Legislative and Regulatory Update
July 2007 by Staff
• Assembly Bill 1032
This is the California anti-dredging bill we reported on last month.
The bill summary states, “…waters designated as wild and heritage trout waters shall be closed to suction gold dredging, except as authorized by permit approved by the Fish and Game Commission, and expands the Department of Fish and Game’s authority to close other waters to suction dredging when necessary to protect wild trout or other sensitive native aquatic or amphibian species.”
The bill was passed in the California Assembly and has moved to the Senate. Businesses, clubs, individuals and counties have been requested to submit letters to their state legislators and Governor Schwarzenegger. The matter was scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on June 26, 2007.
If the bill is signed into law, a lawsuit will be necessary to restore the rights of miners.
We will report on further developments next issue.
• Cache County v. USFS
Cache County, Utah, is fighting it out with the US Forest Service. At issue is ownership of existing historic roads.
The county council passed resolutions stating it owns 197 miles of roads in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest and it intends to claim an additional 150 miles in the near future.
Council member Cory Yeates said the council has heard complaints from citizens because forest roads are often blocked and poorly maintained.
The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a southern Utah case two years ago that state laws dictate the meaning of existing roads. In Utah, the law says that “existing” roads are those that had 10 years of continuous use before 1976.
Yeates said Cache County has documented 10 years of use to back up its claims to the roads.
“We have histories going back to the 1870s. Most of these were built with county funds,” said Yeates.
The county doesn’t intend to take the Forest Service to court to prove its claims, but will if it finds its rights infringed, he said.
• CMA appeals cyanide ban
The Colorado Mining Association (CMA) has asked the Colorado Supreme Court to review a lower court decision regarding a ban on the use of cyanide to process ore.
A three judge panel of the Court of Appeals sided with Summit County’s prohibition against the use of cyanide, though one judge dissented.
CMA asserted that the prohibition violates state law, which provides uniform standards for the environmental regulation of mining operations. The state of Colorado also filed a brief citing the need for statewide regulation of mining and outlining the effectiveness of state performance and reclamation standards.
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