Dave Mack

“We need your help now more than ever…”

Update concerning SB 670

As many of you are already aware, Senate Bill 670 (anti-suction dredging legislation) was overwhelmingly passed by the California Senate several weeks ago, and then received unanimous approval last week in the first Committee within the California Assembly. Our staggering defeats in trying to kill this harmful bill have prompted me to ask our lobbyists to perform a very careful evaluation of our prospects for success in the Assembly and/or with the governor.

Here is what our lobbyists had to say about how things went down last week in the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee. This will give you a good idea of what we are up against. It is not good!

In the event that SB 670 is passed into law (which would likely happen in September or later since California is struggling with crippling budgetary problems), no further suction dredging would be allowed in California’s active waterways until the Department of Fish & Game (DFG) completes an updated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and adopts new or revised suction dredging regulations, if necessary. As this will take some time to complete, our 2010 (and perhaps 2011) season(s) hangs in the balance.

Preliminary research by our attorneys suggests that if SB 670 is passed into law by the State of California this fall, we have a reasonable chance of successfully overcoming it in federal court this winter. Our legal challenge would be based upon a strong legal theory that the State of California does not possess the authority to bypass its own formal administrative process and eliminate our federal mining rights (especially since no evidence has been brought forward that suction dredgers have ever harmed a single fish).

Action Alert

Senate Bill 670 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations committee on July 1. Since we have zero chance of stopping the bill there, our lobbyists are asking us to direct immediate Action towards members of the full California Assembly and the governor, as follows:

1) California residents please send an email to your own Assembly member and Governor Schwarzenegger. Please click here to find the correct email address for your particular Assembly member.

2) Persons residing outside of California please send an email to
Governor Schwarzenegger. (Note: Once you click on the “email” link, after typing in the required details, in the “subject” box click on “Other” at the bottom of the menu options. Then on the final page, click on “Con,” place “SB 670″ in the “Subject” box, and type or paste your message in the “email” box. Please remember to include your name and address at the bottom of your message).

For those of you who prefer to fax Governor Schwarzenegger, the number is: (916) 558-3160 or (916) 327-1009.

Here are some talking points to help you draft your own email in opposition to SB 670.

Please remember: You must include your full name and address on any message that you send to your assembly member or the governor!

Our lobbyists are telling us that volume of messages to these officials are our only remaining chance to kill this harmful bill within the California legislative process. So please spread the word around that we need as much participation as possible right now!

Your Help is also Needed to Support our Legal Fund!

Once again, I want to thank all of you who have responded to our past calls for financial assistance to help pay the specialists we have hired to defend our industry.

I am informed that we have received a May legal billing in the amount of $17,000. Our legal account presently has a balance of $8,266. This leaves us with a deficit of $8,734. While we are making some progress in catching up on past-due legal bills, it would be much better if we could catch completely up during our existing prize drawing which ends on July 4th. That’s just 2 weeks from now! Can you please help a little more?

Here is a link to the prizes included in this latest fundraiser.

In addition to 53 very nice prizes which have been donated by myself and others, we also are expressing big thank you to Jeff Kuykendal at Proline for donating a brand new 3-inch Proline dredge (worth $2,500.00) as our main prize, and to Louie Welding for donating a 2 ½-inch dredge/high-banker combo!

The contributors of these prizes have authorized the girls in our office to print a ticket on your behalf for each $10 contribution that we receive from you ($100 contribution will generate10 tickets, etc.). This prize drawing will take place on 4 July, 2009. There is no limit to the number of tickets you can accumulate, or the number of prizes that you can win in this drawing.

Any funds that are received after the drawing takes place on July 4th will be issued drawing tickets in our next prize drawing.

Our girls are automatically issuing drawing tickets to every legal contribution that we receive from any of multiple ways of sending money. You can make legal contributions by calling into the office at 530 493-2012. You can mail a check to The New 49’er legal fund, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039. Or you can also use a credit or debit card by using our new (secure) on-line form which can be found here:

Make a Donation

Thanks very much for whatever you can do!

Dave McCracken, President
New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association

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

www.goldgold.com

 

(Name and address of assembly person)

Please Oppose Assembly Bill 1032

This is not the same bill that you voted for before on the Assembly Floor. AB 1032 has been amended so many times in so many different ways that it seems it is designed to confuse the Legislature!

