August 27, 2008

The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor, State of California
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Opposition to proposed language within AB 1789 to further-restrict suction dredge mining:

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

Last year, you vetoed AB 1032(Wolk); a bill that would have required the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to close rivers and waterways to suction dredge gold mining without having to follow the administrative process required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

It has come to our attention that the proponents of AB1032 are now pushing anti-suction dredging language within Assembly Bill 1798. The language would further restrict or prohibit suction dredge mining on a wide number of waterways within California. The proponents of this trailer bill language are trying to make an end run to reverse your veto of AB 1032 by using the legislative and administrative process to eliminate this activity.

The Assembly and Senate propose to further-restrict or eliminate suction dredge mining until the Department of Fish & Game completes a new Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Because these permits are issued annually, and DFG’s last EIR process took several years to complete, this language would cause great harm to the Gold Suction Dredge Mining program in California, upon which 2,500 miners and their families and mining-related businesses depend, for at least several years; probably longer. In addition to the miners themselves, several rural counties, particularly Siskiyou County, would face significant hardship as a cornerstone of their recreation and resource-based economies is removed further harming the state’s economy at a time when gold prices are at an all time high of between $800.00 and $1000.00 an ounce.

We would like to point out that throughout all of the litigation and other attempts to kill suction dredge mining by anti-mining activists during the last few years, they have yet to show any proof that a single fish has ever been harmed by suction dredgers. This, while the very same people are promoting that the State must continue to issue fish-kill licenses to millions of fishermen! This is clearly a case where special interests are attempting to subvert the political process to eliminate an important part of California’s ongoing, rich heritage; gold mining.

We are asking you to please veto this trailer bill language and allow the continued issuing of Suction Dredge Permits while the required environmental review process is being conducted.

Thank you,

(Be sure to include your full name and address.)

Cc: Senator Dave Cogdill, Senate Republican Leader
Senator Don Perata, Senate President Pro Tem
Assemblymember Michael Villines, Assembly Republican Leader
Assemblymember Karen Bass, Speaker of the Assembly

 

American Gold Eagles

The New 49’er Fund-raiser!

There will be 15 prizes in all:
Grand Prize: 1-ounce American Gold Eagle
Four ¼-ounce American Gold Eagles
Ten 1/10th-ounce American Gold 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 Friday afternoon, 8 March 2013. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate. You do not need to be present to win.  There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win.

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

Eagle

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

 

 
 
Dave Mack

Here is some information concerning the Final Rule adopted by the U.S. Forest Service concerning who, how and when it becomes necessary to submit a Notice of Intent or file an Operating Plan.”

 

By Dave McCracken, General Manager

6 December 2009

The State of California recently passed a law which has placed a statewide moratorium on suction dredging in California until the Department of Fish & Game (DFG) completes an updated Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This EIR process has already begun. Click here for more information.

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on suction dredging in California is being completed through a CEQA Process (California Environmental Quality Act); which, based upon best available science, requires the authorities to identify any important concerns (measured against some “baseline”). Then, those concerns must be addressed through implementation of regulations which are least-restrictive upon people and economic activity. This is not new to us, since we actively participated in the earlier EIR which was completed during 1994.

DFG began the public process on 26 October by circulating a 107-page Notice of Preparation (NOP). The NOP is mostly made up of an “Initial Study Suction Dredging Program,” which is also being referred to as the “Initial Scoping Document.” This formal review has basically identified every known potential negative impact which could be associated with suction dredging.

The Scoping Document has been sent around to all or most government agencies, environmental groups, mining interests and other known “stakeholders” who may have some interest in the progress and outcome of the EIR. Interested parties were provided an opportunity to comment on the Initial Scoping Document. The deadline for written comments passed on 3 December. This was the initial opportunity for us to make comments voicing our concerns about how the process is moving forward or any initial conclusions DFG has made that we believe are incorrect within the Scoping Document.

The New 49’ers submitted written comments expressing several areas of concern. We have created a special page on our web site so you can view our comments, and so you can follow along and participate in this important process as it moves forward.

One of our most important initial concerns is that within the Scoping Document, DFG says that they intend to use the existing moratorium (on suction dredging) to create a baseline of “no dredging activity” in order to gauge the importance of any potential impacts.

Everything leading up to this process (years of legal wrangling) resulted in several court decisions and Settlement Agreements whereby DFG pledged to perform the EIR specifically for the purpose of determining if existing suction dredging regulations have been providing adequate protection for fish. The moratorium has stopped existing dredging activity only until existing regulations are re-evaluated. More than 2,500 suction dredge permits were issued by California during our 2009 season. But DFG has decided to create a baseline in the EIR to evaluate all of the potential impacts against zero activity, choosing to completely ignore the existence of our $60million annual business! We have had a viable suction dredge industry in California for the past 30 years. Now DFG is going to try and evaluate future impacts against a baseline of zero?

