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Legislative and Regulatory Update

• Oregon proposes to stop mining in “scenic” waterways
A notice sent out by Oregon Department of State Lands assistant director John Lilly stated that the agency is proposing to prevent placer mining in waters designated as “scenic.”

According to Lilly, the Oregon legislature ordered the agency to complete a review of Scenic Waterway Removal-Fill Permit rules by December 31, 2005. If the review is not completed by this date, dredge permits for scenic waterways would no longer be valid per Sections 3 & 4, chapter 499, Oregon Laws 2001.

Instead of emphasizing the benefits of dredging, including the redistribution of food for aquatic organisms and fish and the removal of mercury, the Oregon Department of State Lands proposes repealing the provisions that allow placer mining in all scenic waterways.

Current scenic waterways include portions of the Clackamas, Deschutes, Upper Deschutes, Illinois, John Day, Owyhee, Rogue, Sandy, the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette, Little North Fork of the Santiam, and all of the Minam River. Under the proposal, it appears that any future scenic waterway designation would also become off-limits.

We are aware this information will arrive too late for most of readers to make the public hearings scheduled for November 28 in Wilsonville and November 30 in Medford; however, many will receive it in time to submit comments. The public comment deadline is December 9, 2005. The text of the proposed rules can be found at www.oregonstatelands.us

Constructive comments can be sent to Nicole Kielsmeier, Administrative Rules Coordinator, Department of State Lands, 775 Summer St. NE, Salem, OR 97310. Fax: (503) 378-4844. Phone: (503) 378-3805.


• More news from Oregon
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski filed a petition asking the USDA to allow the state to adopt the Clinton Roadless Rule.

The Roadless Rule was dropped by the Bush administration after a Wyoming judge declared it illegal. It would have prevented development, including logging and mining, in roadless areas throughout the US. A new rule was created that allows governors to collaborate with the federal government on how to manage roadless areas.

Forest Service spokesman Dan Jiron said the petition was rejected, partly because Oregon has joined with California and New Mexico in a lawsuit against the current administration to try and force the adoption of the Clinton Roadless Rule.

USDA Undersecretary Mark Rey stated, “It would be more constructive for Oregon to withdraw from the current legal proceedings and engage the department in a good faith discussion of protection for roadless area values in Oregon. We are confident that such discussions would lead to a reasonable and ultimately successful outcome.”


• Interior Department finally back online
Some websites for the Interior Department, including the Bureau of Land Management, are finally back online after an appeals court lifted an order by Judge Lamberth of the US District Court.

Lamberth had ordered the shutdown for the fourth time following claims from litigants in an Indian trust fund case who claimed that data on royalties collected was not secure.

Some sites are not yet back but should be shortly.


• Alaska DNR departures
Six members of Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources resigned following the departure of commissioner Tom Irwin.

Irwin had written a memo criticizing the state’s negotiations with oil producers and questioning the legality of concessions made by the state. He reportedly sent the memo to four state officials, including state Attorney General David Marquez, and the governor’s three offices via email.

Marquez issued an opinion that the governor “has broad authority to negotiate contracts on the state’s behalf and to propose legislation. The fact that you and your staff may have a different vision of what best serves the interests of the state as compared to others in the administration does not make their judgments—or yours—on fundamental policy issues either unlawful or improper.”

Governor Frank Murkowski stated, “I expect every member of my cabinet to confer with me on major policy issues, major policy disputes, as they arise.”

© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.
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