Dave Mack

Legal update for California ( Fri Jun 27 2014 )

By Dave McCracken

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

New 49'er Newsletter

SECOND  QUARTER, JUNE 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 6

Dave Mack

 

 

Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

 

 

 Waving from boatPointing at gold

We have been on the lookout for a new place to do our Weekend Group Mining Projects for quite some time.  This is because we have done every Weekend Project on the upper bar of our Mega Hole property at K-15A for the past five years.  That amounts to 35 separate projects in just one area, even though we have 80+ miles of good mining property to choose from (It used to be 60 miles, but we have grown).  We kept returning there because the Mega Hole property always produces gold for our projects.

We used boats a lot during our earlier years when there were not so many people on the projects.  The truth is, with an occasional exception, the better gold deposits are always richer in the places that are more difficult to get to; especially those places that are just out of reach.  This is the nature of gold, and is one of the reasons it is so valuable.

The upper gravel bar at the Mega Hole is still producing gold.  All you have to do is dig in the remaining undisturbed areas and the gold will immediately start adding up.  Our Weekend Project team leaders and I are just tired of going back to the same place over and over, again.

So a few weeks ago, Rich Krimm and John Rose, two of our Project team leaders, and I found ourselves looking at the extensive gravel bar on our new Elliot Bar property at K-25AB.  We already know that the bar on the Highway-96 side of the river pays very well in the surface deposits alongside the river.  The problem is that the existing trail down to the gold deposit is perhaps a little too difficult for some members that might arrive for a Weekend Group Project.  We were expecting more than 70 participants on the first project of our season.

As a second alternative, we made plans to organize a small group of experienced members to meet up and make use of my jet boat to do some sampling on the far side of the river on our new A & D # 3 property at K-23AA.  This is the property where a bunch of members did quite well last season, both in and out of the river.  These numbers, by the way, identify each of our many properties on a published Claims Guide along with maps.

 Dave in jet boatClaim A&D #3

Several days later, the day before Memorial Day, I found myself launching the jet boat with longtime supportive members, Rich Krimm, John Rose, Derek Eimer, Steve Jones, Sean Hart and Steve Kleszyk.  Our initial target was the sizable gravel bar on the far side of the river at the top end of A & D #3.  We chose this place because quite a lot of members have been doing well on the far side of the river about a half-mile downstream. John said a small family were prospecting on this upper bar last season. They told John they were pleased with the gold they were recovering. There is a pretty good trail going down to the river from the Highway 96 side of the river directly across from the gravel bar.  There is also a huge pull-off for plenty of parking and camping.  This place is nine miles downriver from Happy Camp.

Once our prospecting team arrived across the river with the jet boat, we scattered across the gravel bar and started sampling.  Initial results were rather poor. Rich and I found a place where some rocks were tightly wedged together just above where we could see some exposed bedrock. We were wishing we brought a pry bar along.  Our progress was moving along slowly. The results in our gold pans were not getting better as we dug deeper, which is also often the case when we are beginning from scratch in a new location.

 John's Gold

We had been out there for perhaps thirty or forty minutes when John came over with a pan with maybe 15 or 20 gold colors in it.  It was a good pan. It was a heck of a lot better than what the rest of us were finding. I felt this huge sigh of relief as soon as I saw the gold.  The first moment of an important gold discovery always takes my wind away just for a moment. This is the moment of magical alchemy, when something of little value is suddenly turned into raw wealth.  There are not very many other experiences in life that are so exhilarating. Derek followed just a few minutes later with about twice as much gold from a single pan.  Eureka!

The rest of us immediately gathered up our prospecting gear and followed Derek and John to where they dug their samples.

It does not take very much gold in a sample pan to signal an important discovery.  This is because the volume of material processed in the sample is very small. We then follow up with more tests to establish exactly where the gold is coming from. Further testing is done along the trail that leads to the richest material.  Then the amount of gold in a single pan, or perhaps even a 5-gallon bucket, needs to be related to how much volume of material we can process once we get into production.

