New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH  QUARTER, DECEMBER 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 12

Dave Mack


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager


We sponsor weekend Group Mining Projects every third weekend during the summer season.  These events nearly always take place along the Klamath River in the proximity of Happy Camp in northern California.  The service is free to all of our active members. We encourage people to attend. This is because there is a lot to be gained by participating in prospecting activity with others who are on the cutting edge of more effective ways to recover gold.  Everybody who attends is entitled to an equal split of the gold that we recover on these projects.

Having fun Mid day clean-up

The events are a lot of fun.  In fact, they are one of the primary benefits of membership in The New 49’ers that sets us apart from other mining associations.  These weekend projects are one of our most successful activities.  This is largely because so many people get introduced to the activity of successful gold prospecting and become passionate about it.
Father & son

Fortunately, we have a number of experienced members who volunteer their time to help organize these projects.  Otherwise, there is no way we could manage the number of people who come.  Our largest event drew in 137 people.  That was so many that I had to use a megaphone to talk loud enough out in the field that everyone could hear me.  That was too many people.  I don’t ever want to do that again!  It is more normal for the projects to involve around 40 to 50 people. That’s just about right.

We take these projects seriously enough that some of our most dedicated helpers, like Rich Krimm, John Rose, Ray Derrick, Diane Helgesen and Derek Eimer devote several days in advance of a weekend project searching the river for just the right place.  By this, I mean that there must be a high-grade gold deposit that is within reach of our methods of hand-mining.  We need to be able to set up recovery systems in a location where natural contours on the bank will direct the dirty water from our high-bankers away from the river.  There needs to be good enough access that we can get people safely down to the river, and sometimes across the river.  Since we now have access to around 100 miles of mining property in the vicinity of Happy Camp, there are plenty of places to pick and choose from.

Early this past season, we discovered just the right place around 9 miles downstream of Happy Camp.  The site is located on the far side of the river on one of our newer mining properties, K-23AA.  There is plenty of parking and overnight camping there in a large pull-off along Highway 96.  Since it was going to be necessary to ferry participants across the river, we launched one of our large, commercial Colorado River rafts and powered it back and forth across the river with a small outboard engine.

The interesting thing about these weekend projects is that they generate a lot of new ideas and innovation.  There is always someone coming up with a new way of doing things. Our project helpers do a lot of prospecting on their own; so they are always coming up with a more efficient method of recovering gold.  And, step-by-step, that’s how we developed this entirely new method of surface mining (high-banking) this past season.  We call it “gravity mining.” This is a new method in the modern age.  My guess is that the old-timers probably had this method of mining worked out at the turn of the century. 

Tony digging Rake

Group actionThe video and images in this story are from our final weekend event of last season. There were 53 enthusiastic participants, including our normal helpers, along with longtime members, Diane Phillips, Jim Yerby, Bob Sonnenburg and Gary & Sheri Standefer. Both Jim and Bob have been big supporters of our program for many years. Gary and I have a long history dating back to our time together in the Navy SEALs.

We had already worked out the gravity mining method on the previous project, so setting up the project was pretty routine.  Rich Krimm and John Rose always supervise the excavation activities on these projects.  We had already devoted enough time in this gold deposit to know where the line of pay-dirt was located and what the pay-dirt looks like. It is an orange-colored compacted gravel on top of decomposed bedrock.  Derek, Ray and both Diane’s, for the most part, manage the gold recovery systems. Gary & Sheri jumped into the excavation process.  It actually takes some practice and experience to keep a steady flow of material moving through a syphon nozzle.  My main job is to capture the project on camera.  But I do like to take a hand in the excavation activity.  I was able to get some work in on this project.

Gravity mining is accomplished by pumping water up into a small hole that is elevated above the recovery system.  The pumped water can be used to help excavate pay-dirt material inside the hole.  Once the hole fills up, the excess water will overflow unless you set up a way to drain the excess.  It is the drain which we incorporated into the “gravity mining” concept.  As long as the excavation where the water is being pumped is elevated some distance above the recovery system(s), a hose can be used to syphon the excess water from the hole and direct it down into the recovery system.  We were using two 3-inch hoses on this project.  We attached the hoses to nozzles to make it easier to control the syphons.  The cool thing is that the water flow will also carry along excavated pay-dirt down the hose and into the recovery systems.  Here it is on video:

One exciting thing about this method is that we can use extended lengths of hose or PVC plastic pipe and a series of booster pumps to process rich ancient channel deposits that exist further away from the active river, and even some distance up the hillsides.  I have already seen one member using a second pump in line to boost the water further away from the river.  Inline booster pumps are what firefighters use to direct pressurized water great distances away from the source, maybe even miles away!

