Hands on with the All-New Mining Guide

Author: KEVIN HOAGLANDThursday, September 20, 2018

Hands on with the All-New Mining Guide

Categories: From Gold Prospectors magazine, News Release

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As featured in the September/October issue of the Gold Prospectors Magazine


by Kevin Hoagland


I was extremely excited when I was asked to review and share the GPAA 50th Anniversary 2018 Claims Club Membership Mining Guide. Having been a part of every step of this Mining Guide’s creation, I feel that there is a lot of information, tips and overview that I can share about how this guide came to fruition and the steps that the entire team took in creating our finest GPAA Mining Guide to date. 

First, though, a little of the back story on the 2018 Mining Guide. Production of the mining guide started prior to the release of the 2014 guide. New mapping software was becoming available, and federal and local governments were working diligently in cleaning up older information in regard to claim layout, mapping points that were becoming accurate to inches and feet over yards or more in some states. Access to information that we needed to create an even better detailed guide was becoming more and more available on an almost daily basis.

We knew years ago what we wanted for one of the greatest member benefits we offer — the GPAA Mining Guide. I would like to take you on a tour of the Mining Guide and as we go along, share with you what we had in the past and how it has now changed to offer you more information and value in getting out and finding gold. The Buzzard, I think, said it best: “We’ll take that Mining Guide and figure out how to find our way to some of those claims.”


Let’s start at the beginning:

Over the last few years, and with the advent of the Online Mining Guide, we were able to take all of the technology that we have at our fingertips to create the guide and couple that with members’ boots-on-the-ground assessments of claims and leases across most of the United States.
We have included in this guide contributing members’ information from the Online Mining Guide with their reviews. To me this is just as important as the new high-tech tools we used in the creation of the guide. Quite frankly, the more human it is the better, and for that, I thank each and every member who contributes to the GPAA Online Mining Guide. 
One of the goals that we have at the GPAA is that you will always find value in your membership and that the information that we can share with you helps you in your prospecting journey. 


Nuts and Bolts of the 2018 GPAA Mining Guide:

You will notice a great deal of change in the information and the layout of the Mining Guide. Let’s start with some of the most obvious. 
Gold areas of each state: 
At the beginning of each state’s section there is an overall map of the state and the gold-bearing districts within the state plus the counties and number of claims in each county. From there each county includes the major known deposits within the county and there are map pins showing the areas where the GPAA claims are located.  Again, an invaluable tool for research. These overall deposit areas marked on the map are the larger deposits that carried commercial value when first discovered. I can assure that as a longtime prospector I prefer the peripheral areas when looking for new prospecting spots. These were mostly overlooked and have produced a great amount of gold after the production records of many areas stopped in the early 1900s. 


Weather:

You may not think this is overly important, but it is a FAQ we receive in the office and you have no idea how many times I have talked to people who traveled to different parts of the country thinking that the weather would be different. Of course, Arizona is a perfect example. We all know it is miserable in the summer, but the summer starts early here. When you know to expect the high 80s in April in the Valley of the Sun while a lot of the country is just thawing, it becomes the difference between a good prospecting trip and a miserable one, even when you are on the gold. 
State and local agencies: 
This is a holdover from the last Mining Guide and when used is a valuable tool. Rules and regulations are unfortunately subject to change. We have updated the listings to include the state office in the beginning of each county. The information is easy to find and with the contacts listed in the guide, we’ve continued to make it easier for you to research current conditions and regulations that affect areas that you will be prospecting. 


State by county index page: 

This is a perfect tool if you are traveling and decided that you want to prospect a number of GPAA claims. Many members plan their prospecting adventures based on the Mining Guide and this simple change to the index page has been met with very positive feedback. 


Claims: 

There is a great deal of change that has been made to the claims layout. Many are very apparent and others are so subtle that you will most likely not see the upgrades, which is perfect — change is inevitable, but change does not have to be right in your face. 