There are a few important lessons here that are worth pointing out:  The first is that your chances of making a good gold discovery in a new place are vastly improved when you go out with a group.  If Rich and I went out there alone, we may never have made the strike.  Perhaps the most important lesson is to keep your ears and eyes open all the time when you belong to an active mining association like The New 49’ers.  The reason Derek and John were sampling in that place was because they had watched where the family was mining last season.  Once the rest of us got over there, we could see where the earlier prospectors had been scraping bedrock. John and Derek had just picked up where they left off, and that’s all it took.

 BedrockBlue pan

More than 100 colors from a single pan out of Rich’s vack machine

The location of the strike is in a transition between the lower gravel bar alongside the river and an elevated older gravel bar from some earlier time.  The transition is mostly exposed bedrock with a thin layer of sand on top.  The sand is loaded with fine gold, sometimes 100 colors or more to the pan.  The bedrock is made up of decomposing shale which is very easy to break apart with a hand-pick (garden tool). Gold is also packed down into the shale about as far as you care to dig.  The bunch of us spread out across several hundred feet of the bedrock transition, and our sample results were about the same wherever we dug the material.  Talking about easy; all we had to do was dig a thin layer of sand and clean up the bedrock underneath. Every pan was producing a handsome showing of gold.  We had arrived on the bar about an hour and a half earlier, and we had discovered a new place to do our Weekend Group Projects!  Here is some video that captured the moment:

It is challenging to separate fine gold from volume-amounts of sand, difficult to accomplish with a normal high-banker.  Ultimately, we pulled together three Le Trap fine gold recovery sluices and connected them to a single water pump down alongside the river.  We normally use these Le Traps to concentrate the material from our high-banking and suction dredge recovery systems at the end of the day.  They are very effective, but a bit slow to keep up with volume amounts of material. Derek also offered up his new Gold Well recovery system, which, I believe, is the most exciting gold processing system on the market at this time.

Then we pulled one of The New 49’er Colorado River rafts out of storage and pumped it up.  We did not expect it to hold air. This was because we have not used the big rafts for about 6 years.   But the quite sizable boat blew up like it was brand new!  Then we added in the floor boards and pulled out the outboard engine.  The outboard had been worked over just a few years ago. Once we got it started and ran it awhile, it sang like a well-oiled machine.  Later that day, our whole prospecting team and some more members loaded everything up and hauled it down to A & D #3.  That Colorado River Raft is so tough; we just slid it down the hillside and into the water.

Sampling team initial test pan

Gold recovered from a single bucket of pay-dirt

70+ membersA few hours later, we had all the recovery gear set up on the far side of the river.  John Rose wanted to do a small production run just to be sure everything was going to work when we arrived with an army of 70+ people.  It is always better to be safe than sorry!  We dug up a bucket of the sandy pay-dirt, directed it through an 8-mesh screen, and ran it across one of the Le Traps.  The amount of gold we recovered gave us solid confirmation that we had made a fantastic gold discovery. Here is some video:

 

There were 78 members signed up for the project on Saturday morning. This was an enthusiastic, friendly bunch.  We met over at the Happy Camp Grange Hall where I introduced our team leaders who would help manage the project. We are so lucky to have a bunch of experienced members that enjoy helping with these Group Projects!

I then provided the group with my talk on how to pursue a sampling program.

 Members on the raftRafting across the river

Once we all arrived out on A & D #3 on Saturday afternoon, it took less than 30 minutes for us to get everyone across the river in the raft.  Our team leaders and I had preplanned how we would get everyone into and out of life jackets with no lost time, and also how we would launch and recover the raft on both sides of the river.  All that went off without a hitch. Here is some video that captured the action:

Since we had already made the gold strike, the only real objective for my team on Saturday afternoon was to teach beginners how to pan for gold.  We consider that as one of our most important responsibilities.  This is because the whole sampling process comes back to effective panning skills.  If you cannot pan, you cannot sample.  If you cannot sample, the only way you are going to find high-grade gold is if someone else gives it to you!

 Young boy having funMembers having fun

Nugget

At least 2 nice nuggets were panned on Saturday afternoon!

