New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST  QUARTER, MARCH 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 3

Dave Mack

 

 

Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

 

 

 

Story, video and images by Alan Mash & John Rose

Two guys mining

Early March is a heck of a time to do underwater mining.  The water is cold, and on this particular day, the creek was running higher and faster than normal because of a rain storm just a few days before.

I wanted to experiment with this new method of underwater blow mining in California before the warmer weather gets started. So I decided to visit Happy Camp to try it out on the New 49er South Fork of Indian Creek property. This is a place which is well known for producing nice gold nuggets.  I once recovered quite a large gold nugget using a metal detector along the bank of the stream on this property.  Bedrock is very close to the surface in most places.  So you don’t have to work that hard to get down to the cracks where gold can be found.  I was doing quite well there using a suction dredge several years ago.

Before going down, I lined up Steve Jones and John Rose to come on out and join me for an adventure.  Those guys are always ready to go!  Several other New 49’er members also came along.  Since I have the most experience doing underwater video, Steve jumped right in there with the nozzle and did a lot of the mining work.  This is Steve’s second winter supporting himself from the gold that he mines along the Klamath River.  He’s a hardy guy!

Using the blow mining method is the same thing as using a blaster nozzle on a suction dredge to cut through and break up hard-packed layers and bedrock that a dredge nozzle won’t take apart.  But in this case, we were mainly using the blow nozzle to help move material out of the way and help us get down to the bedrock cracks faster.  Really, this is just a step further than raking and fanning material out of the way with your hands.

underwater blowing setup

Steve and John suggested we could take the process one step further and blow the material into a second blowing device with a hopper that can be used to direct material through a hose to a sluice box (see next section below). But since South Fork mostly has bigger gold, we decided to just use the primary blower nozzle to see what we might find by uncovering some cracks on the edge of the creek.

We were using a 6.5 HP motor, mostly running on idle, with a standard mining pump and hookah compressor to supply underwater breathing air.  You could also use a normal trash pump for underwater blow mining in shallow water. It’s pretty easy to adapt some ABS or PVC fittings to a pressure hose coming off the pump. Any motor that otherwise might be used to power a dredge or high-banker can be easily adapted to this kind of mining. My own dredge uses a Keene 1-inch high pressure hose going to a blaster nozzle tip. That provides plenty of power to push material around underwater!

John captured this video afterwards, while we explained what we were doing:

The gravel and overburden on the edge of the creek was only about a foot thick when we started. Sometimes it takes more effort to strap on divers weights when working in shallow water. We decided to tough it out without them. John explained what we were doing in the following video sequences:

Using hose

A larger 1 ½-inch blaster hose and nozzle was connected to the pump which certainly would have moved the overburden off faster.  But since that would have made the underwater filming more difficult to capture, and there was only about a foot of material to move out of the way, we decided to just use a garden hose without the blaster nozzle tip at first to help move most of the top material off. Once we got down to bedrock, we attached the narrower-tipped blaster nozzle to help take apart decomposed bedrock. We were hoping to find some gold underneath.  Here is some of the underwater action:

Gold nugget next to a quarter

We were all pleasantly surprised to discover that it is quite easy using this method of underwater blowing to gain access to shallow gold deposits.  By this, I mean shallow material.  You can use this method in deeper water with the use of hookah gear.  I’m looking forward to using this method along the banks of the extensive new mining properties The New 49’ers have acquired downstream of Happy Camp during the past few months.  I’m sure those areas have not been mined during the modern age!

Shortly after reaching bedrock, we found a beautiful Indian Creek nugget stuck in a crack in the bedrock. I’m pretty sure I saw the nugget first because I was upstream with the camera from the slight cloud Steve was stirring up with the nozzle.  For just a moment, I thought Steve was going to blow the nugget away!  But, of course, gold is too heavy for that.  Fortunately, I had the video camera on at the moment of discovery:

Guys talking on the river bank

We wanted to do more prospecting; but after getting out of the water to congratulate ourselves, we found ourselves shivering up on the bank. We had such a great time exploring this new method of mining, we finally decided to call it a day and start making plans for the next time.

There seem to be more New 49’er members around Happy Camp this year than during prior winters that I have spent down there.  It’s always a great time visiting with other members! Maybe next time I will use a wet-suit heater so I can devote more time recovering those easy nuggets.  Or better yet, spring is only about a month away!

Taking Blow Mining to the Next Level!

  Hopper without hoses View of creek

Last season, when the State of California decided to redefine “suction dredging” as “…the use of a suction system to vacuum material from a river, stream or lake for the extraction of minerals,” we immediately went to work on creating a new system which relies completely on water blowing to move streambed material to a hopper either above or below the water, and then through a hose to either a container or recovery system.

While the new system relies upon the same types of engines, pumps and underwater breathing systems we have historically used in most of our small scale mining activities, there is no suction or vacuum employed to excavate material off the bottom of the waterway.  We only use blowing, thus the new term “blow mining.”

Blow mining hopper Blow nozzle

To my knowledge, you cannot buy these blow mining hoppers as ready-made devices.  But they are not hard to fabricate at home.  We glued our prototypes together with ABS plastic materials.  We reduced the jetting down to ¾-inch tubing from the traditional 1 ½-inch pressure hose that extends from a 6.5 HP motor and pump.  As you can see from the images, we added in a garden hose and valve so we can blow material into the hopper.  You can also feed material into the hopper by hand.  Through testing, we found that a 6.5 HP Honda will supply enough power to deliver material to either a 3-inch or 4-inch recovery system (sluice box) that can float on pontoons out on the waterway.

Feeding by hand Discharge from hose

Several of our members began using these blow mining techniques late last season when the wardens started coming around to inform miners that the definition of suction dredging had been expanded to include any type of suction or vacuum mining on the bottom of the waterway.  When the wardens were informed that these prospectors were only using blowing techniques to move stream-bottom materials, the wardens went away and that was the end of it.

We will leave one of the prototypes at the office so everyone can get a look at it.  When constructing your own, I caution you to be mindful that no suction or vacuum can be used to excavate material off the bottom of the waterway.  This is largely a matter of placing the pressure jet so that it blows material through a delivery hose. It is also a matter of creating a feed hopper which is large enough that it will catch materials directed its way without creating even a fraction of suction strong enough to perform excavation on its own.  Some of our members are calling this an “underwater high-banker,” though I point out that the very same system is also effective above the water.

Here are some very helpful video sequences to demonstrate the system:

Legal Prize Winners!

This drawing was for three ounces in American Gold Eagle coins and ten ounces of Silver Eagles.  The drawing took place just before closing time in our offices in Happy Camp on 28 February.  Because she had no personal interest in the outcome, we asked Connie Rasmussen from the gift store next door to draw the tickets. In addition to our staff, there were a number of others present for the drawing.

1-ounce American Gold Eagle: Paul L Velotta

Quarter-ounce American Gold Eagles: Ray Crum, Larry Buzzell, Brian Cutler & Timothy J Gilbreth

One-tenth ounce American Gold Eagles: Lynn L Bourne, Les Martin, Philip F. Myska, Edward Murphy, Gary Standefer, Stephen Drinovsky, Chester Morris, Joe Sawyers, James A Karl & Fred Fifield.

One ounce American Silver Eagles: Jasper Bishop, Larry L Reiter, Alton Smithart, David Albrecht, Clark Morrison, Janis A Keene, Richard Stroda, Mike Keller, Phillip Sharpe & Joseph Schaberger.

I want to give a heart-felt thank you to everyone who participated in this fund-raiser. We can count this fund-raiser as another big winner for small-scale miners.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Any contributions received after the time of the drawing will automatically generate tickets for the next prize drawing which will be sponsored by The New 49’er Legal Fund. It will be for 15 more American Gold Eagles (3 ounces of gold) and 10 more American Silver Eagles (10 ounces of silver).  The next drawing will take place at the New 49’er Saturday evening potluck in Happy Camp on 5 July 2014. You do not need to be present to win.  You do not need to be a member of The New 49’ers to participate.  Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets). 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 Legal Fund, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or you can do it online by clicking here: 

What We Can Do on Our Properties in California 

Members have been calling in wanting to know what we can and cannot do these days for prospecting activity on our extensive property holdings in Siskiyou County.  While I do not have a license to provide legal advice, I will follow with my own understanding of the current state of affairs.

1)      We all know that suction dredging in the active waterways is closed until we overcome the existing moratorium in California.  This is presently being challenged in two separate legal proceedings.  Let’s just keep our fingers crossed on this turning out in our favor.

2)       Surface mining (high-banking) is still alright. You can do that on your own, or you can join in on our Weekend Group Mining Projects. They are scheduled in 2014 as follows: May 31 & June 1; June 21 & 22; July 12 & 13; August 2 & 3; August 23 & 24. These events are free to all active Members, and everyone is encouraged to attend.  Please contact our office in advance to let us know you will be there: (530) 493-2012.

3)      Since our last newsletter, the State of California has submitted an application to the Office of Administrative Law to adopt its Emergency Regulations as permanent.  This will do away with using any type of vacuum or suction to excavate material off the bottom of a waterway.  Therefore, the underwater suction gravel transfer systems we used last season will no longer be allowed until we overcome the suction dredge moratorium.

4) There is no problem with booming (motorized suction mining) 100 yards from the active waterway.  There is also a way to boom using blowing methods (see below) that should not be affected by the 100 yard rule.

Please note that all surface mining activities on New 49’er properties are governed by our internal set of Surface Mining Guidelines which are available from the office.

5)  Underwater crevicing is what most active members were doing within the waterways at the end of last season, using the hookah and pump from their 5 and 6 HP motors on floating platforms to provide air for breathing and a jet of water to help move material out of the way. Most of this newsletter has focused upon this new method of moving material around by blowing, rather than sucking. Our attorney agrees this cannot be classed as “suction dredging” under the expanded definition.

The New 49er Legal Fund

The main briefs have been filed with the Third Appellate District of California in the Brandon Rinehart case. Brandon was cited a while back 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 and closing arguments. We encourage you guys to read them, because they are very enlightening. The State’s argument is basically that congress never meant for the State to be prevented from stopping mining on the public lands.  Anti-mining activists have also weighed in with their own arguments. So that you can more easily follow along in the progress, we have created a special page on the web site that includes all of the important briefs.

In the event that we win the federal preemption argument, our guess is that suction dredge permits will again immediately be available in California.  This, because a judge will have ruled that prospectors can dredge even 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.  The New 49er Legal Fund is providing financial assistance to pursue the preemption argument in the Appellate Court, since that outcome is likely to resolve many of the unsettled matters in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The State of Oregon has passed a similar statewide moratorium (SB 838) on suction dredging (as California’s), except that it does not take full effect until 2016. The new law does affect the 2014 and 2015 seasons in several very important ways:

1)      They are reducing the number of suction dredging permits to 850. This is approximately down to a third of the number of permits issued during the 2013 season.  So the big question is who will get the permits?

2)  The new law only allows the operation of a suction dredge between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm.

3)  Suction dredges cannot be operated within 500 feet of each other.

4)  No suction dredges may be left unattended on the waterway.  This is generally being interpreted as a requirement to remove all dredging equipment from the waterway every evening.

At the time this newsletter is being published, Oregon State Lands is not yet processing permit applications.

Fortunately, we have our federal preemption arguments to (hopefully) overcome this nonsense in Oregon.  To a large degree, the very same arguments we are using to try and overcome California’s moratorium will also apply to Oregon.   How can a State promote mining on the public lands (which is a mandate from congress) when they require a miner to remove his mining equipment from his work site every evening? Or when a miner is prohibited from operating a motor at times when anyone else is allowed to do so?

Since we are already making the federal preemption arguments in California, we will likely wait to see how the Appellate Court decides before challenging the new law in Oregon.

Lost Treasure Hunters was Scheduled to Air!

Just as we went to print with the February newsletter, I received notice from the producer that Animal Planet had scheduled the full version of Lost Treasure Hunters (5 episodes) to play, starting at 8 AM on March 6thEpisode 1 can be found here. Then, a week or so before the show was to air; I was informed that the network changed its mind once again. No explanation has been provided, so the mystery continues. Perhaps it has to do with the ancient curse of the Golconda diamonds!  Lost Treasure Hunters is a reality show that was filmed by Discovery Network about several friends and me who went on an extended expedition to India in search of one of the world’s richest diamond mines, a mine that has been lost for several hundred years.  I am not allowed to tell you if we found the mine.  But I can tell you that if you watch the show, you won’t be disappointed in what we found!

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.  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  www.goldgold.com

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New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST  QUARTER, FEBRUARY 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 2

Dave Mack

 

 

Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

 

 

 

Story, video and images by John Rose

Gold Nuggets

Long time prospector, Scott Hanson, and I recently got together just after we discovered that The New 49’ers have acquired yet another new claim downriver from Happy Camp. Scott suggested that we invest a couple of days sampling the new claim (K-22A) along with a few other places where members have been doing pretty well this winter.

