FOURTH QUARTER, DECEMBER 2015 VOLUME 29, NUMBER 11
Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager
Story by Dickey Melton
Well, the hot summer days and warm summer nights with fifteen hours of daylight have ended for this year. Most of the miners who summer in Happy Camp have gone to warmer places. The trees have lost most of their leaves; the sun doesn’t get very high; and the rivers are COLD.
I got up this past Saturday morning to an outside temperature of twenty degrees. This prompted me to make coffee and sip it nice and slow in front of the wood stove in my cabin.
Being a New 49’er member, I have free access to miles upon miles of gold-rich mining property; more than I could prospect in ten lifetimes. But I have taken a liking to this spot several miles downstream from Happy Camp and have spent quite a lot of time down there. My granddaughter spent a few months with us two summers ago, and she mined with me every day. Those are fond memories that she will never forget and neither will I.
Sipping a second cup of coffee, I got to thinking about the area I’m mining. There’s a creek that has water most of the year. But during the dry season, the water runs underground and comes out about a hundred feet above the river into a little muddy area covered in horse tail, swamp grass, blackberries and poison oak. I have been walking by that area all year and I swear I can hear beautiful gold calling out to me from under all that mud. I’ve almost gone in there a couple times but was turned back by the brush.
Now that the leaves are gone it doesn’t look so intimidating. So I loaded up my prospecting tools and trusty dog, Loki. Loki a sixty-five pound, ten month old Kareelian Bear Dog with all the energy of three Jack Russell Terriers. He is quite a handful. But his heart is always in the right place. Loki knows what it means to be a man’s best friend. All I have to do is look like I am ready to go somewhere and he is already one step ahead of me!
We got down to the mining site and it was cold down there, very cold! After getting organized a bit, I started the work of clearing away some brush. Once I got into it, I started making some real progress.
Funny thing about some dogs; if you throw something, anything, they think you really want it back. It took a while to get Loki to realize that just because I was throwing brush it didn’t mean I wanted it back. He would drop the brush behind me sit down and look at me with his tongue hanging out, panting with that very same happy, “look what I just did,” look he gets when he has just dug ten holes in the new planted lawn. Sometimes it takes some patience to have a best friend around. In Loki’s world, he is always doing his best to help me out.
After a while, Loki and I finally reached the area where I swear I heard the gold during this past summer. Loki took one look at the mud hole—which was about the size of two bathtubs–and looked at me with that, ”I think I’m in heaven” look. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Loki!! No!!” I’m sure he heard, Loki!! Go!! This is because he went over me like he had wings, landed in the middle of the mud, buried his head to his eyeballs and blew bubbles. Then came the explosion of mud and dog. Mind you, it was still below freezing down there. I was trying to get out of the danger zone and tripped on a wait a minute vine (commonly known as BlackBerry vine.)
A few seconds later, Loki was standing over me covered in foul smelling swamp mud with that famous, “look what I just did” look. If you could have seen his face you would understand why I didn’t get too mad. After all, he’s only ten months old—which I knew when I invited him.
Well, after I got things squared away with Loki, he realized we were there to work, not play. And I have to admit that he did try to help me with the shoveling. I’m sure he thought he was helping.
We got through the mud and ran a sample through the Fossicker Pyramid Pan. First I had to bust the ice off the top of the panning tub. And by gosh, there was some gold in the pan! I got the sniffer bottle out and the water inside was frozen. Now that’s what I call hard core!
I love prospecting and am able to do it year round. I’m finding ways to mine in any weather. Now that I know Loki likes bad weather, I have someone to go and keep me company.
I was asked if I got a lot of gold last year. Now some miners think a lot of gold is paying for your house. And other miners think a lot of gold is being able to see gold in a quarter ounce vile without holding it up in the light where you can see it better. I got somewhere in between that.
But the better answer to the question is that even if I had all the wealth a man needed, what would I do with my time? I’d be out prospecting for gold, of course! So on that count, I guess I’m getting plenty.
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to stop prospecting or mining. So grab your trusty dog if you have one and go create some memories.
I hope to see you out here!
The Rinehart case is waiting for a Decision by the California Supreme Court. You may recall that the California Third Appellate Court found unanimously for suction dredgers in Rinehart. Several large-scale conservative natural resource advocate associations have supported our arguments to the California Supreme Court. At the same time, several prominent anti-resource development organizations and individuals have weighed in against small-scale mining. This case is all about whether or not federal law prevents the State of California from imposing material interference upon mining or prospecting on the public lands. It is perhaps the most important litigation concerning American mining in our lifetimes.
