Article reprinted from Appalachian Prospectors Gold Prospecting Adventures
As many of you know I am a gold prospector and if you don’t know, you know it now. I enjoy the great outdoors by prospecting for gold, I would hike miles and miles, over mountain ranges just to get to a good gold prospecting location. For me to hike I need a destination and a purpose. The same with camping, I will camp in the worst weather, for days and even weeks for gold prospecting. Gold prospecting is my serenity, just like fishing is to some, or hunting to others it is my passion. I like to prospect in New Hampshire, and I love to dredge for gold. I love New Hampshire, especially the state moto “live Free Or Die”. This is the state I was born in, I call New Hampshire my home state, most of my relatives still live in New Hampshire, my ancestors settled in New Hampshire while it was still the Massachusetts colony, one day I plan on going home. I want to spend my retirement in the mountains prospecting and dredging for gold.
Earlier this week I read an article in the Concord Monitor online titled: Bill would halt dredging machinery in N.H. gold prospecting , my blood pressure sky rocketed and I thought I was going to have a stroke because what I read was a proposed bill, HB 591 to ban gold dredging in New Hampshire. The entire bill is based on misconceptions about small scale suction gold dredging, possibly even lies. What happened to live free or die? There goes my whole plan for retirement. I would like to clear the air on some of these misconceptions about gold dredging especially those listed in this news article.
“There’s a surprising amount of damage that can be done by one of these things,” Claims Rep. Lee Oxenham, a Plainfield Democrat, which by the way indroduced and sponsored this bill. What I want to know is what is this surprising amount of damage. What is the merit for this bill? I don’t want to hear opinion and conjecture or flat out lies, show me the data that supports your claim. what I need to see are studies and or reports that have been peer reviewed, performed on the practice of small scale suction dredging because the ones that I have read prove otherwise.
It is obvious that who ever provided the information for this article knows very little to nothing about the subject of gold prospecting , gold dredging or anything associated with the practice thereof. The article states and I quote ” The bill also would outlaw similar processes and technologies with names like “rocker box” and “highbanking,” which suck up stones and water from steambeds via small gasoline-powered pumps and filter them in some way to help the users spot tiny flecks of gold that might be there.” Rocker boxes and highbankers don’t suck up stones you shovel into them. Rocker boxes don’t even have a motor on them it is a hand operated device that you pour water in with a pail. How does legislation get introduced on anything without even the basic facts even being known and better yet how does it pass a House vote? Something is wrong with our government.
Here is another quote from the article: “New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says these processes stir up too much silt and mud, “releasing fine sediments back into the stream” that can harm life in the waterway.” Flat lazy water is where mud and silt covers the bottom, rivers on flat land, swamps, ponds and lakes is where you would find this condition, this is not at all ideal for gold dredging. We don’t dredge here. What is ideal is a river that drops at least 10 feet per mile which means faster moving water, silt and mud does not settle in these areas for us to dredge up, we need to dredge in gravel, rocks where only the heavy materials, minerals like magnetite, hematite, garnet and gold will settle, the lite materials have already been washed away by nature.
Another quote from the article:
“The turbidity can go for thousands of yards – it’s not just localized,” said Oxenham. “It’s disruptive for fish, insects, the benthic community in all its forms.” There are occasions where you may dredge into a pocket of clay and there is a moment of noticeable turbidity, it is not constant, travels about 50 to 100 yards and 100 is stretching it, not thousands. Notice in the picture below how clear the water is, this is typically how it runs.
Yet another quote: “Further, she added, the noise and smell of the machines “can drive those searching for the unmediated, unspoiled experience of our natural wonders out of the state, along with their tourist dollars.” Yes there is the noise of a small engine, the size of a lawn mower engine, a push mower not a riding one. What smell? This makes it sound like we are running a paper mill out here and we are driving all the tourist away, simply not true. We have just as much right to the wild as a hiker or any one else who is recreating out in the state of New Hampshire. I am spending my money too, on campgrounds or other lodging, groceries, restaurants, gas stations, ice cream stands not to mention the $50.00 I pay for the permit to dredge.
