The Actual Dredging Studies Support Miner’s Arguments

The Actual Dredging Studies Support Miner’s Arguments

Dredge

Above. Placer operation on the Yuba River using a suction dredge.

Did you ever wonder what the real studies say about suction dredging, but didn’t want to have to read through them all. A summary of every study we could find is provided here and links to the actual study. You can see our full list of suction dredging studies on the main research page.

Maria, 2003, CDFW Evaluation of Suction Dredging Effects on the Salmon River, California

Although technically not a study, this is a report of a senior fisheries biologist from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Responding to complaints from the Karuk tribe CDFW, in conjunction with the USFS sent two senior fisheries biologists to the Salmon River on the last day of dredging season in 2003 to evaluate the effects of an entire summer of dredging and whether these effects could be impacting salmon.

At the conclusion of the on-site evaluation Mr. Dennis Maria, the fisheries biologist concluded:

“The dredge holes created the only discernable juvenile rearing habitat that I could see. This rearing habitat consisted of clean unimbedded cobbles that covered the dredger pool substrate.”

“There exist documented instances that unstable spawning gravel mounds created by dredgers below dredge holes have been used by anadromous salmonids only to be lost by high winter flows washing these gravel mounds away. My files indicate little, if any, spawning occurs in this reach of the Salmon River. Peter Brucker, who has been involved with numerous spawning surveys on the Salmon River over the past number of years (>10 yrs.) agreed this reach of the Salmon River is not typically used for spawning.

“…it is unlikely that the current dredging impacts will significantly or substantially harm anadromous salmonid spawning habitat or juvenile salmonids within this reach.”

“In fact, for an area which had been dredged all summer long, I saw relatively innocuous disturbance of the existing habitat.”

“I saw nothing that would be considered a violation or that would have a significant impact to the fishery or significantly negatively impact the overall biotic community of the Salmon River. I would estimate that the amount of dredger disturbance on the mainstem Salmon River by New 49er members represents at most about 2 to 3% of the entire mainstem Salmon. Nearly most of the disturbed areas we saw during our tour were in areas not suitable for spawning.”

The 2012 California SEIR

The 2012 California SEIR reviewed all available suction dredging studies and found all studies agreed turbidity from a suction dredge was localized and temporary and therefore an insignificant effect of dredging. However, they claimed the combined efforts of every dredger across the State would result in a significant increase in turbidity without citing any study which supported this position. The actual studies found:

Harvey, 1986 Butte Creek California

In this study Harvey evaluated the effects of suction dredging on Butte Creek and the North Fork of the American River. The significant part of Harvey’s study was he evaluated the effect of 5″ and 6″ dredges over the course of two years and evaluated the effects of a single dredge and the cumulative effect of six dredges. His study primarily focused on the effects of small insects in the river.

Harvey found no significant differences in insect populations in areas which had been dredged, and those which hadn’t been dredged and found insects rapidly re-colonized dredged areas.

Harvey concluded fish weren’t significantly effected by dredging although short term they would move away from the dredge hole, but he found after dredging all eight study fish had moved from their previous location into the dredge hole indicating a 100% preference of the fish for the deeper water dredge hole.

During the experiment Harvey measured the turbidity of the dredge and found in the relatively clear water the turbidity change was noticeable, but dissipated rapdily and didn’t appear to effect either the fish or the insects.

“Fish and invertebrates apparently were not highly sensitive to dredging in general, probably because the streams studied naturally have substantial seasonal and annual fluctuations…Along with the rapid temporal recovery of insects seen in this study, these results suggest that suction dredging effects can be short-lived on streams where high annual flows occur.”

Bayley, 2003, Oregon

This report studied the cumulative effects of suction dredging in the Siskiyou National Forest under contract to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Baley study focused primarily on the effect of suction dredging on young salmon and found no significant effect. He concludes:

“Localized, short-term effects of suction dredge mining have been documented in a qualitative sense. However, on the scales occupied by fish populations such local disturbances would need a strong cumulative intensity of many operations to have a measurable effect. Local information reveals most suction dredge miners more or less adhere to guidelines that have recently been formalized by the U.S. Forest Service…Given that this analysis could not detect an effect averaged over good and bad miners and that more powerful study would be expensive, it would seem that public money would be better spent on encouraging compliance with current guidelines than further study.”