On that note, I will say that it seems like we have more members actively prospecting this winter than during the past few years. There are a lot of friendly faces around Happy Camp!

River View Creek sign

Scott and I first stopped at the Club’s newest claim (more on that below). It is called the “Doolittle Rapids.” This is because the upstream boundary is about where Doolittle creek enters the Klamath River.  There is a magnificent set of rapids in the Klamath River just downstream. It’s really more like a small waterfall in a big river.

Our hike down to the river was a little steep, but we managed it alright. I expect that some increased traffic will make the old trail better. Once we got down to the bottom, the amount of exposed bedrock visible on both sides of the river was almost overwhelming. By this, I mean there were so many sampling options that it was difficult to decide where to start.  This is another claim that will keep our members busy for many years to come!

Nice view Waterfall

Scott finally decided upon a likely spot to find gold and started sampling while I took a few videos and paused to relax on an outcropping of bedrock by the rapids and take in the very dramatic river scenery. Frankly, I was taken aback by the peacefulness from just being there. I live along the Klamath River. So sometimes I forget to slow down and appreciate the surroundings. This was one of those times when I remembered that this is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. There was an osprey flying the river, hunting for lunch. What a view!

Sample gold

Scott finished his first test pan from surface material alongside the river and found about 30 small pieces of nice shiny gold.  That was enough to get me up and helping! We tested at four different places along the claim. All the pans of surface material contained the same amount of gold.  We only brought along a scoop for digging on this first trip, and the larger rocks were preventing us from reaching bedrock in the deeper bedrock traps. So we will return on another day with a crow bar and some crevicing tools.

Next we went down to the new Ukonom Gold Claim (K25AA). This is the new claim that was released in last month’s newsletter.  I showed Scott a newly-discovered trail down to the river that is on the upriver end of the claim. Last month’s story was about a prospecting trip we did on the lower end, maybe a mile downstream.  We did several test pans at the bottom of this new trail and found even more gold and larger flakes.  The Ukonom claim, much like Doolittle Rapids, is close to the river and is mostly about crevicing and breaking open the bedrock.  There are a couple of creeks there that enter the river from the south side.  I suspect they are the source of some of the gold we were finding, because the gold was chunkier then what we normally find.

Total gold

Talking about crevicing, the Klamath River has now been running about 3,000 cubic feet per second slower than the seasonal average for over a month.  Absent any huge storms in March or April, I am predicting we are going to have access to a lot more of the gold deposits that are normally underwater on the edge of the river.  This could be really good for this new method of blowing that some members were using late last season to help clear out submerged cracks in the bedrock. The office and Rich Krimm have been receiving phone calls from members asking about the increased opportunities for working bedrock now that it appears there is going to be some very low water this season due to the lack of rain.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

I am aware of a member who had recently brought some incredible gold into the office (image at the beginning of this story).  I mean breathtaking! It turns out that he recovered the gold from cracking open bedrock at our K-23A claim at Wingate. A lot of our members have recovered plenty of gold at Wingate. But this was the first batch of big gold I had seen. So on the following day, Scott and I decided it would be good adventure to go down and look for ourselves.  We took a pry bar and my vack machine down there; dug up a few places; and we actually recovered a couple of nuggets.  We are definitely going back there to find their big brothers!

All in all it was a fun two days of sampling and both of us were impressed by the amount of gold we recovered.  Lack of rain, for the most part, has made this a pretty good winter for prospecting.

Another New Claim on the Klamath River! 

Main image River View

K-22A Doolittle Rapids – is another extension of a very long stretch of contiguous river claims available to members which now extend over 8 miles to our Richardson Bedrock property a short distance upstream from Happy Camp.  The lower boundary is located at Highway 96 mile marker 35.5. This new claim is mostly canyon property where few prospectors have been before. Some primitive paths and trails are present to gain access, mostly up towards Doolittle Creek.

Doolittle Rapids topo

Here it is on Google Earth

PROSPECTS: The claims upstream have produced rich gold deposits from top to bottom, with members recovering many, many ounces over the years. A lot of suction dredging was done upstream of the canyon several years ago.  There has also been some productive dredging activity in and around the lower end of the canyon. There is exposed and shallow bedrock on both sides of the river, creating completely unexplored above and below water crevicing opportunities. For the most part, this long stretch of river has not been prospected or mined, and the prospects for finding high-grade gold are exceptional. 

What We Can Do on Our Properties in California 

Members have been calling in wanting to know what we can and cannot do these days for prospecting activity on our extensive property holdings in Siskiyou County.  While I do not have a license to provide legal advice, I will follow with my own understanding of the current state of affairs.

1) We all know that suction dredging in the active waterways is closed until we overcome the existing moratorium in California.  This is presently being challenged in two separate legal proceedings.  Let’s just keep our fingers crossed on this turning out in our favor.

2) Surface mining (high-banking) is still alright. You can do that on your own, or you can join in on our Weekend Group Mining Projects. They are scheduled in 2014 as follows: May 31 & June 1; June 21 & 22; July 12 & 13; August 2 & 3; August 23 & 24. These events are free to all active Members, and everyone is encouraged to attend.  Please contact our office in advance to let us know you will be there: (530) 493-2012.

3) The jury is out on the legality of underwater gravel transfer in Siskiyou County. This is because my own understanding is that a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) remains in affect preventing the Department of Fish & Wildlife from enforcing the Emergency Regulations which put a stop to underwater gravel transfer mining last summer. Since that litigation was transferred to San Bernardino, the TRO kind of remains in legal limbo. My guess is the wardens would frown on the practice. The Club would likely help defend against a citation, though.

On that note, I believe the Emergency Regulations will expire once and for all on the 1st of July.

4) There is no problem with booming (motorized suction mining) 100 yards or more from the active waterway. Doing suction gravel transfer closer than 100 yards, in Siskiyou County, remains in the same legal limbo outlined in the paragraph above. You might or might not get cited if the wardens even take an interest. There has not been much interest so far.

5)  Underwater crevicing is what most active members were doing within the waterways at the end of last season, using the hookah and pump from their 5 and 6 HP motors on floating platforms to provide air for breathing and a small jet of water to help move material out of the way. I was planning to focus the February newsletter on this method of “underwater blow mining,” but the flu that is going around has prevented us from doing the underwater demonstrations on video. You will see something in the March newsletter.

But just to give you something to think about, it is quite easy to rig a blowing hose and blow-nozzle from a small pump to facilitate the excavation of hard-pack on the bottom of a stream, or push small amounts of material out of the way.  There is even a way to push (blow) material through a hose to a recovery system without using any suction system on the bottom.

Miners helping miners!

Here is a short thank you video from the Ward Brothers to all of you guys who support The New 49’er Legal Fund:

The nature of legal sometimes requires that we remain completely silent on issues we get involved with. That’s why this is the first you guys have even heard of this. Some things you will never hear about.

We know you have faith that we are doing our best to support small-scale miners, because you have continued to stand behind our efforts. Thank you for that!

Legal Update 

The main briefs have been filed with the Third Appellate District of California 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. With financial assistance from PLP and others, 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 and closing arguments. I encourage you guys to read them, because they are very enlightening. The State’s argument is basically that congress never meant for the State to be prevented from stopping mining on the public lands.  Anti-mining activists have also weighed in with their own arguments. So that you can more easily follow along in the progress, we have created a special page on our web site that includes all of the important briefs.

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 a judge will have ruled that we can dredge even 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.  We are providing financial assistance to pursue the preemption argument in the Appellate Court, since that outcome is likely to resolve many of the unsettled matters in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The State of Oregon has passed a similar statewide moratorium (SB 838) on suction dredging (as California’s), except that it does not take full effect until 2016. The new law does affect the 2014 and 2015 seasons in several very important ways:

1)      They are reducing the number of suction dredging permits to 850. This is approximately down to a third of the number of permits issued during the 2013 season.  So the big question is who will get the permits?

2)  The new law only allows the operation of a suction dredge between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm.

3)  Suction dredges cannot be operated within 500 feet of each other.

4)  No suction dredges may be left unattended on the waterway.  This is generally being interpreted as a requirement to remove all dredging equipment from the waterway every evening.

At the time we are publishing this newsletter, the State of Oregon has yet to issue final regulations how they will administer these changes, and Oregon State Lands is not yet processing permit applications.

Fortunately, we have our federal preemption arguments to (hopefully) overcome this nonsense in Oregon.  To a large degree, the very same arguments we are using to try and overcome California’s moratorium will also apply to Oregon.   How can a State promote mining on the public lands (which is a mandate from congress) when they require a miner to remove his mining equipment from his work site every evening? Or when a miner is prohibited from operating a motor at times when anyone else is allowed to do so?

Since we are already making the federal preemption arguments in California, we will likely wait to see how the Appellate Court decides before challenging the new law in Oregon.

Last Chance to Win Gold & Silver! 

Gold and Silver Eagles

As most of you know, we mostly generate money to pay lawyers through our New 49′er Legal Fund-raisers.  The ongoing fund-raiser will give away 25 prizes in all: The Grand Prize is a 1-ounce American Gold Eagle. There are four ¼-ounce American Gold Eagles. There are ten 1/10th-ounce American Gold Eagles. And there are ten 1-ounce American Silver Eagles.

Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets, etc.).

This drawing will take place at our offices in Happy Camp on 28 February 2014. 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.

Legal contributions can be arranged by calling (530) 493-2012, by mailing to The New 49′ers Legal Fund, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or online by clicking here.

The drawing is only two weeks away and hardly anyone has joined in so far.  So your chances of winning are pretty good!  

Thanks for whatever you can do to support our defensive efforts!

Lost Treasure Hunters Scheduled to Air!

Just as we are going to print with this newsletter, I have received notice from the producer that Animal Planet has scheduled the full version of Lost Treasure Hunters (5 episodes) to play, starting at 8 AM on March 6thEpisode 1 can be found here. I don’t know the times for each time zone.  You might consult your local listings.  I wanted to let you know, since it is unlikely there will be another newsletter before March 6th.  Lost Treasure Hunters is a reality show that was filmed by Discovery Network about several friends and me who went on an extended expedition to India in search of one of the world’s richest diamond mines, a mine that has been lost for several hundred years.  I am not allowed to tell you if we found the mine.  But I can tell you that if you watch the show, you won’t be disappointed in what we found!

It would be good if you guys spread the word around so we can get the ratings up.  This, because I have been talking to the network about doing a second season in the Philippines where we have located a Spanish galleon!!  Television networks are more receptive to new projects when past ones have had good ratings.

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.  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!

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

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New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST  QUARTER, JANUARY 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 1

Dave Mack

 

 

By Dave McCracken

 

 

 

Story, images and video segments by John Rose

Gold K-25AA  Gold Claim view

It was a nice sunny day for late December, so we decided to go down to the Club’s new claim at K25AA and check out how the bedrock is producing alongside the Klamath River.  I knew there was going to be gold. This is because I had looked in on a couple of guys that were prospecting down there last winter.  Those guys were bringing gold into the office to sell for groceries and other supplies.  One of the guys devoted all of last winter there, even during all of bad weather and deep snow.  People just don’t do it with that level of enthusiasm unless they are getting positive results.

There were four of us on this prospecting trip.  I was pleased to have veteran prospector and winter miner, Steve Jones along for the adventure. Mary Delco and Robbie Collum from Elk Creek Campground also wanted to come along.

I had previously seen that the trail down to the river from the parking area up by the road was kind of steep in a few places. So we brought along a long length of hand rope. That is now tied off permanently to help some of us older folks with access.  Haa — this was mainly for me!  As you can see from some of the videos, it’s not that the trail is very bad. Still, the rope will prove helpful when packing gear down there. I found it useful for getting back up the hill.

Extensive bedrock Taking surface sample

When we reached the bottom, the sun had not yet dried out the rocks. Some were still covered with ice.  It slowed us down a bit. This is all part of winter prospecting.

The dramatic scenery down on the river struck each of us like we had been transported into a lost world. At the same time, as we reached bottom, we realized how extensive the amount of exposed bedrock is on this new property. This place is a gold panning dream come true! Vack mining machines are going to hit a home run out of the park!  Check it out in this video:

The area was so extensive, after looking around a bit; we just chose a few random places and began digging some sample holes.  The first pan was from right off the surface. We were pleasantly surprised to recover about 15 small pieces of gold. This was much better than what we normally find in other places.

Digging deeper Good gold

We were recovering about 20-30 pieces per pan as we dug deeper.  Pretty soon, we started following a crack on bedrock that was only about a foot down into the material.