New Hampshire residents should be outraged by this legislation because it is all based on fiction and if this is how legislators deal with a matter such as this imagine how legislation is passed on matters that you really care about. Maybe they should focus their efforts more on things like the heroin epidemic in the state.
If you like to prospect for gold and dredge in New Hampshire then please stand up for your rights and attend the public hearing that is going to be held by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee which the date and place is yet to be determined. You should be able to find the date here when it is determined: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/senate/committees/legislation/committee_billstatus.aspx?l=368&cc=S38&r=1
CALL TO ACTION OREGON:
A new bill has been created to ban all forms of mining in Oregon. They are even declaring it an emergency to pass this ban.
Here is an excerpt from the bill:
Senate Bill 3
Sponsored by Senator COURTNEY (Presession filed.)
The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor’s brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced.
Modifies area where moratorium on mining using motorized equipment applies.
Exempts certain mining operations from exclusion certificate requirements.
Operative January 2, 2019, excludes certain upland placer mining operations from moratorium and requires certain upland placer mining operators to hold operating permit. Requires motorized equipment used for certain upland placer mining operations to be operated only during certain hours. Punishes upland placer mining operation outside certain hours or without permit coverage by maximum of $2,000 fine.
Establishes permitting requirements for motorized in-stream placer mining. Requires Director of Department of State Lands and Director of Department of Environmental Quality to enter memorandum of understanding allowing Department of Environmental Quality to issue certain removal fill permits. Authorizes Department of Environmental Quality to issue consolidated water quality and removal fill permits for motorized in-stream placer mining. Places certain restrictions on motorized in-stream placer mining.
Punishes motorized in-stream placer mining without permit coverage by maximum of $2,000 fine.
Requires motorized equipment used for motorized in-stream placer mining to be inspected at aquatic invasive species check stations.
Provides that motorized in-stream placer mining permitting, use restriction, inspection and penalty provisions become operative January 3, 2021.
Requires consultation to determine whether state and federal mining programs can be better coordinated.
Declares emergency, effective on passage.
An emergency? You must stand up to horrendous ideological bills like this or be steamrolled by their hatred for public lands, small miners, fishermen, hikers, hunters and property owners.
We urge you to read this bill and oppose it. We also urge anyone in Oregon to attend the public hearing this coming Monday at the State Capital in Salem.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL
Oregon State Capitol
900 Court Street NE, Room 347, Salem, Oregon 97301 Phone: 503-986-1751
Here is the entire bill:
Oregon, rise up and defeat this tyrannical bill.
Here we are in a new year with a new government settling into place in Washington DC, and a new set of challenges in front of us. Yes, it is great that our new President is pro-American business and willing to do what he can (which is a lot!), to Make America Great Again, But ‘We The People’ still need to do our part and be actively involved in the process. You can’t sit back and expect that everyone else will get it done. We The People have spoken and We The People must act on our convictions. It’s time to stay involved, write letters to your Congressmen and Senators and make phone calls. A hand written letter is worth thousands of form letters! There are still fights in progress such as the Eagle Mountain land annex where the National Park Service is working hand in hand with BLM to take 22,000 acres of mineral rich land into the National Park to be locked away. Get involved and write letters. The comment period closes Feb. 16th Eagle Mountain National Park Land Annex Comments Page. Even in a national emergency where our enemies refuse to sell us any rare earth minerals that are crucial to our national defense, once locked in the National Park, the minerals may as well not exist. Even if the land could be moved back into Public Domain, it would takes years to develop the mines so as to be useful in the defense of our nation.
We have an update to our dredge lawsuits here in California. It appears Judge Ochoa has for the second time cancelled the upcoming hearing on the CEQA and “one subject” motions, this time pushing the hearing out to July 12, 2017.
You all may recall that these motions were initially to be heard in January 2016, then stayed on account of the Rinehart case, then set for April 21st 2017, then cancelled at Judge Ochoa’s instance and moved to May 12th 2017. Although we are very confident that we can get the CEQA process and the 2012 regulations thrown out due to the faulty science and violations of the process by the State of California, that won’t get us back in the water dredging due to the water board permitting process lumped on by the legislature.
