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California Gives the Green Light on Underwater Suction Mining! –May 2013

New 49'er Newsletter

SECOND  QUARTER, May 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER  5

Dave Mack

 

By Dave McCracken

Decision Document

I am very happy to announce that on April 19th, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) denied a recent Petition from the Center for Biological Diversity which attempted to expand the regulatory definition of “suction dredge” to include our new method of underwater suction mining. Had the Petition been approved, our new method would have been prevented by California’s existing state-wide moratorium on suction dredge mining.

Amongst other reasons for denying the Petition, DFW pointed out that the Karuks and their allies had plenty of opportunity to expand the regulatory definition when they participated in the multi-million dollar administrative process that was formally completed about a year ago.

The Decision is posted right here.

It is nice to win one every once in a while. This was a big one.  It now provides a green light for what is adding up to a very productive mining season in California!  More on this below.

 

Let’s Please Proceed Carefully!

All I can say is that we have not seen excitement levels this high since the early 90’s!  Lots of members have already arrived in Happy Camp.  Plenty more will be arriving.  With this in mind, I ask that everyone very carefully consider the following points:

1)  We have carefully developed very reasonable Operation Guidelines over the last 27 years.  Everyone should please review them.  You can obtain a copy from our office (530 493-2012). No member has ever received a citation from the authorities while pursuing their activities along our properties within these guidelines.

2)  We have recently included a section in our Operation Guidelines which addresses our new method of underwater suction mining.  These guidelines are the best we can do with an activity which is in its infancy.  Adjustments are likely as we learn more.  The California Department of Fish & Wildlife wardens are already out checking on the first members who are doing suction mining.  So far, so good!  Mainly they are looking to make sure that no sluice boxes are associated with motorized suction systems.

You should be aware that they have brought up an entirely new concept of “constructive dredging.”  This is where someone would use a motorized suction device to bring gravel to the surface, and then use a sluice somewhere else to process the material.  I have my own doubts that the “constructive dredging” concept would hold up in a contested court hearing.  But be warned in advance that there may be some risk in using any sluice to process gravel that is transferred by a motorized suction system.  There are other ways to concentrate material that do not require a sluice box.  Since volume levels will be low, I believe even traditional gold panning will work in many circumstances.

Underwater suckerOne member has already arrived with a catch container that shakes on the deck of his floating platform (automatic gold panning machine)!  He is using motorized suction to feed water and gravel to the bottom of the container.  Shaking allows the material to concentrate in his catch container. I’m sure others will arrive with other interesting innovations.

3)  Anti-mining activists are using Cal Tip as a way to lodge anonymous complaints against some members who are already prospecting on the river. Wardens say they intend to respond to each complaint. So far, the wardens have been very polite and courteous.  Let’s please respond in kind.  There is no reason to make the process more painful than necessary.  As long as you are operating within the guidelines, my guess is that they will only come out to take a look at you one time (because anti-mining activists are going to be keeping them busy).

Please be aware that if you are outside of the guidelines, you will likely receive a citation and create a bad reflection upon everyone else who is doing it the right way.

4)    Please review once again the Memo put out by our attorney concerning our (your) relationship with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  It is important that you understand the legal limits of the roles that officials play.  Just so you know, we have circulated this Memo, and received acknowledgment that it is accurate, all the way to the top of USFS Minerals in WashingtonD.C.  The reason I say this is important is that anti-mining activists are broadcasting that the recent Ninth Circuit Court Decision changed USFS regulations regarding small-scale mining on the public lands – which is completely false.

Here it is as I understand it:  The mining laws allow all Americans free and open access on the public lands for the purpose of prospecting. There is no requirement of making any contact, getting any permission or providing any notice (NOI) of what we are doing to any authorities until such time that we believe our activities will create a significant surface impact.  I know this is kind of hard to believe in this day and age where Americans need permission from the government for nearly everything we do.  Take it from me on this one:  Asking permission to access the public lands for the purpose of small-scale prospecting will almost surely work against you these days!

Here it is: Under existing USFS regulations, we are only requested to file a Notice of Intent (NOI) with the USFS if we believe our prospecting may create a significant surface impact. Submitting a Notice is not a requirement. There is no penalty for not submitting a Notice.

Prior to the Ninth Circuit Decision, if we provided USFS with an explanation (Notice) of what we were doing, the local Ranger used to go through an internal process to assess if what we were doing was likely to create a significant surface impact. Now the Ranger will be required to consult with other agencies to perform this assessment.  That is likely to involve more time. A lot more time!  So providing a notice (Notice), or asking permission, or even providing an explanation of your prospecting method, is a sure way to get yourself stopped in your tracks, even if you are not required to consult with USFS in the first place!  

Welcome to modern America!