We do a New 49’er potluck every Saturday evening during the summer months.  This meant we needed to get all these people back across the river so they would have time to freshen up for the evening event.  Once the beginners were all lined out, me and my team mates were eager to start transferring people back across the river.  But they didn’t want to go!  There was so much fine gold in their pan samples, just about all of them kept saying, “just one more pan.” We literally had to peel the last of them off the gravel bar late Saturday afternoon.  Truthfully, I was worried some of them were going to hide over there so they could continue mining. There was no other way back across the river unless they wanted to swim.  Gold does have that effect on people!

It was a full house at potluck on Saturday evening.  The enthusiasm and excitement was so noisy, it was challenging for me to get the meal started!  After a bunch of great food, we had a short meeting, did our weekly prize drawing, and let everyone go home earlier than normal. This is because we were planning to meet out on A & D #3 at 6:30 the following morning.  We have found over the years that it is better to start early on Sunday so we can get most of the physical work done before the heat of the day sets in.  The whole objective on Sunday is to come together in a well-organized team to process as much pay-dirt as we can.

By the time I finished ferrying everyone across in the boat, our team leaders had already positioned everybody into a well-organized production crew.  Did you ever see the war footage of the American D-Day invasion?  That’s what this reminded me of! This bunch was charging ahead to fill buckets with pay-dirt as fast as they could. There were people picking, digging, screening, vacking, carrying buckets, and feeding the recovery systems.  The noise out there was almost deafening!  The following video sequences captured the different parts of our production program:

I had left word up in the parking lot that I would return with the boat after a while for any stragglers.  Thirty minutes or so later, I was stunned by a very directed shout from across the river. Sure enough, there were enough people over there for another boat load.  It was lucky someone over there had a strong voice.  By then, I was so involved with all the productive activity that I might never have remembered about stragglers!

Le TrapsSmiling

It is a good thing we brought Derek’s Gold Well recovery system to support this project.  The easy digging in the sand and shale, along with the very substantial energy of this group, was producing screened pay-dirt several times faster than the three Le Traps could process the gold out of it.  If you try to process sand too fast, you will overload the recovery system, and the gold will just wash out with the tailings.   This crew was doing it just right.  Excess pay-dirt was being directed to Derek’s crew on the Gold Well.  And even the Gold Well could not keep up.  That’s what happens when you have 70 people filling up buckets as fast as they can!

 Derek's teamGold Well

Derek’s team operating the Gold Well

Mid day clean up gold in pan

Mid-day clean-up!

We cleaned up the Gold Well and one of the Le Traps at about mid-day, just to see how we were doing – and the amount of gold was even shocking to me!  This bunch was so jacked up; at least half of them did not even stop digging to take a look at the gold!  The buckets just kept coming and coming.  Pretty soon, we were filling extra wash tubs because we were running out of buckets!

We stopped the digging at around 11 AM.  This was because we had already dug more pay-dirt than we would have time to process.  The crew went around and filled the few holes we had dug.  There were not many.  This gold discovery is mostly resting on exposed, decomposed bedrock. In most places, after you scrape it off, you are left with clean bedrock and no hole to fill in!  Eventually, we were all down watching the recovery systems struggle with more material than we could feed even if we stayed out there for another hour or two.

Get this: In nearly 30 years of doing these Weekend Group Mining Projects, this is the first time the digging crew ever supplied more pay-dirt than we had time to process!  So I called a meeting to order out there on the gravel bar and made a motion that we split up the remaining pay-dirt into buckets and allow everyone who wanted a share to take it across the river to process at home.   The motion was passed unanimously, and at least 30 buckets of pay-dirt were carried off towards the raft without any delay.  The material disappeared so fast, it was as if it were never there!

 Crew in productionAlan

We met back at the Grange Hall at about 1:30 on Sunday afternoon, and all worked together to complete the final gold separation. Then we split the gold.  It was the most fine gold I have ever seen on one of these projects.   There were 10 small gold nuggets.  In the end, we split off a half-ounce of gold between 70 participants.  There were lots of smiling faces.  That’s the part I like the most.

 Final gold recoveredGold Extractor

Legal Update: Federal Preemption Decision Coming Soon! 