We do have a solution that will remove all states from regulating unreasonably on Federally managed lands and give the power back to the MMAC affiliated mining districts.
We are working feverishly to get new legislation in place that will put more teeth in the 1872 Mining Law for the miners. This must happen within the next 2 years while the Republican majority is in place. Do your part to help us Take It Back And Keep It! Renew your supporting membership in PLP and make a donation above your normal membership to help us make the extra push supporting the Mining District revival under the expert guidance of the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council! The power of the mining districts is beginning to be realized in Congress. Our advisors were in DC for the inauguration. Joe Martori, Clark Pearson and Scott Harn, all MMAC advisors are in Washington DC right now for a rigorous week of work on our behalf to get our Federal legislation through and signed by President Trump! You can read the bill here: House Resolution from the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council.
PLP volunteers will be set up at the big Quartzite, Arizona Gold and Mineral show Feb. 10-12, so come out and show your support! We will have gold bags for sale, a panning area, PLP T-shirts, expert prospecting advice, Challenge Cards, PLP bumper stickers and speaking at the show. We are excited to be there! Find out all about the show here: https://quartzsitegoldshowcom.wordpress.com/
Though our membership voted in new By-Laws last year which we are now operating under, the Board Members that resigned last July are still having their charade meetings, pretending to be PLP Board Members at Keene Engineering’s office. We are saddened to announce that because of these actions, by GPAA’s request, PLP will not be allowed to set up at any of their events until GPAA is satisfied that the Board dispute has been resolved. As far as we are concerned, the dispute was resolved when the PLP Membership overwhelmingly approved the new By-Laws last fall. We will miss so many of you we consider our friends at these shows, but will keep in touch other ways like through our newsletters, website, new shows we’ve never worked at before, and “out there” in the gold fields.
We are continuing to fight for miner’s rights, and are still Plaintiffs in the two dredging cases in San Bernardino. Your board of directors are all volunteer! Please help us help the mining community by renewing membership and making an extra donation.
Until next time, Let’s Keep Taking it Back while we Make Mining and Multiple Use Public Land Great Again!
Source: Public Lands For The People
Forest Service cites fairy slipper orchid as reason to ban new mining claims
The U.S. Forest Service proposed nearly 18,000 acres of land in the Black Hills National Forest to be “withdrawn from mineral entry,” which means no new mining claims would be allowed.
The proposal was recorded in the Federal Register on Sept. 24, 2015, but Sam Griner, a member of the Northern Hills Prospectors — a local chapter of the Gold Prospectors Association of America — said he wouldn’t have even known about the proposed withdrawal had he not scanned the Forest Service’s Schedule of Planned Action (SOPA) website.
“They were surprised that anybody had caught it,” Griner said. “They expected it to just go through. The Travel Management Plan … just went through and nobody knew to comment on it. It went unchecked and nobody made any comments.”
The Travel Management Plan that the Forest Service issued back in 2010 shut down roads, affecting area prospectors but primarily impacting hunters, Griner said.
After learning about the proposal to designate nearly 18,000 acres as new Research Natural Areas (RNA) and Botanical Areas (BA), Griner took action action, attending public meetings and sending letters of opposition to nearly every agency and public official he could think of. The public comment period for the proposed mineral withdrawal closed Dec. 23, 2015.
Griner attended a National Forest Advisory Board Meeting on March 16 at the Mystic Ranger District to oppose the withdrawal. During the meeting, Deputy Forest Supervisor Jerry Krueger said that if approved, the mineral withdrawal would last for two decades. After 20 years, the Forest Service would have to reapply with the Bureau of Land Management for another withdrawal, according to the meeting minutes. Because BLM manages the minerals within the Black Hills National Forest, it — along with the Secretary of the Interior — must give approval for the withdrawal.
In response to Griner’s land closure concerns, Former Black Hills National Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien said, “What we are also doing is preserving. During the Forest Planning process in 2005, we found that a number of these areas should be preserved,” according to the meeting minutes. But, Krueger said the plan to withdraw the various sites from mineral entry goes back as far as the late ’90s.