Working hard

This particular group was very enthusiastic and not afraid of hard work.  One of the guys insisted on staying out on the dig site, and swimming back across the river after dark. Others said they could see him over there after dark using a head lamp.  That’s a level of enthusiasm I have not seen before!  Check it out:

Jim YerbyFree Video:

Throughout the day, our more experienced guys operated the syphon nozzles while most others were digging pay-dirt, screening it into buckets and pouring the pay-dirt into the water-filled excavations.

Of course, the more pay-dirt we process, the more gold we will recover.  The beauty of this gravity mining is that we don’t have to devote time and effort packing pay-dirt very far.

There are two secrets to feeding as much pay-dirt into a syphon nozzle as possible.  The first is to not overload the hose with so much material at once that it packs up.  This is a bit challenging when dozens of others are pouring buckets of screened pay-dirt into the excavation!  The second secret is to move the larger rocks out of the way as fast as you can; rocks which are too large to go into the nozzle. Otherwise, they block the end of the nozzle and slow down the volume. Here is a demonstration:

It is normal for us on a mining project to continuously pan-sample the material we are processing to make sure we are still on the pay-dirt.  Here is a look at some of the action on video:

Carrying bucketsAt mid-day, Ray Derrek and Rich Krimm processed a sample of material out of just one of the recovery systems so we could see how we were doing.  It is a long tradition of ours to perform a mid-day clean-up so we can show everyone the fruits of their labor.  This bunch was already so jacked up, they didn’t need any motivation.  There were lots of expressions of delight as Rich took the pan of gold around for everyone to see.  Most everyone out there just paused for a quick look and then went back to work filling buckets with the orange pay-dirt and the decomposing bedrock. Here is a firsthand look at what they were doing:

Just a little while later, I noticed a man & woman showing off some gold in a pan.  I cannot tell you how important it is to pay attention to this sort of thing!  Especially to me, because I am always looking for the next and better place to put on these weekend projects.  I refer to this as staying on the right wavelength. When people are showing gold around, they get my full attention! This couple turned out to be New 49’er members, David MacKenzie and Alice Leverenz.

Happy couple "One bucket" sample

Showing off the gold from a single bucket of pay-dirt this couple recovered from an exciting new gold deposit they just located downstream.

When I first saw David and Alice showing off their gold, I figured they recovered a good sample from the area where we were actively mining.  But it turned out they were showing off the gold they had recovered out of a single bucket of streambed material a few days before in a completely different area some distance downriver.  It was quite a good showing!  They also had some very nice nuggets from digging down there in another place closer to the river.

Commercial mining is normally associated with dredging underwater gold deposits.  This is one of the few couples we have in The New 49’ers that support themselves from the gold they recover digging up on the surface (high-banking). It can be done if you find a high-grade gold deposit. They were saying the pay-dirt is so rich where they were digging that they were getting gold in every pan, and even out of the leaves on the ground! Check it out here:

This is typically the way new discoveries are made along our extensive properties in The New 49’ers.  Some member makes a good discovery and then shows it around.  Other members migrate to the new discovery.  Sometimes we have full-on gold rushes!  There are rules in place which allow members to claim areas where they want to work.  First come, first served. It’s a good system to allow members to spread the wealth around without worry over losing their own part of it.

The place where David and Alice made their discovery is along an extensive exposure of surface streambed further downstream on K-23AA – which is quite a long claim.  They were inviting and encouraging other members to join them down there in their good fortune.  This is very common in The New 49’ers where we have plenty of room for everyone.

Rich, John, Diane and I took them up on their offer a few days later, using my jet boat to gain access to the new discoveries.  It’s all very exciting.  I captured more images and video, and we are considering how we might move the weekend projects down that way this next season.  Watch for more about this in a coming newsletter.

Happy Camp Fire Smoke
Catastrophic wildfires burned throughout Siskiyou County for a large part of the 2014 season

Final goldNormally, the heat kills us off by mid-day during our projects in August.  But the wild fires near Happy Camp were creating a light smoke haze in the air that was filtering the hot sun.  I’m certain the whole group was willing to go all day if we wanted to, some of them even until after dark!  But our project helpers already knew we had recovered enough gold by around noon. So we broke down the gear, filled in all our excavations and ferried nearly everyone back across the river. Once again, I believe the night-miner remained behind.

Several hours later, after processing what we recovered back in Happy Camp, we split off 11.2 pennyweights of beautiful gold amongst 51 people.  That’s a bit more than half an ounce.  I believe it was a seasonal record.  There were a bunch of small nuggets, two that weighed 7 grains!  I was pleased to see so many happy faces.  This is the part I like the most!