As many of you are aware, our legal specialists have brought a federal preemption challenge in front of the Superior Court of San Bernardino. We also have a similar challenge in front of the Third Appellate District of California.  We are arguing that the Supreme Court has already decided that the State does not possess the jurisdictional authority to prohibit suction dredge mining on the public lands, which is exactly what they have done with the existing Moratorium in California.

All of the briefs have been filed with the Third Appellate District, and they have just scheduled this 28 July for oral arguments concerning the Eighth Circuit’s Decision on federal preemption. This development is a hopeful sign that we are going to get the hearing we have been asking for on this very important matter. Here is how the Eighth Circuit weighed in. And here is a short update memo from our attorney.

If we win this important challenge, we suspect the Appellate District will instruct the State of California that they cannot cite prospectors for using suction dredges unless the activity violates reasonable and lawfully-issued permit regulations.

Meanwhile, in a completely separate case, we are making similar arguments challenging the existing Moratorium in front of the Superior Court of San Bernardino.  If we win that motion, we anticipate that the judge may order the State of California to immediately resume issuing suction dredge permits.  During a motion hearing last month, the judge Ordered that we attempt to settle all of the mining-related issues in front of him on June 24th before he issues a Decision concerning federal preemption.   Here is a short memo from our attorney which provides further explanation.
I will personally attend the mandatory settlement discussions alongside our attorney in San Bernardino in just a few weeks. Cross your fingers that this will lead to the judge deciding for us on the federal preemption motion.

Please take note that we only have 3 more weeks remaining in The New 49’er Legal Fund active fund-raiser.  We will be giving away 25 gold and silver coins  during our weekly potluck in Happy Camp on July 5th.  To date, the Legal Fund has only brought in $2,124 in contributions to support this fundraiser. That’s only somewhere around half the value of the gold and silver prizes that will be given away. Ouch! This will be the last newsletter we send out before the drawing. So I am I encouraging you to send in some contributions. This is how we generate the necessary funds to pay for legal support.

Thanks for all your support, you guys. I know you will all do your best. The fight would have been lost a long time ago if it were not for you!

Join Us This Season on Our Weekend Group Mining Projects!

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

Our 2-day Group Mining Projects are one of the primary benefits of New 49’er membership which set us apart from other mining associations.

The remaining weekend events for the coming 2014 season are scheduled for June 21 & 22; July 12 & 13; August 2 & 3; August 23 & 24. These events are free to all members.  We appreciate it if you contact our office in advance to let you know that you will attend: 530 493-2012.

We have free long term (dry) campgrounds available to participants who prefer to enjoy the complete outdoor experience.  There are also private RV and other lodging options in and around Happy Camp for those of you who prefer more accommodations.  The staff in our office will go out of their way to help you with your individual needs. Montine specializes in helping you guys get the most enjoyment from your visits to Happy Camp. Here are our contact details. 

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.  As explained above, this is presently being challenged in two separate legal proceedings. It is possible that either of these two challenges could be decided in our favor during the 2014 season.

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.

3)      The State of California has adopted modified regulations which now define “suction dredging” as using any type of motorized 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 or more from the active waterway.  There is also a way to boom using blowing methods (see below) which 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.

5)  Underwater crevicing is what most active members were doing within the waterways at the end of last season. Some were 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 blow material out of the way. Our attorney agrees this cannot be classed as “suction dredging” under California’s expanded definition.

Sign up for the Free Internet Version of this Newsletter

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

Signing up also places you on our Political Action Team.  Things happen so fast these days; it takes too long to organize political action through the U.S. mail.  As an example, just a few years ago, in concert with other mining organizations, our Internet Action Team killed anti-mining legislation in Oregon in less than a week.  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

SECOND  QUARTER, MAY 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 5

Dave Mack

 

 

Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

 

 

 

 

 

Story by Rich Krimm, Director of Internal Affairs

Panning in tubGold in Pan

Lots of members have already arrived in Happy Camp to start the season off early this year.  Our office and store in Happy Camp have been busy each morning even with some members waiting out front before the door is opened.

