September 2020 by Scott Harn
We have put several documents in the hands of the correct people in Washington, DC, and are now just waiting to schedule conference calls or online meetings to address several issues, such as federal preemption, dredge permitting, access, and more.
In the meantime, I want to highlight some recent court cases won with the assistance of Public Lands for the People (PLP) taken from the PLP newsletter.
Recapping our recent win:
PLP Member Wins “No Addition” Argument in CA State Court
For the very first time in CA State court, a small miner has won the “no addition” argument—this time against the CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife. Gold miner Michael Osterbrink, along with PLP’s expert testimony delivered by PLP’s legal researcher Clark Pearson, fought back a charge by the Sierra County District Attorney Mr. Osterbrink’s mining “had polluted state waters with materials that are deleterious to fish in violation of section 5650 of the CA Fish & Game code.”
Mr. Osterbrink was found not guilty of violating section 5650 of the CA Fish & Game code, which prohibits pollution of state waters with materials that are deleterious to fish and wildlife (count 2). PLP cannot understate the importance of this legal decision in our present battles with the political powers of the regulatory swamp. This is a really big deal!
So-called environmentalists in CA believe that miners are polluters—not true! There are no foreign substances added, a fact PLP has been touting for many years, and the court agreed. The court stated, “…I really think 5650, the intent of the legislature there is to deal with situations where a defendant has deposited something new, a foreign substance. Here, there doesn’t seem to be any dispute that this defendant did not add anything new. So I am going to find Mr. Osterbrink not guilty on count 2.”
You may recall back in 2015, PLP member John Godfrey also won the “no addition” argument in count 5 against the Forest Service. (See: www.publiclandsforthepeople.org/accomplishments/)
In the Godfrey case, the Forest Service even had a so-called expert lead engineer from the CA Water Board testify that what Godfrey had done amounted to pollution to no avail to the government. Godfrey won in federal court and now Osterbrink has won in CA state court. PLP had confidence that it was a solid argument that could be won, even in a California state court.
Osterbrink’s decision will go a long way in helping get suction dredging to legally return to California and other states. PLP once again successfully stood by its arguments that are successful when applied properly, even when others have waivered and compromised.
In May 2017, the district participated in a meeting with representatives from several state and federal agencies where they educated agency officials about the authority of Mining Districts, Mining Law and miner’s rights.
Toward the end of this summer, we expect another Federal Register notice will be published that deals with Forest Service mining regulations.
How would you like it if you could make the actual rules and regulations governing your own business? A dream, right? Well, the existing Federal Mining Law gives a claimholder this ability in the context of organized Mining Districts.
The changes we are seeking will most definitely help prospectors, small operations and dredgers. If you haven’t yet read our proposals, you’ll find a link to it at the end of the online version of this article.
It's a proven civil remedy to put an end to harassment by notifying a person who is either overstepping their authority, or failing to act as required, that they will be sued personally for an act or omission.
Now they have come up with a second guide (to be released on May 1) that they believe will allow dredgers in California to resume working.
We are happy to report that the current administration has issued a directive to the Forest Service and BLM to address this concern…
The Bawl Mill • Ask The Experts - What is the difference between heavy and light rare earth elements? • Ask The Experts - What are the tax implications for partners on a claim? • Ask The Experts - What should my plan be for testing quartz for gold in North Carolina? • Ask The Experts - Did gold deposits come from space or were they created underground? • Ask The Experts - Is a shaker table going to work on my flour material? • Subtle and Not So Subtle Dangers of Hard Rock Mining • How Should I Work This Prospect? • Tips and Tricks: Preparing Your Dredge Engine for Storage • Fluorescent Mineral Prospecting • More Tips on How to Find Gold with A Detector • What Do You Need For A Successful Micro-Scale Mine? • Using Favorable Rock Types to Find More Gold • Gold Prospecting for Better or Worse: Of Mice and Men • Discovering New Territory • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices