Dave Mack

“Governor Schwarzenegger needs to hear from us all …”

Senate Bill 670 (anti-suction dredging legislation) was passed by the California Assembly several days ago. It will now reach the governor as soon as tomorrow (13 July). Because this has passed through the legislature as an “urgency bill,” Governor Schwarzenegger will only have 12 days to act on it. He can either sign the bill, or he can send it back to the legislature with a veto.

If he signs the bill, it will immediately become law. The new law would place a moratorium on suction dredging in California until an updated statewide environmental impact is completed concerning the impacts from suction dredging and new regulations are adopted. That is likely to take years.

So, there is a lot at stake right now in California!

What happens with miners in California is likely to follow in the other gold mining states.

We have done our absolute best to stop this bill in the legislature. But the big Indian casino lobby (money) has outmatched us at every turn. This final Action Alert is the last thing I personally can do to stop the bill from becoming law.

Now the fate of SB 670 remains in your hands.

Our lobbyists are telling us that a large volume of messages to Governor Schwarzenegger right now is our last remaining hope of killing this harmful bill. The reason I say “right now,” is because while the governor is only allowed 12 days to act on the bill, there is no assurance he will take that long.

Action Alert

If you have not done so already, please send an email or fax 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!

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



Email: patricia.hanson@sen.ca.gov
CC: Steve.McCarthy@sen.ca.gov, Phil.Nails@asm.ca.gov, pconaty@sbcglobal.net

The Honorable Darrell Steinberg
State Capitol, Room 4035
Sacramento, CA 95814

Oppose Assembly Bill 1032


Dear Senator:

I am writing to you about a matter that is of great concern to me. Assembly Bill 1032 attempts to circumvent a court ruling (Karuk Tribe of California v. California Department of Fish & Game (DFG), Alameda Superior Court of California) which directed DFG to update its previous Environmental Impact Review (EIR) of existing suction gold dredging regulations in California.

Rather than complete the EIR as instructed by the court, DFG is seeking to arbitrarily eliminate suction dredging from California through legislative designated closures of over 20,000 miles of waterways. As AB 1032 presently is amended, I am quite certain that if it passes, my own mining interests within California will be completely undermined. This will cause hardship to my personal and business interests within California, and also to thousands of others like me.

I believe that this harmful bill was put together for the express purpose of destroying the existing and future small-scale gold mining industry in California, which is an important part of our State’s heritage and economy that has been in existence since before California became a State.

The Order of the court was for DFG to update its EIR on the impacts caused from suction dredging. That is all that is needed to make certain that existing regulations are not allowing harm to the important aquatic resources of this State – and to amend existing regulations where necessary.

It is bad policy to allow DFG to skirt around its responsibilities; and rather, with AB 1032, eliminate small-scale gold miners entirely from California, while not providing the state with any measurable environmental benefit!

Please vote “No” on this measure when it comes before the Natural Resources & Water Committee.


(Your name and address)

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!
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


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




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



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