In thirty years on the Klamath National Forest, the Happy Camp, Scott and Upper Salmon River Rangers have never once considered that The New 49’ers, even as a whole group, were likely to create a significant surface impact.  Therefore, as an individual, I don’t know why anyone doing small-scale prospecting would believe any type of Notice or explanation would be necessary.

Here is the important catch:  There is no format to a Notice.  Therefore, a simple verbal explanation of your process could serve as a formal Notice, “I am using this motorized pumping machine to transfer small amounts of gravel from out in the river over to the side of the river where I can process it with a gold pan.”  That detailed explanation can serve as a Notice, which can then open the door for the Ranger to ask you to stop while he consults with multiple other agencies to decide if there might be a significant surface disturbance. “Thank you very much for your cooperation.  No good deed goes unpunished these days. Please stop what you are doing while we get a whole bunch of others involved.  Come back next year and we will tell you what we think…”

Here is the reality:  Prospecting processes are private, proprietary matters, much like the formulas which make up protected commercial products.  Your prospecting processes are nobody else’s business.  There is no requirement for you to disclose your methods and processes to anyone, especially the government. I don’t want my competitors to know my secrets.  I also don’t want them made available to anti-mining activists through the Freedom of Information Act.  There is no authority in the USFS regulations that allows the Ranger to demand an explanation of your prospecting process.  Though it doesn’t mean he will not ask for an explanation (verbal Notice). Anything you disclose to the USFS will certainly become part of the public record.  My understanding is that the USFS only has the authority to concern itself with the surface impact that you are (not) creating, and only if the impact is significant.  Nothing more.  They are welcome to look at the surface impact.  Your methods and processes are your own business. I strongly advise that you keep them private.

Let me say it a different way: There are several specific exemptions to the requirement of providing any Notice in the USFS regulations.  One important one is as follows:

“Sec. 228.4 Notice of intent–plan of operations–requirements. (a)(1) A notice of intent to operate is not required for: (ii) Prospecting and sampling which will not cause significant surface resource disturbance and will not involve removal of more than a reasonable amount of mineral deposit for analysis and study …”

Since no Notice has ever been required for the prospecting that we do, and there is no difference between Notice and an explanation, my own answer when asked what I am doing will be something along with the following:  “I am recovering very small samples for the purpose of analysis.  No further explanation is necessary under USFS regulations.  You are welcome to observe the surface impact for yourself.”  This would be cooperation to the fullest extent of the regulations.  Anything more is likely to be used against you in today’s America.

As long as you stay within our Operation Guidelines, I personally see no reason why the USFS should take very much interest in you.  They never have before!  Having said that, I also want to point out that our adversaries are putting a lot of pressure on USFS authorities to stop us.  These poor USFS guys are caught in the middle. They must follow up on complaints that are lodged.  So you should plan on them stopping by to see what you are doing.  My advice is, rather than explain your methods and processes, you welcome them to see for themselves what your surface impact is.  I hope you guys are listening to this.

Internal Affairs Staff

Internal Affairs Director, Rich Krimm, with his Deputies, John Rose (left) and Jim Foley (right)

If you are approached by any authority, please be careful to ask politely for the person’s name in writing, the department of government he or she works for and a phone number where the person can be reached.  Maybe the person has a business card. I suggest you immediately stop ongoing prospecting activity the first time any official visits you and contact our office with the details. I would be busy reclaiming any visual impact from my activity while making small talk with the person. Our Internal Affairs staff will be happy to help you to sort it out, though there is little they can do if you do not have contact details.

We have added two Deputies to our Internal Affairs team this season largely for the purpose of assisting you guys through these affairs.

One very important note:  There is not a lot we can do to help you if you create a visible surface impact that the Ranger might consider “significant.”  Please fill in your excavations behind you as you make them.  This is all outlined in our Operation Guidelines. 

The Season is Starting Early this Year!

People showing up

 

The days in Happy Camp have mostly been warm and sunny for the past two months. The Klamath River has already warmed up to near 60 degrees. Annual flow charts show the river is running lower, two months ahead of the last two years. My own guess is that we are going to have a low-water year on the river.  This makes for easier mining and more access to otherwise difficult areas – where Mother Nature hides many of her richest treasures.

Demo 1 Demo 2

A bunch of members were comparing different types of gold concentrating equipment  in front of our headquarters this past Friday afternoon.

Increased excitement is also bringing members around earlier than we have seen in many years.  Some members are already mining and prospecting.  There is a wonderful sense of motivation and quiet determinism in the air that I have not witnessed along the Klamath River since the mid-90’s. Members are coming together on their own to do equipment demonstrations at the office for everyone to see. Things are lining up in Happy Camp like we are going to have a great season!

Schedule of Weekend Projects for 2013

All members are invited to attend our weekend Group Mining Projects and keep an equal share of the gold that we recover.  Here are our planned events for the upcoming season:  June 1 & 2; June 22 & 23; July 13 & 14; August 3 & 4; August 24 & 25.