First time pannerFirst gold

Craig and Alicia Hill finding their first gold last week up on Indian Creek

While more members are around, most people are only just getting started with mining activity.  Jeff Hight and Stuart Allen have been doing pretty well working the bedrock down on the Ukonom Claim K-25AA recovering some very nice course gold.  Jeff enthusiastically shared that he has already recovered as much gold this season as he has accumulated during the past four seasons.  Further down river, I saw Jim Shannon at the Elliot Bar Claim K-25AB doing some diligent sampling out on the gravel bar where very few members have been.  Dennis Turner has been doing very well for the past six weeks working at the Wingate River Claim K-23A.  He has been working large cracks and crevices in the bedrock, classifying material that he takes back to his camp where he processes the material through a small recirculating high-banker.

Panner on riverGold in pan

I have seen members working at a number of claims from K-2A all the way down to K-25AB.  Last week, four members spent several days at our long term camping area at Schutts Gulch K-11. They were high-banking on the gravel bar.  Montine had a chance to talk to them before they left the area to go home. She says they were very pleased with the gold they recovered.

GatheringIndian Creek

Father & sonJohn Rose, one of my Internal Affairs assistants, organized a gold panning outing up on Indian Creek just a few days ago, and at least ten people went along for a day of fun.  John says everyone had a blast.  They finished up the day with a great meal sitting around a campfire.

I talked to Derek Eimer and Dan Collins just a few days ago. They are working on some type of an underwater blowing system that they can use to uncover more of the extremely rich gold discovery they made last year on our new K-23AA property.  Clearly they want to have their equipment ready to take advantage of this year’s low water opportunity.  Other members have been preparing to begin using underwater blowing techniques — and also hand-operated suction devices to recover the gold from underwater cracks and crevices.  This is going to be a great year for crevice mining both above and below the water!

Heightened river sceneLow water

Speaking of low and slow water, I was coming downriver a couple of weeks ago and saw two kayakers paddling ‘up river’ faster than I could drift down river in the current.  The current is now flowing almost 3,000 cubic feet per second slower than the average for this time of the year. The river is over three feet lower than where it should be.  The Forest Service Snow Report for May 1st shows several sites that normally record 28-to-55 inches for snow depth and water content at this time of the year.  The most recent survey reveals there is no snow at these sites, which means there is no water.  My guess is that the current and water level in the creeks and river are going to continue to drop through the summer. This will expose more areas that members can access for our gold prospecting activities.

DemonsrationOver the past couple of years, a few members have shown some interest, and have actually used small boats and kayaks to prospect on the other side of the river.  Lower and slower waters this year have caused several of our members to take that idea more seriously.  A couple of the members are already making plans to coordinate their efforts and work together to place their vehicles in position so they can shuttle their equipment and kayaks after they drift the river sampling our claims on the far side.  Stuart Allen told me that he called his girlfriend and asked her to bring his kayak down on her next trip. Stuart has convinced me to get my kayak out and join him.

We have been doing some concentrate cleanup sessions in front of the store on Friday mornings during the early spring for the past few seasons.  Several pieces of cleanup equipment get set up and operated. This allows members a chance to see demonstrations of the latest innovations in mining gear and the processes.  Quite a few members show up for these events. A couple of weeks ago, John Rose set up a rather large panning station, and even Montine from our office was out there showing off her panning skills!  These Friday morning get-togethers also provide our members a chance to meet each other, drink coffee, eat donuts, and tell stories. Here are some video sequences we captured during the last event:

This coming Friday morning, we will be joined by Steve Herschback. Steve will be present to talk to members and answer questions about using our metal detectors for gold prospecting.  Steve owned and managed Alaska Mining & Diving for many, many years, and is one of the world’s leading experts in electronic prospecting.  Several members who have recently arrived have told me that they have metal detectors with them, and they are looking forward to talking to Steve to get some welcomed tips so they can become more efficient while using their equipment.

We have scheduled the Saturday evening potlucks at the Happy Camp Grange Hall to begin May 31st. They will extend through August 23rd of this year.

Legal Update: Federal Preemption Decision Coming Soon! 

As many of you are aware, our legal specialists have brought a federal preemption challenge in front of the Superior Court of San Bernardino. We also have a similar challenge in front of the Third Appellate District of California.  We are arguing that the Supreme Court has already decided that the State does not possess the jurisdictional authority to prohibit suction dredge mining on the public lands, which is exactly what they have done with the existing Moratorium in California.

