Sometimes in my travels in Nevada, I would come across white pvc pipes standing up in the middle of nowhere sticking out like sore thumbs. They looked like this (the red arrow points to another one further up the hill)

enter image description here

What exactly are these posts marking?

1 Answer 1


These are mining claim markers that mark the edges of the claim. The ones in the picture are legal, because the tops are capped. If the tops were not capped, it would be legal to pull them out and set them on the ground.

8.  After November 1, 2011, any durable plastic pipe that is not removed pursuant to subsection 7 may be removed and placed on the ground immediately adjacent to the location from which it is removed to preserve evidence of its use as a monument for the lode mining claim.


The reason that they are required to be capped is that birds and reptiles and bats and other creatures may fall into the pipes, and then are not able to get out. This is also why it became legal to pull them out and set them on the ground.

At least one source that I found estimates that there are 3.4 million of the pipes and they kill over a million birds annually.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management estimates there are more than 3.4 million of the white polyvinyl chloride pipes sticking out of the ground across the West — more than 1 million in Nevada alone in a 2011 survey.


Darin Schroeder of the American Bird Conservancy estimates the PVC markers cause the death of more than a million birds a year nationally. He said small cavity-nesting birds mistake the openings for an ideal home but once inside are doomed by the smooth sides of the pipe with a narrow diameter that keeps them from climbing or flying out.


It is worth pointing out that both the BLM, the mining companies and bird societies are working on mitigating the problem.

  • Can you elaborate a bit more on what a mining right would be? Does it mean that the person owning the land can mine? Is there a fixed area around the pipe that can be mined? Ignore the request if you feel it's out of the scope of this question :) Mar 21, 2018 at 6:14
  • @Ricketyship Edited and see this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_claim#Mining_claim_(United_States) Mar 21, 2018 at 6:17
  • Thanks a lot! Since this is so country specific, it's difficult to understand the actual usage without some additional information. Mar 21, 2018 at 6:20
  • @Ricketyship See mineral rights. The article needs references, but its basic point is valid: In the US, the owner of the surface property does not necessarily own the right to exploit the minerals below the surface.
    – ab2
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:58
  • Don't know about the U.S. In Canada you can use either steel or wood stakes too. White PVC has the advantage that they are easy to see. Steel has the advantage you can just pound it in, you don't need to dig a hole. Wood is traditional. Mar 22, 2018 at 14:22

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