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Alaska Hand Mining Regulations

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Gold panning is generally allowed almost anywhere in Alaska, and only in the rarest cases would a permit be required. The main areas to avoid are mining claims if you do not have permission from the claim holder, and private property if you do not have the property owners permission. Native land should be considered private property, and not even gold panning should be done without permission from the proper authorities.

Hand fed sluice boxes are allowed in most areas, with the same restrictions as noted for gold pans above. However, many areas that are open to panning are closed to sluicing, and in some of those areas even gold panning must be done carefully to avoid any trouble. The mains areas of concern here are National Parks and Alaska State Parks. These parks can be very stringent in their rules governing gold pans and sluice boxes, so always check with the proper authorities before heading into an unknown area.

Metal detectors are an interesting area with few restrictions in regulation or statute, but many opinions will be heard. Again, avoid claims and private property without permission. Beware of historic sites. As long as you confine yourself to searching for gold or other minerals you should have no problems, but even possessing a metal detector in a historic site may find you trying to explain to a ranger what you are up to. Digging items more than one hundred years old is a violation of the Federal Antiquities Act, and can have serious legal consequences. The trend is to apply this law even to items less than 100 years old, if the item might have unique historic value.

An interesting note on the way some of these rules are written in the use of the language "uses no more equipment than" when describing what you may use to search for gold or other minerals. This language is exclusive, and in an area where the rules stated "no more equipment than a gold pan" prospectors have been challenged for using trowels or even spoons to fill the gold pan! The use of the pan itself as a scoop has been challenged also, because it was being employed as "a digging implement, not a gold pan". There is almost no limit to which the "no equipment other than" rule can be pushed when in the hands of an overzealous enforcement agent. Metal detectors can be called into question under this language, but it must be noted that a metal detector in and of itself does no excavating. It simply points out a likely spot to find an item. How that information is acted on should be held as the criteria (i.e. dig by hand, or dig with shovel), and not the use of the detector itself.

This page is a work in progress and so the list below is not to be considered complete. It includes the regulations and statutes governing gold pans and sluice boxes wherever restrictions may apply to their use in Alaska. If you know of or come across any regulations not mentioned here, please contact us at webmaster@akmining.com

Sixmile Creek and Resurrection Creeks, Southcentral Alaska

These two creeks are among the most popular recreational sites in Alaska. Fish & Games is currently revamping the habitat permits for the area so to keep up with the latest information visit their website at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=uselicense.main

 

Chugach State Park

PERMANENT REGULATIONS
TITLE 11
CHAPTER 020
ARTICLE 01
11 AAC 20.045

RECREATIONAL GOLD PANNING.

Recreational gold panning is allowed in Chugach State Park with the following stipulations:
(1) no motorized equipment is used;
(2) a person uses no more equipment than a gold pan and a shovel;
(3) no chemicals are used;
(4) anadromous fish streams are only open to recreational gold panning between May 16 and July 14 annually;
(5) no person may stake or file a mining claim or leasehold location in a state park; and
(6) no person may extract or disturb natural material for the purposes of recreational gold panning above the ordinary high water line or where live vegetative matter exists.

History -
Eff. 5/11/85, Register 94; am 2/3/88, Register 105

Authority -
AS 41.21.020
AS 41.21.040
AS 41.21.121

Denali State Park

PERMANENT REGULATIONS
TITLE 11
CHAPTER 020
ARTICLE 06
11 AAC 20.435

RECREATIONAL GOLD PANNING.

(a) Except as provided in (b) and (c) of this section, recreational gold panning is allowed in Denali State Park only if the following conditions are met:
(1) no motorized equipment is used;
(2) only a gold pan or a shovel, or both, may be used; and
(3) no chemicals are used.
(b) Recreational gold panning in Denali State Park may be conducted on an anadromous fish stream only between May 16 and July 14 annually.
(c) For the purpose of recreational gold panning, a person may not extract or disturb natural materials above the ordinary high water line or where live vegetative matter exists in Denali State Park.

History -
Eff. 5/24/96, Register 138

Authority -
AS 41.21.020
AS 41.21.040
AS 41.21.151
AS 41.21.950

Independence Mine State Park

PERMANENT REGULATIONS
TITLE 11
CHAPTER 020
ARTICLE 17
11 AAC 20.919

RECREATIONAL GOLD PANNING IN INDEPENDENCE MINE STATE HISTORICAL PARK.

Recreational gold panning is allowed in Independence Mine State Historical Park with the following stipulations:
(1) no motorized equipment is used;
(2) a person uses no more equipment than a gold pan and a shovel;
(3) no chemicals are used;
(4) no person may stake or file a mining claim or leasehold location in a state park; and
(5) no person may extract or disturb natural materials for the purpose of recreational gold panning above the ordinary high water line or where vegetative material exists.

History -
Eff. 2/3/88, Register 105

Authority -
AS 41.21.020
AS 41.21.040

Kenai State Parks

PERMANENT REGULATIONS
TITLE 11
CHAPTER 020
ARTICLE 17
11 AAC 20.918

RECREATIONAL GOLD PANNING IN KENAI STATE PARKS.

Recreational gold panning is allowed in state parks on the Kenai Peninsula with the following stipulations:
(1) no motorized equipment is used;
(2) a person uses no more equipment than a gold pan and a shovel;
(3) no person may use a shovel to recreational gold pan within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge located between river mile 45.5 and 74;
(4) no chemicals are used;
(5) anadromous fish streams are only open to recreational gold panning between May 16 and July 14 annually;
(6) no person may stake or file a mining claim or leasehold location in a state park; and
(7) no person may extract or disturb natural materials for the purpose of recreational gold panning above the ordinary high water line or where vegetative material exists.

History -
Eff. 5/11/85, Register 94; am 2/3/88, Register 105

Authority -
AS 41.21.020
AS 41.21.040


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