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Legislative and Regulatory Update

• 3809 Regulations—Letter Drive
While we await an official decision by Interior Secretary Gale Norton on any major revisions to 3809 regulations, I hope all of you, at the very least, are making your opinions heard on changes that have already been made.
BLM recently announced that the changes made regarding financial guarantees (bonding) would be retained. So what does this mean to the small miner?

Glynn Burkhardt, president of the Arizona Small Miners Association, called to let me know he received a letter from BLM explaining the bonding changes. Under the new revised bonding requirements he is required to post a bond. The letter suggests he should have submitted his paperwork to the local BLM office by July 20th, 2001. Written estimates are required from actual contractors that specify exactly what work would be done to obtain 100% reclamation.  The state of Arizona accepts an irrevocable line of credit, but BLM requires a bond backed up by verifiable assets, or one of several other approved methods. The problem is that no one seems to offer the type of financial guarantees that BLM requires.

The new financial guarantee requirements (Section 3809.505) take effect November 20, 2001, for operations with Plans of Operations that BLM approved before January 20, 2001, if those operations already had some type of bonding in place. The deadline for acquiring an initial financial guarantee for those operators with ongoing activities who had Plans of Operations approved before January 20, 2001, but who did not have a financial guarantee, is September 13, 2001.

It appears that the current administration is agreeable to revisiting the issue of bonding. BLM states, “unless further analysis...discloses significant new information strongly supporting a change in the approach to financial guarantees, it is our intention to continue with the current framework for financial guarantees.”

Burkhardt contacted Gale Norton’s office, and the staff made it clear that comments opposing financial guarantees, for whatever reason, were not making it there. The staff member stated that the best way to include your opinion is to fax it to  Norton’s office, where it will be logged in and assigned a tracking number. Her fax number is: (202) 208-6956. Feel free to place comments at the top of a sheet of paper and have your friends, family, and/or fellow club members sign it.

You may be thinking that this doesn’t affect you. Maybe you currently don’t need a Plan of Operations because of the limited prospecting occurring on your claim. You probably aren’t considering the whole picture.

The Clinton administration pushed through several changes to 3809 that are currently suspended while being reviewed. One of those changes was to the definition of casual use. Casual use was redefined to exclude any motorized equipment. Even if the Bush administration retains the old definition of casual use, a new administration could arrive in less than four years, and redefine casual use to again exclude motorized equipment; hence, you would be required to have a Plan of Operation, and a financial guarantee, for something as benign as motorized drywashing or dredging.

We are still working out the details, but we have decided to offer an incentive to make sure 3809 comments are received by those public officials who make the decisions.

ICMJ, in conjunction with Pat Keene, of Keene Engineering, and Tom Ashworth, of Tom Ashworth’s Prospectors Cache, have generously agreed to provide an additional incentive to those of you who need one. A drawing will be conducted, and prizes awarded, for those who send letters to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, President George W. Bush, and USFS Chief Dale Bosworth regarding 3809.

Keene Engineering has donated a dredge and highbanker. Tom Ashworth has donated a Fisher Gold Bug. ICMJ has donated a cash prize and several subscriptions to our monthly publication. I’m sure additional items will be added as other companies join us. We have not yet set a drawing date. We want to allow GPAA and the countless other prospecting clubs ample opportunity to notify their members. In addition, we will be contacting other property rights organizations, and other associations that rely on public lands for recreational and commercial purposes.

We cannot possibly handle all the letters here at our office, so we will be operating on the honor system. Anyone who sends a letter to all three officials mentioned above may submit his/her name once. Please get your spouse, friends and neighbors involved (and entered) as well.

It’s unfortunate that we need to offer incentives, but we felt it was necessary to make sure all miners, prospectors, detectorists, etc., retain the right to prospect on public lands.

Following are the addresses for the public officials mentioned. You can utilize the sample letter provided, or write your own. I would suggest that you send your letters by mail or fax; emails tend to get lost.