I fired up my vack machine to clean the bottom out the best I could in damp material. Then Steve panned that out.  The result was really impressive. There were about 30-40 pieces with a couple of pickers and lots of fines.  Wow; the gold comes easy on this claim!

We could see that the two prospectors who were in there last winter devoted most of their effort further away from the river from where we were prospecting. It looked like they were mostly breaking apart the bedrock.  We didn’t have any pry bars with us on this prospecting trip. Now that we see what they were doing, we will plan another trip down there with some bars.

Altogether, we were there for about three hours. That included setting up the rope on the trail and our hike down to the river and back up, again.  All the others made it back to the top ahead of me, with Mary and Steve the first to the top.  I nicknamed both of them as Billy Goat and Nanny Goat.

Breaking bedrock Final gold

We ran around ten random test pans in all. Some turned up more gold than others, but every pan had gold.  There were pickers, flakes and a lot of fines.  There was a quite a bit of black sand. So we brought our concentrates back to my campsite to finalize the clean-up.  After drying it out, the gold weighed in at half a gram.  That is really good for ten random pans from different areas of the claim.

All in all, this was a great first prospecting adventure on this new property, the first of many more to come!  The gold looks very promising.  My video and images don’t even begin to capture how beautiful and peaceful it is down there.

After note: Steve went back down there on the following day and recovered even more gold!

Extensive New Mining Property Downstream From Happy Camp 
K-25AA Topo

Click Map for larger view

K-25AA – UKONOM GOLD CLAIM – Located about 16 miles downstream of Happy Camp on the Klamath River, this property takes up 1.4 miles of a mostly remote portion of the Klamath River. It is upstream into the lower portion of the Independence canyon that begins up on our K-25 property. It butts up to our K-25A property downstream at the mouth of Ukonom Creek.

Highway Pull-off Parking

The upper end of the property is landlocked by private property.  Please respect the private property signs on the access roads towards the upper end of the property.  The lower end of this property butts up to our K-25A, then to K-25AB, and then to K-25B, allowing us a continuous length of 4.7 miles.

Here is K-25AA on Google Earth.
Here is K-25AA through K-25B on Google Earth.

PROSPECTS: There are signs of historical mining activity up the hillside, and even across on the north side of Highway 96. The panning, crevicing and vack mining opportunities in the exposed bedrock on the bottom end of the property (where the trail leads) provide some of the best small-scale gold recovery you will find anywhere along our extensive properties.  We are assuming there is more of the same along the 1.4 mile stretch of river further upstream.  We will need to find the old prospecting trails that will certainly lead into those areas.  There will unquestionably be extraordinary opportunities for high-grade gold deposits within the active waterway.

This new property has already been added to our Claims Guide; our signs have been posted; and it is open to members whenever you are ready to venture down there.

Legal Update 

We have some exciting plans on the table about how we will keep underwater mining going in California for the upcoming season.  Please stay tuned for more details in next month’s newsletter.

Meanwhile, the main briefs have been filed with the Third Appellate District of California 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. With financial assistance from PLP and others, 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. We do not believe that the State has the authority to prohibit the only effective method of mining submerged streambeds on our federal mining claims. Our position is that their refusal to issue a permit amounts to an outright 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 and closing arguments. I encourage you guys to read them, because they are very enlightening. The State basically argues that congress never intended for the State to be prevented from stopping mining on the public lands. I suggest if we were able to get these arguments properly in front of a federal judge (tried and failed), we would have overcome California’s moratorium several years ago.

Just in the last week, the Karuk Tribe and our extremist environmental adversaries have filed an Application with the Third Appellate Court to submit a friend of the court brief in support of the State’s position. It is filled with the same old lies and misrepresentations they have been using for quite some time. Having said that, my guess is that the arguments pose compelling challenges to uninformed people who are trying to understand the issues. The brief provides a good review of what we are up against.

And then, just in the last few days, Pacific Legal Foundation, which is a substantial conservative player in the legal arena, has submitted a brief on behalf of Brandon in the Third Appellate District of California! It is clear that there will be serious ramifications as a result of the Decision in this case!

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 in California will have ruled that we can dredge if California fails to issue permits. We can only hope for a Decision before this next season.  We are also providing financial assistance to pursue the preemption argument in the Appellate Court since that outcome is likely to resolve many of the unsettled matters in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The State of Oregon has passed a similar statewide moratorium (SB 838) on suction dredging, except that it does not take full effect until 2016. The new law does affect the 2014 and 2015 seasons in several very important ways:

1)      They are reducing the number of suction dredging permits to 850. This is approximately down to a third of the number of permits issued during the 2013 season.  The big question at the moment is who will get the permits?  Our members have substantial dredging opportunities in Oregon!

2)  The new law only allows the operation of a suction dredge between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm.

3)  Suction dredges cannot be operated within 500 feet of each other.

4)  No suction dredges may be left unattended on the waterway.  This is generally being interpreted as a requirement to remove all dredging equipment from the waterway every evening.

At the time we are publishing this newsletter, the State of Oregon has yet to issue final regulations how they will administer these changes. Although I was just informed this morning that they are now accepting permit applications.

To a large degree, our very same arguments to overcome California’s moratorium will also apply in Oregon.   How can a State promote mining (which is the mandate from congress) when they require a miner to remove his mining equipment from his work site every day? Or when a miner is prohibited from operating a motor at times when anyone else in the world is allowed to do so?

We Are Giving Away Gold & Silver! 

Gold and Silver Eagles

As most of you know, we mostly generate money to pay for legal defense through our New 49′er Legal Fund-raisers.  The ongoing fund-raiser will give away 25 prizes in all: The Grand Prize is a 1-ounce American Gold Eagle. There are four ¼-ounce American Gold Eagles. There are ten 1/10th-ounce American Gold Eagles. And there are ten 1-ounce American Silver Eagles.

Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets, etc).

This drawing will take place at our offices in Happy Camp on 28 February 2014. 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.

Legal contributions can be arranged by calling (530) 493-2012, by mailing to The New 49′ers Legal Fund, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or online by clicking Here. 

Weekend Project Schedule for 2014

Our best high-banking opportunities remain along our extensive properties on the Klamath River in northern California.  Therefore, our Weekend Group Mining Projects will take place during 2014 near our headquarters in Happy Camp.  They are scheduled as follows: May 31 & June 1; June 21 & 22; July 12 & 13; August 2 & 3; August 23 & 24. These events are free to all active Members, and everyone is encouraged to attend.  Please contact our office in advance to let us know you will be there: (530) 493-2012.

All of the 2014 events are expected to happen on or near our famous Mega-Hole property at K-15A. There is plenty of free camping for members on this property, where it is just a walk to where we will be working. There are also private accommodations in Happy Camp, which is only about 12 miles away.

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.  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!

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

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New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH  QUARTER, NOVEMBER 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER 10

Dave Mack

 

 

By Dave McCracken

 

 

 

tickets Drawing 11-2013

This drawing was for three ounces of mostly nugget gold which Rich Krimm and I mined together along the bottom of the Klamath River during the 2013 season.  The drawing took place just before closing time in our offices in Happy Camp on 8 November.  Because she had no personal interest in the outcome, we asked Connie Rasmussen from the gift store next door to draw the tickets. In addition to our staff, eight people were present for the drawing. One of them turned out to be a prize winner. Here are the winners:

One ounce of gold: Guy Congdon

Quarter-ounce of gold:  Michael Crihfield, Steve Sharp, Scott Atkison & James Barbour

One pennyweight of gold:  Jeff Hight, Frederrick Sanders, Donald Flickinger,
Jason Andrews, Michael O’Connell, Mark Bottcher, Ronald Sawyer, David Hook, James Rogan, Bernard O’connell, Bill Wright, Sandy Drake, Jayson Nelson, Les Martin, John Evans, Robert Sonnenburg, Larry Reiter, Gene F Oliver, Gerard Welch & Scott Atkison.

Here is some video that was captured during the drawing:

I want to give a heart-felt thank you to everyone who participated in this fund-raiser. I was really biting my nails, because there did not seem to be very much interest up until the last several days. The girls in the office say the volume of contributions streaming in over the phone and Internet during the last few days required them to bring in two extra office helpers to process everything in time for the drawing! On the larger scheme of things, we can count this fund-raiser as another big winner for small-scale miners.

Congratulations to all the winners! Those beautiful nuggets of gold are yours, now. I hope you appreciate them as much as Rich and I did as we recovered them off the bottom of the Klamath River.

Gold eagleSilver Eagle

Any contributions received after the time of the drawing will automatically generate tickets for our next prize drawing, which will be for 15 American Gold Eagles (3 ounces of gold) and 10 American Silver Eagles (10 ounces of silver).  Our next drawing will take place at our offices in Happy Camp on Friday afternoon, 28 February 2013. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate.  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). 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 Legal Fund, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or you can do it online by clicking here:

Legal Update 

We have some exciting plans on the table concerning how we will keep underwater mining going in California for the upcoming season.  Please stay tuned for more details when the timing is right.

Meanwhile, 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. With financial assistance from PLP and others, 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. Those can be found right here. I encourage you guys to read them, because they are very enlightening. I suggest if we were able to get them properly in front of a federal judge (tried and failed), we would have overcome California’s moratorium several years ago.

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 a judge will have ruled that we can dredge if California fails to issue permits. The State’s Answer is due in November. Then we will submit a Reply. It is impossible to predict how long it will take the Court to then issue a Decision. But it is possible it could happen before this next season.  We have offered to provide financial assistance to pursue the preemption argument in the Appellate Court, since that outcome is likely to resolve many of the unsettled matters in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The State of Oregon has passed a similar statewide moratorium (SB 838) on suction dredging (as California’s), except that it does not take full effect until 2016. However, the new law does affect the 2014 and 2015 seasons in several very important ways:

1)      They are reducing the number of suction dredging permits to 850. This is approximately down to a third of the number of permits issued during the 2013 season.  So the big question is who will get the permits?  State officials are floating an idea to create a point system, providing a single point per applicant for each of the past years back to 2006 that an applicant held an Oregon suction dredging permit from DEQ or State Lands, and another point for each of the past years back to 2006 that the applicant held a federal mining claim in his or her name.  Those with the most points will be given priority.  This was the idea Oregon State Lands was considering about a month ago during public meetings.  They will come out with a final plan before the end of this year.

2)  The new law only allows the operation of a suction dredge between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm.

3)  Suction dredges cannot be operated within 500 feet of each other.

4)  No suction dredges may be left unattended on the waterway.  This is generally being interpreted as a requirement to remove all dredging equipment from the waterway every evening.

All I can say is that our leaders have clearly lost their way since it is only productive economic activity that provides the foundations for a free and prosperous civilization!  It is very unfortunate that Oregon would desire to close off some of the most fantastic small-scale mining opportunities in the world!

Fortunately, we have our federal preemption arguments to (hopefully) overcome this nonsense in Oregon.  To a large degree, the very same arguments we are using to try and overcome California’s moratorium will also apply to Oregon.   How can a State promote mining (which is a mandate from congress) when they require a miner to remove his mining equipment from his work site every day? Or when a miner is prohibited from operating a motor at times when anyone else is allowed to do so?

Because we are getting so much support from you guys on our legal fund-raining events, we are already coordinating with our attorney to help launch a legal challenge to this new law in Oregon.  Having learned the hard way in California, we will be more careful this time on how we position the challenge in front of a federal court. Please stay tuned for the fireworks!

Meanwhile, however Oregon decides to issue permits, if you want to operate a suction dredge there for the next two seasons, we suggest you submit your permit application to Oregon State Lands in early January.

Weekend Project Schedule for 2014 

Our best high-banking opportunities remain along our extensive properties on the Klamath River in northern California.  Therefore, our Weekend Group Mining Projects will take place during 2014 near our headquarters in Happy Camp.  They are scheduled as follows: May 31 & June 1; June 21 & 22; July 12 & 13; August 2 & 3; August 23 & 24. These events are free to all active Members, and everyone is encouraged to attend.  Please contact our office in advance to let us know you will be there: (530) 493-2012.

2014 Schedule of Events

All of the 2014 events are expected to happen on or near our famous Mega-Hole property at K-15A. There is plenty of free camping for members on this property, where it is just a walk to where we will be working. There are also private accommodations in Happy Camp, which is only about 12 miles away.

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.  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  www.goldgold.com

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New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH  QUARTER, OCTOBER 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER  9

Dave Mack

 

 

By Dave McCracken

 

 

 

 Cover image Gold in the pan

This past season was really good for us. Our innovation of a new method of underwater suction gravel transfer sparked a huge burst of interest and excitement.  Lots of members visited Happy Camp over the summer months, the most we have seen in years. The main thing me and all our staff noticed, even before the season started, has been this surge of enthusiasm — which extended right through the final Weekend Group Project in late August – even though it poured rained on us.

