Developer forfeits Chetco River gold mining claims

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) -- Authorities say a Washington developer whose plans for mining gold on a premier Oregon salmon river inspired a bill in Congress to stop him has forfeited his claims.

Federal records show Dave Rutan failed to pay $1,540 in annual filing fees on the 11 claims on the Chetco River, and authorities say his claims are considered closed.

Over the past few years Rutan has crossed swords with environmentalists over his mining and development plans on the Chetco. A bill to expand protections against mining along the river in Southern Oregon has a hearing this week in Congress.

Rutan refused comment.

Conservation groups hailed the development as a victory.