All of the briefs have been filed with the Third Appellate District. We are patiently waiting for them to issue a Decision.  If we win this challenge, we suspect the Appellate District will tell the State of California that they cannot cite prospectors for using suction dredges unless the activity violates lawfully-issued permit regulations.

Meanwhile, in a completely separate case, we are making similar arguments challenging the existing Moratorium in front of the Superior Court of San Bernardino.  If we win that motion, we anticipate that the judge may order the State of California to immediately resume issuing suction dredge permits.  During the motion hearing several weeks ago, the judge Ordered that we attempt to settle all of the mining-related issues in front of him on June 24th before he issues a Decision concerning federal  preemption.   Here is a short memo from our attorney which provides further explanation.

My best guess is that any such settlement would require all outstanding issues in front of the Court to be resolved once and for all. This is because they are all connected in one way or another to the preemption motion.

Don’t get your hopes up too high on a successful settlement agreement. I only suggest this because there are many different interests that would have to come together, some whose only interest is to prohibit mining on the public lands. Though the judge has ordered that we should try. So we will. He will preside over the settlement discussions.

I will personally attend the mandatory settlement discussions alongside our attorney in San Bernardino next month. Cross your fingers that this will lead to the judge deciding for us on the federal preemption motion.

Thanks for all your support, you guys. The fight would have been lost a long time ago if it were not for you!

Note that we only have a little more than a month remaining in The New 49’er Legal Fund active fund-raiser.  The Legal Fund will be giving away 25 gold and silver coins  during our weekly potluck in Happy Camp on July 5th.  To date, there has been very little participation.  I encourage you to send in some contributions, since this is how we generate the necessary funds to pay for legal support.

Make a Legal Contribution 

Join Us This Season on Our Weekend Group Mining Projects!

 

 Running high-babkerHappy smile

There is a learning curve to successful gold prospecting.  One of the most effective methods of progressing through the learning curve is to go on prospecting trips with others who are further along on the curve than you are.   We are fortunate in The New 49’ers that we have experienced members who take pleasure in going out and helping on the weekend projects.

Our 2-day Group Mining Projects are one of the primary benefits of New 49’er membership which set us apart from other mining associations.  We started them during our second season in 1987 with the purpose of helping members to learn how to successfully prospect for gold on their own.  Long since then, the weekend projects have evolved into fun events that many members attend just for the adventure and shared camaraderie with other members.

The weekend events for the coming 2014 season are scheduled for May 31 & June 1; June 21 & 22; July 12 & 13; August 2 & 3; August 23 & 24. These events are free to all members.  We appreciate it if you contact our office in advance to let you know that you will attend: 530 493-2012.

We have free long term (dry) campgrounds available to participants who prefer to enjoy the complete outdoor experience.  There are also private RV and other lodging options in and around Happy Camp for those who prefer more accommodations.  The staff in our office will go out of their way to help you with your individual needs. Montine specializes in helping people get the most enjoyment from their visits to Happy Camp. Here are our contact details. On that note, if you prefer private accommodations, I suggest you don’t wait until the last minute.  Sometimes they fill up! 

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.  As explained above, this is presently being challenged in two separate legal proceedings. It is possible that either of these two challenges could be decided in our favor during the 2014 season.

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.

3)      The State of California has adopted modified regulations which now define “suction dredging” as using any type of motorized 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 blow material out of the way. Our attorney agrees this cannot be classed as “suction dredging” under the expanded definition.

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

SECOND  QUARTER, APRIL 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 4

Dave Mack

 

 

Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

 

 

 

Story by Lori Meyer & Debra Thewes

highbanking Good gold

Before we came to Happy Camp, we looked all over the Internet hoping to find an affordable gold claim where we could prospect.  This is when we stumbled across the New 49er website, which we found to be such a wealth of valuable information and colorful adventure. Holding nuggetAfter watching the videos and reading about the Club, we decided to join and we are so glad that we did.  We have made friends that we now consider our family, and we have had so much fun hunting for gold out on the Klamath River.  We now spend several months a year in Happy Camp.  The 2013 season was our best ever. We even found a gold nugget weighing just over 1/5th of an ounce! Boy was that exciting!  We actually discovered the nugget on bedrock under only 8 inches of sand. This was just a mile from town!  In fact, all the nuggets we have found were just a short distance from Happy Camp.

