Mine Owners Reply to Forest Service Lawsuit

Miners deny claims that their mine northwest of Helena fails to comply with regulations

By Molly Priddy

HELENA — Two Montana miners are denying claims that their mine northwest of Helena fails to comply with U.S. Forest Service regulations.

George Kornec and Philip Nappo filed their response to a Forest Service lawsuit that asks a judge to declare the men acted illegally in building a garage, cutting down trees, opening a road and locking a gate near the unpatented White Hope mine claims near Lincoln.

Kornec and Nappo argue the mine falls under an 1872 law that grants both surface and subsurface rights on mine claims. The Forest Service said Kornec missed a deadline to re-affirm their claim, so it now falls under a 1955 law in which the Forest Service retains surface rights.

Kornec said he was going to file a new operating plan, but didn’t due to “bad faith actions” by the Forest Service.

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