Our final project was done out on our famous Mega Hole property at K-15A.  This is a very popular place with the members for surface mining activity. There is a really nice campground there which makes it convenient for people who are not staying in private lodging facilities in town.

The upper end of K-15A has a huge gravel bar, most which has a surface storm layer which is about a foot deep.  The contact zone where the storm layer rests on an older layer of hard-packed streambed always produces some gold.  Some places are better than others. Since there has been quite a lot of member activity out there during recent years, the challenges are (1) to find areas that have not already been mined, and (2) to find areas where the contact zone is paying well.

John smiilingThere was no sign of rain out there on Saturday.  We always begin with a demonstration for all the participants what hard-packed material looks like.  The existence of hard-pack in the top layer shows us what has not already been worked by others before us.  Then we provide a very thorough demonstration of how to gather a really good sample of the contact zone at the bottom of the upper storm layer.  I provide a panning demonstration for those who need to learn, working the sample all the way down to whatever gold may be in the pan.
I recovered an average amount of gold in my sample.  By average, I mean a few medium sized flecks and some fine colors.  Showing the result to the participants gives them an idea of what they are looking for.  My advice was that they would have to find more gold than my result if we wanted to have a good day on Sunday with the use of our high-bankers. We try on Saturday to discover a rich location that we can work the following day with some portable production machines (high-bankers).

This bunch was boiling over with the same kind of enthusiasm we had been experiencing all summer.  So off they went with more determination than we are used to seeing on the first day of these projects. Participants get to keep the gold they find in their pans on Saturday.  But I think nearly everyone was just happy to be out there.  August is a wonderful time to be on the Klamath River.

Lots of people Lots of panning

It wasn’t long before we had more people panning on the gravel bar than we had ever seen before.  This bunch was having a lot of fun!  Here are some video segments we captured of the moment:

I’m very sad to report that longtime member Bill Pechtel shown in the video segment above passed on from natural causes several weeks after this project.  Bill loved to come out and help newcomers learn to prospect.  We will miss him a lot.

Normally, if we have a bunch of people sampling out on K-15A, it does not take more than about an hour or so for someone to turn up a good strike.  A good strike is when the amount of gold being recovered in the gold pans will add up to a lot of gold on the following day when we step up into a production mode. Larger flakes of gold add up really fast.  So that’s what I’m always hoping for.

Happy CamperSince I am the one who does the gold split on Sunday afternoon, and I always like to send everyone off with a healthy pinch of gold, once I finish my demonstrations out on the gravel bar on Saturday afternoon, my entire focus changes to finding a good gold discovery.  I don’t make the discovery on these projects.  This is something the participants must do.  My part is more about providing encouragement, maintaining a sense of hope, and waiting for the magic moment of discovery.  That moment of discovery is always joyful for me. It is a reminder of how lucky I am to have a job that I really enjoy.

One of the things that make these projects great is that we always have a bunch of experienced members who come out and help.  By help, I mean they devote these weekends assisting participants in dialing in their panning skills.  They also coordinate the more serious dig that happens on Sunday. And they help keep the group chemistry on a wavelength where miracles can happen. Rich Krimm heads up the field activity on most of these digs.  He had five experienced helpers on his team this weekend.

Still, for the most part, it is the participants who must make the discovery and get the work done.  We mostly provide encouragement and advice. This way, the participants actually bring their gold splits into existence from their own combined effort.  There is some magic involved in this.  I like to think of it as a form of alchemy; using the wavelength of hope to convert base metals (raw effort with tools) into golden treasure and joy.

Sample gold

This was the discovery gold.

True to form, about an hour into the sampling, a man and wife team turned up a rich discovery from under the very place where we had been storing our high-banking gear between the projects.

One of the most valuable things that participants gain in these projects is the ability to relate how the visible gold in a sample pan will add up the following day when we process hundreds of buckets of the very same material.  We made sure to show everyone what the discovery looked like.  It was actually a very good discovery, considering the small volume of material that had been processed.  Here is a video sequence that captured the moment:

All the dynamics of the project immediately change upon the discovery. Everyone wants to recover as much gold as possible.  For some, it is the first gold they ever found. A bunch of the participants were still panning in the high-grade gold when our helper-team left the gravel bar on Saturday afternoon.

We had a full house at pot luck on Saturday night.  Morale was so high; there was no need to say much of anything to keep people laughing. Mostly, we talked about how early we were going to meet up the following morning (6:30 am) to get our work done before the heat of the day set in.  That was a bit of a joke; because it then proceeded to rain all night, and it was still raining hard on Sunday morning.  I half-expected that most of the participants would not show up in the pouring rain, but everybody in this crowd showed up early!  When I arrived, Rich Krimm and his helpers had the whole team organized into production crews. There wasn’t a single person out there that seemed to mind the pouring rain.

Digging in the rain Umbrella

They were having a good time just getting the job done.  Here follow some video segments which captured some of the action:

We recovered just under a half-ounce of gold in a morning of work in the rain.

We recovered just under a half-ounce of gold in a morning of work in the rain.

After a while, the rain tapered off and we actually had a perfect day out there for this sort of work – certainly better than a 100-degree sunny day!  In all, we estimated that we processed around 700 half-buckets of pay-dirt through the two high-bankers that had been set up out on the gravel bar.

Sometime around noon, we finished up the dig, back-filled our excavations, completed the initial processing of our gold concentrates, and loaded up our gear into several trucks so it could be put away for the winter.

Several hours later in Happy Camp, with everyone looking on, we finished cleaning up the gold and weighed out at just under half-ounce of beautiful gold. There were 12 gold nuggets.  The gold was split evenly between 42 people.

With lots of cheers from the participants, I was just sitting there thanking our lucky stars for finishing up the most productive season we have had in a long time!

We Have Some Incredible Gold to Give Away!

The New 49’ers is the only mining association of its kind in the world.  We have around 2,000 active members. Only a fraction of our members show up any given time, spreading out over around 80 miles of the richest gold-bearing waterways in Siskiyou County in northern California.  We do training programs and provide other support to help our members get better results for their effort. We provide legal and political support. We have four fulltime staff in our administrative departments and several part-time staff that help with other important duties. This season, we had two additional guys heading up our Internal Affairs under the guidance of Rich Krimm.  Mainly, their job is to keep an eye out on what people are doing on the properties.  Sometimes they need to coordinate with various State and federal agencies.  The idea is to keep it all going in a way that makes everyone as happy as possible.  We are all pretty busy between May and September.  Activity tapers off a bit during the winter months.

As long as things are running smoothly, I personally try and work in a few days of underwater mining each week.  After all, mining gold is how it all started for me.  Most of my adult life has been about underwater gold mining. I still like to go out and find some gold for myself.  There is nothing else quite like the joy of uncovering high-grade pockets of gold!

I teamed up with Rich Krimm this season.  Rich is slightly older than me in years; but he is a powerhouse of a work machine when it comes to getting the job done.  As I touched upon above, it is necessary to develop this magic alchemy in successful gold mining. When everything is in alignment, physical effort (with some tools) is converted through hope directly into raw gold and pure joy. If there is anything in this world more exciting than that, I have not found it, yet!  The key is getting the prospecting program in alignment.  A lot of this has to do with the chemistry between the partners, and the chemistry between the partners and the physical world.  Rich and I get along really well.  We have found good gold on every project we have ever done together.

Thumbs upBecause it was a busy season, Rich and I only averaged a few days a week mining for our own gold.  This began down on our new Middle Independence property at K-24A with the use of an underwater gravel transfer system.  It took us a while to touch down on a rich deposit. But when we finally did, the gold was exposing itself in rich pockets of mostly nugget gold. It was a fantastic experience!
A big part of the New 49’er program is in maintaining an aggressive stand to preserve the rights of small-scale gold miners in America.  This is a never-ending battle that requires a steady stream of legal defense money.  I often say that raising legal fund money is more challenging than the actual legal battles that we fight. This is mainly because I really do not like asking others to send money.

Shortly after getting into the nuggets, Rich suggested one day that we ought to use three ounces of our season’s best gold as the next set of legal fund prizes.  It’s not very often that someone offers to contribute such incredible treasure to help defend our industry. I took Rich up on his offer without hesitation!

Mouth piece gone

The water was so fast, the first thing Steve Jones did when dredging with us one day was bite both nipples off the inside of his mouth piece!

After finishing up in our deposit on the Klamath, Rich and I devoted a few days a week for the final 6 weeks of the season dredging for gold in a (very) fast section of the Rogue River over in southern Oregon.  All the gold we recovered over there was very fine.  But there was plenty of it.  It’s fun to get the nuggets.  But I can tell you that Rich and I shared some great experiences recovering gobs and gobs of fine gold.

We only mine underwater about three hours a day.  The work is hard! Mostly, we really enjoy our time out on the river, pushing ourselves to overcome the physical challenges and reaping the golden rewards.  Neither of us really do it for the money.  We do it for the glory; for the exhilaration that we experience every time we bring up more of Mother Nature’s most cherished treasure. Most experienced gold miners I know feel that the emotional rewards are worth more than money.

 

10 Ounces of Gold

Here is the 10 ounces of gold Rich and I recovered during the 2013 season.

Here is some video that captured Rich and I on our final day of the season:

The first thing Rich and I did once our gear was put away for the season was weigh up all the gold we recovered together. In all, we recovered 10.2 ounces of beautiful gold for the season.  That’s pretty good for the size of our gear and the amount of time we were able to invest.  Then we screened all the nuggets out and weighed up twenty-five prizes for this next legal fund-raiser.  There is a one-once prize; there are four quarter-ounce prizes; and there are twenty one-pennyweight prizes.  All the prizes have nice nuggets.  I insisted that Rich take the largest nugget we found this season, because he was right there in that magic moment when we uncovered it.  Tears came to his eyes when I put it in his hand. That’s the right kind of chemistry alright, and we are already making plans for next season.

When we were finished weighing up the prizes, all of the nuggets we recovered in our personal program from this season were gone.  Those nuggets are for you guys.  Let’s spread the joy around!

Last Chance to Win Our 2013 Gold!
Weighing out prizes

Rich Krimm weighing up the prizes

Since this is our last newsletter before we will give these prizes away, I am hoping for a lot of participation over the coming month.  So far, we have only issued 360 drawing tickets! I know you guys will come through, because you always do!

The drawing will take place just before the close of business (5 PM) at our headquarters in Happy Camp on Friday evening, 8 November 2013. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate. Though you are welcome to be at the drawing, 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.

Legal contributions can be arranged by calling (530) 493-2012, by mailing to The New 49′ers Legal Fund, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or can be made online by clicking Here

Legal Update

The San Bernardino Superior Court has denied a motion by Public Lands for The People (PLP) for a Preliminary Injunction to overturn California’s Moratorium on suction dredging. But the court also denied the State’s motion to dismiss our federal Preemption challenge (to the Moratorium), and our Takings claim in the event that the State ultimately succeeds in putting an end to suction dredging in California.  Therefore, we remain in a strong position to win one way or the other.

It is our belief that while controlling case law allows the State to impose some reasonable restrictions upon mining, the very same law forbids the State from prohibiting mining on the public lands.  The existing moratorium clearly amounts to a prohibition without end.  I will personally be very surprised if we do not succeed in overturning California’s moratorium with the federal preemption argument.

In the event that we do not succeed in this argument, claim owners and others with mining interests in California will have a right to be paid for our losses.

The case that was filed in Siskiyou County to overcome the State’s use of Emergency Regulations to stop our new method of underwater gravel transfer has now been transferred to San Bernardino.  The jury remains out on whether or not this has overturned the Temporary Restraining Order issued by Siskiyou County that has prevented the State from enforcing Emergency Regulations in Siskiyou County. Only time will tell on this.

You should be aware that we have some exciting plans on the table concerning how we will keep underwater mining going in California for the upcoming season.  Please stay tuned for more details when the timing is right.

The most recent and important legal development is that the Third Appellate District of California has just agreed to consider our preemption arguments 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. With financial assistance from PLP and others, Brandon hired our attorney, James Buchal, to defend against the criminal citation.  Brandon’s defense was largely based upon our federal preemption argument that the State does not have the authority to prohibit suction dredging, and that refusal to issue a permit amounted to a prohibition.  The judge in that case rejected the preemption argument on the premise that we would appeal to the Appellate Court.

Now that the Appellate Court will consider federal preemption, we are on a (very) fast track to get this important issue decided.  In the event that we win the argument, my guess is that suction dredge permits will again be available in California.  It’s possible that could happen before this next season.  We have offered to provide financial assistance to pursue the preemption argument in the Appellate Court, since that is likely to resolve many of the unsettled matters in San Bernardino.