The bill closes California rivers and streams to suction dredge gold mining without any environmental review or public process!

The closures in the bill are based upon the “opinions” of two Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists in a recent court case. The judge did not accept these “opinions,” ruling that DFG must do a fair and honest environmental review prior to implementing any closures.

AB 1032 closes rivers and streams before any review is done.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that suction dredge gold mining causes no harm to fish when the activity is done within existing California regulations. Suction dredge gold mining is already heavily regulated. It is limited to only 2-3 months per year on most waterways.

AB 1032 closes many waterways all year round without providing any biological justification.

Many suction dredge gold miners possess federal mining claims. Others own private property along these waterways. These are real property rights which belong to thousands of Americans. By closing the rivers year round, the state will in effect “take” these property rights from the property owners.

AB 1032 will destroy a vibrant part of California’s ongoing golden heritage, undermine the economies of rural counties and deny citizens pre-existing property rights – all without providing any demonstrable benefit to the public. Passage of AB 1032 will undoubtedly lead to expensive litigation as citizens have their property rights taken from them.

Please vote “No” on this measure when it comes before the California Assembly.

Sincerely,

(Your name and address)

 

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

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

I urge you to veto Assembly Bill 1032 (Wolk) when it comes before you.

Regardless of the recent amendments, this bill should be vetoed for the following reasons:

AB 1032 turns California’s environmental law upside down and denies the average citizen our right of appeal by not requiring any proof of harm or damage to species under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The bill closes California rivers and streams to suction dredge gold mining without any environmental review!

The closures in the bill are based upon the “opinions” of two Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists in a recent court case. The judge did not accept these “opinions,” ruling that DFG must do an environmental review prior to any closures.

AB 1032 closes some rivers to suction dredge gold mining year round and then requires an environmental study will be done on these rivers. How can an effective study even be done if the activity is banned in these rivers?

There are numerous studies which have demonstrated that suction dredge gold mining causes no harm to fish when they are not spawning. Suction dredge gold mining is heavily regulated and limited now to only 2-3 months per year on most waterways within California.

Many suction dredge gold miners have federal mining claims. These are real property rights. By closing rivers year round, the State will in effect “take” these the productive use of these property rights from citizens. There have been numerous Federal and State court cases which have upheld these federal property rights. If it is signed into law, AB 1032 will surely result in more court cases against the State.

The bill will undermine a vibrant part of California history, destroy the economies of rural counties, and deny citizens their property rights – all without providing any demonstrable benefit to the State.

My family, myself and many other ordinary Californians enjoy this activity for both recreation and to make extra money. The allure of this activity is the same as that which brought the 49ers to California during the Gold Rush. It is an important part of California’s heritage.

This is not an inexpensive hobby or avocation. I spend a great deal of money on equipment, lodging and contribute to the economy of mostly rural California. Many visitors come from other states and countries to enjoy this great outdoor activity, all for the possibility of finding gold. If signed into law, AB 1032 would put an end to most of this economic activity in rural California.

Please veto AB 1032.

Sincerely,

(Be sure to include your full address.)

 

Talking points in opposition to AB 1032:

Assembly Bill 1032 has been amended to allow the California Department of Fish & Game (DFG) to arbitrarily close nearly all of California’s waterways to suction dredging. It would be bad policy for California to prevent Americans from making beneficial use of resources which attract visitors to the State, when such activity is not causing any harm!

DFG is clearly attempting to circumvent due process laws regarding the right of the public to notice and hearing which are required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Administrative Procedures Act.

This past year, when DFG attempted to change suction dredge regulations through a court settlement with the Karuk Tribe, Judge Bonnie Sabraw of Alameda Superior Court stated: “The initial Stipulated Judgment would enjoin suction dredge mining altogether in certain areas and during certain periods in others. The closures of the rivers would be generally applicable to all suction dredging while in effect. The injunction would essentially act as promulgation of new regulations on suction dredging, without such regulations being subjected, as required by law, to the public notice and hearing requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Administrative Procedures Act.” She further stated that, “The intervener Miners had sought discovery of the expert witnesses of Plaintiffs and of the facts on which the experts based their opinion. Plaintiffs and Department sought Protective Orders enjoining the discovery“. 

