March 2021 by Scott Harn
The Public Lands for the People (PLP) board was finally able to get out and meet with miners and prospectors at the Quartzsite, Arizona Gold & Treasure Show in mid-February. With the majority of tradeshows and events cancelled recently due to the pandemic, they found the event was extremely well attended.
The group spent three days helping miners with access issues, teaching them how to politely and respectfully educate federal regulators and law enforcement officers, and how to win these issues in court if necessary. PLP was able to provide miners with copies of recent court cases that have been won by their members with support from PLP, including US v. McClure and US v. Lex (no special-use permit required), US v. Godfrey (discharge was not a pollutant), and People v. Osterbrink (no addition of a pollutant). (Each of these cases can be reviewed at publiclandsforthepeople.com under “Accomplishments.”)
PLP also summarized the five trips to meet with agency heads and legislators in Washington, DC in 2019, which I also attended, and explained why the only viable path to restore the rights of suction gold dredgers is through federal legislation.
While we continue to wait until in-person meetings are allowed again in DC, we will continue to work with our friends and associates in Washington to provide regulatory relief for miners and prospectors.
There are some miners who are under the impression that an organized Mining District will immediately get the regulatory agencies off their backs so they can start digging or dredging again.
“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.”
The path to winning this case should have been to make the plaintiffs prove that a foreign substance was introduced and then discharged, which is the “trigger” for regulations under the Clean Water Act.
The ESA has become an unwieldy beast that was hijacked by government agencies run amok, and by extreme environmental groups who saw it as a way to lock up public lands and to generate income through exaggerated claims and continuous lawsuits.
Within these districts, some of the roads and trails have been reopened for access, critical habitat designations have been scaled back, and a few Mining Districts were completely removed from proposed withdrawals.
Even more prospectors arrived on Saturday morning, and drywashers and detectors were in use for much of the day...
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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