FOURTH QUARTER, OCTOBER 2011 VOLUME 25, NUMBER 9
I am excited to announce that we have discovered an entirely new river for members to operate your suction dredges outside of California! This is a smaller, slower, warmer waterway than the Rogue River. There is also a lot of exposed bedrock showing. Local miners have told us this is a sniping and underwater crevicing paradise!
We are still working out the details, but we have already located seven public access areas on this new river that will initially provide suction dredging opportunity to around seven miles of gold-bearing waterway for our members. There will be more to come as we get deeper into the research during the next few months.
I would prefer to not disclose the location until we verify all the details and are prepared to publish a map, an access guide, along with information about camping and lodging opportunities. This will all be coming out in an upcoming newsletter. Please be patient. There will be more good news on this soon!
The reason we are continuing to invest our resources to locate substantial dredge-mining opportunity elsewhere for our members, is because it doesn”t look likely that our extensive properties in California will be opened back up to dredging anytime soon.
California has Suction Dredging Tied up in Knots!
As many of you will already know, on July 26, Governor Brown delivered another disappointment for gold miners across California by signing Assembly Bill 120 (AB 120). While he has allowed the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to continue in their efforts to finish the court-ordered environmental impact report (EIR) that was due to be finished this November, AB 120 has placed additional requirements upon the process which are nearly certain to postpone completion.
Specifically, an extended moratorium is placed on suction dredge mining unless and until DFG can mitigate every significant environmental impact that results from suction dredging. This requirement greatly surpasses the normal requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and there is no direction on how DFG is supposed to achieve this goal. AB 120 also imposes a new fee structure to cover all costs of the program, something that only the legislature can decide at some later time.
We sent out a Strategy Memo by our attorneys in our September mailing to provide you with our best assessment of the situation and what our options are. No matter what the State wants to call it, all of these “moratoriums,” injunctions and endless, impossible conditions that must be met before we can use our suction dredges again in California add up to a “prohibition.” But federal law is supposed to prevent the State from prohibiting mining on the public lands.
Our attorneys have suggested that we should wait to see if the Superior Court in San Bernardino County is going to allow Public Lands for the People (PLP) to try and overcome the moratorium on suction dredging which was placed upon our industry, at least in part, by the Superior Court in Alameda County. The latest development in that case is that PLP is being granted an opportunity to amend its complaint to also challenge this latest AB 120. While this news is encouraging, I suggest we do not get our hopes up too high until we see things shifting in our direction. A more recent Memo on this from our attorneys can be found right here.
If you wanted to obtain a good grasp of what is wrong in America, you would not have to look much further than what has happened with our suction dredging industry in California. Although not one bit of evidence has been presented that we have ever harmed even a single fish anywhere within the State, special interests who hate mining have succeeded in getting the California legislature (and the Alameda Superior Court) to prevent us from doing any further suction dredging (in California) until a number of requirements are met. The prohibitions are now so snarled up in so many different jurisdictions, requiring impossible requirements from so many State agencies (which are not funded to complete the work), that it almost seems like it will require an act of god to get us going again.
This is not just happening with our dredging in California. At the very same time, the water rights of farmers, ranchers and private property owners are being viciously attacked, hydro-electric dams (which provide clean energy) are being attacked, food production everywhere (even in your own back yard) is being attacked. Unreasonable and substantially-burdensome regulation (like the new heath care law) is being imposed upon all business across the country. There is a virtual avalanche of new restrictions being imposed all across America. Yet, all the rhetoric from politicians is about the need to reduce burdensome regulation and open the door for more job creation. What?
What politicians say, and what is actually happening in America, would lead a person to believe that we are close to losing the cold war inside of our own country.
As hard as we should continue to fight in the courts for the right to use our property and to pursue a livelihood, I am coming to the realization that there is going to need to be a very substantial social change in America before we start winning these rights back. It would seem reasonable that at some point, America as a whole is going to wake up to the idea that we should take the shackles off and allow our people to get productive, again. Whether by design or for complete lack of true leadership, regardless of the talk, our agencies and our courts continue working very aggressively to shut things down. Until this changes, I would not expect to see much improvement in the direction things are going in America (down), and especially in California.
One good reason for us to keep up the good fight is that it increases the chance we will be one of the early squeaky wheels to get greased when the time comes for our leaders to start figuring out where we can get some productive economic activity going that does not actually hurt anything!
The big question which I am sorry to have to keep bringing up is whether or not we are willing to pay for legal defense? We launched our new fund-raiser several months ago; which to date has brought in less money than the value of the (gorgeous) American Gold Eagles which we will be giving away as prizes on 4 November (less than a month from when I write this).
This is not meant to be a slam. I know times are tough. I know that everybody is doing the best we can. Still, I have to tell you that the support of our ongoing legal defense of small-scale mining has been very, very slow these past few months!