In a separate set of cases, we have switched gears into appealing San Bernardino Superior Court’s recent Ruling to deny any meaningful relief to suction dredgers even after the court has Ruled and Ordered that California’s suction dredge moratorium is unconstitutional.
As you may recall, our initial Motion for a Statewide Injunction to prohibit California from enforcing the unconstitutional moratorium and return us to the earlier set of regulations that were legal was recently denied by the Superior Court of San Bernardino. We believe that Ruling was flawed, and have now appealed to California’s Forth Appellate Court to get our motion approved. As you will see from the link just above, our appeal is being bitterly contested by anti-mining activists.
And in a more recent, surprising development, the State attempted to criminally prosecute New 49’er members, Derek Eimer and Dyton Gilliland in Siskiyou Superior Court (suction dredging in California without a permit).
Our attorney, James Buchal, did a wonderful job motioning the Court to dismiss all charges. You can see all the arguments right here.
The hearing (Motion to Dismiss) took place on 5 November. Rather than dismiss the charges, the judge placed a Stay on any further attempted prosecution of suction dredgers in Siskiyou County until the California Supreme Court issues a Ruling in the Rinehart case. The judge said she would entertain a Motion for a return of all equipment that was seized by Department of Fish & Wildlife wardens.
So it would appear that the rights of suction gold dredgers in California will continue to hang in the balance until the California Supreme Court weighs in. Here is a link to a Summary provided by our attorney.
There is a new Water Quality law which will go into effect next year in California that will require a water quality permit for most or all motorized mining activities that take place within 100 yards of any active waterway. We are in the process of submitting applications that will cover the extensive properties we make available to our members, and also work out what other prospectors should do to obtain the permit or waiver. The initial feedback we are receiving is encouraging, at least for the moment. I’ll keep you informed of the progress as we go into the winter months.
A group of mining associations, business, and individuals in Oregon have banded together and hired James Buchal (same attorney who has been representing us and others) to challenge Oregon’s 5-year suction dredge moratorium which is supposed to go into effect in January of 2016. The case is so cut and dry on the basis of established federal law, the miners have asked the federal court for an expedited summary judgment in hopes of saving their 2016 season. You can find the legal arguments here.
Hats off to James Buchal for a great job on this. I am told that James received a lot of very helpful input from some of our brothers and sisters in Oregon who are also well versed in mining law. Cool!
The arguments, more or less, are based upon the very same legal theories that have been winning our cases in California.
The difference is that even though we keep winning landmark cases in California, State officials, who are in bed with radical environmentalists, continue their ongoing scheme of preventing us from mining. I figure we will have exhausted our California State remedies once the California Supreme Court issues a Decision on the Rinehart case — or as soon as we come to the conclusion that the process of obtaining a dredging permit under California’s new water law is so burdensome or expensive that the process is just another unlawful scheme to materially interfere with mining on the public lands. We are working on that now.
It will be interesting to see how the federal court in Oregon deals with the federal preemption argument. Because, after 6+ years of getting the runaround by the State of California, I believe the time is about right to ask for some intervention by the federal court.
New Legal Fund Drawing
This is to announce the newest Legal Fund Drawing – which will be for 3 ounces of American Gold Eagles and 10 ounces of American Silver Eagles. As most of you know, these Legal Fund drawings are how we generate most of the funds necessary to defend the rights of small-scale gold miners.
The drawing will take place at the close of business at New 49’er headquarters in Happy Camp, California on 26 February. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate. You are welcome to be at the drawing, but you do not need to be present to win.
Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 will generate 10 tickets). There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win.
All contributions to The New 49’ers Legal Fund are tax deductible.
Once again; thank you guys very much for standing behind us!
On a Personal Note
Suzuki Outboards? Do we have anyone out there who is a distributor or dealer for Suzuki outboard engines, or who has a connection that will provide us with an exceptional deal? If so, please contact me through the office at 530 493-2012, or you can find my personal email address on our contact page.
Holiday Wishes: Me and all our staff in the office want to express our sincere gratitude for all of your continued support and encouragement during these uncertain times for small-scale gold mining. We would not still be fighting if we didn’t believe we will ultimately win. We also would not still be in the game if it were not for you guys standing behind us. From all of us serving you in The New 49’ers, we wish you a Merry Christmas holiday and hope that wonderful things happen for you in the coming year.
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The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012 www.goldgold.com