to take gold and other metals from American public lands without paying any royalties to the US government. While the law has remained largely changed, the mining industry has expanded dramatically so that multinational corporations now enjoy essentially free access to a majority of US public lands, the Pew Environmental Group says.
The Grand Canyon is one of the 28 Official Finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature campaign.