Miners are not unreasonable people. We have only asked for proof that small scale suction dredging is causing any problems to fishery resources. None were forthcoming from DFG, and they continue to refuse disclosure of any evidence that suction dredging under existing regulations is harmful to fish!

Results from scientific investigations, presented within the Environmental Impact Reports, prepared by the State of California, Clearwater National Forest and Siskiyou National Forest, provide substantial evidence to support the determination that small-scale suction dredging is de minimis and impacts from these dredges are less than significant.” These documents are the culmination of literature searches for scientific evidence regarding the impacts of small-scale suction dredging on the environment and consultations with stakeholders and concerned citizens.

The Siskiyou National Forest engaged Dr. Peter B. Bayley, Dept. Fisheries & Wildlife, Oregon State University, to conduct a “Cumulative Effects Analysis” on the effects of suction dredging forest-wide. Dr. Bayley concluded: “The statistical analyses did not indicate that suction dredge mining has no effect on the three responses measured, but rather any effect that may exist could not be detected at the commonly used Type I error rate of 0.05.” (In other words, if there is an effect, it’s so small they can’t measure it.) He further stated that “The reader is reminded of the effect of scale. Localized, short-term effects of suction dredge mining have been documented in a qualitative sense. However, on the scales occupied by fish populations such local disturbances would need a strong cumulative intensity of many operations to have a measurable effect.” He summarized his study by stating that, “Given that this analysis could not detect an effect averaged over good and bad miners and that a more powerful study would be very expensive, it would seem that public money would be better spent on encouraging compliance with current guidelines than on further study.”

The small-scale mining community is entirely prepared to meet our adversaries in a fair public process of debate concerning the impacts from our activity. That is the forum which is provided by CEQA under the existing laws. But we strongly object to what is being attempted through AB 1032, which is to allow DFG the authority to shut us down with no due process whatsoever!

 
Dave Mack

“We need your help now more than ever…”

Update concerning SB 670

As many of you are already aware, Senate Bill 670 (anti-suction dredging legislation) was overwhelmingly passed by the California Senate several days ago. The bill will now go to the California Assembly. Our staggering defeat in the Senate has our lobbyists in a full regroup mode, and I have asked them to perform a very careful evaluation of our prospects for success in the Assembly. This, so that we can decide if we still have a reasonable chance of killing this harmful bill there, or will only be wasting our time and limited resources.

If SB 670 passes in the Assembly, we will have one remaining opportunity to kill the harmful legislation by asking governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto the bill.

In the event that SB 670 is passed into law (would likely happen in September or later since California is struggling with crippling budgetary problems), no further suction dredging would be allowed in California’s active waterways until the Department of Fish & Game (DFG) completes an updated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and adopts new or revised suction dredging regulations if necessary. As this will take some time to complete, our 2010 (and perhaps 2011) season(s) hangs in the balance.

Since our financial resources are limited, and because we are up against what appears to be overwhelming support for the legislation, we need to carefully weigh our prospects for success (at killing the legislation) with perhaps a more effective solution of challenging the new law (once passed) in federal court based upon a strong legal theory that the State of California does not possess the authority to bypass its own Formal Administrative Process and eliminate our federal mining rights (especially since no evidence has been brought forward that suction dredgers have ever harmed a single fish).

To help you become more informed of ongoing developments, I have asked our lobbyists to provide an Update Memo.

Update Concerning Ongoing Litigation

All of this recent legislative activity (which will affect future dredging seasons) is happening under the darker cloud of ongoing litigation against suction dredging (which could have an impact upon our present season) in California. This is taking place in Alameda Superior Court (San Francisco Bay area).

Our adversaries recently filed a Motion with the Court for Injunctive Relief. They are asking the Court to prevent the Department of Fish & Game “from spending any funds allocated from the State of California’s General Fund on any activities which allow suction dredging to occur under the Department’s current regulations.”

Here follow the important moving Documents our adversaries have filed in support of this Motion:

Now; here follow our key responsive documents to the Motion for Injunctive Relief:

For those of you who have the time to review these documents, I believe you will understand and agree why I keep repeating that we have hired the best legal representation that money can buy! We are sooooo lucky to have James Buchal on our side!