I want to express a big thank you to all of our experienced volunteer helpers on these projects.  You guys play a big part in making our organization great!

Join us for our Weekend Group Mining Projects Next Season!

There is a learning curve to successful gold prospecting.  One of the most effective methods of progressing through the learning curve is to go on prospecting adventures with others who more experienced than you are.

Our 2-day Group Mining Projects are one of the primary benefits of New 49’er membership which set us apart from other mining associations.  All weekend events are free to Full & Associate Members.

Schedule of 2015 Events: June 6 & 7; June 27 & 28; July 18 & 19; August 8 & 9; and August 29 & 30.

Schedule of Events 

Rinehart Decision will now go to California Supreme Court! 

We recently announced that the California Third Appellate Court refused the State’s request to reconsider their landmark Decision which confirmed the rights of prospectors to be free of unreasonable regulation when mining on the public lands.  The Third Appellate also consented to our requests to publish their Decision so we could rely upon it in other ongoing and future litigation.

In my own opinion, the published Rinehart Decision is the most important legal development in support of mining in America during the modern age.  It is the turning point which should be the foundation of future mining in America.

Since being denied by the Third Appellate for reconsideration, the State of California has submitted a Petition to the California Supreme Court to review the Rinehart Decision. They have also asked to have the Rinehart Decision be de-published.

You guys can make your own evaluations, but I am seeing some deliberate misrepresentation in the State’s brief. They make it sound as though, once the outstanding issues are mitigated, we will be allowed to continue suction dredging — when the nature of the issues they have identified are such that they can never be resolved.  Not to mention that the State’s moratorium on suction dredging is permanent!

Here is James Buchal’s spot on answer to the State’s Petition for Review.

Keep in mind that these briefs are not actually the review. They are arguments about why the California Supreme Court should, or should not, review the Third Appellates’ Decision on Rinehart.  Just so you know, the California Supreme Court only takes up 5% of the Petitions it receives.

Now, here is the State’s request to have the Rinehart Decision de-published.  I suggest you read this brief if you can find the time.  It will provide you with a perception of how desperate the State is to hold onto its totalitarian control and prevention of mining in California.  In addition to relying upon extensive hearsay from an unnamed retired mineral examiner who was not present in any of the earlier Rinehart proceedings, the State, more or less, mirrors the views that I expressed in last month’s newsletter that the published Rinehart Decision will prevent them from imposing any unreasonable restrictions upon miners.  Heaven forbid!  Never mind that the U.S. Supreme Court has already made this determination.

Here is James Buchal’s brief which argues against de-publication. Read it and feel proud.

James Buchal is now basically representing most of the mining community, in multiple states. Because so many different individuals and mining associations are sending him money on behalf of Brandon Rinehart, and on other legal matters, it is inaccurate to call him only The New 49’er attorney, anymore — even though he does also represent us. The New 49’ers Legal Fund has committed to, and is actively, picking up the cost of any financial shortfalls in all or most of the mining cases that James is representing.

The industry is very lucky to have James. Just as one example, He Skyped me from his office at 8 PM to discuss some technical matters several Saturday nights ago. He was working on his opposition brief to the State’s Petition to the California State Supreme Court. He was also in his office on Sunday evening, sending out update information to the industry on the correct address where we should be sending our letters opposing de-publication.  James sent me his final Opposition brief to the State’s Petition for de-publication on Thanksgiving Day. I venture to say that none of the other attorneys in all the litigation we are involved with are as committed as the champion who is working on our behalf.

I remember a time, and it was not that long ago, that our industry could not come up with the money to hire any lawyer. Now we have one of the best freedom fighters in the country on our side!

We also have an army of fellow supporters working for our side!  We only had 10 days from when the State’s request to de-publish was filed to deliver our own letters of opposition to the California Supreme Court. That was very little time to make something happen!

Our attorney believed it would be beneficial for the California Supreme Court to hear from an army of gold prospectors who have an interest in how this matter is going to be resolved in California. So we put out an emergency email to our entire Internet Action List asking for letters of opposition (to de-listing) be sent to the California Supreme Court by overnight express, along with copies to long list of the other attorneys involved with the case.

Letters To Supreme CourtFrankly, I didn’t have much hope that a letter writing campaign on such short notice, requiring overnight express mailing, was going to have much of an impact.  But that was a gross underestimation on my part.  Here is an image of a stack of copied letters that James Buchal proudly sent me even before the deadline was reached!  And here is a portion of an email I received a few days ago from one of our very supportive members. This says it all:

“I called the CA Supreme Court clerk yesterday to see if they were going to docket my letter. The kid was nice enough and said they had over 500 letters, too many to docket. But he assured me they were being forwarded “upstairs” to the Supreme Court. I reminded him that each of those 500 people paid $20 to overnight their letter, which did not seem to impress him. Then I informed him that the Appellate Court was docketing their service copies, which seemed to surprise him.   