Northern Hills Prospectors President James Van Hout said the Forest Service’s response to the prospector’s concerns has been disingenuous, at best.
“They just give us lip service, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll take your comments and concerns and we’ll discuss them,’ ” Van Hout said. “We know exactly where they went. They went into file 13 because they weren’t what they wanted to hear, and we know that. We’re not stupid.”
Van Hout said the Forest Service geologist treated prospectors with the same attitude during a meeting with the agency last October about the areas where mining would be banned.
“Their geologist had the gall and thought we were just stupid. He made the statement that the U.S. Geological Survey says there’s no minable minerals,” Van Hout said. “I plainly asked him, ‘Have you tested it personally?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Then how do you know there’s not?’ Boots on the ground is the only way you’re going to find out. Then, I asked him how old the report was. The ’50s? And, he didn’t deny it.”
Furthermore, the report related to commercial mining, not prospecting and small-scale mining, Van Hout said.
“Basically, the report was saying there’s no commercially viable minerals there, meaning no large mining company is going to want to go in and mine it because it us such rough territory and terrain that it would be cost prohibitive for them to go in and mine,” Van Hout said. “But for the small miner, there’s lots of gold in there. Seventeen of 22 of the largest nuggets that came out the Black Hills came out of the major area they want to close.”
At the same October meeting in Rapid City, Krueger said: “We need to take special measures to protect them [Black Hills] in terms of what can occur there, and so one of the concerns is commercial mineral withdrawal entry,” according to a news report by KEVN Black Hills FOX.
Krueger later said that it was not the Forest Service’s intention to keep out the small-scale miner, but that because of the way the mining laws are written, there is no distinction between small-scale miners and commercial miners.
“Initially, we thought that by doing the mineral withdrawal that it would not affect the recreational prospecting groups,” Krueger said. “When we pursued that —again through the public meetings — we were asked to take a look at that through legal channels. The mineral withdrawal covered any mineral withdrawal within these designated areas, and that included recreational prospecting.”
Although prospectors may not feel like their voices are being heard, Krueger said they managed to get the withdrawal area down from nearly 18,000 acres to 11,000 acres by negotiating terms of the contract with BLM.
“During the public meetings, which included members of your group, we received feedback that they would like us to pursue in terms of the legal description,” Krueger said. “We’re trying to capture a non-linear polygon with a square block legal description.”
Initially, BLM instructed the Forest Service to submit the proposed withdrawal using a minimum size of 40-acre blocks, so everywhere a 40-acre block touched the perimeter of the withdrawal, the Forest Service had to include that 40 acres. But, the Forest Service was able to negotiate the legal description down to 2.5-acre blocks, Krueger said.
“It really helped us all out. We could much more accurately capture the research footprint of the Research Natural Area or Botanical Area using a much smaller legal description,” Krueger said.
According to the Forest Service website, the RNA areas “were selected because of their relatively pristine nature and form part of a national network of ecological areas designated in perpetuity for non-manipulative research, education and biodiversity conservation. Botanical Areas were selected because of unique biological features and rare natural communities.”
One of these “unique biological features” includes the calypso bulbosa, also known as the “fairy slipper orchid,” which has a G5 national rating and a S3 state rating, according to the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks website. The scale runs from 1 to 5 with 5 being the most plentiful and 1 being the scarcest. The flower has held a G5 ranking for more than a decade, according to the Forest Service website, which noted that the species is “secure, widespread and abundant” in the United States.
Still, these Cinderella sounding flora are being used as a premise to ban new mining claims.
“Among those are the lesser yellow lady slipper, which is one of my personal favorites,” Black Hills National Forest Botanist Chelsea Monks said in an interview with South Dakota Public Broadcast. “But, the neat thing about these areas is not just the species that are there, but the assemblage of species that are there, meaning there are species that are co-occurring that don’t normally occur together. So, that’s one of the values that we designated these areas to preserve.”
Monks is responsible for taking public comments on the proposed withdrawal and oversees the Botanical Areas within the Black Hills National Forest. The orchids may not be endangered, but they are a favorite meal for deer, Van Hout said.