While nobody can predict what a judge will do, I can tell you with complete certainty that we as an industry have done our absolute best at defending the rights of small-scale gold miners. We could not do it any better than we have!

There has been an enormous amount of legal activity during the past month, of which the briefs listed above are just a few. Basically, our adversaries are wasting no effort in an attempt to take away our mining rights without having to show that we have ever harmed a single fish!

Rather than go into all the details here, I have asked James Buchal to provide you with a short Litigation Summary from his own perspective.

Mr. Buchal’s opening statement about “fast and furious developments” in the litigation is truly an understatement. Since my job is to manage the ongoing legal defense and political activity on your behalf, I make it a personal responsibility to read all of the legal briefs and provide technical support and encouragement to the specialists who we are paying to defend our industry. And let me just tell you that we are really up against an awesome opposing force within the litigation. It is all I can do to keep up with the ongoing exchange of legal briefs and telephonic hearings!

In fact, there has been so much activity during recent weeks, our attorney was forced to devote an entire sleepless night just to meet filing deadlines with the Court on one round of opposing briefs. The Litigation Summary provided above was sent to me at 4 am on Saturday morning on Memorial Day weekend! We certainly have the right kind of guys on our side!

While the opposing briefs are ongoing, for our part, we will just have to see where the chips fall on June 9th. And then we will pick up from there and move forward as necessary. I’m sure you guys and gals will all stay tuned in!

Yes, I know there will be a million questions about what the Proposed Order means. And I can tell you with certainty that your guess would be as good as mine or anyone else’s at the moment, including the attorneys who are involved.

On legal matters such as these, I suggest that each of us must make our own individual choices. For me, since DFG is presently selling 2009 suction dredge permits (at least until 9 June), and they have already made a Formal Decision that they have no valid environmental justification to enact Emergency Regulations to stop suction dredging, I have already bought my own 2009 permit — and I fully intend to dredge this summer. It doesn’t sound like anything in this Motion will attempt to prevent me (or you) from doing that.

Our Next Moves

If the Motion for Injunctive Relief is granted by the Court, this would be one more reason for us to conserve our resources, cut our losses in the California legislature, and ask our attorneys to challenge California’s authority (in federal court) to bypass its own Formal Administrative Process and take away our federally-protected mining rights.

Therefore, we are in a holding pattern at the moment until we see what the Alameda Superior Court will decide in less than two weeks. This will allow our lobbyists time to survey our supporters in the California Assembly and provide us with a reality check on our chances of overcoming SB 670 through further political action.

Your Help is Needed Now to Support our Legal Fund!

I want to thank all of you who have responded to our past calls for financial assistance to help pay the specialists we have hired to defend our industry. Your help has pretty-much allowed us to stay even (until now) with the increased costs associated with all this additional legal and political activity.

However, I am informed that we just received an April legal billing in the amount of $13,433.50. On top of that, Mr. Buchal told me a few days ago that we should plan on his May billing to be more than April. June is also going to be high, because that’s when Mr. Buchal will need to attend at least one important hearing in Alameda Superior Court (June 9th).

Before you get your hackles up, I want to let you know that Mr. Buchal bills us at a reduced rate, and he does not charge us for all of his time. The existing situation has been taking up nearly all of his productive time. The value of his time billed through nearly any other law firm would cost so much that we would be forced out of the game!

Adding $3,000 for May lobbying expenses to James’ $13,433.50 for April creates a $17,433.50 outstanding liability to our legal fund — which presently has a balance of $ 4,276.98. This leaves us with a deficit of $13,156.52 with another legal billing on its way in just a few days.

This is an emergency!

We are fighting the biggest, hardest battles our industry has ever faced right now. You guys have always been there to help in the past. We need you more than ever right now!

Because our need to raise funds is immediate, once again, we have our ever-vigilant member, Jim Yerby, to thank for organizing yet another set of very valuable prizes for a prize drawing – which is already in progress. In addition to 53 very nice prizes which have been donated by others, we also are expressing big thank you to Jeff Kuykendal at Proline for donating a brand new 3-inch Proline dredge (worth $2,500.00) as our main prize, and to Louie Welding for donating a 2 ½-inch dredge/high-banker combo!

