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Administration of the Mineral Patent Laws

Karl S. Landstrom, Proceedings of 9th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1964)


The Department of the Interior is responsible for the mineral resources on some 800 million acres, approximately one-third of the area of the United States. I can find no better words to summarize the Department's responsibility of properly administering the mining laws than those of the United States Supreme Court in Cameron v. United States1 when it said:

[68] By general statutory provisions the execution of the laws regulating the acquisition of rights in the public lands and the general care of these lands is confided to the Land Department, as a special tribunal; and the Secretary of the Interior, as the head of the Department, is charged with seeing that this authority is rightly exercised to the end that valid claims may be recognized, invalid ones eliminated, and the rights of the public preserved.


Through Secretary Udall's natural resources program and in cooperation with members of Congress, advisory boards, industry organizations, and others, many constructive changes have been made toward meeting land management objectives. A few items are worthy of special notice before an audience interested primarily in mineral resources.

The Bureau of Land Management was reorganized in 1961, eliminating an entire administrative echelon. Decision making w