Do you guys get the idea that the State of California is deliberately trying to kill off its own private business, or is it just me?

We felt this issue was so important, and because there are serious legal implications, we paid our attorneys to author comments on our behalf concerning this particular issue.

Another major problem in the Scoping Document was in the way DFG has projected volumes of streambed which are processed by suction dredgers. Basically, they took the volume capacities advertised by the dredge manufacturers and multiplied those by an average number of hours per day, multiplied by so many days per week, multiplied by the number of permits they sold in 2008. You guys get the idea? DFG thinks we just go down and suck up sediments which mostly just pass through a suction nozzle! They have no idea that we are taking apart compacted streambeds in which 85% of the material must be moved out of the excavation by hand (or by power winch in the case of large rocks) because it is too large to pass through the nozzle.

This is proof-positive that the people who are spending $1.5 million performing this Environmental Impact Report on suction dredging have no direct experience of their own with the activity! No wonder California is bankrupt!

Since projected volume capacities are what DFG will use to place a negative value upon the potential impacts from suction dredges, and their estimates are many magnitudes greater than what really happens in dredging, I personally devoted some substantial work into comments on this subject.

We also made comments on other very important issues. For example, the Scoping Document seems to indicate that DFG is going to completely ignore all of the biological discussions and conclusions which evolved from the EIR which we worked so hard to complete in 1994. So, contrary to their promises in Court, rather than take a hard look at the well-established, earlier biological conclusions to see if they are providing adequate protection for fish, it appears that DFG now intends to scrap all the earlier work and begin the entire biological discussion over again from scratch. Here are our initial comments about that.

On top of that, despite repeated formal Declarations to the courts and California legislature that they have new data which suggests harm to fish, we cannot find anything new in the Scoping Document. It looks to us like they just want to rework all the same old arguments, once again.

DFG concerns over mercury are the exception to my statement in the paragraph above. This all stems from a study which the State performed several years ago where they proved that a standard suction dredge recovered 98% of the mercury which they sucked up out of an established mercury hot spot (there were visible pools of mercury on the bedrock). Of course, little or no credit is given to the 98% clean-up rate. All of the attention is on the 2% loss of mercury in the tailings. This is not mercury the dredgers put into the stream, have you; the mercury was already in the stream. The State’s argument is that because the dredge sucked it up in the first place, it is a water quality violation to discard any mercury back into the waterway. Leave it to the State to decide that it is better to not remove 98% of the mercury which dredgers rarely encounter!

Environmentalists argue that because a suction dredge only recovered 98% of the mercury out of an established waste site, all suction dredging should be stopped across the entire state! We submitted comments on this from myself and also from some other specialists in this field.

We also felt it important to comment on the continuous misuse of the term “recreational” in relation to mineral exploration and mining activity. It is common for State officials to confuse small-scale gold exploration activities as just another recreation, no different than any other. Federal law provides every American the right to search for minerals on any level which you choose to – and to claim valuable deposits which you find on the public lands. Whether or not you are enjoying the activity has nothing to do with it. Even a total anti-mining activist has the right to claim a valuable deposit if he stumbles upon one. But he or she would argue that you don’t have the right simply because you are enjoying the activity? Give me a break!

I encourage you to take the time to read our comments if you can find the time.

We have done our best to set the record right. Now we will wait and see how seriously DFG will entertain our comments. The more seriously they treat them now, the less of a battle we will have later if they decide to just skip over them as unimportant.

The purpose of the CEQA process is to get at the truth. But we have seen time and time again (nearly every time) where truth and justice has not been part of the State process, so we will have to remain vigilant.

A draft EIR is the next step in the process. We can expect to see that during this next summer or fall (2010). That will be followed by another opportunity for public input. A final EIR is not expected until spring 2011 at the earliest.

Completing the Administrative process is the one thing that surely is going to get dredgers back in the California waterways. We are right on top of this.

 

 

“We must kill SB 670!”

Senate Bill 670 (anti suction dredging legislation) will come up for a vote on Tuesday, June 16th in the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee.

Our lobbyists are asking our supporters to send as many emails as possible to the following 13 Committee Members before Tuesday of next week.

Even though you may get auto-return email messages from some of the Committee Members stating that they don’t normally respond to messages from outside their districts, our lobbyists say that your messages will still get through.

Please put the following phrase in the subject line of your emails:

Please vote “No” on SB 670!

Here are some talking points which you can cut & paste for your own fax message or email.

California Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee:

Asm. Jared Huffman (D) [Chair] San Rafael
Assemblymember.huffman@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Jean Fuller (R) [Vice-Chair] Bakersfield
Assemblymember.fuller@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Joel Anderson (R) San Diego
Assemblymember.anderson@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Juan Arambula (D) Fresno
Assemblymember.arambula@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Tom Berryhill (R) Modesto
Assemblymember.berryhill@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Bob Blumenfield (D) Van Nuys
Assemblymember..blumenfield@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Anna Caballero (D) Salinas
Assemblymember.caballero@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Nathan Fletcher (R) San Diego
Assemblymember.fletcher@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Paul Krekorian (D) Glendale
Assemblymember.krekorian@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Bonnie Lowenthal (D) Long Beach
Assemblymember.lowenthal@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. John A. Perez (D) Los Angeles
assemblymember.john.perez@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Mary Salas (D) Chula Vista
Assemblymember.salas@assembly.ca.gov

Asm. Mariko Yamada (D) Vacaville
Assemblymember.yamada@assembly.ca.gov

PLEASE REMEMBER: you must include your name and address on any message you send.

The New 49’ers27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039 (530) 493-2012

www.goldgold.com

 
Dave Mack

“Assembly Bill 1032 is a bill that is intended to modify Section 5353 of the California Fish & Game Code to prevent or curtail suction dredging on numerous waterways within California.”

 
Dave Mack

We need You to Comment on DFG’s Proposed Dredge Regulations in California!

Please make a donation to our legal Fund.

The California Department of Fish & Game (DFG) released its long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIR) and Proposed new Suction Dredging Regulations just as we were putting out our March newsletter. These, along with other information, can be found at DFG’s web site.

Now it is time for all of us to follow up with written comments. The deadline for public comment has been extended to 10 May 2011. Written comments should 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: dfgsuctiondredge@dfg.ca.gov.

Brief Analysis of Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR): I personally invested a healthy portion of the last month reviewing the massive SEIR and relevant portions of the California Fish & Game Code, the Resources Code and the Government Code. With the collaborative efforts of our staff and numerous responsible members that also have substantial experience in dredging matters, I have authored 38 pages of comments on behalf of The New 49’ers. This very comprehensive response can be found here in a format which allows text to be copied & pasted to help with your own written comments.

The naked truth is that DFG is attempting to impose substantial additional restrictions upon our existing suction dredge regulations (adopted in 1994). They are not doing this by providing any evidence in the SEIR that a single fish has ever been harmed by suction dredgers; but by adopting an entirely new baseline to which the affects of suction dredging are being measured.

During 1994, the impacts of suction dredging were measured against the baseline of ongoing dredging activity dating back to the 1960’s. But this Subsequent EIR is measuring the effects of suction dredging to a new arbitrary baseline of “no dredging activity” in order to make them appear to be substantial. This is because of the existing moratorium on suction dredging, according to the SEIR. But the moratorium was Ordered because DFG made Declarations in recent litigation that they had evidence to show a potential deleterious impact upon fish from ongoing dredging activity under the 1994 regulations. However, DFG’s “evidence of harm” has not materialized in their SEIR. Rather, they have decided to reevaluate all of the previous information (that was addressed in the 1994 EIR) against a “no dredging” baseline.

As if that is not bad enough; DFG has even taken it a step further in this SEIR by evaluating the negative economic and social consequences resulting from drastic reductions in our existing regulations as a “beneficial impact upon mineral development and economics.” The truth is that the burdensome additional restrictions they seek to impose upon us would eliminate dredging (in places where existing regulations allow it) across vast areas of California, and would reduce nozzle sizes along the remaining open areas to the point where it will be difficult to make money with a suction dredge. This will undermine millions of dollars worth of property values and, to a large degree, undermine dredge-mining as a small business activity in California. But rather than acknowledge the real consequences, this SEIR is measuring the economic impacts against an arbitrary “no dredging” baseline and making the case that lifting the moratorium would be a positive gain!

There are numerous mandates from the California legislature which require state agencies to measure real environmental impacts against the cost to Americans of implementing more restrictive regulations, especially upon small business. My own impression is that DFG officials have made a deliberate and underhanded attempt to corrupt this process. If you take the time to read my formal comments, I believe all of you will agree with my assessment.

It is a real awakening to discover that some government agencies are actively working to subvert the legal processes which they are supposed to follow, all in an attempt to eliminate economic opportunity that belongs to the public which they are supposed to serve.

Because DFG has overreached their legal authority with this SEIR, we have an excellent opportunity to push them back where they belong. But we are all going to have to help with this, because California is larger than Oregon and therefore requires a stronger push. It is not enough that we have figured out what is wrong with the SEIR and Proposed Regulations. We also need to generate a very loud cumulative objection! That’s where you guys come in.

