A National Wildlife Federation survey of its members in August found overwhelming support to reform the General Mining Act of 1872.
The 1872 mining act makes mining the top priority use on most federal public lands and does not levy a royalty on minerals extracted.
Hunters and anglers strongly support updating the mining law to ensure public lands are protected and royalties are imposed and used to clean up abandoned mines.
The survey found strong support extending across all regions, genders and ages: 82% of hunters and 80% of anglers support this change as do 86% of Democrats, 85% of Independents and 78% of Republicans.
According to the survey, hunters and anglers tend to be conservative and typically Republicans and Independents.
The survey also found that 84 percent of its members believe the federal government should make it a priority to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and manage public lands for fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation.
The National Wildlife Federation has more than 4 million members across the county. The federation’s mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife.
The archaic 1872 law is allowing speculative mining companies like Vancouver, B.C.-based Augusta Resource Corp., unfettered access to the nation’s public lands to develop mines and sell the minerals without paying royalties to the U.S. Treasury.
Augusta is using the 1872 law to its advantage in an effort to develop a mile-wide, half-mile deep open pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest south of Tucson.
Augusta’s subsidiary, Rosemont Copper Company, wants to dump waste rock and mine tailings on more than 3,000 acres of National Forest.
The Arizona Game & Fish Department in a letter to the Coronado Nation Forest states the mine will leave the northern half of the Santa Rita Mountains worthless for wildlife activities.