I then asked him “HOW MANY LETTERS HAVE YOU RECEIVED IN SUPPORT OF DEPUBLICATION?” He replied that, as far as he knew, they had received NO letters in support of de-publication. ZERO. I was very nice the entire time and when he started with the “I only work here” routine, I thanked him and hung up. 

I got no sense that there was any ire toward miners; I think there are just too many letters and not enough time in the day to docket 500+ letters. Who knows, maybe it’s a record?

Thought you might want to know. 

David Prather”

We Have Purchased More New Mining Properties! 

Our first sampling team has rafted through the 3-mile stretch of new claims I made the announcement about in last month’s newsletter.   Unfortunately, we just don’t have room in this month’s newsletter to reprint the initial report.  In short, they say the stretch is mostly a remote canyon that does not have any dangerous rapids.  They described the area as so remote; it reminded them of something out of the movie, Jurassic Park.  My initial impression is that the stretch is going to be ideal for crevice mining and suction dredging.  The remoteness of the area nearly guarantees there have been few or no modern prospectors in there ahead of us. The following video will give you a first impression.  Keep in mind it only shows a small portion of the overall stretch:

On that note, we have recently purchased several more good properties on the Klamath River.  Watch for more about this in coming newsletters. 

Proline Donated a 4-inch Dredge to Our Next Legal Fund Drawing! 

4" Proline dredge

Gold EaglesThere will be 21 prizes in all:

Grand Prize: 4-inch Proline dredge

Twenty tenth-ounce American Gold Eagles.

The New 49’ers Legal Fund drawing will take place just before the close of business at our headquarters in Happy Camp on Friday evening, 27 February 2015. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate. You are welcome to be at the drawing, but you do not need to be present to 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. Look for more information here:

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.  Actually, the video segments show the adventures better than I can write them!

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, in a matter of hours, we generated a big portion of the recent letters to the California Supreme Court by contacting our supporters this way. 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!

Sign up for our Free Internet Newsletter!


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

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New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH  QUARTER, NOVEMBER 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 11

Dave Mack


 Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

Another win for our side:  We have come into written correspondence from the District Attorney of Siskiyou County which is rejecting to prosecute suction dredgers for not having a permit as a result of the recent Third Appellate published Decision.

In last month’s newsletter, I outlined the reasons why the recently published Decision, which is now binding on all Superior Courts in California, would likely discourage further attempts to prosecute suction dredgers.  It looks like my prediction was accurate, at least in Siskiyou County.  Here are links to the letters. Note that we have deleted personal identification information in the letters for security reasons:

Owen Jurgensen

Dennis Kim

Just as a cautionary note on this before you go out and start suction dredging in California without a permit, there is nothing preventing the California Attorney General’s office from attempting to prosecute.  Having said that, I’ll make another prediction that if any prosecution of suction dredgers is attempted by the State, we would throw our money at the defense. Based upon the extensive language about our mining rights in the Rinehart Decision, I personally believe such a case would not proceed beyond a preliminary hearing.

These developments should go a long way towards prompting California to establish a reasonable set of regulations and permitting system in time for our 2015 season.:

Third Appellate Rejects Karuk Motion for Reconsideration! 

Here is another bit of good news for our side:  The Karuks and their allies recently filed a motion with the Third Appellate Court to reconsider its landmark Decision on behalf of Brandon Rinehart. They are suggesting that Brandon never had a federal mining claim in the first place, because the State owns the bottom of waterways! These guys just never give up!

Never mind that the State withdrew from this argument during the initial trial, and continue to charge Brandon property taxes on his federal mining claim!

We immediately replied with a brief of our own, asking the Third Appellate to reject the Karuk’s motion – which they ultimately did.  Here is an update Memo from our attorney. 

Almost Three Miles of New Mining Properties! 

River view

 I am very pleased to announce that we have recently purchased nearly 3 miles along one of the historically-richest portions of the Klamath River. This is a very substantial addition to our extensive existing properties.  We are not ready to disclose the new location, but I will say that it is reasonably close to Happy Camp.  While I have not personally prospected there, one of my earlier mining partners did a few weeks of dredging in that area just before the dredge moratorium, and his gold discovery was on the order of the nuggets we gave away in the most recent drawing.

It is going to take us a while to pull images, video and initial prospecting results together, mainly because some of the area is only accessible by boat or raft. The Forest Service has consented to allow us to place our own lock on the gate which blocks the main access road during the off-season months. The gate is open during the summer. They have requested that we minimize use during the wet season so we don’t tear up the road.