So there is reason for hope!  Maybe this will encourage you guys to send contributions to our legal fund!

I’ll talk more about the legal situation up in Oregon in next month’s newsletter. 

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.  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  www.goldgold.com

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New 49'er Newsletter

THIRD  QUARTER, AUGUST 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER  8

Dave Mack

 

 

By Dave McCracken

 

 

 

 Ray and Peggy Pointing at gold

Ray & Peggy Derick showing off gold recently discovered in the Klamath River.

Guy on floats

Derek Eimer spotted just a small gold nugget on the bedrock about five weeks ago while he was testing out his new underwater gravel transfer system.  Since then, he has opened up cracks full of big, gleaming gold nuggets, several weighing nearly an ounce.  He says turning up all that gold has been one of the greatest and most exciting experiences of his life!

The good news is that he is just getting started. Derek has invited several of his close friends to help him mine up the pay-streak — which could go on for years, if they are lucky.  The following video segments tell much of the story:

2013 Season is Going Great!

We just completed the forth very successful weekend Group Mining Project on our Mega-hole property at K-15A, recovering the most gold, per person, of the season.

 

New 49'ers having a good time Record gold

The following video sequence captured some of the fun and excitement on the project just this past weekend:

We continue to have so much activity centered around Happy Camp this season, the town almost looks like the bustling economy that it was in the 1980’s and 90’s!

There have been a lot of members doing surface mining on the far side of the river, and a few in the river (finding nice nuggets), along our new A & D #3 property at K-23AA.  There remains a New 49’er encampment there on the large pull-off along the side of Hwy 96.

Work party Smile

There has also been quite a lot of action and excitement down on the new Middle Independence property at K-24A, though some of those members have since moved to Indian Creek and other places where new gold strikes are being developed.

Nuggets John

There are nearly always some nuggets to go around during the weekend projects!

There are members scattered all up and down our properties.  Most of them are doing surface mining activity. At present, there are only a few underwater suction mining programs working along our properties.  Some of the underwater miners have immigrated up to Oregon to operate suction dredges.

More recently, we are seeing a new wave of underwater crevice miners on our properties.  Some of these prospectors are using small motorized, floating hookah systems to allow them to remain underwater for longer periods of time.  One member told me over the weekend that he and a buddy recovered nearly 5 ounces of beautiful gold out of a single crack in the bedrock.  This just proves that where there is a will, there is a way!  You don’t really need a motorized suction device to recover the gold from the bottom of a waterway where there is shallow streambed to move out of the way.

Underwater Gravel Transfer Systems will now be Adjudicated in San Bernardino

As outlined last month, on 2 July, the Superior Court of Siskiyou County issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that prevented the State of California from enforcing Emergency Regulations that would prevent us from pursuing our new method of underwater suction mining in Siskiyou County. This means we were able to continue using our underwater gravel transfer systems until the Siskiyou County Court was to consider a more permanent injunction.

The case has since been transferred to the San Bernardino Superior Court, where the judge has issued a “Stay” on the proceedings at least until 27 August. While the law is kind of murky in this area, we are assuming that the Judge’s “Stay” has also locked in the Temporary Restraining Order that was already in affect.

This was kind of reinforced a few days ago when two wardens told some of our members that underwater gravel transfer is alright until further notice.

Here is a memo from our attorney that attempts to make sense of the existing situation.

It will be 27 August before the San Bernardino Superior Court will address suction dredging issues (suction mining with a sluice). We will put the word out immediately on our Internet Message Forum if anything changes on this.

2013 Annual Dues Billed This Month

We bill $50 for annual dues to all Full Members in August. This is because most of the costs, especially property taxes,associated with maintaining our extensive mining properties come due before September.  The Bureau of Land Management last year substantially increased annual filing fees to hold mining properties. So we thank you for your support on this!

Other Announcements

Dave's goldGiving away 3 ounces of Klamath River gold! The substantial response to our previous legal fund-raiser has prompted Richard Krimm and me to put up 3 ounces of the gold we have mined on the Klamath River this season for the next drawing prizes. Check it out right here! 

All of our recent wins have been the direct result of your continued support.  Thanks for whatever you can do!

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions:  Until further notice, the U.S. Forest Service is not allowing internal combustion engines in the Klamath National Forest, except on established roadways and on active waterways.  Therefore, members who are pursuing motorized high-banking activity over the past few weeks have been placing their pumps either out on floats, or on piles of rocks and material constructed in the shallow water.

One more Weekend Project this season:  All members are invited to attend our final weekend Group Mining Project of the 2013 season and keep an equal share of the gold that we recover.  It will take place on August 24 & 25.

5-inch Dredge for Sale:  Speaking of contributions, two of our most supportive members recently donated a 5-inch Keene side-by-side triple sluice suction dredge, along with all of the extras, weight belts, wet suits, pry bars; even fuel containers – pretty much the whole package to get started.  The gear is in good running condition, and is available $3,500 (about 3 ounces of gold).  Please call Montine to make a deal you cannot refuse: 530 493-2062.

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.  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  www.goldgold.com

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New 49'er Newsletter

THIRD  QUARTER, JULY 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER  7

Dave Mack

By Dave McCracken

 

Things got very busy for us this past month when we were provided just a few days of notice that California Department of Wildlife (DFW) intended to submit an application to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) to enact Emergency Regulations to broaden the definition of “suction dredge” in a way that would include the new method of underwater suction mining that we have developed. That would effectively eliminate our new activity as part of the existing Moratorium on suction dredging for gold in California.

Dave's program

Even after our attorneys made a very substantial legal presentation arguing that no “Emergency” exists within the law, OAL issued the following Decision on Friday afternoon, June 28th:

“The Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) submitted this emergency action to amend the definition of suction dredging in title 14, California Code of Regulations, section 228(a) for purposes of Fish and Game Code sections 5653 and 5653.1. In this context, suction dredging or suction dredge mining is a method of vacuuming material from rivers, streams, or lakes for the extraction of minerals. There is currently a statutory moratorium on suction dredge mining pursuant to Fish and Game Code section 5653.1 (b). The existing definition of suction dredging in section 228(a) is prescriptive and has resulted in members of the public evading compliance with the Fish and Game Code by modifying suction dredging equipment. The Department’s proposed amendment to the definition of suction dredging closes the loophole in the current definition in order to allow the Department to enforce its regulatory and statutory authority over suction dredge mining activities.”

The formal Rulemaking can be found here:

Most Gravel Transfer Devices pretty much look like this.  We counted a total of 15 on over 100 miles of the Klamath River. Most were sitting idle.  How is this an emergency?

Most Gravel Transfer Devices pretty much look like this. We counted a total of 15 on over 100 miles of the Klamath River. Most were sitting idle. How is this an emergency?

Through quite a substantial effort, and some awful good teamwork over the weekend, we helped organize a lawsuit in Siskiyou County against the California Department of Fish & Wildlife on behalf of 20 local businesses just after lunch on Monday (1 July) – with an emergency hearing scheduled in front of a local judge on Tuesday at 1:15 PM.  Our Motion was for an immediate Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent DFW from enforcing the Emergency Rulemaking.

The Judge who presided over this case is the honorable Karen L. Dixon. Our attorney, James Buchal, drove down to Yreka from Portland, Oregon on short notice to make the case against the State.  The DFW attorney appeared at the hearing by telephone. After listening to initial arguments on Monday, Judge Dixon continued the matter over to Tuesday afternoon, asking the attorneys to further brief her on matters of law with which she was not familiar.

In short, DFW was arguing that since this was a “suction dredging” matter, it should be transferred to the San Bernardino court which has already consolidated around 6 ongoing lawsuits concerning suction dredging.  Our side was arguing that this was not about suction dredging at all; but about what constitutes an “Emergency” for the purpose of bypassing the normal rulemaking process in California which must consider the economic consequences of new regulations upon small business interests.

I want to thank everyone who attended the hearings in Yreka on both afternoons. The courtroom was filled to capacity on both days. I have the impression that this does not happen very often.

Here is the initial Order that was signed by the judge before we left the courthouse on Tuesday, 2 July. The Order granted the TRO we were hoping for.

Our motion was for a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would apply to all of California. But the issues are complex, as they always are; and Judge Dixon was only comfortable ordering a TRO for Siskiyou County. It is a step. This means we can continue with our underwater gravel transfer systems through the 30th of July when Judge Dixon will consider a more permanent injunction. Both the Karuk Tribe and DFW are working furiously to get the Superior Court of San Bernardino to take this case out of Siskiyou County even as we go to press with this newsletter, so it is difficult to predict accurately when and where our motion for a permanent injunction will be heard.

I want to especially thank longtime supportive members, Mark Chestnut, Richard Krimm and Jim Foley for helping to make this all happen.  Our attorney, James Buchal, dropped everything else for five continuous days to make it happen. We are so lucky to live in a community where all or most of the other businesses are willing to fight on our behalf to push back the harmful impacts from too much government and unreasonable regulation. Thank you to everyone who attended the hearings – and especially to all of you who provide financial support so we can cover the costs of doing battle, which are substantial.

I don’t think I have ever felt more proud than the moment when nearly everyone in the crowded courtroom erupted into a standing applause when the judge issued her ruling for our side. She looked pleased.  Even the Siskiyou County Sherriff and his deputies were congratulating us for our win.

We pushed the machine back one click on the 2nd of July. That was a big win for us.  We should savor the moment since we have not had a win for a while. But the machine never stops grinding away at the traditional way of American life. Let’s not overlook that anti-mining advocates have already regrouped and are coming back at us, again.

If all remains as is, this next hearing on 30 July will determine if we can continue our underwater suction mining for the remainder of this season.

Legal Fund Drawing Winners

We did the drawing for our most recent legal fundraiser for 3 ounces of my personal gold nuggets at our Saturday evening potluck in Happy Camp on July 13 in front of a full house. Diane Pierce drew all the tickets. The winners are as follows:

One-ounce bag of gold nuggets: William J. Burrage.

Quarter-ounce bags of gold nuggets (4 prizes): Brigitte Mueller, Elvin Watkins, Douglas Hurt & Barb Pettigrew.

One-pennyweight bags of gold nuggets (20 prizes): William V. Gallagher, John Benson, Jan Craig, Ed Tillotson, Maury Hammond, Clifford Paul Ryland, William Pechtel II, Donald Barnhart, John R. Smith, Craig John Kitchen, Robert Dilworth, Uwe Mueller, Doug Carlson, Scott Gainey, Bill Ransom, Skipper J. Phagan, Lucas Scott, Justin David Haines, Jim Varonfakis & Ernist Bassi.

Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you very much to everyone who participated. I want to especially acknowledge the substantial response to my calls during these final several days before the drawing. You guys really came through for us! It makes me very proud to know we have so many loyal supporters out there.

The substantial response has prompted Richard Krimm and me to put up 3 ounces of the gold we are mining on the Klamath River this season for the next drawing prizes.

Here is the next drawing!

Any contributions received after noon on July 13th will have automatically been issued tickets in this next fund-raiser.

 2013 Season is Going Great!
Nuggets

Derek Eimer recovered a pocket of nuggets out of a single crack in the bedrock on K-23AA

Derek Eimer recovered a pocket of nuggets out of a single crack in the bedrock on K-23AA

We have so much activity centered around Happy Camp this season, the town almost looks like the bustling economy that it was in the 1980’s and 90’s!

There are some good gold strikes in play at the moment.  We have done 2 very successful weekend Group Mining Projects on our Mega-hole property at K-15A, with another planned for this coming weekend.

There have been a lot of members doing surface mining on the far side of the river, and a few in the river (finding nice nuggets), along our new A & D #3 property at K-23AA.  There is a New 49’er encampment there on the large pull-off along the side of Hwy 96.

There has also been quite a lot of action and excitement down on the new Middle Independence property at K-24A, where there is also a New 49’er encampment.

Gold Nuggets

Here are some beautiful nuggets Cliff & Sandy Jones have been recovering with their high-banker!

I am also hearing of extraordinary gold strikes happening up on Indian Creek. These are just the highlights.  There are members scattered all up and down our properties.  Most of them are doing surface mining activity. At last count, there were only 15 underwater suction mining programs on over a hundred miles of the Klamath River (hardly a statewide emergency).  My perception is that there are fewer now.  Some of those initial guys have immigrated up to Oregon to operate suction dredges.

I am a little late with the newsletter this month partly because we have been devoting our creative resources to legal, and because I have also been spending some time on the bottom of the Klamath River prospecting for high-grade gold.