If anyone would like to contribute a prize towards our legal and political fundraising, please contact Jim at grizzwag@charter.net. What do you have that might be a good prize in our fund-raising?

Here is a link to the prizes included in this latest fundraiser.

The contributors of these prizes have authorized the girls in our office to print a ticket on your behalf for each $10 contribution that we receive from you ($100 contribution will generate10 tickets, etc.). This prize drawing will take place on 4 July, 2009. That is only about a month away! There is no limit to the number of tickets you can accumulate, or the number of prizes that you can win in this drawing.

Our girls are automatically issuing drawing tickets to every legal contribution that we receive from any of multiple ways of sending money. You can make legal contributions by calling into the office at 530 493-2012. You can mail a check to The New 49’er legal fund, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039. Or you can also use a credit or debit card by using our new (secure) on-line form which can be found here:

Make a Donation

We need your help on this more than ever!

Thanks very much for whatever you can do!

Dave McCracken, President
New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association

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

www.goldgold.com

 
Dave Mack

“This is our last chance to kill Assembly Bill 1032!”

Dear Fellow Gold Prospector,

Assembly Bill 1032 has passed through the California legislature and is now on its way to the governor for his signature.

We need your help right now in sending a letter, fax or email to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, asking him to please veto this harmful bill.

In case you are not aware, AB 1032 is a bill that is intended to modify Section 5353 of the California Fish & Game Code to allow the Department of Fish & Game to arbitrarily close and/or curtail suction dredge activity along numerous waterways in California.

We must either kill this bill right now, or we will all suffer the consequences later!

Here is a ready-made message (email, fax or letter) in opposition to AB 1032. It is better if you just use this sample to write your own message. But if you do not have time to do that, please at least copy the text from our sample message over to create your own fax, letter or email to the Governor.

If you don’t know how to copy and paste material off the Internet, please click here.

To make certain your message actually makes it to the Governor’s desk, our lobbyists are asking that you direct them to one of the following addresses:

Pete Conaty & Associates
1107 9th Street, Suite 530
Sacramento, CA 95814

Or Fax your message to: (916) 492-8957

Or email your message to: pconaty@sbcglobal.net

Our lobbyists will make certain that your message is hand delivered to the Governor’s office!
Important:
Even though you send your message to our lobbyists, the heading of the message should be addresses to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as shown in our sample message.

This is our last chance; please help us kill this bill right now!

Very important: You must include your own return postal address on whatever letter, fax or email that you send to the Governor. That is the only way that he can recognize and weigh the importance of your communication!

Thank you very much for your help in this very important matter!

Dave McCracken

 

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

www.goldgold.com

 
Dave Mack

“We must kill Assembly Bill 1032!”

 

Dear Fellow Prospector,

Assembly Bill 1032 is now in the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee, where our lobbyists are telling us will be the best opportunity we will ever have to kill it.

In case you are not aware, AB 1032 is a bill that is intended to modify Section 5353 of the California Fish & Game Code to allow the Department of Fish & Game to arbitrarily list any (or nearly all) waterways within the State to be closed to suction dredging – without any public involvement whatsoever!

We must either kill this bill now, or we will all suffer the consequences later!

To help us try and kill this bill right now, we are asking that you please send an email to the Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee without delay.

Here is a ready-made letter in opposition to AB 1032. It is better if you just use this sample to write your own letter. Here are some talking points to help you draft your own letters or faxes. Feel free to copy those sections which give support to the arguments which you personally want to make. It is good if you make your own arguments, and then copy over the citations which reinforce your position. This way, everyone is not just sending in the very same message!

The citations in the talking points will carry weight, because they originate from published results. If you don’t know how to copy and paste material off the Internet, please click here.

But at the very least, please copy the text from this sample letter to the following:

The Honorable Darrell Steinberg
State Capitol, Room 4035
Sacramento, CA 95814
Email: patricia.hanson@sen.ca.gov
CC: Steve.McCarthy@sen.ca.gov, Phil.Nails@asm.ca.gov, pconaty@sbcglobal.net

The Natural Resources & Water Committee will hold a hearing and vote on this bill on July 10th. So it is important that you email your comments to the Senator listed above as soon as possible!

Very important: You must include your own return postal address on whatever letter or fax that you send to these senators. That is the only way they can recognize and weigh the importance of your communication!