“Deer love to eat [the fairy slipper] because of the vanilla aroma to it,” Van Hout said. “You can go down one draw, and there will be huge numbers of this flower. You can go over the next ridge into the next draw and you won’t find any or just a few, so they go into those and go, ‘Oh dear, this is a scarce flower.’ It’s ridiculous.”
Krueger said there is no actual risk of endangerment for the plant life in these areas. Instead, the main purpose for withdrawal is scientific study and preservation.
“So I guess, in the current management scheme there is no threat. All we’re looking to do with this is to remove the potential for development, which would disturb the sites,” Krueger said.
The Forest Service currently has five Research Natural Areas and eight Botanical Areas in and around the Black Hills National Forest. Four of the five RNAs were designated in September 2011, including: Hay Creek in Crook County, Wyoming; Fanny/Boles in Custer County, South Dakota; and Canyon City and North Fork Castle Creek in Pennington County, South Dakota.
Withdrawal means that no new mining claims can be staked, but creating RNAs and BAs have the added limitation of only allowing non-motorized transportation, meaning these areas can only be reached via horseback or on foot, according to the Black Hills National Forest’s online brochure titled “What are Research Natural Areas and Botanical Areas?” This problem with access also came up in 2010 when the Forest Service issued its new Travel Management Plan.
“What really ticked me off is that they won’t allow disabled people to get to the claim. Everybody else can get to the claim, but it’s the disabled people who are a part of that club who can’t get to the claim, and the Forest Service isn’t doing anything about it,” Griner said. “That’s what really put me over the top and what really drove me.”
However, Krueger said the proposed withdrawal to designate RNA and BA areas would not modify the existing Travel Management Plan.
“I don’t have a map that overlays the current Travel Management Plan over the Botanical Areas or the Research Natural Areas, but I can tell you — knowing how many trails we have in the forest and how many roads we have — that I’m quite sure that there are existing trails or roads in those areas.”
Griner has enlisted the help of the American Mining Rights Association to deal with this potential withdrawal. In fact, Griner was one of the first miners to call on AMRA for support three years ago when the Forest Service first started shutting down roads and access to mining claims in his area, said AMRA President Shannon Poe.
“The Forest Service is trying to claim all these different flowers, and it’s all pushed by the environmental movement,” Poe said. “They just want to close all this land where these people have mining claims. They’ve been gating and locking and blocking. It’s the same story over and over again. It is frustrating, because he’s reached out to senators, representatives, and he’s not getting a lot of help or traction. Something we’re going to bring a lot more attention to moving forward is putting pressure on lawmakers to step up and help the people they’re supposed to represent.”
Aside from getting AMRA involved, Van Hout said it is important to recruit fellow outdoor users.
“We need to start getting the horseback riding groups and biking groups and hunters and fisherman involved,” Van Hout said. “Mining is the main target, but they’re a target, too. They started with the Travel Management Plan. The hunters used to be able to drive to their certain areas and then walk around and hunt, but now have to walk in two or three miles to get to their favorite hunting grounds. I don’t know if you’ve tried to drag a deer or elk three miles … They’ve hit the hunters a little bit, but they’ll hit everybody pretty soon.”
According to the Forest Service’s Schedule of Planned Actions, a decision is to be made concerning the ban on new mining claims September next year.
“September 2017 is two years from the date the Notice of Application for Withdrawal was published in the Federal Register and is the date by which the BLM should make a decision of whether or not to withdraw the areas,” Monks stated in an email correspondence with Griner on Aug. 25. “Right now the Forest Service interdisciplinary team is working on analysis for this project and does not yet have findings. Once we have completed our analysis, the Regional Forester will send a recommendation to the BLM and they will make the final decision.”
The butting of heads with federal agencies has been rampant across the West in the past few years, but Van Hout said it has never been a problem in the Black Hills until now, and he definitely sees a shift in dynamics, he said.
“We never had to deal with this … The Black Hills have always been pretty much conservative. You did what you want to do as long as you weren’t stepping on anybody’s toes or causing problems. They left everybody alone,” Van Hout said. “The new Forest Service — they’re starting to close us down now. They haven’t closed us yet, but they’re trying.”