After 6 weeks of part-time sampling on K-24A, Rich Krimm (my mining buddy this season) and I finally struck high-grade just a few days ago. We are using an underwater gravel transfer device. The following video sequence shows how my device transfers material to a shaker box on a floating platform.

wide close

In all this time, I could not figure out what the heck was wrong. I knew the gold path was traveling down the east side of the river. Yet, our samples were uncovering excellent bedrock traps under fantastic original streambed (never been mined before). Our best day was little more than a quarter ounce. While many would be happy with that, I have vivid memories of how good it used to be. It used to be a lot better! All I could figure was that Richard and I were sampling between pay-streaks. So we kept sampling. We went from the top of the property more than a mile to the bottom – and then to the top, again.

Moving equipment

Moving my platform back up to the top of the property for another try!

My old buddy, Al Copp, paid a visit just last week, and I took him on a boat ride, showing him all the places we sampled along K-24A. Al knows the property better than anyone, having recovered 800+ ounces of gold there during the “good old days” when we could use suction dredges. Al chuckled at my sampling choices, admitting that he made similar ones over the years — but it turns out that the high-grade gold path on K-24A is on the west side of the river (Hwy 96-side)!

Al told me if we just switched over to the west side of the river, we would be into high-grade gold right away. Rich and I swung our sucking unit over to the road side on the 4th of July, just after Siskiyou County decided we can continue suction mining out in the river. My first attempt found loose cobbles with sand around them under about 18 inches of hard-pack — probably from the 1997 flood. Those loose cobbles would have been from earlier dredging.

High grade gold sample

This gold came out of our initial sample, which was not much more than a pothole to see if we could reach bedrock!

Rich and I tried a second sample about 20 feet in front of the first. And while we found original streambed there, we had to eventually give up because the streambed material was too deep for us to reach bedrock. We devoted a full day to the effort.

Then we tried third sample 30 feet upstream and found bedrock in about four feet of material, the bottom two feet being original streambed. I’ll bet that streambed material has been there for 10,000 years! We spotted a nice nugget, maybe a pennyweight, as soon as we uncovered bedrock. Boy was that a game-changer! Our first two dives in opening this hole, maybe three hours of underwater time, nearly doubled the volume of gold we had recovered all season. There were 13 nuggets. We were seeing gold all over the bedrock. We even uncovered one pocket that the gold flakes just kept coming out of like a slot machine that was stuck in the bonus mode! It was fantastic! We recovered a half-ounce of gold just putting down a pothole!

Second gold sample

This gold mostly came from a single dive once we organized our hole so we could work it safely!

We put 2 dives (underwater suction mining) in our new discovery a few days later. It was the second day in this deposit. We needed to devote the entire first dive to just opening and organizing the hole to make it more safe. This was because all we did on the first day was make a pothole straight down in the material to see if we could find bedrock.

We devoted the second dive to processing Klamath River original material on bedrock. We are now seeing gold in the material and on bedrock, even as we push out in the direction of the faster water.  We recovered 3/4 of an ounce mostly from our second dive, which included 66 nuggets that were +10 in size. The largest nugget was just under a pennyweight. The following video sequence captured Rich and I talking about the excitement at this last week’s potluck:

It looks to me like this pay-streak is going to be good!  This is a strong demonstration of why it is so important for us to fight for the right to develop high-grade gold deposits which rest on the bottom of California’s waterways.  If Richard and I can do it, so can you.  And so can the generations of prospectors who will follow us.  We should not allow misguided government officials take these opportunities away from Americans.

It turns out after all that the high-grade is on the Hwy 96-side of the river on K-24A. I’ll make some adjustments to the claims guide.

Oregon News

Despite our strongest efforts, Senate Bill 838 has now been passed through the Oregon legislature and is waiting for the governor’s signature.  As I understand the law, it does not affect the present season, and the state agencies are continuing to issue suction dredging permits.  We have members dredging up in Oregon at this time.

The new law, as amended, will affect the next two seasons by reducing the number of permits issued, impose distances between suction dredges, impose operating hours, and even require that suction dredging equipment cannot be left unattended on Oregon’s waterways. For a closer look, you can find the language of the bill right here. 

My best guess is that there will be legal challenges to the new law since it is unlikely that the State of Oregon has the authority to dictate many of SB 838’s provisions on how mining is conducted on the public lands.

The prospecting associations in Oregon took the lead and did everything possible to kill SB 838. Thank you to everyone who participated in the effort to overcome this bad legislation.  While we were not able to completely kill it, we at least have managed some time to challenge it in the courts.

 

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 remaining events for 2013; August 3 & 4; August 24 & 25.

Schedule of Events

 5-inch Dredge for Sale!

Speaking of contributions, two of our most supportive members recently donated a 5-inch Keene side-by-side triple sluice suction dredge, along with all of the extras, weight belts, wet suits, pry bars; even fuel containers – pretty much the whole package to get started.  The gear is in good running condition, and is available $3,500 (about 3 ounces of gold).  Please call Montine for more information: 530 493-2062.

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!

Sign up for our Free Internet Newsletter!

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

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New 49'er Newsletter

SECOND  QUARTER, JUNE 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER  6

Dave Mack

 

By Dave McCracken

highbanking fun Pan Sample

Lots of members are arriving to prospect along the Klamath River this year.  While some are attempting to dial in different kinds of underwater gravel transfer concepts, most are using conventional pick and shovel mining techniques.  There are a bunch of members working gold strikes on both the new A&D #3 and the new Middle Independence Properties.  We are seeing more cars parked along the side of the road on our other properties. It all reminds me of our very busy years in the early 90’s!

Mike Highbanking

 Our pot luck get-togethers these past two weeks have mostly been full.

People Working People Watching the Work

Somewhere around a hundred people were involved with our organized weekend activities several days ago. About half of them were beginners. We had ten experienced members out on our K-15A property demonstrating and critiquing sampling and gold panning techniques on the weekend:

Final GoldEveryone had a good time, and we recovered twelve pennyweights of beautiful gold while feeding three high-bankers for about three hours on Sunday morning.  This included nine nice gold nuggets.

These video sequences have captured how we demonstrate the entire prospecting process, from identifying naturally-formed streambed (hard-pack), gathering a proper sample, gold panning, to production, to final clean-up of the gold.  Our free weekend projects are the only organized events in the world which actually demonstrate gold prospecting from A to Z, allowing people to participate in every step along the way.

 Pretty girl Steve

California Fish & Wildlife officials were active during the early part of May, mostly checking on underwater gravel transfer systems to make sure they do not meet California’s definition of a “suction dredge.”  They don’t want to see a motorized suction system directing material into a sluice box.  To my knowledge, they did not find any violations. By all reports, the California officials have been very polite and courteous.

close smileThe U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has been mostly invisible during the past month.  However, unless we have an active fire season (which is definitely possible), I am predicting they will start to come around to visit with prospectors at some point.  I ask that you please review the suggestions that I provided in last month’s newsletter concerning our (your) relationship with USFS officials.  We still have three Internal Affairs guys on staff that are prepared to assist any members in the event that you are approached by USFS staff or other officials.  You can reach them by contacting our office at 530 493-2012.

The days in Happy Camp have mostly been warm and sunny for the past several months, and it appears as though summer has arrived for good. The Klamath River has already warmed up to about 69 degrees, and climbing fast. The water in the river is already at summer lows and very clear.  I believe that we are going to have a very low-water year on the river.  This makes for easier prospecting and more access to otherwise difficult areas – where Mother Nature hides some of her richest treasures.

Morale is very high on the river and around the office. 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. Happy Camp is actually starting to look more like a bustling economy. I am told that the paid RV parks are already booked full for the season.  We are seeing more and more small camping communities springing up along our mining properties and in the roadside pull-offs alongside Highway 96. Things are lining up in Happy Camp like we are going to have a great season!

Pick miner Big smile

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 remaining events for 2013:  June 22 & 23; July 13 & 14; August 3 & 4; August 24 & 25.

Schedule of Events 

Better News in Oregon!

I want to thank everyone who responded to our Action Alerts to help overcome several anti-mining bills that were fast-tracking through the Oregon State Senate. If those destructive bills were passed into law, it would have 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!

Those bills were being pushed by the very same anti-mining activists we are up against in California who want to eliminate the last remaining productive economic activity on America’s public lands.

The good news is that some of the bills now appear to have stalled.  Though SB 838 remains alive in the Joint Ways & Means Committee, and our adversaries are pushing very hard right now to have their supporters push the Rules Committee to pass the Bill.  Therefore, we are requesting one more hard push at the Oregon Senate to help kill that bill.  You can find all the important details right here.

Unless SB 838 gets passed into law, it appears as though Oregon will have a normal mining season this year.  Both Oregon State Lands and Department of Environmental Quality are presently issuing their standard recreational mining permits.

Giving Away Dave Mack’s Gold Nuggets!

Twenty-five prizes in all

We are nearly a month away from giving away three ounces of my personal gold nuggets, and hardly anyone has entered the contest!  I know you guys normally wait until the final month to participate.  Please don’t wait too much longer. I’m sure you don’t want me to have a heart attack worrying that we could have raised more money for the legal fund if we just sold the gold to a jeweler. Oh my! 

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:

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!

Sign up for our Free Internet Newsletter!

 

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

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By Dave McCracken

“There were rice-sized pieces of gold lying everywhere! In three years of dredging on the Trinity River, I never saw a deposit that rich. In that very moment, I realized that the whole world had changed.”

Dave Mack
Middle Independence Gold Claim is the richest section of the entire Klamath River!

Middle Independence Gold Claim is the richest section of the entire Klamath River!

Two friends and I began dredging for gold on Josephine Creek in southern Oregon the day after Christmas in 1979.  We should have waited until the spring thaw, but we were young and full of motivation.  Conditions were miserable, and we paid a heavy price going out every day in 35-degree water. We didn’t have a clue about how to trace down high-grade gold deposits.  We were sleeping in a 5-man summer tent.  It was cold, cold, cold!  We had to thaw out our dry-suits in front of a campfire in the morning to keep the rubber from breaking and causing leaks.  Our camp got fully flooded by the river in the middle of the night because of heavy rain.  A lot of things went wrong. We only found a little gold. But none of that deterred us.

My two buddies and I immigrated over to the Trinity River in northern California in mid-February of 1980. This was because someone told us there was a major gold rush going on over there.  People supposedly were just picking big gold nuggets right off the stream banks.  But we didn’t find anybody doing any mining over there during the winter months. The river water was 34 degrees!  While our dry-suits more or less kept the cold water out, face exposure to the freezing water gave us headaches so bad that we wanted to vomit. Hand exposure made our fingers burn just as if we stuck them in the campfire! It was absolutely miserable. My partners gave it up before the spring thaw.  They believed there were much easier ways to make a living; and of course, they were totally right!

We had met other guys on the Trinity that were supporting themselves from the gold they dredged during the summer months.  They actually lived in houses!  They were talking about sampling for hard-packed streambeds. They were talking about lines of gold and pay-streaks.  This was music to my ears! Encouraged about their stories of recovering multiple ounces of gold per day in the river, I stuck it out in the forest, living by myself in a tent about a mile below the small community of Del Loma on the Trinity River.  It was pretty rough.

Lazy riches Mine

It was all about basic necessities in those days!

I had figured out enough by the spring of 1980 that I was just barely supporting myself with a 6-inch dredge.  I say just barely, because I had virtually no expenses except for the food I was eating (which was plenty), fuel for my dredge and motorcycle, and some minor upkeep.  It didn’t take much gold to keep me going.  My living space eventually evolved into a larger timberline tent made of canvas, including a wood stove for heat during the winter months.  That was a huge upgrade in my standard of living!

I dredged by myself through the summers and winters of 1980 and 1981.  There were times that the water in the Trinity dropped to 33 degrees.  It was absolutely miserable! But by then, I had figured out how to trace down the lower-grade gold deposits, and I was building up a savings in gold which I kept in a safety deposit box at Bank of America in the nearby town of Weaverville.

I didn’t allow myself the luxury of an automobile until the fall of 1981.  It was a pretty used up Jeep Wagoneer that had an oil leak which I never was able to repair, as many times as I tried.  Anytime I got the car going faster than 50 miles an hour, all at once, the oil would drain from the motor out the rear main seal.  So I drove slowly, and I brought plenty of extra oil along. The Wagoneer was better than the motorcycle during the winter months.

My older brother took an interest and came to dredge with me during the winter months of 1982.  That was just when I was getting pretty good at finding higher-grade gold deposits.  We found a lot of gold that winter, though conditions were absolutely miserable.  I have to give my brother credit for sticking it out.  Not many people would have done it! You can read about those days in my book, Extreme Prospector.  By then, Eric Bosch had showed up on the scene, and we were working together at times.  But even Eric, tougher than me, was not dredging the Trinity River during the winter months.