We have initial prospecting teams already doing some preliminary work, and a rafting trip is planned so we can view the entire stretch of river.daves-gold-nuggets

We will have maps, GPS coordinates, images and video in an upcoming newsletter; hopefully in January.  But just to give you an initial taste of what’s to come, here is an initial report I received from John Rose:

“Derrick and I walked to the end of one road and found a gravel bar that is probably three times the size of K-15A. There is evidence of major historical mining being done on the bar that has left tailing rows and what looks to have been a berm for diverting water.  I sampled one place where there was an outcropping of bedrock that didn’t look like it had been mined before and found some gold in a small crack where the bedrock meets the bar about 200 yards from the river.  We are going to spend a few days scouting and sampling the area both on the bar and high up on the hillsides.  You can tell by looking at the hillside where the trees change in type and size just how far up the hill the old-timers mined before.  Every so often, you can see an area up in the brush where there is an old rotting big tree stump where they must have skipped over with their operation.

I haven’t even begun to look at any of the lower part of the new properties yet. They may only be accessible by boat.  But I must say I am really excited about what I have seen and Derrick was taken aback by what he saw and said he never even imagined that the claim was there because it has been overlooked for such a long time.  That and the fact that a whole new concept of mining here could possibly be done with a little ingenuity and some modification to equipment.  I haven’t been this excited about a claim in a long time!

I mentioned to Rich Krimm that when he comes up in a few weeks, we need to spend a few days just scouting the area and throwing out different ideas of what could be done using new prospecting methods and how we would need to modify our existing gear.  I am already thinking of ways I could modify my dredge to operate on dry land far away from the river.  Maybe I will become a dry land dredger (LOL)!

When Rich comes up, we will float the river and check out the whole claim and take videos.  I have some members already lined up that will come down for a group sampling outing to check the bar and the hillside.  There is one spot that I can get to with my blue suburban that would be ideal for sampling and a picnic.”

Drawing Winners!

WatchingThe New 49’ers Legal Fund drew 25 prizes on 31 October from 3 ounces of gold nuggets taken out of my personal collection. The tickets were drawn by a person with no personal interest in the outcome. There was a small gathering of members present to share in the excitement.  Here are the winners:

1 ounce of gold nuggets: Norman L Heller of Sun City, CA

1/4-ounce of gold nuggets: MariAnne Campbell of Port Angeles, WA; Curtis Carley of Torrance, CA; Ted Lance of Oregon City, OR and Jeffry Larkin of Buena Park, CA

1 pennyweight of gold nuggets: Ronald Watson of Poulsbo, WA; Alexander Watko of Walla Walla, WA; Roy Harrison of Quartzsite, AZ; Joseph Martin of Willits, CA; Raymond Dagle of Cottonwood, CA; William Frese of Cincinnati, OH; Ronald Morris of Eagle Point, OR; Daniel Cutshall of Bishop, CA; Brian Mix of Camino, CA; Charles Alberts of Dixon, CA; Chris Saunders of Moore, OK; Ray Derrick of Livingston, TX; Gene Deal of Tulelake, CA; Randy Peacock of Colorado City, TX; Les Martin of Klamath Falls, OR; Robert Gauf of Clear Lake, CA; Ross Benson Hot Springs Village AR; Bill Pechtel III of Medford, OR; John Beisner of Anaheim, CA and Dennis Scharosch of Sacramento, CA.

DrawingCongratulations to all the winners!  If things keep going our way for a while longer, we are all going to win the big prize of being free to get back in the water in California with our suction dredges. Just like going underwater and making a withdraw from the bank; that’s the best prize ever!!

I have a good idea where to go to regenerate my inventory of gold nuggets. Many of you guys also have ideas about this.

I want to thank all of you who responded to our calls for participation. This was another successful legal fund-raiser.

Any contributions which have come in since the drawing will automatically generate tickets for our next fund-raiser — which will be for twenty 10th-ounce American Gold Eagles and a brand new 4-inch Proline dredge. The next drawing will take place on 27 February.

In case you didn’t know, your contribution to The New 49’ers Legal Fund is tax-deductible.

Make a Legal Contribution

Proline Donated the 4-inch Dredge to Our Next Legal Fund Drawing! 

Proline dredge

“I’ll be providing you with our best-selling 4” dredge model. It will be equipped with the GX200 Honda, our HP400 pump, T80 air compressor, 15ft of 4” dredge hose, and one of our swivel tips.  As discussed, the winner will pay for freight or arrange it himself. We get very good shipping rates, and don’t charge any handling or crating fees. Best regards,” Jeff at Proline Mining Equipment, INC. (209) 878-3770.

