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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST : $1.25-Billion Suit Filed Over Tungsten Mine

October 06, 1994

An Upland man has filed a $1.25-billion lawsuit against the federal government, saying that Angeles National Forest officials have illegally blocked access to his $250-million tungsten mine, one of the largest in the country.

Ron Curtis, 47, filed suit last month in U.S. District Court in an effort to restart mining on his 1,426-acre Mt. Baldy claim. U.S. Forest Service officials shut down his 24-person mining operation in 1992, posted armed guards at his mine and blocked his private road with large rocks, Curtis said. Consequently, he lost a $16-million contract to deliver tungsten to GTE. Tungsten is used to make ammunition and light bulbs.

Forest Service officials never explained why they prohibited access to his mine, Curtis said. They simply sent him a letter that said he could no longer use the road to his mine, according to the lawsuit.

"That's why I figured it was a joke," Curtis said.

Forest Service officials said they could not comment on pending litigation.

Curtis declined to reveal how much money he has made from tungsten sales since he started the mining operation in the 1970s. Curtis has fought several court battles related to his mining rights. His father discovered the claim in 1951.

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