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Update: Public Lands for the People - October 2010 (Vol. 80, No. 2)
Update: Public Lands for the People
by Scott Harn
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PLP’s efforts continue toward restoring the rights of suction gold dredgers in California. They have several appeals currently underway in state and federal courts. There is more to report on this topic, but they have asked me to withhold information until our next issue.

In other court cases, an amended complaint was filed in September against the US Forest Service regarding their Travel Management Plan and the closure of roads in the Eldorado National Forest pursuant to that plan. The lawsuit was filed to force the Forest Service to honor the rights of claim owners to access their claims. This case will be heard in the US District Court, Eastern District of California.

PLP and Resources Coalition, along with attorney James Buchal, have come to the aid of Oregon miners in another case involving the Forest Service. This case involves an attempt by the Forest Service to prevent miners from occupying their claims incident to mining. The Forest Service issued citations to prevent Michael Blacklund from occupying his claim and to force removal of a storage trailer on the claim.

Miner Michael Blacklund pled guilty but retained his right to appeal with the plea because he was unable to afford appropriate counsel to fight the citation. Mr. Buchal agreed to handle the case at cost if enough donations were obtained to cover court filing costs. The Resources Coalition and PLP stepped up to the plate with several thousand dollars to insure this case does not set an unwelcome precedent.

The Forest Service ignored previous case precedent in US v. Lex and Waggener and US v. Shumway. Both of these cases involved a miner’s right to occupy his claims incident to mining, and the miners were victorious in each case. The Forest Service subsequently issued rules in an attempt to circumvent these decisions. This case will challenge those new rules.

Our recent offer to provide matching funds for donations to PLP did not generate sufficient funds to keep the non-profit group in the black. We offered to add 25 cents for every dollar donated, with a cap of $4,000. We’re extending the donation deadline until November 15 in hopes that miners can dig deep in this tough economy to support a very worthwhile organization. Please drop us a note, send us an email at plpmatch@icmj.com, or give us a call at (831)479-1500 if you make a donation to PLP so we can add to your donation. (Contact information for PLP is availabe at www.plp2.org.)

Here are the donations PLP has received so far as part of our matching funds drive:

     $500—Bob Dunst, Sebastopol, CA
     $150—Jay & Lisa Ernst, Shawnee, OK
       $20—Charles Knight, Springfield, MO
     $100—Verne Whidden, Poway, CA
  $1,000—Keene Engineering, Chatsworth, CA
     $151—Rich Haynes, Bakersfield, CA
       $50—James Popa, Grass Valley, CA

Thanks you for your much needed contributions—we have sent $492.75 to PLP so far in matching funds.

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