September 2021 by Scott Harn
Public Lands for the People continues to educate their members on how to conduct reclamation dredging, which is the only way to avoid a citation for dredging in California under the current regulatory scheme at the present time. PLP reports that a half-dozen dredgers have completed the appropriate paperwork and are conducting dredging operations at this juncture. They hope to expand these efforts to other Western States in the near future.
A recall election will take place in California on September 14. Polls suggest that CA Governor Newsom might be recalled and replaced, with Republican Larry Elder leading as the potential replacement. If a Republican is elected, members the California State Water Resources Board—the agency that has put up roadblocks to suction gold dredge permits—can be replaced with appointees who would likely be more accommodating to suction gold dredgers.
PLP is also planning FallFest for October 2021, and the event will be back at a private mining claim in the Stringer District in Kern County in Southern California. More information is available on page 4 or on their website: www.publiclandsforthepeople.com
There are no trips to Washington, DC, currently scheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, though PLP and ICMJ continue to meet with our compatriots there via video conference calls on a monthly basis to strategize. The main goal is to stop the current administration’s efforts to place additional public lands off-limits or put additional restrictions on existing public lands through the use of endangered or threatened species listings.
We’ve also had discussions about possible steps that could be taken to force the current administration to actively manage forests to help prevent the massive fires we’ve had this summer across the Western States. While these burned areas might allow for easier access to potential mining/prospecting areas, the loss of lives, homes, cabins, lumber, and wildlife are devastating. And the US Forest Service has closed access to some of our National Forests due to the fire danger, blocking access to the public and mining claim holders.
It is in all of our best interests to have our voices heard. According to the current documents, two local areas that we use frequently… are being considered as being listed as ACEC’s (Areas of Critical Environmental Concern).
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.
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.
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…
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.
Suction Dredging is Back in Most of California!
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