Sample letter.
DOI Secretary Gale Norton
US Department of the Interior
1949 C Street, NW
Washington, DC, 20240
Fax:   (202) 208-6956

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Fax:   (202) 456-2461

Dale Bosworth, Chief
US Forest Service
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Sidney R. Yates Federal Building
201 14th Street
Washington, DC 20250
Fax:   (202) 205-1610

AFTER you have sent in your letters to all three public officials, you may enter your name in the drawing by sending your name, address, and phone number by one of the following methods:
by email:
(put “3809 Drawing” in the
subject field)

by postcard to:
ICMJ—3809 Drawing
PO Box 2260
Aptos, CA 95001

For updates on drawing rules, dates and prizes, visit www.icmj.com*

* Please note: This letter drive and drawing took place in 2001. The article has been presented in its entirety for informational purposes only. *

• Environmental groups infiltrate National Park Service
The Clinton/Gore philosophy of utilizing non-elected officials and councils to institute the United Nations environmental policies is firmly established in the National Park Service (NPS).

The NPS has incorporated stakeholder councils and environmental groups into their planning process. In the NPS report, “Rethinking the National Parks for the 21st Century,” they acknowledge support from the World Wildlife Fund, Society for Ecological Restoration, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, and the Environmental Defense Fund for their help in preparing the report.

The NPS report states, “The Service should be an active participant in efforts to restore wildlife corridors to provide biological linkages among habitats throughout North America.

“This does not mean, however, that such sites must be limited to spectacular scenery or outstanding architecture. The Park Service should now place a high priority on sites, themes, and stories not well represented, including key aspects of biological diversity…”

Millions of taxpayer dollars are being used to forward an agenda that was not voted on by the citizens, nor passed as legislation by elected officials. It’s reaching the boiling point, and a group called “Take Back Kentucky” provided evidence that this type of behavior by government can be stopped.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that “while the opinions of the folks in Take Back Kentucky may seem extreme, they resonate with many Kentuckians whose view of government can be summed up in three words: Leave me alone.”

Members of Take Back Kentucky attended every meeting of “smart growth legislation,” a proposal that was put forth as a way to regulate building, zoning, and land-use in the state. Group members made their opinions known at every opportunity. The proposal now faces an uphill battle because legislators don’t want to be associated with the controversial proposal.

The NPS report is available at:  www.nps.gov/policy/report.htm

• Interior Secretary Gale Norton chastises environmentalists over  Klamath Lawsuit
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton expressed disappointment over a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups challenging the Department’s release of water for Klamath River Basin farmers. Secretary Norton issued the following statement:

“This suit reflects a lack of understanding of the complexities of the issues. The Interior Department is working ceaselessly to find a long-term solution that will help farmers, tribes, fishermen, and wildlife. However, this year, there simply has not been enough water to do more than provide a little relief to some desperate farm families and a little relief to the refuges.

“We began delivering 1,000 acre-feet [recently] to help wildlife depending on refuge water. Bald eagles that winter on the refuge are hundreds of miles away at this time; the farmers in the Klamath Basin are not.

“We are working to find ways to solve the needs of all Basin interests for the remainder of the year. In the months ahead, we’ll be looking at a number of options. These may include seeking new sources of groundwater, purchasing water from willing sellers, and developing alternative plans for ensuring a food supply for wildlife.

“We are committed to working with all interested parties in the current mediation process to avoid a repeat of this situation next year and in the future. Through cooperation, communication, and conservation—and hopefully more help from Mother Nature—those “drops in the bucket” can multiply into a more permanent solution.”

• EPA requests comments on Maximum Contaminant Level rule
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting public comments regarding a range of Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) options for the drinking water standard for arsenic. In particular, EPA is requesting comments on whether the data and technical analyses associated with the arsenic rule published in the January 22, 2001, Federal Register (66 FR 6976) as well as any new information that may be available, support setting the enforceable arsenic standard, or MCL, at 3 micrograms per liter (µg/L) (the feasible level), 5 µg/L (the level proposed in June 2000), 10 µg/L (the level published in the January 2001 rule), or 20 µg/L.

Written comments should focus on the preamble, technical support documents, and record associated with the January 2001 rule (not the June 2000 proposal (65 FR 38888)) because EPA has already made many changes to the analyses supporting the January decisions in response to public comment.

The comment period ends October 31, 2001. Mail your written comments to the W-99-16-VI Arsenic Comments Clerk, Water Docket (MC-4101); U.S. EPA; 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.; Washington, DC 20460, or e-mail them to: ow-docket@epa.gov

For further information, go to: www.epa.gov/safewater/arsenic.html or phone (800) 426-4791.
© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.
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