As we hopefully transition into California suction dredging once again, I hope you guys will remember those companies in the industry that have stood with us in our efforts to overcome prohibitive over-regulation.  Proline makes some of the best small-scale mining equipment in the world. 

Legal Fund Prizes Needed 

On the subject of legal prizes, longtime member and supporter, Steve Kleszyk, consented this past season to head up our legal-fund raising activity on our Internet Forum, and at our Saturday evening potlucks.  These are done in the form of live auctions – which are a lot of fun, in addition to the money raised to support our legal efforts.  Steve says he is getting low on prizes, and is asking if some of you guys can pitch in.  We have learned from experience that gold and silver prizes are the only thing that generates interest on the Internet auctions.  But other valuable items create quite a lot of interest at the potlucks.  Last season, we did quite well with new mining equipment items, gemstones, custom made jewelry boxes, and other items that are nice to own.  Please give some thought to what you might contribute and make contact with Steve to see if he believes your ideas will generate interest in our legal fund-raising efforts. These prize contributions are also tax deductible. We will also issue you drawing tickets according to their monetary value. Every little bit helps. And together, we are finally making some real progress.  It would not be happening if it were not for you guys!  Steve Kleszyk can be reached at: <> 

The United Way

This section by Steve Kleszyk 

Like many of us, I do mining on a part time basis and that means I have a day job.  One of the things many of today’s progressive employers do is partner with organizations such as United Way.  Together, the United Way partnered with the employers, offer community services in many ways with programs such the “Charitable Gift Campaign.”  About this time every year, employers have a “campaign drive” for employees to be able to donate through payroll deductions for deserving organizations such as the New 49ers Legal Fund.  As a 501.c organization, The New 49er Legal Fund is eligible for this and similar programs.  This means you can have your employer take pre-tax donations and have them given directly to the New 49er Legal fund through payroll deductions via the United Way.  The best part is there is no fee or split of the donations and it all goes to the New 49ers Legal Fund!  As a bonus, many employers offer dollar-matching of the donations.  That means if you donate $5 a pay period, your employer matches the $5 and the New 49er Legal Fund gets $10!

I know many of you that have employers that have these kinds of programs are familiar with them but may not have thought about The New 49er Legal Fund as an option for this.   If you are not sure, check with your employer and ask.  Even if they don’t do donation matching, it’s still a great way to make donations to the New 49er Legal Fund

While we are at it, there are some employers who are not partnered with organizations such as The United Way, but may have a direct donation program in place.  This also often incudes dollar-matching.   These programs vary from employer to employer, so be sure to check with yours for specific details.

The New 49ers Legal Fund is in The United Way system now.  As it is new, it will have to be a “write in” organization; but it will be easy for The United Way/your employer to process your request. The important information you need for this, or any other 501.c program, is:

The New 49’ers Legal fund
27 Davis Road
Happy Camp, CA   96039
(530) 493-2012.

So please check with your employer to see if there are any such programs they have.  If you know any other similar program be sure to let us know so we can spread the word and take advantage of these fine programs.  To make sure everything is in place, and to start us off on the right foot, I started us off with a $5 per pay period donation for all of 2015. 

We Continue to Work out Some Billing Issues in the Office

We want to extend a warm welcome to Tony M. Balderrama who has taken over in our main office as our new Office Manager/Accountant.  The position was held by Marcy Charlan for 15 years.  Marcy decided to make a career change this past spring and is now owner and manager of a doughnut shop in Medford, Oregon. She has helped out considerably in the changeover, and Tony still calls on her from time to time.  Tony is highly qualified for this job, is very service oriented, and is very personable in person and on the phone.  He is a good addition to our office team and we feel very lucky to have him.

As it turns out, during the period of around 6 months after Marcy left, but before Tony started, others who did their best to pick up the slack made some errors in the computer entries.  These errors then turned up on some member statements that have been sent out. Some members have voiced concerns to the office.  The good news is that we also keep a separate set of hard copy records on all payments received.  Tony and the other staff in our office are,  step by step, comparing hard copy records to computer records and making corrections where needed in our computerized billing system.  This is to assure you we are working on it.  I ask that you be patient with us; because we have thousands of members, and the office billing functions are more complex than you might assume.

In any event, if you see any errors in your monthly or annual account statement, please call Tony or Bonnie at 530 493-2012 and they will make every effort to accommodate you. 

Join us for our Weekend Group Mining Projects Next Season!

There is a learning curve to successful gold prospecting.  One of the most effective methods of progressing through the learning curve is to go on prospecting adventures with others who more experienced than you are.

Our 2-day Group Mining Projects are one of the primary benefits of New 49’er membership which set us apart from other mining associations.  All weekend events are free to Full & Associate Members.