Please help us kill this bill!

Very important: You must include your own return postal address on whatever letter or fax that you send to these senators. That is the only way they can recognize and weigh the importance of your communication!

Thank you very much for your help in this very important matter!

Dave McCracken

 

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

www.goldgold.com

 

SECOND QUARTER, June, 2006 VOLUME 20, NUMBER 6

By Dave McCracken General manager

Dave Mack

Today (June 16th), Alameda Superior Court Judge Sabraw issued a written Order denying Motions from both the Karuk Tribe and Department of Fish & Game (DFG) to enter a Judgment affirming the Stipulated Agreement which would have shortened or eliminated important suction dredge seasons in Siskiyou County, California!

We have devoted a special page to this litigation that can be found on our web site.

Judge Sabraw’s written Decision found that “…the Stipulated Judgment proposed by the Plaintiff and Department is contrary to law and public policy, and denies the motion on those grounds as well.” The Judge’s Decision accepted important arguments made by our attorneys,ruling that “The injunction would essentially operate as promulgation of new regulations on suction dredging, without such regulations having been subjected, as required by law, to the public notice and hearing requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Administrative Procedures Act.”

According to Department of Fish & Game (DFG) officials in both the Redding and Eureka offices earlier this week, DFG had not intended to enforce the 2006 amended suction dredge regulations upon gold dredgers this season unless the judge endorsed their Stipulated Agreement.

DFG wardens have been telling dredgers along the Scott and Klamath Rivers during this past week that they may dredge according to the original 2005 dredge regulations, as long as they possess a valid 2006 dredging permit. Several people are already dredging. The wardens have checked them for 2006 permits, and have told them they would be allowed 24 hours to conform to the amended regulations in the event that the judge endorsed them. As the Judge has decided that the Stipulated Agreement was contrary to law, we are assuming that the amended regulations are now void. Our attorneys will be contacting DFG attorneys early next week about withdrawing the amended regulations altogether to avoid further confusion.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to this magnificent effort. Together, we have won another very important victory! We should all pause for a moment and take a deep breath. Whew!

Our attorneys did a really good job on this. But it never would have happened without all the help that we received from you guys (and gals) and multiple other prospecting organizations who have contributed to the effort!

Hooray for our side!

It looks to me like we are going to have a great season!

Dave McCracken
General Manager

 

 

FIRST QUARTER, JANUARY, 2007 VOLUME 21, NUMBER 1
By Dave McCracken General Manager

 

 

On December 20th, Alameda Superior Court Judge Bonnie L. Sabraw signed an Order and Consent Judgment which has effectively put an end to the Karuk/DFG litigation which was challenging California’s existing suction dredge regulations.

Consistent with all of the arguments which the mining community has been making, this Final Order makes it clear to everyone that the only way our regulations can be changed is through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

During this litigation, which has been ongoing for about 18 months, both the Karuk Tribe of California and the California Department of Fish & Game (DFG) have attempted to bypass all of the State’s legal obligations under the Administrative Procedures Act by asking Judge Sabraw to endorse a Stipulated Agreement which they made between themselves in secret, to enforce stricter regulations upon suction dredgers. This, without ever having to justify the changes to anyone, including the judge.

Their argument was basically that the State was not required to follow its own mandated administrative obligations to the public, because the changes were being made to our regulations as a result of ongoing litigation. Consistent with our arguments, several months ago, Judge Sabraw ruled that DFG broke the law by attempting to modify our regulations as the result of an Agreement between themselves and the Karuk Tribe. That was a big win for us.

Then, as a result of Judge Sabraw’s Ruling, DFG changed its tactics and filed a Declaration to the Court stating that they now believe suction dredging under existing regulations is harmful to coho salmon (which is listed as threatened in California). Prior to this, DFG’s position in the litigation was that dredging is not harmful to fish!

Still refusing to present any showing of proof to support their new Declaration of “harm,” DFG and the Karuks asked the Judge Sabraw to accept their internal (informal) finding of harm (to coho salmon) and impose further restrictions upon suction dredgers through an injunction. Our attorneys argued strongly that no determination of “harm” to coho could be made formal without a full CEQA process, or at least a contested hearing within the litigation whereby proof could be presented and properly challenged. The judge ultimately agreed, saying that she would not endorse a determination of harm unless there was a proper hearing where the evidence could be carefully examined and properly weighed. That effectively put an end to the litigation, because it was clear that DFG is not prepared to present evidence within a formal proceeding to prove suction dredging is harmful to coho salmon.