Here is a sample letter or email which provides our main talking points. The addresses where the comments should be sent are at the top. It is better if you cut and paste from my sample to create your own comments, because form-comments are not as effective. However, if you are not able to do your own, you should at least add a date and send the form-comments in with your signature and address. This is a lot better than doing nothing at all. It proves that you are concerned!

It looks like we will be dredging again in California at the beginning of the 2012 season. As we will be held to the Final EIR and regulations that come out of the ongoing process, we should all work hard to make it come out as best we can right now!

Our Legal Fund Needs Your Help, Again!

All of this legal and political activity has been placing a substantial strain on our legal resources. So 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!

Make a Donation

The New 49’ers27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039 (530) 493-2012

www.goldgold.com

 

Please take a moment to contact the five Senators below…

Please make a donation to our legal Fund.

Oregon State Senators Atkinson, Haas and Bates have introduced SB 765, which would tax suction gold dredgers by charging a $50 annual fee for in-state dredgers and a whopping $2,500 fee for out-of-state dredgers for each county where the miner intends to dredge.

Under emergency status, this bill is now moving on fast-track through the Oregon legislative process. If passed, these unreasonable fees could be in affect for the upcoming season!

Please take a moment to contact the five Senators below to express your disapproval of this bill and remind them of the contributions miners make to the state economy.

Here is the email that we sent, individually directed to each of the Senators. Copy and paste as you see fit. We suggest it is wise to include your full name and address on your email.

Important: Please include that you would like your comments placed in the file regarding SB 765. Remember that you are exercising your right to voice your opposition to these elected officials, and they are charged with reviewing the bills brought before them-please be civil and polite. Just let them know that you oppose SB765, and you want to make sure your voice is counted on the record! The bill is presently in the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee. You should direct your comments to the following 5 senators quickly, before the bill moves on:

Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee
1 – Chair
Senator Floyd Prozanski (D)
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4
sen.floydprozanski@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1704
District # (541) 342-2447

2 – Co-Chair
Senator Jeff Kruse (R)
Roseburg
District 1
sen.jeffkruse@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1701
District # (541) 580-3276

3 – Committee Member
Senator Doug Whitsett (R)
Klamath Falls
District 28
sen.dougwhitsett@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1728
District # (541) 883-4006

4 – Committee Member
Senator Suzanne Bonamici (D)
Portland/Beaverton
District 17
sen.suzannebonamici@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1717
District # (503) 627-0246

5 – Committee Member
Senator Jackie Dingfelder (D)
Portland
District 23
sen.jackiedingfelder@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1723
District # (503) 493-2804

Thank you!

Dave McCracken,
President, New 49’er Prospecting Association

The New 49’ers27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039 (530) 493-2012

www.goldgold.com

 

Please take a moment to contact the five Senators below…

Please make a donation to our legal Fund.

Oregon State Senators Atkinson, Haas and Bates have introduced SB 765, which would tax suction gold dredgers by charging a $50 annual fee for in-state dredgers and a whopping $2,500 fee for out-of-state dredgers for each county where the miner intends to dredge.

Under emergency status, this bill is now moving on fast-track through the Oregon legislative process. If passed, these unreasonable fees could be in affect for the upcoming season!

Please take a moment to contact the five Senators below to express your disapproval of this bill and remind them of the contributions miners make to the state economy.

Here is the email that we sent, individually directed to each of the Senators. Copy and paste as you see fit. We suggest it is wise to include your full name and address on your email.

Important: Please include that you would like your comments placed in the file regarding SB 765. Remember that you are exercising your right to voice your opposition to these elected officials, and they are charged with reviewing the bills brought before them-please be civil and polite. Just let them know that you oppose SB765, and you want to make sure your voice is counted on the record! The bill is presently in the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee. You should direct your comments to the following 5 senators quickly, before the bill moves on:

Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee
1 – Chair
Senator Floyd Prozanski (D)
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4
sen.floydprozanski@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1704
District # (541) 342-2447

2 – Co-Chair
Senator Jeff Kruse (R)
Roseburg
District 1
sen.jeffkruse@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1701
District # (541) 580-3276

3 – Committee Member
Senator Doug Whitsett (R)
Klamath Falls
District 28
sen.dougwhitsett@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1728
District # (541) 883-4006

4 – Committee Member
Senator Suzanne Bonamici (D)
Portland/Beaverton
District 17
sen.suzannebonamici@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1717
District # (503) 627-0246

5 – Committee Member
Senator Jackie Dingfelder (D)
Portland
District 23
sen.jackiedingfelder@state.or.us
Capitol # (503) 986-1723
District # (503) 493-2804

Thank you!

Dave McCracken,
President, New 49’er Prospecting Association

The New 49’ers27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039 (530) 493-2012

www.goldgold.com

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