Schedule of Events 

Opposition to Oregon Senate Bills 838 and 401!

Several anti-mining bills have already been passed through the first (of two) important committees, and are now fast-tracking through the Oregon State Senate. If these destructive bills are passed into law, it will put a complete end to suction dredging and all other forms of motorized gold mining within a quarter-mile of all or most waterways in the entire State of Oregon!

These bills are being pushed by anti-mining activists who want to eliminate the last remaining productive economic activity on America’s public lands.

Just at the time when we have figured out how to do some underwater suction mining in California, this is not the time for us to lose all of Oregon!

If we do not all pull together and kill these bills right now, we will find ourselves devoting years trying to overcome them through expensive litigation. We must flood the Oregon senate with very vocal opposition right now!

You can find all the important details right here

Giving Away Dave Mack’s Gold Nuggets!

Twenty-five prizes in allNuggets

Grand Prize: 1-Ounce of Dave’s Gold Nuggets

Four ¼-Ounce Bags of Dave’s Gold Nuggets

Twenty 1-Pennyweight Bags of Dave’s Gold Nuggets 

This drawing will take place at our weekly potluck in Happy Camp on Saturday evening, 13 July 2013. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate. You do not need to be present to win. There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win.

Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets, etc). There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win.

Legal contributions can be arranged by calling (530) 493-2012, by mailing to The New 49′ers, P.O. Box47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or you can do it online by clicking here:

More Announcements

K-14A at Portuguese Creek is Lost:  I’m sorry to say that all the excitement I expressed in last month’s newsletter about our acquiring a new claim on the Klamath (K-14A) downstream of Portuguese Creek was for nothing.

We have been notified by the person who sold us the claim that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has allowed West End Prospectors to recover from a mistake which BLM had listed as final in their files. There is nothing we can do to reverse this.

It was never our intention to take the property away from West End. BLM records confirmed the property was available. We assumed they dropped it. We wanted to buy the property before someone else did.

The several members who were actively working the claim have been notified, and have since joined up with West End so they can remain there. West End has a Membership Drive going for $145 in case anyone is interested.

Our signs have been removed, and we have taken the property off our claims guides. I’m sorry about this, you guys. Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often.

We are adding Google Earth kmz links to the Claims Guide:  Founding member, Mark Chestnut, has been investing a lot of time to placing our claims into interactive Google Earth links which will allow you to move around the properties from a bird’s eye view.  We have now posted all these links on the Lower Klamath River properties beginning with K-20, and extending through all of our existing properties downstream, Mark has also created a file that will allow you to look at all of our properties along the lower Klamath.  This makes for an excellent prospecting tool. We hope to have kmz links in place for all of our existing properties by the next newsletter. Check it out!

To view the content from these .kmz links  you will need to have Google Earth installed on your computer. Download Google Earth

Services for Bill Stumpf:   Many of you know that Bill Stumpf passed away several months ago.  Bill was a founding member who helped manage The New 49’ers all the way through the 90’s.  As our daily tour guide, Bill took untold hundreds of beginners out, taught them to pan, and helped them find their first gold.  He ran the weekend group mining projects for many years.  Both of Bill’s sons also lived in Happy Camp and operated a commercial dredging program for many years on New 49’er properties.  Bill played a big part in helping our program get a strong footing.  He had a lot of friends from all over the world.  Bill was a strong supporter of our organization all the way to the end.

As the Klamath River was one of Bill’s favorite places, his family has scheduled informal services on Bill’s behalf to take place at the Grange Hall in Happy Camp at 2 PM on 25 May.  This will be a pot-luck get-together in honor of Bill.  Everyone who knew him, or even those of you who wish that you knew him, are invited to attend. Bill’s wife Jan will be there, along with his sons and their families.

No Potluck on June 8:  The Grange Hall is pre-booked for another event on Saturday on June 8.  Otherwise, we have booked the Hall for all of our other Saturday evening potlucks this coming season from 1 June through August 24.

Sign up for the Free Internet Version of this Newsletter

We strongly encourage you to sign up for the free on line version of this newsletter.  The Internet version is better. This is because you can immediately click directly to many of the subjects which we discuss; because the on line version is in full color; because we link you directly to locations through GPS and Google Earth technology; and because you can watch the free video segments which we incorporate into our stories.

Signing up also places you on our Political Action Team.  Things happen so fast these days; it takes too long to organize political action through the U.S. mail.  As an example, just two years ago, in concert with other mining organizations, our Internet Action Team killed anti-mining legislation in Oregon in less than a week.  It is a near guarantee that we will be calling for another industry-wide action to defeat this new legislation being proposed in Oregon before you even see another of these newsletters.  All of these future battles will be organized over the Internet since it is so much faster.  Please join us in the battle to maintain our remaining freedoms!

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The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012  www.goldgold.com