Legislative and Regulatory Update
February 2007 by Scott Harn
• Karuk Tribe case over, for now
A decision was finally issued in the Karuk Tribe’s lawsuit against the California Department of Fish and Game.
For those of you who haven’t been following the case, here is a quick overview.
The Karuk Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service in an attempt to force the Forest Service to require a Plan of Operation for all in-stream mining involving several waterways in northern California. Public Lands for the People and the New 49’ers prospecting club intervened on behalf of the Forest Service, and the Karuk’s lost.
The Karuk Tribe followed with another lawsuit, filed against the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) in Alameda County, California. The complaint alleged, among other things, that suction dredging was harming Coho salmon.
The DFG was about to sign a stipulated agreement with the Karuk’s that would have placed additional restrictions on suction dredge miners when the mining community learned of the proposed settlement. Once again, Public Lands for the People and the New 49’ers intervened on behalf of suction dredge miners. The DFG had already begun placing additional restrictions on the miners, but were forced to withdraw them when the groups intervened.
The DFG initially denied the Karuk’s allegations, but later changed their position and claimed that suction dredges are deleterious to Coho salmon. The DFG stated their change of opinion was based on “new information” obtained after the department completed an Environmental Impact Report in 1994, though they did not present any studies to the court to support their case.
Judge Bonnie Sabraw brokered an agreement between the involved parties in late December. Judge Sabraw ordered the DFG “to conduct a further environmental review pursuant to CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) of its suction dredge mining regulations and to implement, if necessary, via rulemaking, mitigation measures to protect Coho salmon and/or other special status fish species in the watershed of the Klamath, Scott, and Salmon Rivers, listed as threatened or endangered after the 1994 EIR.”
The intervenors successfully argued against the Karuk’s request for injunctive relief, which would have placed immediate restrictions on miners. The intervenors also negotiated a change in wording that will help prevent another lawsuit by making it clear that these claims are unproven.
Public Lands for the People and the New 49’ers will remain actively involved in any environmental review to try and prevent the DFG from compromising the rights of miners to please environmental groups.
Judge Sabraw ordered the DFG to complete their review by mid-2008.
• Fundraising continues
Several groups have fundraising raffles underway to continue fighting lawsuits filed by environmentalists.
Public Lands for the People (PLP) just completed their latest raffle (see page 6 for winners) and another fundraising raffle is already underway. The new raffle winners will be drawn on June 21, 2007. Tickets are available for $1, or 10 tickets for $12. The top prize is a 4-inch dredge provided by Keene Engineering. A complete list will be published in PLP’s update in the March issue.
In addition, a limited production 2007 Shelby GT500 Mustang will be raffled in a separate PLP drawing. Mike Higbee, owner of the Armadillo Mining Shop, is coordinating the drawing and purchased the vehicle for the raffle in an attempt to bring in more funds from outside the mining community. One-thousand tickets will be sold at $100 each, and a winner will be drawn following the sale of the last ticket.
Those interested in purchasing tickets for the Shelby can contact Armadillo Mining Shop at (541) 476-6316.
Those interested in purchasing tickets for the June 21 drawing can contact Walt Wegner via email at email@example.com, or call (818) 704-1355 and select option number 2.
The Waldo Mining District and the Eastern Oregon Mining Association are teaming up to fund litigation surrounding the Oregon suction dredging permit. This drawing will be held on July 22, 2007. Prizes range from small specimens of placer gold to mining equipment, with the grand prize being a new 2007 Polaris Sportsman 450 4x4 Quad ATV.
Participants must be at least 18 years of age. Tickets are available for $5.00, or 6 for $25.00. To enter, clearly print your name, address, age, phone (and email address if available) on a plain piece of paper, state how many entries you wish, and include the required entry fee.
Entries should be sent to:
EOMA Permit Raffle
PO Box 932
Baker City, OR 97814.
Visit www.eoma.org or www.waldominingdistrict.org to download and print copies of the “official entry coupon,” view the official rules and review the list of prizes.
Anyone wishing a receipt must include a SASE.
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