Griner said he feels stabbed in the back by an agency that is supposed to be representative of the people and working for the people.
“With some people, you give them a bow and arrow for a present and they give you a T-shirt with a bulls-eye on it,” Griner said.
Sarah Reijonen is a freelance writer based in California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BLACK HILLS NATIONAL FOREST
Rules & Restrictions
Activities allowed in Recreational National Areas (RNA):
• Dispersed Recreation: Non-motorized / Non-mechanized dispersed use including hunting and fishing is allowed without developments such as trails or signs
• Research: Research methods are non-destructive and non-manipulative.
• Education: Opportunities are available to learn about natural processes using methods that are non-destructive and non-manipulative.
• Transportation: Foot and horse travel only
• Vegetation Management: Vegetation management including livestock grazing is used only as needed to conserve the biological characteristics for which the RNA was established using methods with the least impact on desired RNA ecological processes. All lease applications will have “no surface occupancy” stipulation.
• No mineral material permits will be issued.
Activities allowed in Botanical Areas (BA):
• Non-motorized dispersed recreation
• On-road motorized vehicles use is authorized in some areas; however other areas are
designated Roadless Areas
• Minimal timber harvest only when necessary to maintain, restore or enhance ecological values
• Livestock grazing if it does not conflict with the ecological values
• No new mineral material permits
— Source: Black Hills National Forest website
Article as featured in the Pick & Shovel Gazette October-November 2016 edition
The environmentalist attack on suction dredging is merely a symptom of the much larger illness. The environmental elitists and the intelligentsia reap the rewards while the citizens foot the bill. The environmentalists have a dream of socialism in which they control the land and the means of production, but they are paid to protect it, rather than people being paid to produce with it.
The lucrative business of endangered species provides an endless flow of money to people who are willing to study the species, but no money goes to those who lost their jobs, their land or their means to earn a living. Money flows to people whose value in the free market is exactly zero, yet they have created an industry entirely funded by taxpayers whereby they earn princely sums of money like $750 an hour for lawyers to sue the government, and $200 an hour for frog researchers. In a free economy who would pay a frog researcher even minimum wage, let alone $200 an hour? A recent six page paper which found mercury moves with each major flood cost taxpayers $50,000 per page. Yet no one blinks an eye at this.
Only your government can afford to force the taxpayers to pay this. How much did you receive last year to study endangered species, to prepare six page research papers or to sue the government? If you’re like us, it was zero.
They’re All In It Together
The interconnected web amongst environmental groups, universities, corporations and the government runs deeper than we think, or would like to think. In July of 2015 the Western Mining Alliance published an article challenging the statements on mercury of a small environmental group with deep ties in the California legislature. In the article they quoted the California Office of Occupational Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) where the OEHHA web page stated no person in California had ever been sickened from mercury in sport fish. A statement which had been on their website for two years.
A mere two weeks later the website was changed. The statement was gone and it was replaced with dire warnings about the hazard of pregnant women eating mercury contaminated fish. This despite the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issuing new guidance on fish consumption which recommended eating more fish. Another recent study published in the January edition of the Journal of Epidemiology showed an increase in the IQ of children whose mothers ate large amounts of fish finding the benefits to the child outweighed any perceived risk of mercury. But, these studies are ignored by the environmentalists who reap millions from studying mercury. No dire threat – no cash.
Take for example a recent front page article in USA Today highlighting some third rate research from the University of California Sanata Barbara. The Sacramento Bee and the Huffington Post screamed headlines of “Toxic Legacy of the Gold Rush.”
Did anyone bother to actually ask if it was toxic? In over 150 years not a single person has been sickened by this mercury yet suddenly it’s “toxic?”
Only Environmentalists Hold the Truth
The Singer Study, which costs taxpayers $280,000 to tell us major floods move sediment and with that sediment the mercury travels down hill, is a study in bilking the taxpayers. Why did we need to spend $280,000 for a six page paper to tell us mercury travels downhills during major floods?