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Know the West

Agency takes out a cabin

  Jerry Holliday wasn't pleased when he found out that Forest Service workers blasted down the walls of his cinderblock cabin in southern Utah's Manti-La Sal National Forest. "Hell, you just don't blow somebody's property up and walk away," Holliday told the Salt Lake Tribune. Holliday and co-owners Gene and Kenny Shumway had built the cabin on public land they claimed for mining in the 1950s, then mined uranium ore on the unpatented land for over 20 years. When uranium prices dropped in the early 1980s, Holliday says they used the cabin for road work related to mining. But Forest Service geologist Jim Egnew, of the Monticello ranger district office, says the men used the cabin for recreation, and that the trio's mining plan failed to show how the cabin was "reasonably incident" to mining operations, as required by the 1872 Mining Law. Thousands of mining cabins in the West, like this one, have been illegally converted to recreational use, Egnew adds. For over a year, the Forest Service headquarters in Price warned the men they needed to justify their cabin use in a new plan or lose the structure, but the men did nothing. The agency impounded the cabin in October 1993, and demolished it a month later. Meanwhile, at the urging of Holliday and the Shumways, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, R, has started an investigation of the demolition.