Alaska Gold Panning - Mining Law & Rights
The 1872 Mining Law, although amended several times, remains essentially intact. The law allows a person to locate a mining claim on federal land and to mine that claim. However, when certain lands are withdrawn from mineral entry, no claims can be staked there (although there may be preexisting claims). The four designated areas in this publication have no mining claims. Any other federal lands in the Chugach National Forest not covered by claims are available for recreational panning. Remote areas are less likely to have active mining claims.
As a recreational panner, you do not have the right to keep others from panning. You can walk, fish, hunt, and recreate on a federal mining claim, but you must respect the claimant's equipment and operation. The claim owner has an exclusive right to mine his/her claim. You must have permission from the claimant to pan on his/her claim.