Some National Forest System lands, predominantly in the eastern United States, have mineral estates that are privately held. Owners of reserved mineral rights may enter upon and use as much of the surface overlying the mineral estate as is reasonably necessary to explore for, develop, extract, and process the reserved minerals. Owners of private mineral estates - outstanding mineral rights - do not have any specific legal obligations as far as mineral development to the surface owner.
Regulations: 36 CFR 251.15: Forest Service regulations for private mineral rights.
FS Manual 2830: Forest Service Manual on mineral reservations and outstanding minerals
GAO Report: "Private Mineral Rights Complicate the Management of Eastern Wilderness Areas," July 26, 1984. Contains background information on private minerals issues.