The result of all this is the judge’s Order and Consent Judgment which has been signed by all parties who have been involved with the litigation. This Order basically says:

(1) New information available to DFG suggests that suction dredging under existing regulations could be harmful to coho Salmon.

(2) The mining community disagrees that there is any harm.

(3) Therefore, DFG is Ordered to conduct further environmental analysis pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and modify the regulations, only if necessary, through California’s lawful administrative process.

(4) DFG is allowed 18 months to complete any necessary CEQA process.

(5) The motion for injunctive relief (request for the Court to endorse more restrictive regulations upon us) has been withdrawn.

(6) Judge Sabraw will retain jurisdiction over the matter.

Basically, the Order puts an end to this litigation, confirming arguments from the mining community that our regulations can only be changed through California’s formal administrative procedures – which require a substantial showing of proof, with mitigation measures (changed regulations, if any) which would be the least-restrictive upon suction dredge miners.

Therefore, unless the State intends to implement emergency regulations under CEQA, (which requires a substantial showing of proof), we should not see any changes to the 2007 California dredging regulations.

Here is one more litigation-challenge that we can put behind us. Whew!!

We should all pat ourselves on the back for another job very well done!

For those who are interested, we have devoted a special page to this litigation on our web site which includes all of the key documents along with explanations.

While we should allow ourselves a pat on the back, we should also immediately begin preparing ourselves for the upcoming administrative process. We went through the whole process during the mid-1990’s, when DFG began (as they are doing here) with a preconceived decision that suction dredgers were harming fish. Ultimately, we were able to bring them around; because the formal Administrative process requires the State to address all evidence using good science, place potential harm in perspective to the real world, and adopt solutions (if any are even necessary) which are least-restrictive to the people who will be affected. Bad decisions and/or arbitrary and capricious determinations can be (will be) challenged in Court.

Knowing that both the miners and the Karuks will be standing by with our attorneys ready to challenge any miss-step in the process, I predict that DFG will eventually work out findings and determinations that are based upon the best (defendable) science available. That’s what happened in the mid-90’s.

I personally am feeling hopeful, that as long as we maintain united within our industry and generate enough financial support for the ongoing process (attorneys and expert witnesses for our side), we will come out of this in pretty good shape, with unshakable suction dredge regulations in California that should last us another 10 years or so.

Good for our side!

At present, we are $2,000 in arrears to our attorneys. They have won another case for us. In turn, we need to bring our accounts up to date and move forward. With this in mind, I am requesting a $10 donation from each of you that is able to contribute. Can you please help? Contributions can be made to The New 49’ers Legal Fund, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039.

New 49er’s Legal Fund

What should we do with our Lower Salmon River Claims?

Because of the politics associated with our mining claims along the lower Salmon and Klamath Rivers, I am starting to wonder if we might be better off to let these claims go, and pick up more properties in other areas which are more user-friendly to our organization.

The claims I am referring to are as follows:

Lower Salmon River: SA-1, SA-2, SA-2A, SA-3, & SA-4

Lower Klamath River: LK-1

These properties all exist within the Ukonom US Forest Service (USFS) Ranger District in Orleans, California, about 60 miles downstream on the Klamath River from Happy Camp.

While we have tried our best to accommodate all of the concerns expressed by the Karuk Tribe and others, there remain too many issues along each of these claims for us to put a group-organized program in place for motorized mining activity. That is, without having to make so many concessions that members would end up with less mining opportunity than existing laws and regulations already provide to independent miners within the same areas.

Since this is unacceptable, for the past few years, we have been allowing members the freedom to negotiate your own arrangements with the Forest Service for ongoing prospecting activity along these particular claims.

While the Orleans Ranger District has acknowledged that a limited amount of individual suction dredging, sluicing and high-banking activities on these claims do not create enough surface disturbance to require a formal Operating Plan, they decided two years ago that they would not allow a sizable organization such as ours to formally operate there without a full environmental analysis that would take years and years to complete, if ever. My best guess is that this policy will never change. So these claims on the lower Salmon and Klamath Rivers seem better-suited to individual miners (that nobody seems to mind), rather than a large organization of miners such as ours.