Schedule of 2015 Events: June 6 & 7; June 27 & 28; July 18 & 19; August 8 & 9; and August 29 & 30.

Schedule of Events 

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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 a few years ago, in concert with other mining organizations, our Internet Action Team killed anti-mining legislation in Oregon in less than a week.  We generated a big portion of the recent letters to the Third Appellate Court by contacting our supporters this way. 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

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Dave Mack

Legal update for California ( Fri Jun 27 2014 )

By Dave McCracken



I just returned to Happy Camp from 2 days of Mandatory Settlement Discussions in San Bernardino for the several ongoing cases in front of Superior Court Judge Ochoa. Before I get into this, I need to point out that the discussions were confidential, so I can only discuss this in general terms.

As an important part of this, in case you didn’t know, because of scheduling conflicts, oral arguments in Brandon Rinehart’s appeal to the Third Appellate District have been pushed back to September. In that case, we are petitioning the Court to decide that federal law prevents the State of California from prohibiting suction dredging on the public lands. We are arguing that the law is already well-decided on this issue. One of the State’s primary arguments is that they are only prohibiting suction dredging, and we are still allowed to use our gold pans. Our position is that our mining claims are only valid in the first place because we have made viable gold discoveries at the bottom of waterways which can only be reached through suction dredging. Preventing us from extracting the gold deposits we have discovered is basically a prohibition on the use of any effective method of mining that is available to us. As long as we get a fair hearing, and it appears as though we will, we are pretty confident that we will win the federal preemption case in the Third Appellate Court. The case law we are relying upon basically says that while the State has the authority to impose “reasonable regulations” upon us, they cannot prohibit mining altogether.

This brings up the subject of what constitutes “reasonable regulation” of suction dredging in California. While maybe everyone does not agree, I believe the majority of us believe that the regulations we worked so hard for in 1994 were reasonable, except that the Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) decided afterward that the Special Permit process was no longer available to us.

Please allow me to put this in perspective: A statewide suction dredge permit scheme is good for our industry. Otherwise, each of us would need to submit separate dredge applications for each different place we want to work. The process of obtaining those permits could be quite lengthy, burdensome and expensive. For example, the previous judge that was presiding over most of this litigation was strongly suggesting that every single suction dredger should be required to do a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR), a requirement which certainly would have been the end of our industry.

Section 5653 of the DFW Code allows the Department to issue dredging permits if there is not going to be “harm” to fish. “Harm” in this respect means a deleterious impact upon an entire species of fish. Rather than require each individual dredger to complete an EIR, the State has developed a statewide EIR with regulations which allow limited suction dredging along numerous waterways at certain times of the year. Since the statewide approach requires DFW to make general assumptions concerning “harm,” the Department believes it must err on the side of caution. This in itself is not unreasonable. But in the exercise of caution, the regulations are sure to restrict or prohibit suction dredging in areas where, if looked at more closely, reasonable people could agree that some suction dredging could take place without endangering a species. This is where the Special Permit process came in during 1994 and before. Said another way, without a Special Permit process in place, suction dredging would be completely prohibited in all areas that are not allowed by the statewide regulations. We believe this would rise to a prohibition in some portions of the state which would likely be preempted by federal law. The recently-adopted 2012 statewide regulations do not allow for a Special Permit Process. This is just one thing (of many) that must be resolved.

You guys probably recall that Brandon Rinehart was cited several years ago for suction dredging without a permit. Our attorney, James Buchal, took Brandon’s case. More or less, our defense is that the state has over-reached its authority by first adopting Section 5653 of the DFW Code which prohibits people from operating suction dredges within California’s waterways without first obtaining a permit, and then passing another law which prohibits the state from issuing any suction dredge permits. If Brandon wins this argument in the Third Appellate, it basically means that we can all resume suction dredging without much worry over being prosecuted for not having a permit. I suspect this would prompt the legislature to cancel its moratorium and order DFW to immediately begin issuing dredging permits in conformance with the recently-adopted 2012 suction dredge regulations.

While permits under the 2012 regulations would be an improvement over our existing situation, I believe everyone within the industry would agree that they are not even close to being “reasonable.” At the same time, anti-mining activists are arguing quite strenuously that the 2012 regulations are not restrictive enough. Therefore a big part of the active litigation in Judge Ochoa’s court is over the disagreement on what constitutes “reasonable regulation” of suction dredging in California.

