Constitutionalists Launch ‘Security Operation’ At Lincoln-area Mine Amid Dispute With Forest Service
We are calling this Security Operation “Operation Big Sky”
This article comes from the Independent Record, in Helena, MT.
TOM KUGLIN – Independent Record
A dispute over mining on a federal claim east of Lincoln now has the involvement of three constitutionalist groups making a call for personnel to stop what they call harassment and unlawful action by the U.S. Forest Service.
Pacific Patriot Network, under the direction of Oath Keepers, and Idaho 111%, say they are at the White Hope Mine to provide a security mission and to act as a buffer between miners and the Forest Service.
“At the request of Intermountain Mining, owners of the White Hope Mine located in Lewis & Clark County Montana, Pacific Patriots Network, Oath Keepers and 111%’s mission is to ensure the mining claim owners 4th & 5th Amendment Constitutional Rights are not violated and to prevent further unlawful action by the United States Forest Service,” the groups said in a news release.
Oath Keepers describes itself as “a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.'”
The White Hope Mine is operated by Intermountain Mining LLC, owned by George Kornec and Phil Nappo. The claim is adjacent to current reclamation of the Mike Horse Mine tailings impoundment, being conducted by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
The project site is closed to the public during reclamation, although Kornec has access to the claim.
DEQ reported some safety concerns with others driving through the project area on Monday, but have made an arrangement for them to use a road only before and after construction operations, said DEQ communications director Kristi Ponozzo.
Forest Supervisor Bill Avey said Tuesday that the Forest Service is acting to bring the miners into compliance so that they can mine the claim.
According to the press release, the mine has been in constant operation since 1924, and does not fall under later regulations that require an operating plan.
“The USFS has no legal standing or precedence for their recent actions, but has taken it upon themselves to require unnecessary permits, enacted stalling techniques, made threats of arson, and strong arm tactics to coax a generation of older miners to submit to unlawful authority, preventing them from working their rightful mining claim,” the press release says.
The groups say their intention is to run a peaceful security operation and have served a notice of no trespass on the Forest Service. They will respond to any unlawful entry to the full extent of the law, the press release says.
“Our position is to protect the rights of these miners thru a open dialogue with the USFS and reach a Legal & Constitutional conclusion,” the press release says.