When we joined, all we wanted to do was find gold. We had absolutely no prior experience. But with over 60 miles of mining property available to us, it was like a smorgasbord of opportunity! On our first day, Montine (she is Customer Relations in the New 49’er office) took the time to tell us everything we needed to know to get started. She was so helpful!  We met our friend, Rip Ripple, on our first day, too.  Rip took us to his personal dig and showed us exactly how he was finding gold. Boy was he finding some nice stuff! We have watched Rip and other experienced members do the very same thing for many other beginners.  But that’s what you can expect with the New 49ers, “miners helping miners.”  So we bought a vack mining machine, some gold pans, a highbanker, and some digging tools; and we headed out onto the claims to dig for gold – and yes, we found gold.

vackingThe first weekend we were there, we attended one of the weekend outings at the Mega Hole and learned so much. We also got to meet some awesome people.  Dave Mack is such an amazing guy.  You can tell right off that he really cares about his New 49’er members. 

Being members of the New 49’ers has been life-changing for us.  Gold mining has become a passion. This is not only because of gold. It is also becoming friends with so many interesting people. The Klamath River is one of the crown jewels of the Pacific Northwest. The place is breathtaking!  The New 49ers program has provided us the opportunity to not only find gold, but also to make great friends and experience the outdoors like never before.  With so many mining properties, we get to choose where we want to prospect and there are simply unlimited opportunities to find gold.

Deb gold nugget

LoriSo many of our friends have asked us “Did you find gold?” and we always tell them that we do!  Then they ask, “Did you get rich?” and we always answer that we have gotten rich in so many wonderful ways.  Then they want to know if we have gotten wealthy with gold, and we answer that we have found more gold than we expected, so far – but we are not finished, yet!  The New 49’er program has been, without a doubt, the most exciting outdoor adventure we have ever experienced in our lives.  We are living the dream!

When we joined, we had no idea that our lives would change in so many wonderful and profound ways. Now we can’t wait to get back to the Klamath and our friends, and the great outdoor adventure that waits for us.  Watch for us out there.  We are the Jersey Girls!

This is Going to be a Low Water Year! 

By Rich Krimm, Director of Internal Affairs

The Klamath River and its tributaries are presently experiencing historic lows for both current flow, and gauge height.  Today (April 6) at the Seiad Valley station along the Klamath River, the current is flowing at 2,350 cubic feet per second, which is more than  3,000 cubic feet per second lower than the average for this time of the year.  The gauge height is 3.54 feet and that is about three feet lower than where it should be.

We are expecting a few days of extremely warm spring weather (80 degrees plus) that will cause the insignificant amount of snow in the area to melt and possibly cause the river to rise slightly only for a short period of time.

I made the trip from the Scott River down to our lower claims at Elliot Bar, a distance of almost fifty miles, and conditions looked similar to the low water we were experiencing last year in early July.  If these conditions persist, then more locations along the river and creeks will be exposing bedrock areas that are traditionally underwater year round.  Access to submerged areas along the side of the rivers and creeks will also improve.

Several of my neighbors, who I will describe their age as being life-long residents and senior citizens, have told me they have not seen conditions like this in all the years they have lived on the river.

We already have more members arriving in Happy Camp than normal for this time of year. Looking into this coming season, I can already see and hear the Vack machines running as the newly exposed material in bedrock cracks and crevices are drying out. So they can hopefully take advantage of the low water conditions, I know that at least several members are putting together blow-mining gear to help facilitate the underwater crevicing activity which Dave Mack described in our March newsletter. This is lining up to be a very productive season along the Klamath and its tributaries! 

Join Us This Season on Our Weekend Group Mining Projects! 

 Running high-babker Happy smile

More smilesOur 2-day Group Mining Projects are one of the primary benefits of New 49’er membership which set us apart from other mining associations.  We started them during our second season in 1987 with the purpose of helping members to learn how to successfully prospect for gold on their own.  Long since then, the weekend projects have evolved into fun events that many members attend just for the adventure and shared camaraderie with other members.