I have read some of the comments made by others in the last few days which are pushing the notion that Judge Ochoa’s Order for all the parties in the active litigation to participate in mandatory settlement discussions is a bad thing, especially since they will not be continued until early September. That means we will not be dredging this season. The reason for the delay, as I understand it, is the very same scheduling conflicts that delayed Brandon’s case in the Third Appellate. It is basically the same group of attorneys in both cases. People take vacations during the summer months. Yes; I know that does not include suction dredgers. But, since we are not going to resolve this without the attorneys, it is a waste of time to make a big deal over things we cannot change. We are so late in the season already, under the new regulations, there was not going to be much time for anyone to get in the water this summer, anyway. Perhaps it’s better that we dwell on the good side of this.

The good side? This is where others might disagree with my perspective. Civilized disagreement and debate amongst us is a good thing. We do this all the time within the industry. It increases all of our awareness on the issues we face and improves our ability to deal with the obstacles we must overcome. When I look back at how much better we are today at managing legal challenges than we were in the 90’s, I am amazed we actually overcame the very strong push to eliminate suction dredging and came up with a set of regulations that supported our industry for 15 years. We were very divided in our views back in 1994. But we did manage to pull together a united front on the important matters that we had to deal with. I am confident we will do that again this time.

Now to my perspective: Since we expect that the Third Appellate is going to overturn the Legislature’s moratorium on suction dredging perhaps sometime around the end of this year, the next big matter to resolve is what constitutes “reasonable regulation” of suction dredging in California. That matter is in front of Judge Ochoa. I believe this is one of the main reasons he has ordered Mandatory Settlement discussions. The beginning of the process this past week involved all the parties and attorneys communicating our views and concerns to the judge on a personal basis. I believe the judge was trying to discover how far apart we are and assess the likelihood that he can bring us together in a negotiated settlement that everyone can live with. I believe he now has a good understanding of the issues we must resolve. Before we closed on the second day, he asked for a list of issues that each party would like to see changed in the 2012 regulations. After reviewing these with all the attorneys, he still had enough confidence to schedule two more days of settlement discussions in early September.

I know some people don’t like this settlement idea. But we should consider the alternative, which is to litigate each and every one of the issues that we do or don’t like, and that anti-mining activists don’t like – all in front of the very same judge. This would involve tens of thousands of pages of reports and comments, expert witness testimony from all sides, all which could take years of hearings, not to mention the costs. This is because many of the issues are scientific and complex. All of this, only to have Judge Ochoa make the final determination in the end, anyway.

Therefore, I see his offer to try and resolve the issues through settlement discussions as an opportunity to shortcut a very timely and expensive process.

The 1994 regulations were not the result of litigation. They were the result of all the parties coming together in discussions, with a very capable negotiator finding the balance that we could all live with. That was not an easy thing to do! My initial impression of Judge Ochoa is that we are very lucky to have him there. I’m sure he is going to give everyone’s view a fair hearing. That is a lot more than we have received since we were shut down in 2009. It is a lot more that we might expect in today’s world.

Therefore, I am suggesting that we should not be too quick to decide mandatory settlement discussions are a bad thing. Without them, even if Brandon wins, we are likely to be stuck with the 2012 regulations until they are fully litigated, which could end us up in the very same place as a settlement degree before the start of next season.


The New 49’ers Legal Fund
27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039


Dave Mack

“The Third Appellate District of California has agreed to consider our federal preemption argument in the Brandon Rinehart case. Here is some background information and links to the important briefs regarding this case”

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I am very excited to announce that the Third Appellate District of California has agreed to consider our federal preemption argument in the Brandon Rinehart case. Many of you will recall that Brandon was cited last year for operating a suction dredge in California without a permit. Brandon hired our attorney, James Buchal, to defend against the criminal citation.  Brandon’s defense was largely based upon our federal preemption argument in San Bernardino Superior Court that the State does not have the authority to prohibit suction dredging, and that their refusal to issue a permit amounted to a prohibition.  The judge in that case rejected the preemption argument on the presumption that we would appeal to the Appellate Court.

Now that the Appellate Court will consider federal preemption, we are on a fast track to get this very important issue decided.  James Buchal did a fantastic job in presenting opening arguments. You can find all of the arguments in the links below. I encourage you guys to read them, because they are very enlightening, not only in our legal theories, but also what we are up against in the State of California, and with anti-mining activists.  This federal preemption battle is perhaps the most important legal challenge we have ever mounted on behalf of small-scale miners.  Several other mining associations are contributing to the legal costs.

In the event that we win the federal preemption argument, my guess is that suction dredge permits will again immediately be available in California.  This, because the Appellate Court will have ruled that we can dredge if California fails to issue permits. It is impossible to predict how long it will take the Court to issue a Decision. But it is possible it could happen before this next season. Note:  This case was decided in our favor.  the Decision can be found at the bottom link below:

The California Supreme Court has since agreed to Review the Third Appellate’s Decision. Go to this page for updated information.