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Legislative and Regulatory Update

• Bill to address Forest Service Travel Management restrictions
Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon) introduced the Forest Access in Rural Communities Act on March 19, 2014.

HR 4272 would prohibit the implementation or enforcement of the Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule in western states.

The bill would also require the Forest Service to consult with affected counties and those counties would have to agree with any road closure or change in access.

“Far too often... management decisions are handed down from Washington, D.C., by agencies who have likely only seen the forests on a map. It’s time for that to stop. This bill will bring management back where it belongs—local communities with firsthand knowledge about the state and uses of these forests,” Walden said.

Walden was instrumental two years ago in halting an overly restrictive management plan for Wallowa-Whitman National Forest that ignored input from local users.

Please contact your representative in the House and ask them to support HR 4272.


• Suction gold dredging challenge finally under way
By the time you receive this issue, the court trial may already be underway in Rancho Cucamonga, California, to restore the rights of suction gold dredgers in the state.

Superior Court Judge Gilbert Ochoa will hear arguments from attorneys representing miners, environmental activist groups and the State of California regarding the current prohibition on suction gold dredging in California. Numerous suction gold dredging cases were consolidated. Attorneys James Buchal and David Young represent the miners, backed up by an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

One of the foundational arguments in this case is the fact that states are allowed to “regulate” mining but cannot preempt mining with an outright prohibition.

The preemption hearing is scheduled for May 1; opening briefings regarding the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) are scheduled for June 16.

Check our website at www.icmj.com for updates.


• EPA nullification bill fails in Idaho
A bill to nullify EPA regulatory authority being considered in Idaho failed to pass out of the Idaho House of Representatives. Following advice of the Idaho attorney general, the bill was deemed unconstitutional.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Paul Shepherd (R-Riggins), said a new bill will need to be generated to address dredge mining regulations in the state.


• Another bad bill
The Sierra Fund is claiming credit for authoring Senate Bill 1270 in California, which would take the authority for regulating mining operations away from counties and consolidate it within a state-run Division of Mines.  Additional fees would be charged to mine operators and local control would be eliminated.

The Sierra Fund and other environmental groups would gain power through this maneuver. There are currently some counties that do not bow to the wishes of environmental groups, but history has shown they can push through restrictions on mining with the current legislators in Sacramento.

We encourage you to contact your county supervisors and elected state representatives to put an end to SB 1270.
© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.
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