With my gold savings, along with contributions from Eric and my two brothers, we bought a beast of a Dodge Power Wagon and devoted the summer of 1982 to dredging for gold in British Columbia and Alaska.  This is a very exciting story that is also told in the most detail in my book, Extreme Prospector.  We struck it rich up there in Canada.  But the authorities ran us out of the country and basically invited us to never go back.  I decided the seasons in Canada and Alaska was too short to support my mining career, anyway.

I devoted the summer of 1983 back on the Trinity River dredging side-by-side with Eric Bosch.  He had a 5-inch dredge. I had a 5-incher and my 6-incher.  We were knocking out the ounces of gold.  But Canada had spoiled us.  We wanted to get back into pounds of gold!  While the Trinity was good, it was not delivering up the high-grade we were looking for.  There were also a lot of serious guys dredging on the Trinity during 1983; perhaps a hundred guys.  The place was crowded, and I was not seeing much of a future there.  I only owned a single mining claim.  Other places I wanted to dredge required me to make deals with the owners.  In 1981, the standard deal was 10% of the gross recovery to the owner.  By 1983, the owners wanted 20%.  I got knocked out of the best deposit I found on the Trinity by a competitor who came in and offered the owner 25% if he could take my place.  It was a pretty cut throat environment.  Ten percent to the owner is a fair deal when the dredger does all the work on the risk that he might not ever find anything worth mining. You have to be careful about the deals you make, or you can set the foundations to undermine your personal integrity.

One of the dredgers I got to know over there was a guy by the name of Alan Copp (Al). He was a nice guy and a hard worker. Al had more mining experience than me, having dredged on the Yuba, Salmon, Scott & Feather Rivers, and even did a mule-pack trip to Virgin creek up off the New River the year before I met him. He had been around. I, on the other hand, had more determination than anyone on the river. Nobody else was braving the winter months out there, but me!  Al and I both were looking ahead, trying to figure out something better than the Trinity.  We were looking for somewhere to carve out something valuable for ourselves. I had already ruled out Alaska because I didn’t want to get reduced to a two or three month season.

The image at the beginning of this story presents a pretty good profile of how determined I was in those days.

It was Al who was suggesting in that we go over and look at the Klamath River.  We made a few trips over there for a look.  My first impressions about the area were not good ones.  The river was huge compared to the Trinity.  It never appeared to run clear. There was not a single dredge that we could find operating on the entire 100-mile stretch of river we looked at during 1983. That was a bad sign.  You would think if there was any gold in the river, at least someone would be over there mining it!  And the place was absolutely wild in those days!  There were so many logging trucks racing up and down Highway 96, you took your life in your hands just driving down the road.  I’ll never forget this guy in a pickup truck weaving all over the road, going about ninety miles an hour, passing us just as Al and I pulled into Happy Camp the very first time (for me).  We pulled into the parking lot of the liquor store to buy something cool to drink.  There were a bunch of menacing-looking guys out front when we went in.  When we came back out, two of them were having a knife fight right in front of Al’s truck.  We didn’t hang around to see who won the fight.  The place was wild, man!

Al had spent time there during earlier years.  He was telling me the mining history of Siskiyou County was better than the Trinity.  We went around and looked. There were some very serious dredging programs happening on both the Scott and Salmon Rivers.  But those guys did not appear welcoming or friendly in any way, and those rivers were claimed solid at the time. No openings!

Al had history with several old-timers along the Klamath River.  One of them was a guy by the name of Bud Woodworth who had already passed away.  Before dying, he confided in Al about rich gold deposits in the Klamath below Horse Creek, and others in the Happy Camp area.  Al and I went around and looked at those places.  There was not a single dredger around.  But I believed what Al was telling me.  That is to say that I believed that Al believed the stories. It was a beginning.

Note:  We found out years later that all the places Bud Woodworth told Al about were rich, rich, rich!

So when we returned to the Trinity, I doubled my efforts at recovering gold from the lower-grade gold deposits I had already located there.  I was known in those days as “Ounce-a-Day Dave,” because I would invest as many hours that I needed to recover at least an ounce of gold every day, most days not returning to my tent until after dark.  Then I took a risk and hired another friend of mine by the name or Harlan Cockcroft, otherwise known as “Red,” to move over to Yreka and research for open mining property along the Klamath River.  Yreka is the county seat of Siskiyou County. I was paying Red $300 a week, plus $100 for every mining claim he could locate on my behalf.  This was going into the fall of 1983.

The problem was that nearly the entire Klamath River was unclaimed; and it did not take long for me to become indebted to Red from all the $100 bonuses I owed him.  I finally had to lay him off!  After all, how many mining claims does a guy need?  Besides, the fact that there was so much open river there cast a shadow over the gold potential.  If the river had gold, where was everybody?  Maybe they were all over on the Trinity River!  I found out later that there was a full-on gold rush happening on the Rogue River in southern Oregon.  But at the time, Al and I knew nothing about that.

I started my 1984 season on the Trinity, because I still had proven gold deposits to mine over there.  That was my first year using an 8-inch dredge.  I crewed it up with several motivated guys, including Eric Bosch.  By now, I had several books published and my first video on the market. It was the only video which showed newcomers how to dredge for gold, how to sample, and all the important stuff.  So I had already begun making a name for myself.  Around thirty people had signed up at $300 per week to dredge near me so I could give them some help and guidance on their own dredges.  I moved into a house that summer, along with my dredge crew, and allowed my students to camp in the yard. With the extra income from my students, I was pretty comfortable over there mining lower-grade deposits on the Trinity.

Al and Doug setting up the dredge

Al and Doug getting started on the Klamath River

Al decided to give the Klamath River a try during the season of 1984.  He teamed up with one of his longtime friends, Doug Gunning.  Those guys were airline mechanics.  They had a sweet deal where they could contract their services whenever they wanted to.  They were able to make good money during the winter months. But their real passion was dredging for gold.  In all, they dredged together for more than 14 years. This speaks strongly about the character and integrity of the two guys that made the original dredging discovery on the Klamath.  This is because volumes of pure wealth would  tear any normal relationship to shreds!

I can tell you this is the case with anyone whoever has dredged up high-grade gold deposits.  There is something about finding and recovering pure wealth that gets in your blood.  Uncovering raw gold on the bottom of a river, which is yours to keep, sparks deep passions similar perhaps to winning big in a poker game and raking in all those hundred dollar chips.  It produces feelings of exhilaration that few other life experiences can generate.  Finding high-grade gold deposits is about as good as it gets.  Once you have done it, I don’t think you can ever get completely out of your system your deep desire for the next high-grade gold deposit.

The days of 1984 were before mobile phones and the Internet.  We didn’t even have a phone in the house where we were staying.  So there was no way to keep in touch with Al and Doug when they went over to the Klamath.  I figured they would return to the Trinity if they didn’t find any gold – and I admit that I expected them to return.  Even though I had invested so much money on mining property over there, the claims came so easy, it was hard for me to believe any high-grade was going to be there.  That would have been too good to be true.

My own dredging program, and looking after a bunch of students, kept me more than busy along the Trinity during the first half of the 1984 season.  We had not heard a single word out of Doug and Al.  My best guess was that they called the season quits and went back to aircraft work.  Finally, on just a notion, I made a day-trip over to the Klamath to see if I could find them.  I spotted their dredge on the river about thirteen miles downstream from Happy Camp.  Their dredge was running when I got there.

Independence claim 001

Their dredge was running when I arrived on the scene.

Doug and Al operated their dredge differently than Eric and I on that particular day. They were mostly taking shifts with one guy down at a time and the other on deck knocking out plug-ups and keeping an eye on some change they had made on their recovery system. Those were the early days where we had already worked out standard underwater teamwork procedures for two or more guys working underwater together to get more work done.  We could really tear it up!

Doug was on the deck of their dredge when I arrived.  Wearing just my shorts, I swam out to their platform.  It was anchored to something out in the river.  Doug was happy to see me. He said they were doing pretty good.  I asked if I could borrow the second set of diving gear and go down for a look.  Doug helped me gear up, and I went down the ladder.  That’s when it really hit me how warm the water was.  We were wearing full wet-suits on the Trinity.  The water temperature in the Klamath reaches the high-70’s by mid summer. You don’t even need a wet-suit to dredge there!  Not wearing a wet-suit jacket is like being liberated from a straightjacket!

Those guys clearly had invested a lot of hard work in this dredge hole.  There was a large tailing pile behind the dredge.  I found Al in about seven feet of water taking a top cut off the front of his dredge hole.  He recognized me when I got down there and gave me a big thumbs up.  I started moving cobbles out of his way as he continued sucking off the top-front portion of his hole.  The top material was kind of a semi-packed brown color.  It was not very impressive.  There was about five feet of it.  Then Al showed me where this brown layer made contact with a very hard-packed layer of gray material; something I never once saw on the Trinity.  This was original, ancient streambed that had never been mined before.  I saw a beautiful rice-sized piece of gold sitting right on top of it, and pointed it out to Al, thinking I was showing him something special.  Al waved that off and signaled for me to be patient.  Then he uncovered a larger swath off the top of the gray layer and the whole thing looked better than the best Christmas morning I ever experienced.  There were rice-sized pieces of gold lying everywhere!  In three years of dredging on the Trinity, I never saw a deposit that rich.  There had to be more than an ounce of gold just in the small swath that Al uncovered for me!  In that very moment, I realized that the whole world had changed.

8 oz day 001 (2)The feeling was like being late to the party!  Even though that was just the beginning of the bigger party.

After sucking up that gold, we went up on the dredge to have a talk.  When they shut down the dredge, I could see their sluice was piled up with gold; maybe five ounces, maybe more.  They didn’t have to tell me the deposit was rich, rich, rich.   It was a sharing kind of experience.  Gold mining is kind of like fishing or hunting.  You really do want to share your successes with your friends.  I’m not talking about sharing the gold.  I’m talking about sharing the enthusiasm and appreciation for a super rich discovery.  The only thing better than that would have been if the discovery was mine!

 

3 oz independence nugget

They recovered this 3-ounce nugget about the time I arrived on the river!

Al and Doug had long-since filed a mining claim on their discovery, taking up a little more than a mile of the Klamath River, starting just downstream of the confluence of Independence Creek.  They figured that was more than they could dredge in a lifetime. They were more than right about that, and actually mined just a fraction of the claim before they retired from dredging four or five years later.

Al and Doug expressed no reservations about me moving over to the Klamath with my crew and students. I wasted no time getting back over to the trinity that afternoon!  Then I contacted all the students who had signed on to spend time with me that summer, offering their money back if they did not want to go with me to the Klamath.  Everyone wanted to go!  It took us a day to get all our existing gear together and move out of the house.  The guy I was leasing from was nice about our sudden departure, and has actually stayed in touch over the years.

About a dozen guys and I arrived on the Klamath just two days after I found out that Al and Doug had struck it rich over there. It took us a few weeks to make it happen, but we all ended up in a rich deposit about fifty miles upriver.  Our best day on my 8-inch dredge that season was twenty-four ounces.  The largest nugget we found weighed more than a pound! After all my students and crew departed for the season, Eric and I located a second deposit further downriver just upstream from Savage Rapids, a place we later named the “Mega Hole,” and we recovered one hundred ounces of gold in just two weeks of hard work.  When you get into high-grade on the Klamath River, the gold adds up very fast!

Al Copp was totally correct in his early predictions.  The Klamath River provided much better high-grade dredging opportunity than the Trinity.  We were very fortunate to be the first ones over there!  So I hired Red back on to finish up his research and pick up more mining property along the Klamath River and its tributaries; enough to start a mining club!  That turned out to be a move that would forever change my life, and alter the paths of thousands of others.

240 oz 001 (3)

Here is an image Al shared with me of just some of the gold they stacked up dredging in that one area. There are around 250 ounces in this picture.

As many places as we discovered high-grade over the years, we never found any mining property as rich as the original mile that Doug and Al claimed.  In fact, I have never seen any place in my whole career that was so consistently rich.  Doug and Al, for the most part, remained in that single high-grade deposit during their entire time on the claim.  The area they mined is just a drop in the bucket compared to the overall size of the property.  They did not mine the faster water areas, and they did not even sample the shallower areas further up the property, much closer to the sources of all that gold.  They did little or no high-banking or crevicing on the exposed and shallow bedrock areas that extend the full length of the property.  And they did not allow others to mine on their gold claim.  They were the first there, and they kept that property to themselves as they watched with some level of amusement as I started The New 49’ers a few years later and flooded the river with a new generation of miners.

Al Copp and I remain in touch these days.  He is a dear old friend that was present just as I was getting my life in gear.  We made the important transitions together. You never forget friends like that. These days, Al reminds me of how good it was during those early years.  He is right, too; it was great!

But the best days are still ahead!  I have been waiting 28 years to put my own suction nozzle into the section of river just below Independence Creek where nobody has gone, yet!  We just acquired that property after all this time.  Full circle; we are now back to the place where it all began! I’ll be in there with an underwater gravel transfer system this summer.  I can’t wait!

