A Montana gold mine closure was thwarted when the Oath Keepers stepped in to help save it. The Helena Forest White Hope Mine has been in operation since the 1920s. A recent ownership dispute prompted the mine closure order.
The US Forest Service claims be one of the owners of the White Hope Mine. The federal agency maintains that George Kornec, an 85-year-old Korean War veteran, gave up his ownership rights to the land in 1985 when he missed a filing renewal date by a single day. The lapse reportedly causes any “surface land disturbances” at the Helena Forest mine to come under the jurisdiction of the US Forest Service, as per a set of 1955 laws.
Kornec reportedly agreed to submit White Hope Mine operating plans to the US Forest Service, but most recent application was refused after being submitted last year. The agency took exception to a garage which had been constructed near the gold mine. Kornec disagreed with an order to tear down the garage, which offers access to the Montana gold mine.
The veteran called upon the Oath Keepers to help provide a “buffer” between the gold miners and the US Forest Service staffers while he attempted to fight the closure order in a courtroom. Oath Keepers arrived at the White Hope Mine promptly and began patrolling the property with rifles, according to a report by Montana Public Radio. Kornec got a reprieve for the mine when a civil lawsuit was filed by U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter in Helena.
The prosecutor is asking the court to rule that the garage access to the mine be torn down and the full entrance be reopened.
“We go over and fight wars in foreign lands; we took an oath all of us vets to protect this county foreign and domestic,” George Kornec said during an interview with the Independent Record.
The White Hope Mine owner also had this to say about calling the Oath Keepers for help and his battle against the US Forest Service.
“So the war’s over and you come home and you find out you’re fighting the second front, fighting the federal government for your own rights and security. It got to the point where we felt we needed additional help, so we contacted Oath Keepers and they graciously came in to back us up. If the Forest Service comes in to try to destroy our property, it won’t happen because they won’t allow it.”
Oath Keepers representative Chris McIntire said the group was celebrating because Kornec’s gold mine case was finally scheduled for formal court action, allowing him the opportunity to dispute the White Hope Mine stance taken by the federal agency.