All of our other mining properties (60+ miles) are located within other ranger districts where the USFS allows us to operate under a group-organized program. We manage the activity internally so that our accumulated activity never exceeds agreed-upon limits – such as no more than 10 dredges per mile along the mid and upper Klamath River. Under these group-organized programs, individual members are allowed to do your normal small-scale prospecting activity ( dredging, sluicing & high-banking, panning, electronic prospecting, camping, etc) without being required to make personal contact with the authorities. That is a very good situation for you, which exists on nearly all of our mining properties. It is only the Ukonom Ranger District (Lower Klamath and Salmon Rivers) that does not agree with this management approach.

While a few of our members have worked things out on their own with the Ukonom Ranger District and mined along these claims during the past 2 years, the vast majority of our members have chosen to avoid the hassles of dealing directly with the authorities, and have chosen to prospect and mine on our 60+ miles of other properties.

We only have a few members doing anything with the lower Salmon and Klamath properties. This seems pretty wasteful of our resources.

I’ll tell you right off that these are very valuable mining claims. They cost us a lot of money in the first place, and they are also expensive to maintain each year. Because of this, I am starting to wonder if we might be better-off getting our money back out of them and reinvest ourselves into rich mining properties that are located in other areas which are more user-friendly to our group-managed program.

As an example, we have acquired multiple very rich mining properties along the upper Klamath River during the past 2 years, where members can just show up and go mining without having to worry about negotiating with the government (we do that on your behalf). I see some opportunity for more expansion into this new area and others. In fact, we will already be opening up a new property along the upper Klamath this season.

As I do not see the management-situation on the lower Salmon and Klamath Rivers changing for the foreseeable future, I would like to hear from the membership how you feel about the idea of our selling-off those lower claims to individuals (who will not have much of a problem working-out a mining program with the USFS), and directing our property expansion into other areas which are more friendly towards a group program such as ours?

I don’t want to move forward with a sales program of this magnitude without first getting an idea of how many active members would object. Please email your comments directly to me or send them in the mail to Dave Mack, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039. I ask you to please direct your comments to me on this one, because the girls in our office or others on the various communication forums are not directly involved with this important policy decision. I am the one that needs to hear from you. I will make a decision based upon the communication that I receive.

Winter Schedule

We are planning to operate a booth at the following (weekend) gold Shows this upcoming winter and spring:

January 19- 22: GPAA Show in Primm, Nevada

February 3 & 4: GPAA Show in Mesa, Arizona

February 17 & 18: GPAA Show Lancaster, California

February 24 & 25: WPMA Show Monroe, Washington

March 24 & 25: GPAA Show in Redding, California

March 31 & April 1: GPAA Show in Salem, Oregon

April 28 & 29: GPAA Show in Salt Lake City, Utah

All members are invited and encouraged to participate in our booth at these shows. We have a lot of fun. Doing these shows allows us to share some quality time together outside of Happy Camp. Please contact Montine in our office (530 493-2062) if you will have some time to spend with us in the booth. She will keep track of who will be there so we can plan accordingly.

If you are not able to help us in the booth, please at least stop by and say hello!

2007 Schedule of Group Projects

This season’s week-long projects are filling up fast. If you are interested in participating, I suggest you reserve a spot as soon as possible. This can be done by contacting our office at (530) 493-2012.

Here follows this season’s scheduled events:

Weekend Group Prospecting Programs: June 9 & 10; June 30 & July 1; July 21 & 22; August 11 & 12; September 1 & 2

Special Week-long Group Dredging Projects: July 7 through July 13; July 28 through August 3; August 18 through August 24; September 8 through September 14

Special Week-long Above-water Group Mining Project: June 16 through June 22.

Help Wanted

We need some help with several projects around the office, and are asking for a few handymen (or women) to give us a hand. We are prepared to trade membership (or group project) credit for your participation if you have some time to help us out.

If any of you might have a week or two available anytime this winter or spring, please contact me through the office at (530) 493-2012, or you can email me at dcmccra@attglobal.net.

Thanks for this!

Dave McCracken, General Manager