There is a learning curve to successful gold prospecting.  One of the most effective methods of progressing through the learning curve is to go on prospecting trips with others who are further along on the curve than you are.   We are fortunate in The New 49’ers that we have a bunch of experienced members who take pleasure in going out and helping on the weekend projects.

The weekend events for the coming 2014 season are scheduled for May 31 & June 1; June 21 & 22; July 12 & 13; August 2 & 3; August 23 & 24. These events are free to all members.  We appreciate it if you contact our office in advance to let you know that you will attend: 530 493-2012.

Schedule of Events

Panning Pointing at gold

The events begin with a few hours of theory, normally presented by me, on Saturday morning at the local Grange Hall in Happy Camp.  After lunch, we all go out on one of our more productive properties and put the theory to practice.  Our mission on Saturday afternoon is to make sure everyone knows how to sample for gold deposits with the use of a gold pan.  We also need to find one or two gold deposits to work on the following day.  All the gold that you recover on Saturday is yours to keep.

If you are not too tired, we encourage everyone to attend our Saturday evening potluck at the Grange Hall.  This is a relaxed, somewhat-informal social affair where we all share some great food and camaraderie.  We take the opportunity to pass on any important information, and we end the evening with a prize drawing.

Group mining Kid having smiling

We normally start early on Sunday morning so that we can get off the gravel bar before the heat of the day sets in.  Sunday is where we pull everyone together into a cooperative production program, devoting three or four hours to processing as much pay-dirt as possible through a few portable gold recovery machines.  Rich Krimm normally heads this part up with the help of several other experienced members.  Everyone is organized into activity which fits their physical capabilities.  Even most disabled participants can contribute in some meaningful way.  Sunday is an exercise in teamwork where we try to recover as much gold as we can.  Having said that, we also caution everyone to not push beyond your personal limit.  We are also trying to keep the project as fun as possible for everyone.

High-grade Looking at gold

Happy kid

Once we feel we have processed enough pay-dirt, we fill in the excavations that we made out on the gravel bar, put our gear away, and do some initial gravity concentration of the material that has accumulated in our gold recovery machines.  Then we allow everybody a break to get refreshed, and meet back at the Grange Hall for final separation of the gold.  Everyone is invited to watch and participate in the final steps. Usually, sometime before 4 or 5 PM on Sunday afternoon, we have split up the gold evenly amongst everyone who actively participated on Sunday. Even children receive a share if they worked.  Sometimes the kids out-work the adults!

These weekend events cover the fundamentals of successful gold prospecting from A-to-Z. If you are paying attention and stay involved, even a raw beginner will have a substantial grasp of the important fundamentals by the time a project is over on Sunday afternoon.  As far as I know, we are the only outfit in the world that is providing this service.  Most prospectors have to go out and learn through the school of hard knocks.  Our weekend projects shorten the process by a large margin.

Most of these images were captured during our August 3 & 4 event last season. To get a better idea of what we do on these projects, and how much fun we have, I encourage you to read the video-enhanced story we published in our October newsletter about our final weekend event of 2013. Even though it was raining that day, which almost never happens in August, everybody participated with enthusiasm and we recovered a bunch of gold. Better yet, here are some more video sequences that we did not publish in the story:

Nice gold in the pan

We have free long term (dry) campgrounds available to participants who prefer to enjoy the complete outdoor experience.  There are also private RV and other lodging options in and around Happy Camp for those who prefer more accommodations.  The staff in our office will go out of their way to help you with your individual needs, for example, if you are flying in from some longer distance away or even from another country.  Montine specializes in helping people get the most enjoyment from their visits to Happy Camp. Here are our contact details. On that note, if you prefer private accommodations, I suggest you don’t wait until the last minute.  Sometimes they fill up! 

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. On that note, The New 49’er Legal Fund is giving away 25 gold and silver coins in our ongoing legal fund raiser.

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.

3)      The State of California has adopted modified regulations which now define “suction dredging” as using any type of motorized 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 our March newsletter 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.

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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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!

By Dave McCracken

  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:

 

 

 

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. 

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

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