November 2019 by Scott Harn
Public Lands for the People (PLP) is challenging the California Department of Fish & Wildlife after the agency attempted to expand their authority to regulate a lawful activity.
PLP is providing expert help on behalf of a member who was cited for not having a stream alteration permit for drywashing in an area nearly above the timberline where the only water that runs through there is during a rainstorm or during the snow melt.
The miner was drywashing using a small, gas-powered drywasher for a short period of time—maybe an hour—when he was asked by a ranger to see his permit, which is not required to prospect at this small of a scale. PLP has provided several relevant decisions to the court that relate to this case and is offering expert testimony on the member’s behalf.
We will keep you posted as this case progresses.
Clark Pearson (PLP northern director) and I have maintained contact with officials in Washington, DC regarding the recent petition for rulemaking related to suction gold dredging. As explained in the petition, the Clean Water Act clearly states there must be the addition of a pollutant to trigger the need for a Section 402 permit and there is no such addition involved when using a dredge. We will continue to seek action on the petition and will schedule a return trip to DC in early 2020 to follow-up on this issue, and we’ll also seek a meeting with Tim Charters, the new executive director of the Western Caucus.
We are heading into 2019 with a cautiously optimistic view. We feel we are very close to obtaining regulatory relief for miners, and believe this NDAA cycle will prove fruitful.
I’ve received quite a few inquiries from miners who are beginning to realize that traditional Mining Districts are powerful entities and they are looking to get their district organized if it’s in disarray.
We are happy to report that the current administration has issued a directive to the Forest Service and BLM to address this concern…
“In light of the results of the midterm elections our focus will be with the US Senators and their staffers that we have already been working with.”
Even more prospectors arrived on Saturday morning, and drywashers and detectors were in use for much of the day...
The Senator’s office was very receptive to the small miner’s plight and was unaware of the dire problems created by the over-regulation of small-scale mining from so many different fronts. It was pointed out that S 145 may help the large mining companies a little, but falls woefully short in addressing the needs of small operators who make up 85% of domestic mines.
This will provide the opportunity to meet with many of the members of Congress in a more informal setting at several meetings, luncheons and dinners. And we have been offered the chance to meet with President Trump’s staff.
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