A recent Court opinion declaring § 5356.1 of the California Fish and Wildlife Code unconstitutional, together with the 2012 dredging regulations that were adopted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) but never made effective, has prompted some members to begin suction dredging on New 49’er properties. According to its web site, DFW appears to be taking the position that the agency does not accept the Court’s ruling; although since the ruling, they have not issued citations to any active suction dredgers as far as we know.
Since the Court ruled that California’s dredge permitting moratorium is unconstitutional, making it unenforceable as a matter of law, The New 49’ers are not going to prohibit suction dredging on our mining properties. But members who choose to dredge should be aware that they may be hassled by the authorities, and even face the possibility criminal prosecution.
With the Moratorium and 2012 dredge regulations invalidated by the Court, it is difficult to assess which, if any, state regulations remain in effect, though federal rules and regulations do apply.
Unregulated suction dredge activity is unacceptable on New 49’er properties. Therefore we are hereby adopting the following Emergency Rules for the duration of this period of uncertainty. Please note that we have carefully crafted these Rules from the DFW suction dredge regulations which applied to our properties during the 2009 season when the illegal moratorium was imposed. We have modified them in consideration of concerns voiced during the San Bernardino legal proceedings, along with the ongoing drought situation in California.
Being that we have been in active litigation with DFW and anti-mining activists over the validity of suction dredge regulations for more than 10 years, we consider this matter very serious, and will therefore immediately suspend the mining privileges of any member who does not conform to these Rules on New 49’er properties. No exceptions!
Suction Dredge Use Classifications and Rules
(a) Suction Dredge Use Classifications. For purposes of these Rules, the following classes of suction dredge use restrictions apply in streams and rivers on New 49’er properties as specified:
(1) Class A: No dredging permitted at anytime
(2) Class B: Open to dredging from July 1 through August 31
(3) Class C: Open to dredging from the fourth Saturday in May through October 15
(4) Class D: Open to dredging from July 1 through September 15
(5) Class E: Open to dredging from July 1 through September 30
(6) Class F: Open to dredging from December 1 through June 30
(7) Class G: Open to dredging from the fourth Saturday in May through September 30
(8) Class H: Open to dredging throughout the year
(b) Except as specified in subsections (c) and (d) below, the suction dredge class restrictions for Siskiyou County is Class E. This will apply to our properties located on Indian, Elk and Thompson Creeks.
(c) A six-inch diameter intake nozzle size is permitted on the Klamath River in Siskiyou County.
(d) In addition to the classifications listed in (b) and (c) just above, these special Rules apply to the following waters:
Klamath River, Main Stem in Siskiyou County: The main stem Klamath River from the Salmon River upstream to 500 feet downstream of the Scott River is Class H. This applies to all of our properties along the mid-Klamath and Lower-Klamath. From 500 feet downstream of the Scott River upstream to Iron Gate Dam is Class G. This applies to our properties on the Upper-Klamath and Upper mid-Klamath River.
Salmon River in Siskiyou County: The main stem Salmon River is Class D; the North Fork of the Salmon River from the South Fork Salmon River upstream to the Marble Mountain Wilderness boundary is Class D.
Scott River and Tributaries in Siskiyou County are Class G.
(e) Equipment Requirements.
(1) Nozzle Restriction: No suction dredge having an intake nozzle with an inside diameter larger than four inches may be used except for use on the Klamath River as outlined in (c) above unless a constricting ring with an inside diameter not larger than four inches has been attached to the intake nozzle. This constricting ring must be of solid, one-piece construction with no openings other than the intake and openings not greater than one inch between the constricting ring and nozzle. It must be welded or otherwise permanently attached over the end of the intake nozzle. No quick-release devices are permitted.
(2) Hose Restriction: The inside diameter of the intake hose may not be more than two inches larger than the permitted intake nozzle size.
(f) Restrictions on Methods of Operation.
(1) Winching is permitted under the following provisions:
(A) Boulders and other material may only be moved within the existing water line. No boulders or other material shall be moved outside the water line.
(B) Winching of any material embedded on banks of streams or rivers is prohibited.
(C) Winching of any material into a location which deflects water into the bank is prohibited.
(D) No power-winch activated shovels, buckets or rakes may be used to excavate materials in the stream course.
Nets and other devices may be used to collect cobbles and boulders by hand for removal from dredge holes providing the materials are not removed from within the water line.
(E) No woody streamside vegetation shall be removed or damaged. Trees may be used as winch and pulley anchor points provided that precautions are taken to ensure that trunk surfaces are protected from cutting or abrasions.
(2) No person may suction dredge into the bank of any stream, lake or river.
(3) No person shall remove or damage woody riparian vegetation during suction dredge operations.
(4) No person shall move any anchored, exposed woody debris such as root wads, stumps or logs.
(5) No person shall divert a stream or river into the bank.
(6) No person shall dam or otherwise obstruct a stream, river or lake in such a manner that fish passage is impeded.
(7) No person shall import any earthen material into a stream, river or lake
(g) Dredge concentrations: No more than 10 dredges per mile may operate along New 49’er properties at the same time along the Klamath River; no more than 5 dredges per mile along the Scott or Salmon Rivers, and no more than 3 dredges per mile along Indian, Elk or Thompson Creeks.
(h) Additional restrictions: Please note that the New 49’er published Claims Guide has listed some specific areas along our properties which are off limits to suction dredging because of the location of cold water refugias that fish are alleged to rely upon during the warm water months. There are also some off-limit areas that are claimed to be of cultural significance to the Karuk Tribe. This subsection, along with subsection (g) remains enforced due to agreements we made with the Tribe and U.S. Forest Service many years ago, agreements which we will continue to honor.
These Rules are effective as of 1 April 2015
Rich Krimm, Director of Internal Affairs,
New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039