At present, The New 49’ers are defending in court against two lawsuits in Alameda Superior Court, which ultimately have suction dredging stopped in California. There are legal costs every month associated with these ongoing battles.
Please listen to this, because it is important: New 49’ers are also the only outfit in the industry defending against an ongoing challenge by our anti-mining adversaries in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (federal) which is attempting to prevent the U.S. Forest Service from allowing Notice-level prospecting on the public lands (activity which does not create any significant disturbance) without first requiring a full-blown environmental evaluation, in some cases, which takes five years or longer to complete (if ever). You can find an updated Memo by our attorneys about this right here.
Now; in case you didn”t know, we have won this battle in federal court twice already. The initial challenge dated all the way back to the 15th of October, 2004. We have been in court on this single issue for that long! But this battle is not only about California. It is about prospecting on every National Forest in America. There is a lot at stake here! If our adversaries win this one, you can kiss prospecting goodbye on USFS lands across America! We have a whole page on our web site devoted to it right here.
Here is what we are up against: Even when we win, our anti-mining adversaries just file another lawsuit or find another way to challenge the outcome. And/or they go back to the legislature with another way to shut us down. They always use environmental concerns as an excuse. But this war is not about the environment, and there is nothing we can do to pacify our adversaries. They just want all mining in America shut down. End of story. Legal defense is all we can do until America finally wakes up.
The right to go out on the public lands and harvest gold is one of our last American freedoms! The only way we can defend is with the support of you guys; those of you who are able and willing to help us fight for our freedom.
We come up with valuable prizes in an effort to encourage more help from you guys. This time around, it is 15 beautiful Gold Eagles of different sizes (they add up to 3 ounces of gold). And I have already set aside three more ounces of the gold I dredged out of the Rogue River this past season for the next round of prizes. But we are not going to continue encouraging participation in this way if we ultimately bring in less than the value of the prizes! This has got to be the combined contributions of many, rather than just a few. We only have a month to make something out of the existing fund-raiser. Please contribute if you can. Even $10 (from a lot of people) would be helpful!
The girls in our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets, etc). There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win. The drawing will take place in plenty of time to get the American Gold Eagles sent out before Christmas! You can call in your donation at (530) 493-2012, or send it in to the address at the bottom of our newsletter.
Or you can make a contribution right here: Make a Donation
We greatly appreciate help from you to help regenerate our legal fund!
Other Types of Prospecting are still Allowed in California
It is only suction dredging that has been temporarily stopped in California. We are still doing the other types of mining along our mining properties in northern California. This includes panning, sniping & vack-mining, sluicing & high-banking & electronic prospecting and other types of prospecting that do not use a suction nozzle within an active stream, river or creek.
We are also still doing our weekend group mining projects. They are scheduled for the upcoming 2012 season as follows: June 2 & 3; June 23 & 24; July 14 & 15; August 4 & 5; August 25 & 26. These events are free to all active Members, and everyone is invited to attend. Please contact our office in advance to let us know you will be there: (530) 493-2012.
We also have Good Suction Dredge Opportunities in Oregon!
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently completed an update of its own suction dredge regulations and is now issuing annual permits for $25 (same fee for non-residents). More information can be found right here.
The revised regulations allow a statewide dredging permit for dredges with intake nozzles no larger than 4-inches. Five or six inch dredges can be necked down to a 4-inch ring at the nozzle. There is a special permit available for larger nozzle sizes. The season on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon begins on June 15 and ends on August 31. There is a very long stretch of the Rogue River crossing Oregon State Lands where members can dredge.
We have struck high-grade gold while dredging along the Rogue River during each of the last three seasons. Several other experienced dredgers and I have been providing help and encouragement to members on the Rogue River who wish to operate your dredges there.
Several newsletters ago, I reported that Mark Chestnut, Jim Yerby and I were prospecting the Rogue this past season, trying to find some nuggets. Most of the gold we recovered off the Rogue these past few seasons has been in the form of fine gold (plenty), while others have been finding the nice nuggets all around us. Just bad luck, I guess! Anyway, while it took a while, we finally did get onto the nugget trail towards the end of the season. The following video sequences demonstrate some of the fun we were having out there:
E-1 on Elk Creek is off Limits until Further Notice
In accordance with the recommendations of our Internal Affairs staff, our E-1 property on Elk Creek is closed to mining or prospecting until further notice.
This part of Elk Creek is of particular concern to the authorities because it provides critical habitat for the threatened Coho salmon. While that might not seem like much to the average person, it is the lawsuits against the agencies by our adversaries over critical habitat designations that are succeeding in stopping mining, timber development and agriculture across the west. Even the hydro-electric dams (clean energy) are being eliminated over this.
We are doing the best we can to maintain maximum mining opportunity for our members, even if that means temporally closing problem areas. While this property will be closed for a while, we will soon arrange miles and miles of new mining opportunity which will more than make up for it. Thanks for trying to understand.
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The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012 www.goldgold.com