May 2021 by Scott Harn
I mentioned last month that Public Lands for the People (PLP) came up with a “guide” for miners and prospectors that they believe will alleviate many of the problems faced when mining on public lands administered by the US Forest Service. 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.
Here is their announcement:
Suction Dredging is Back in Most of California!
Public Lands for the People (PLP) is proud to announce that suction dredging will resume in most of California in a form bypassing most of the CA Fish & Wildlife and CA Water Board’s red tape. Last year, PLP released its strategy for a path for legally re-starting suction dredging in 2021. In researching that path, we made a rather significant breakthrough.
Our researchers that helped to provide the winning arguments for PLP members in the (federal) Godfrey and (California) Osterbrink court decisions have decided it’s time to release to the public the fundamental reasons why those decisions were won in our favor when all other well-meaning miners have failed in court challenges. Both Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Osterbrink deserve praise for standing up and successfully fighting the CA Regional Water Quality Control Board (EPA) experts, the CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, and the Forest Service to help give us that path to legally resume suction dredging in California.
The substance of this path revolves around how the federal and state law defines pollutants and discharge along with the intended activity. PLP is preparing to release materials that the CA Water Quality Control Board and the CA Fish & Wildlife Service may not want you to know about. These online materials (take 4 steps and a few minutes to perform) along with a simple guide that can be shown to be quite effective when persons carry out the guide, and seriously adhere to its documents and principles outlined on the card. These materials and guidelines are not only an effective deterrent from citation but a gold mine of legal research that has eluded many until now. Thanks to our PLP member and donor support, our trips to Washington, DC, have netted us an inside track to data on the environmental agencies that we are now prepared to release to our members.
PLP believes that after a year or two it could be possible to modify this CA Suction Dredge Guide for application in other states such as Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Please be aware that PLP does not tout “Mining Rights” without promoting reclamation, as there is no such thing as an unfettered right to mine without responsibilities. Please also be aware that those misusing the CA Suction Dredge Guide may run the risk of citation and dredge confiscation; including those that follow individuals that promote the Army Corp 404 dredge discharge system while trying to replicate the CA Suction Dredge Guide.
PLP members who are renewing online and by mail will start receiving these new guide cards of knowledge, along with our member card and orange challenge card. PLP members already in good standing that provide their member number can just request the “CA Suction Dredge Guide” on the PLP info line by voice or email submission and it will be mailed to you.
PLP can say with confidence that the agencies will never treat responsible PLP members the same again. As you probably know, knowledge is power and a highly effective tool against your enemies who wish to deprive you of your rights!
During discussions with other property rights advocates and members of the current administration, Karen Budd-Falen’s name was mentioned many times as a possible director for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
If you need more proof that having an organized Mining District can help you, look no further than the recently proposed Methow Headwaters Withdrawal in north-central Washington State.
If you are a claimholder and your Mining District is in disarray, it’s time to join MMAC and get on board so your district can benefit from these changes as they are implemented.
Plans are also under way to coordinate with the incoming chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
We spent our evening at some informal get-togethers at two private residences in the DC area, which provided the opportunity to talk with staff members from Congress, other agencies, and a few consultants working on public land issues. We found common ground with many of them, and found a strong ally in a former Congressman turned consultant who agreed that Mining Districts provide the smartest legal route...
We are happy to report that the current administration has issued a directive to the Forest Service and BLM to address this concern…
We are quite pleased to report there are some courageous miners who have taken the time to learn their rights and have gone back to dredging while knowing they could be unlawfully harassed at any time by law enforcement…
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