FIRST QUARTER, MARCH 2011 VOLUME 25, NUMBER 2
The California Department of Fish & Game (DFG) released its long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIR) and Proposed new Suction Dredging Regulations on 28 February 2011. These, along with other information, can be found at DFG’s web site. The Drafts have also been sent to each of California’s counties and to other locations. For more information where to view the material, you can make contact with Mark Stopher13, Environmental Program Manager, California Department of Fish and Game, 601 Locust Street, Redding, CA 96001: Voice 530 225-2275; Fax 530 225-2391; Cell 530 945-1344.
This has triggered a 60-day public comment period which will end on 29 April 2011. Written comments can be submitted to Mark Stopher, Department of Fish and Game, 601 Locust Street, Redding, CA 96001. Or they can be faxed or emailed: Fax: (530) 225-2391; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five public hearings have also been set so that interested people can voice comments. The format of the public hearings will be Open House Workshop between 5 ‘ 6 p.m; Welcome and Opening Remarks at 6:00 p.m.; Highlights of the Draft EIR at 6:20 p.m.; and Public Comment Period beginning at 6:45 p.m. Here are the meeting places and dates:
Santa Clarita: Wednesday, March 23 at Residence Inn by Marriott, 25320 The Old Rd., Santa Clarita, California.
Fresno: Thursday, March 24 at the California Retired Teachers Association, 3930 East Saginaw Way, Fresno, California.
Sacramento: Tuesday, March 29 at the California EPA Headquarters Building, Byron Sher Auditorium, 1001 ‘ I Street, Sacramento, California.
Yreka: Wednesday, March 30 at the Yreka Community Center, 810 N. Oregon, Yreka, California.
Redding: Thursday, March 31 at the Shasta Senior Nutrition Program, 100 Mercy Oaks Drive, Redding, California.
Preliminary Analysis: As there is very little time to get the word out on this, I have only read through the new regulations once so far. But I can tell you that the proposed changes are very substantial!
One of the problems is that many or most of the proposed changes are in locations elsewhere in the State that I am not familiar with. It is impossible for me to comment correctly about areas of the State that I know little about. So I will contain this initial review to areas where The New 49′ers have mining properties in Siskiyou County. I am assuming and hoping that other prospecting organizations and individuals who are more familiar with other areas will be organizing comments from elsewhere in the State.
Here follows an initial review of how the proposed new dredging regulations would affect New 49′er members along properties which we manage:
1) The current schedule published by DFG does not have new regulations in place before the fall of 2011. So we should assume the new regulations will mainly affect our 2012 season and beyond.
2) DFG is proposing to issue only 4,000 annual suction dredge permits, on a first come, first served basis. We will need to address how this will affect prior existing rights to ongoing mining projects which were shut down during the 2009 season.
4) An onsite inspection is required of anyone who would like to operate a larger nozzle than 4-inches. Up to 8-inches will be allowed on the Scott and Klamath Rivers (but not Salmon River) with onsite inspection. Earlier permit applications required an increased fee for onsite inspections. Since annual fees are not being changed in this process, pre-existing fees should be adjusted according to inflation.
5) The proposed regulations will eliminate dredging on our Indian Creek, Elk Creek and Thompson Creek properties, and not allow dredging within 500 feet of most side tributaries which enter the Klamath. This means no dredging on the Klamath River within 500 feet of Negro Creek on K-9; it means no dredging within 500 feet of O’Neal Creek on K-10; it means no dredging within 500 feet of Portugese Creek on K-14; it means no dredging within 500 feet of Thompson Creek on K-16; it means no dredging within 500 feet of Indian Creek on K-21; It means no dredging within 500 feet of either Grider Creek or Elk Creek on K-22; and it means no dredging within 500 feet of Coon Creek or Swillup Creek on K-25A. There may be other Club properties affected by this that I don’t see, yet.
6) An onsite inspection is required of anyone who would like to operate a motorized winch.
7) No dredging anywhere within 3 feet of the edge of the waterway at the time the dredging is taking place.
8) Pump intake screens must be of a mesh or hole-size no greater than 3/32″. This may require a smaller mesh-size to surround some existing pump intakes.
I have not had time yet to study the full text of the Draft EIR to determine how DFG is justifying all these added restrictions to our suction dredging regulations. But, since public hearings will begin on 23 March, I did not want to delay getting the word out to you guys while I take the time to critique the Draft EIR.
For those of you who are interested in this, I advise you to either go up on the Internet and study the drafts for yourself, or find out where you can get hold of one at a library near you (call Mark Stopher at the numbers listed above). You can also go up on our Internet Forum and watch the threads. We have about 4,000 people on there now, and I am sure there will be plenty of ongoing discussion about what we don’t like and what the talking points ought to be.
I have absolutely no input yet about how the proposed regulations will affect other areas outside of our own. The Proposal places a big hit on our properties. Having said that, it could have been worse; they could be proposing to eliminate dredging altogether!
I am not saying it is good. I am saying it could have been worse. Now it is our turn within the process to try and change the things in the Proposal that we do not
You will hear more from me about this on talking points (for written comments) in our April Newsletter. That will not be in time for public hearings. But since the hearings are really just listening sessions to determine how mad the public is; I suggest you go down there and give them an angry earful! Then you can follow up in April with written comments after we have had an opportunity to analyze the positions DFG has assumed in the Draft EIR.
Other Types of Mining During 2011
Just in case you do not know, it is only suction dredging within California’s active waterways that remains in suspension until new dredging regulations are finally adopted. This does not have anything to do with the other types of prospecting or mining that we do in California. Unaffected prospecting activities include panning, sniping & vack-mining, sluicing & high-banking, booming, electronic prospecting and other types of prospecting that do not use a suction nozzle within an active stream, river or creek. It also does not affect our group weekend projects.
There are no seasons imposed upon these other types of mining activity. In other words, you can do them at any time of the year.
As the suction dredging seasons in California have been suspended, we have identified some fantastic suction dredging opportunities for our members in Southern Oregon.
Oregon Proposal to Increase Dredging Permit Fees!
Now; here is something else that we need to fight:
Oregon State Senators Atkinson, Haas and Bates have just introduced Oregon Senate Bill (SB) 765, which would tax suction gold dredgers by charging an additional $50 annual fee for in-state dredgers and an additional whopping $2,500 fee for non-resident dredgers for each county where the prospector intends to dredge!
Under emergency status, this bill is now moving on fast-track through the Oregon legislative process. If passed, it is possible these unreasonable fees could be in affect for the upcoming season!
At this moment, the bill is sitting in the Oregon State Senate Committee on Judiciary (Contact: Annola.DeJoug@stat.or.us or 503 986-1750). We sent out an Action Alert to our entire Email Action List (about 40,000 prospectors) as soon as the bill landed in the Judiciary Committee.
Postal mail is no longer an effective way to send out Action Alerts, because it all takes so long. This bill could already be in another committee or in front of the full senate before you guys even read the hard-copy version of our newsletter.
If you are interested in getting on our Email Action List, you do so by clicking on the Free Internet Newsletter link at the bottom-left of our home page.
With the Action Alerts, and the coordinated work being done on numerous fronts, quite a lot has already been done to combat this very bad bill. But we will need to do more; because Oregon is being managed largely by liberal politicians that are beholden to environmentalists.
We are presently interviewing lobbyists to represent the interests of small-scale miners in Oregon.
Yes, I know; it is all supposed to be about creating jobs. Right? In a published statement by Senator Atkinson, he makes his intention clear that he wants to keep non-resident prospectors out of Oregon. What?
By the way, Senator Atkinson migrated to Oregon from California! How does that make you feel?
Our Legal Fund Needs Help, Again!
It is not all bad news: Three new pro-mining bills have been introduced in California. Senate Bill 657 by Senator Gaines changes the law to exclude suction dredging from the ongoing administrative process which is reviewed in the new Proposal outlined above, and allow dredging under the earlier regulations until 2014. There is also a pro-rated refund for those of us who got knocked out of our dredging permits during 2009.
Assembly Bill 566 (Galgiani) and Senate Bill 792 (Steinberg) are the same bills which require California to formally acknowledge mineral-rich areas and prevent other priorities from eliminating mining as the primary use.
When I told you in January that we had some legal/political issues on our radar screen, it was mainly because we knew the Draft EIR and Proposed Regulations were soon to be released in California. We were not also expecting to fight a 100-fold permit fee increase in Oregon; and we were not expecting that pro-mining bills would be introduced which require our support if we want them to pass!
Therefore, it is a good thing that we were out in front of ourselves pulling a new fund-raiser together.
Our existing drawing will be for three ounces of beautiful Rogue River gold that I personally mined last season. We could really use your help right now!
The New 49′ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012 www.goldgold.com