Claim mapping:

We tested, approved and adopted a server-based platform product from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), a California-based company called ArcGIS. This program is a full powered mapping and analytics platform that allows us to view, layer and manage through GIS (geographic information system) the Earth in a manner that was not readily available in its current configurations during the last Mining Guide.
What ArcGIS has allowed us to do for the Mining Guide is layer the United States to assure that all data is correct across the nation.  Using State Plane NAD 83 for the majority of the locations across the U.S., we built piece by piece every layer to assure that claims — especially those that could have been in question — were aligned in a manner that allowed us to easily drop surrounding claims, property info and plats into the database and see a perfect outline of a GPAA claim. 
Once the data was verified by me using three different verification programs, Walt Eason painstakingly created the final mapping (see photo XXX) as an outline. In the final layout and production, Greg Miller and the layout team completed this by adding the mapping points to many of the claims beginning with the ingress and then following from the NW corner to the SW corner in a clockwise pattern, adding numbers for GPS users so they can easily add them to their GPS and have an outline of the claim. 
Not all claims have a layout this elaborate. Many of the GPAA claims are straightforward 20-acre and up parcels that have four corners while others fall under what we consider “reasonable layout,” which as you will see is very apparent in the direction and lines of the claims. You will be able to look at a claim and know where the boundaries are with little to no effort. 


Federal claim information: 

On the claim page there is a box that has information concerning the claim itself. Each claim includes the Federal Serial Register number and the total acres. In the areas where a claim is part of a group claim that is not contiguous, the total acreage is shown with the outer boundaries of the claim and the individual claims are listed with their separated ingress, center of claim and corners laid out. See the Miller Canyon Group on page 49 to see how this lays out. Then take a look at page 53, the Gorbert Association, to see how a contiguous group of claims is laid out. 


Driving directions:  

To me this is one of the highlights for the new guide. In the past we were dependent on claim owners’ directions, member updates of the directions and whatever we could find written on a napkin. 
Driving directions are twofold. First there are the printed directions in the Mining Guide.  These are based on Google Maps and each set of directions were from a known location to the ingress point of the claim. The greatest aspect of this is that in the direction phase of creating the claim page, the team responsible for this section took a known location such as a town or major intersection, added the ingress of the claim into to the mapping and hit go. The result is a virtual drive from the starting point to the ingress that could be visualized and confirmed. In many cases what was thought to be the best route gave way to another route that was easily manipulated to be the fastest or easiest route. Although not foolproof, it is the best option we have had to date over past Mining Guides. 
Secondly, there is the GPAA Online Mining Guide. This is one of the many places that the online guide shines. More detailed directions can be downloaded from the ingress point tab on the online guide and printed along with offering you the ability to see what our directions team saw when they plotted the drives that are printed in the guide. And again, since there are no guarantees that driving directions are 100 percent accurate all of the time due to road closures, construction and other factors, you can read updated member reports on directions that are timely. The online directions posted by members are a tool to use, but do your due diligence in verifying they information. For example, if a road was listed by a member as closed some time ago, call the county that the road is in and verify the accessibility. 


Member reviews:

Direct from the GPAA Online Mining Guide. The team has included claims that have member reviews and prospecting information based on what other members found, didn’t find and how they worked the claims. If you find a Mining Guide page that has no comments, that simply means that there were no comments on the Online Mining Guide. And yes, we have even included some not-so-encouraging reviews. Even though a review may not be a 4- or 5-star review, do not allow this to discourage you.  
Read the reviews closely, think about what the review covered and the area, check that against your research and make your own decision to visit the claim or not. I think that those of you who know me know at least this one thing about me: I have found a lot of gold where others have told me I couldn’t. I have never allowed myself to be detoured by what others say. In fact, the best thing that I have done for my prospecting in the past is what I shared above by taking all of the information — good, bad and indifferent — and using it to get yourself on the gold. 


