• US Supreme Court may consider requirements for Notice of Intent
Last month we reported on The New 49er’s and their Petition to the US Supreme Court to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding small-scale mining conducted under a Notice of Intent (see “Lawsuit Update From The New 49er’s,” December 2012 issue, pg. 60).
The Supreme Court is considering addressing the case. On December 6, the court sent a letter to the involved parties asking the Karuk Tribe to file a written response by January 7, 2013.
This is good news. The Ninth Circuit Court completely ignored previous case law when determining that a Notice of Intent was not sufficient, even when a Forest Service District Ranger concluded that the mining activity was not likely to create a significant surface disturbance.
• Oregon considering mining restrictions
Oregon is considering a bill that would prohibit some forms of mining within the state. Legislative Concept 2125 (LC 2125) is a draft bill that will be scheduled for hearings in early 2013. Initial language included a cap on the amount of material that can be processed without first obtaining a Plan of Operation, a limitation on the nozzle sizes of suction gold dredges, a ban on the use of power winches to move boulders, and more.
You can follow progress of the bill at www.leg.state.or.us/committees/ by clicking on the “Environment and Natural Resources” link.
A similar bill was introduced in Oregon by Senators Atkinson, Bates and Hass back in 2011. Miners flooded their offices with calls, letters and emails opposing the bill, and Atkinson subsequently withdrew it.
The following Senators are members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee; please be respectful when you contact them!
• Latest developments in California suction dredging moratorium
The current suction gold dredging moratorium in California is being challenged on several fronts.
Brandon Renehart is a suction dredger in Plumas County who was cited for using a suction dredge without a permit. He is being represented by the The New 49er’s attorney, James Buchal.
Buchal is arguing that case law prohibits the State of California from prohibiting mining. This is a criminal case based on a criminal complaint, so it is progressing separately from the ongoing litigation in Southern California.
Meanwhile, the lawsuits that were previously filed seeking an injunction to lift the moratorium and restore the rights of suction dredgers continue after the cases were consolidated in San Bernardino, California. The environmentalists asked for the removal of Judge Alvarez from the case, and it has now been assigned to Judge Gilbert Ochoa of the Rancho Cucamonga district. The next step is an administrative hearing, which we expect will occur sometime in January 2013. We will keep you posted!
• Spotted owl habitat
The designated habitat for the northern spotted owl is scheduled to increase from 5.3 million acres to 8.6 million acres following a decision from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
The designation of critical habitat for the owl has already been responsible for a 90% reduction in logging in the National Forests of the Northwest.
The newly designated habitat will place additional restrictions on roadbuilding in areas of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.