Al Copp  Doug Gunning

Al Copp and Doug Gunning

I generated a gold rush over to the Klamath River when I founded The New 49’ers in 1986.  But it was Al Copp and Doug Gunning who went over there ahead of me and made the first rich discovery of our generation.  If they had not done that, there is no telling where you and I would be today.  But it is certain that you would not be reading this bit of history!

 

By Dave McCracken

Suction mining underwater without a “dredge!”

Dave Mack

Important note: Since writing this article, over the period of a year,  the State of California has adopted new regulations which no longer allow any type of vacuum or suction to excavate material off the bottom of a waterway.  Therefore, the underwater suction gravel transfer systems outlined here will no longer be allowed until we overcome the suction dredge moratorium.  It is for this reason, we have now switched over to underwater blow mining.

Let me begin this by informing you that I am not a licensed attorney. Therefore, I am prohibited by law from providing legal advice. So the material here should just be taken as my own opinion based upon the factual material which I will present to you.  You guys are free to form your own opinions and take responsibility for your own actions.  Having said that, I will also inform you that our attorney has reviewed the following explanation and agrees that government officials are bound by the very language that they enforce upon us – and that my reasoning here is sound.

This discussion began on our Internet Forum where I announced that we have recently acquired the richest dredging claim along the Klamath River near Happy Camp, which will also provide some fantastic surface and underwater crevicing opportunities because of the gentle slope of exposed bedrock which is extending off the side of the river where the gold path is located.

We have actually acquired several very rich properties, but I will save that for the coming newsletters.

In my announcement, I pointed out that there is nothing in California’s dredging moratorium that prevents us from crevicing underwater using a motorized hookah air system, or even using a water pressure system to help blow gravel out of cracks.  The question I posed to our forum members is how to get the gold up and into a catch container without using a suction dredge.

It would be one thing if we were just uncovering an occasional gold nugget or two.  We would simply free those up with some hand tools and pick them out with a set of tweezers.  But I have seen crevices on this particular mining claim that were loaded with a zillion pieces of gold, much of it in fines and flakes.  You pretty much have to suck that up, or you will be there all year with a pair of tweezers! The original claim owners were recovering six and seven-ounce days (sometimes more) in places along this claim.  They were only in there a few years before they retired.  Since they operated an 8-inch dredge, they remained on the lower, slower portion of the claim.  There is at least a half-mile stretch of faster, shallower water on the upper portion of the claim that, to my knowledge, has never even been sampled.  This is the area I believe will make for good above and below water crevicing.

In response to my question, one of our more informed members sent me a copy of the California Department of Fish & Game’s (DFG) current suction dredge regulations which clearly state that “A person is suction dredging as defined when all of the following components are working together: (A) a hose which vacuums sediment from a river stream or lake; and (B) A motorized pump; and (C) A sluice box.” The regulations further state, “Every person who operates the suction nozzle of any suction dredge shall have a suction dredge permit in his or her immediate possession.” These regulations are current now, having been formally adopted in California on April 27, 2012.

The existing moratorium in California prevents DFG from issuing suction dredge permits.  We are strenuously challenging the moratorium in several jurisdictions.  Until our challenges are resolved, it is unlikely that we can operate suction dredges as defined by the regulations without being cited.  Since most of us don’t want to be in trouble with the authorities, we have been doing our dredging in southern Oregon for the past few seasons.

Suction Gravel Transfer image 1

But looking closer at the California regulations, there does remain a way for us to go down on the bottom of California’s waterways and suction up the shallower, higher-grade gravels.  This is because, as defined by DFG’s own formal regulations, as long as we remove the sluice box from our motorized suction system, we are not operating a “suction dredge.”  Said another way, there is an opportunity to use a motorized suction system to transfer high-grade gravel from one place in the river or creek to another location where the gravel can be more-easily processed in a separate system.

I am in possession of written communication from a high ranking DFG official, the very person who was in charge of developing the current regulations, which acknowledges that underwater suction-powered gravel transfer would not be considered “suction dredging” as long as the sluice box is removed from the system.  He also cautioned that there are water quality concerns and also streambed alteration considerations.  So there would be some limits involved.  I’ll discuss these more in a minute.

For now, let’s just get back to my original discussion about using a hookah and motorized pumping system to expose and recover gold from very shallow deposits out in the river.  I’m not talking about shallow water. I am talking about shallow material on top of underwater gold deposits.

Here is just one of several ideas:  Please see Figure A above. If I completely remove the sluice box from my 5-inch dredge, I am left with a floatation system which supports twin 6.5 HP Honda motors and pumps with a hookah compressor.  I could use a single motor & pump with compressor to power a 3-inch Hydro-Force nozzle jet.  This special nozzle will allow me the option to blow off lighter gravel to expose cobbles, which I can then move out of the way by hand.  This will allow me to work my way down to the pay-dirt without having to suck up any gravel.  Once I expose the pay-dirt, the Hydro-Force nozzle will allow me to suck it up and transfer it over to a catch container in shallower, slower water which is closer to the bank.  Or for that matter, I could just drop it in a small pile in the shallower water along the edge of the river.

If there is some distance involved between where I am prospecting and my catch container, I can use my second engine & pump to provide power to a booster jet attached to a second 3-inch hose (See Figure B).  Since the whole suction system would be underwater, I’m guessing that would give me a reach of fifty feet or more.

Suction Gravel Transfer System image 2

The catch container would need to be large enough to accumulate the amount of pay-dirt that I would suck up on a single dive. My suggestion would be to fabricate a baffle on the feed into the container so the material would be deposited there neatly.

If you make smart use of the blower function on the Hydro-Force nozzle, you can really minimize the amount of gravel that you transfer by suction to the catch container; perhaps so little that you could work it all down and recover your gold between dives with just a classification screen and gold pan!

If there is more non-gold bearing material present than you can blow off with the Hydro-Force nozzle, you would always have the option of sucking that off separately and depositing it outside of your catch container.

Several experienced prospectors I have spoken to about this had other ideas.  One suggested fabricating the catch container between the pontoons on his floating platform.  Then he could just float it over closer to the bank to pan the material after each dive.  Another who has already experimented with the idea says he successfully attached a 20-foot piece of PVC plastic tubing to direct the discharge into a catch container that was sitting up on the streambank.  This took place in the fall of 2012.  He was visited by local game wardens while doing the activity.  And while they expressed reservations (“sure looks like a dredge”), he was not cited and the wardens did not return.

While I’m sure we will learn more as we gain experience, here are a few of my own thoughts on “underwater suction gravel transfer systems:”

1)      Make certain to not have the sluice box from your original “suction dredge” anywhere in the vicinity of the program.  DFG regulations prevent you from having a “dredge” within 100 yards of any active waterway.  Therefore, that third component (sluice) should not be sitting up on the streambank or even in the back of your pickup truck, even if you are not using it.  Leave it at home!

2)      Do not direct the discharge of your suction system into some other type of recovery system that uses a sluice.  Using any sluice in combination with the suction system, all working at the same time, would likely meet the definition of a “dredge” in the regulations.

3)      There has been some suggestion that even sluicing the recovered gravels at some later time would fulfill the definition of a dredge.  You guys can make your own decisions about this, but I’m not buying the theory.  The language in the regulation defines the three components working together.  So it would seem reasonable that you could shut your underwater suction transfer system down and then separately process the gravel in any normal way that does not violate water quality standards.  Though I would not be using the sluice that I took off my suction dredge, or any sluice which could be attached to the suction system. Be advised, though, that as soon as you have any sluice as part of your program within 100 yards of the suction system, you will be on thinner ground. Personally, I am inclined to be careful about sucking up a lower volume of only the highest-grade material and use a gold pan to work that down between dives (more on this below).

4)      I would not suck a bunch of silty material into a catch container that is sitting in dead water alongside the bank.  That might provoke water quality concerns.  This is why I suggest using the blowing option on the Hydro-Force nozzle to first free up material out under the moving water. Gold is heavy.  It won’t blow away if you pay attention to what you are doing.

5)      I also would not advise using this system to make large excavations out in the creek or river.  That might provoke streambed alteration concerns.  I would use this method to work shallow deposits much the way we do in high-banking.  Having said that, it has also been pointed out that the existing suction dredge regulations clearly state that there would be no requirement for a stream alteration permit, and there would be no deleterious impact upon fish, from the use of 4-inch suction dredges in California’s waterways.  So it would be pretty unreasonable for DFG to make a stream alteration argument if you are careful about not making large excavations.

6)      I would advise the use of riged pressure hose between the pump and nozzle jet on this type of system.  It is difficult enough to keep the kinks out of lay flat pressure hose outside of the waterway.

7)      Since initially, DFG wardens may not be aware of their own formal definition of a “dredge,” I suggest you print out at least the first page or two of the regulations which include the formal definition of a “dredge,” and have them available if and when any officials come around to see what you are up to.  Make sure to point out the complete absence of a sluice on your suction system. And whatever you do, never refer to this activity as “dredging.”  Because it is not dredging!  It is an underwater suction system used to direct small volumes of high-grade material into a catch container.  Nothing more.  If you tell the warden you are “dredging without a sluice box,” you will probably provoke a citation, the warden telling you to explain it to the judge!

8)      If any citations are written for this non-dredging underwater form of prospecting, please get in touch with us without delay.  We will likely want to become involved with your defense.

Conclusion:  I can process material through a “suction dredge” about as fast as anyone I know.  Yet, my tailings don’t amount to much at the end of my dives.  This is because most of the underwater work has to do with freeing and moving oversized material out of the way (rocks that are too big to suck up).  Depending upon the size of the suction nozzle, perhaps as much as 95% or more of the volume has to do with rolling rocks behind me.  I would normally suck up the other 5% of material into my sluice box if I were “dredging.”  That volume over my sluice box gives me a substantial amount of heavy concentrates to process – which takes quite a bit of time.

But with this underwater gravel transfer system, I can easily visualize how I can blow the lighter material out of my way and only suck up the pay-dirt.  This would dramatically reduce the amount of material I will need to process out of my catch container.  While the underwater process may not be as fast or efficient as “dredging,” I might make up for it by having fewer concentrates to process.

Please note my words in bold just above.  They are perhaps the most important words I have said here.  This is because if you suck everything into your catch container, it will soon fill up with low-grade material which may not be worth the time to process further!  The whole idea in this new system is to get the low-grade material out of your way, and only suck up the very small volume which is directly associated with the gold deposit.  Gold deposits are nearly always located in a contact zone.  This means either on the bedrock, between storm layers, or on top of the upper layer of hard-pack.  There is an entire education about this in the articles at this link. If you still need help understanding this, you should attend one of our weekend group mining projects and allow us to show you exactly what you are looking for!

Using this system to discriminate carefully about what you suck up will accomplish two important objectives:

A)    You won’t find yourself up on the bank most of the day panning a bunch of gravel that doesn’t have much gold in it.

B)    You will only use the suction system to recover a very small volume of material – only that which contains the gold.  A small volume tool to help with your crevicing program will give our enemies less to complain about.

I thought you guys might be interested in an official position. There has been quite a lot of debate about this “underwater suction gravel transfer” idea on the GPAA forum since I have gone public with it; and finally, someone asked Mark Stopher of DFG for the straight scoop:

Here are the official answers (2 January 2013):
“I carefully read (today) the information that McCracken provides on his website. I believe Dave McCracken’s description of the legal requirements and application of the regulations is accurate. If practiced as he describes, this is not a violation of the moratorium and is not prohibited.

There is no specific permit required and no seasonal restrictions. Since this is not suction dredging, neither the moratorium or our adopted regulations for suction dredging apply. It’s essentially a loophole in existing law. However, as McCracken notes, Fish and Game Code section 1602 could apply if the streambed alteration is substantial, that is, you create a big hole. My guess is that such a system will be less efficient, and less excavation will occur, than if you were using a suction dredge since there is no sluice box and miners will need to use some other system to sort through the material.”

Mark Stopher
Habitat Conservation Program Manager
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust Street
Redding, CA 96001

voice 530.225.2275
fax 530.225.2391
cell 530.945.1344

Underwater Mining Seasons on New 49’er Properties:  Underwater suction mining without the use of a “dredge” is allowed  on our Klamath River properties between the Scott and Salmon Rivers on a year-round basis, and up the Klamath from its confluence with the Scott from the 4th Saturday in May through September 30.  Underwater suction mining is permitted along our creek properties and the Scott River from July 1 to September 30. Underwater suction mining is permitted on the Salmon River from July 1 through  September 15.

This new idea will at least allow us access to some of the submerged gold deposits that otherwise would be out of our reach until the “dredge” moratorium is lifted in California.  How’s that for good news?