Tools and equipment: 

This is a major change from past Mining Guides and is now strictly based on members’ reviews from the Online Mining Guide. I think that this one feature alone sets the guide apart from anything we have ever produced. 
As I shared earlier, things change, regulations and restrictions may change, and in the past guides I truly feel like we were doing a disservice to the members by listing equipment. 
We have talked to many members who showed up on claims with the equipment that we had listed in the guide only to find out it has been restricted or is unusable at that time of the year. 
I’ll give an example: Joe in the Midwest is going to make his first trip to Arizona to prospect, he reads the recommended equipment for a claim in the past Mining Guide and shows up with a drywasher in February. Great temps that time of the year, but next to the monsoon season, February is the wettest month of the year.    
This is where the GPAA Online Mining Guide becomes your equipment guide. The equipment listed in the 50th Anniversary Guide is based on member feedback of what they were using on the claim and when they were using it. It is not inclusive, though. If you see a drywasher listed in the printed guide, check it against the online guide to see when it was being used. Coming to Arizona in April (which is the driest month of the year) with a drywasher because there were member reports about success with a drywasher in April can save you a lot of gear hauling and more importantly showing up with the wrong equipment. 
Another tool in the GPAA 50th Anniversary Mining Guide connects to the Online Mining Guide. A number of the claims have a small link at the bottom of the page that takes you directly to the Online Mining Guide’s page. Quick links that you can type into your computer, smartphone or other devices will lead you to the Online Mining Guide page for any updated information concerning the claim. An example of this is the link for the Vulture Bait claim: bit.ly/gpaavulturebait 

Here is a handy trick you can use for your computer or a browser on your smartphone. Save as a bookmark bit.ly/gpaa. When you want to check on a claim you are looking at in the printed guide, open the bookmark and type the claim name in the URL or address bar after the bit.ly/gpaa and hit refresh. There is the claim. Of course, you must be logged on to your account for this to work.
PUBLIC AREAS & PAY TO DIG SITES 32 states + Canada | 120 properties: 
This is expanded from previous guides and created as a state-by-state plus Canadian locations directory. The team has included an extensive list of sites, which include everything from open and fee-based gold prospecting to fossils and rare gemstones. 
All sites are listed by state and each state includes both the open free areas and fee-based areas on the same page. This is very convenient when planning a trip or a weekend outing and a great addition over previous guides. 
Fee-based areas or pay-to-dig sites include the company’s contact information, including website and physical address, and, when available, the cost per day. Open areas show the surface management (BLM, Forest Service) for the site and any additional information we were able to gather, including member reviews from the Online Mining Guide. 
All in all this is the most comprehensive guide to these types of sites we have produced to date and I believe the most detailed state-wide publication available.


Coming to the end:

One very important section found in the last pages of the 2018 Mining Guide is the Buzzard sharing what is considered by many to be the most comprehensive GLOSSARY OF GOLD MINING SLANG TERMINOLGY ever created, along with a message in his own words. It is worthy of every member to read, study and set to memory these terms. I know I did decades ago.
 
After this, the final sections of the 50th Anniversary 2018 GPAA Club Claims Mining Guide include a list of GPAA Chapters. Chapters are an important part of the GPAA and are a part of our success as we continue as the world’s largest gold prospecting organization. 
GPAA chapters offer members the opportunity to meet with other prospectors, attend chapter functions and to have the greatest information there is for local areas. I humbly ask that as a member you join a chapter no matter your skill level. The Buzzard always asked that we help each other to become better prospectors. And as the experienced part of the GPAA, your knowledge lives on in those whom you help in the Buzzard’s mission through our chapters. 
50 years and three generations later, the GPAA is stronger than ever and it is because of members who support our mission and our message. We are your club and your membership. We thank you for everything that you have done for prospecting and look forward to serving you and your next generations for another 50 years.  

I will be 82 years old when the 75th Anniversary Mining Guide is printed. God willing, I will see you out there, our mining guides in hand doing what we have loved for a lifetime — prospecting.   

Kevin Hoagland 
Executive Director of Development 
GPAA – LDMA 


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