Feds begin challenge of N. Idaho mining claims

An attorney representing the U.S. Forest Service says fishing, camping and the protection of American Indian artifacts along a northern Idaho river outweigh the desire of placer miners to search for gold.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that attorney Jody Miller made the argument Tuesday before an administrative law judge during an Interior Board of Land Appeals hearing.

The Forest Service is challenging dozens of mining claims filed on a 30-miles section of the North Fork of the Clearwater River.

The agency says mining is not compatible with recreation and other uses on the popular river.

Miners say they filed claims following federal laws and regulations and that the government is attempting to take their private property without compensation.

The hearing is expected to continue through Thursday.