Friday, April 01, 2016

Bats Beat Miners

The US Forest Service installed 'bat gates' over a disused mine in Lake Tahoe National Forest bats had taken over for their habitat.  Miners sued the federal government for the action as an illegal "taking" since the gates put up to protect the bats also impeded the miners.

The Forest Service recognizes bats as important pollinators and pest control agents.  Consequently, on the advice of biologists the Service erected barriers in the mine shaft to protect the public's safety and allow the bats free access in 2010. Bats are under threat from disease, habitat destruction and pollution. {26.05.11, America's Bats Are Dying}  The miners had filed a mining claim covering the Seymour Quartz mine that was active in the 1950s.  Gold is often associated with quartz deposits in the Sierras; a higher price for gold makes some inactive mines worth working again.   Litigation ensued to remove the gates or compensate the miners who claimed the gates interfered with their claim activities. Removable vertical and horizontal bars prevented modern mining equipment from being used in the mine, rendering it useless according to the miners who represented themselves.  They started in the US District Court in Sacramento, but their claim was dismissed in 2013.  Eventually the lawsuit ended up in the US Claims Court in the District of Columbia.  There, Judge Kaplan issued an opinion on Tuesday saying the miners were still free to exercise their mining claim rights in ways that do not disturb a surface resource, i.e. the bats, so there was no illegal taking of property by the federal government.  Bats 1, Miners 0.