Johnson and McCleneghan, 1982, Survey of 270 Dredge Operations in California

In this 1982 study commissioned by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife the research evaluated the effects of suction dredging on the environment across the state and with dredge sizes from 2″ to 10″. Over 270 dredges were studied.

The authors found “…relatively few suction dredge miners are causing negative impacts.”

    • 93% of dredgers avoided under-cutting the bank
    • 94% of dredgers avoided channelizing the stream
    • 96% of dredgers avoided damaging riparian vegetation

The authors found the presence of mining claims tended to distribute the dredging operations out and resulted in less environmental impact than in areas where there were no mining claims. The most intensive dredging they found was in areas which were open to dredging, but closed to the location of mining claims. “Claimed streams like the North Fork of the Yuba River had a more even distribution of dredges. However, instream dredging effects tend to be localized not cumulative (Harvey et al. 1982)

The authors concluded “Even with the large increase in the number of suction dredge mining operations in recent years, the aquatic and riparian habitat impacts observed on selected streams of the Mother Lode during this study were minimal.

Harvey, 1995, Effect of Suction Dredging on Streams in California

This 1995 study was conducted under contract to the U.S. Forest service in response to an environmental groups lawsuit which claimed suction dredging was harming the environment.

The purpose of the study was to respond to allegations suction dredges harmed various fish including salmon. The study found salmon would spawn in suction dredge tailings if no other suitable habitat was present which could potentially be detrimental to redd survival if there was a heavy winter flow which could re-distribue the tailings. However, they found the selection of suction dredge tailings was only about 10% and they didn’t observe any mortality of redds in dredge tailings.

The study found a near 100% mortality rate if salmon eggs were sucked through the dredge hose and a very high mortality rate if the fingerlings were sucked through the dredge hose. The study found virtually no risk to juvenile and adult fish.

Salmon preference for dredge habitat was found to be uncertain. “Depending on existing water depth and velocity, dredging may increase or decrease the availability of preffered habitat for salmonids by altering the morphology of individual channel geographic units.”

The study went on to find the deposition of fine silt by a dredge likely has no impact on salmonids and no clear effect on salmon could be determined by the presence of suction dredges in the river, although the report cautioned the location of suction dredges which would block salmon from finding cooler waters could be a concern.

The report found no effects on stream insects consistent with earlier research.

“The three studies which have quantified colonization by benthic invertebrates afer dredging was stopped (Griffith and Andrews 1981; Thomas 1985; Harvey 1986) measured rapid recovery (within 4-6 weeks) in terms of both numbers and species composition.”

“Many recreational dredgers operate for less than five hours per day, suggesting that data from studies exposing biota to chronic suspended sediments would not apply to the impacts of dredging.”

“Available data indicate that individual dredges need not have significant downstream effects on aquatic biota. Downstream impacts may occur where closely-spaced dredges create the potential for cumulative effects of multiple dredges. The only attempt to measure cumulative effects of dredging on fish and invertebrates (Harvey 1986) suggested that a moderate density of dredges does not generate detectable cumulative effects.

Griffith and Andrews, 1981, Effects of suction dredging on fishes in Idaho

This study evaluated the effects of a 3″ suction dredge on fish and insects on four Idaho streams during the summer of 1980.

This study is interesting because it intentionally ran salmonid eggs through a suction dredge to determine mortality. Although no research, anywhere, has shown a suction dredge to actually do this the author of the study wanted to determine what would happen to various fish eggs if they were sucked up by a dredge. The study concluded for some types of eggs there would be a near 100% mortality rate. Although this may be true, there is likely a 100% mortality rate if you lay the same eggs out on the highway. However, the study also found only the un-eyed stage of the eggs is susceptible to mortality from a suction dredge. Once the eggs were “eyed” they had a much higher rate of survival.

This is another study which measured the effects on insects found within the stream and again concluded recolonization by insects is very rapid and there are no significant effects on insect populations. The study evaluated 2,100 mayfly larvae and found only two individuals were injured by the suction dredge. “Aquatic insects were surprising resilent to the effects of entrainment.”

The study found the actual amount of material moved differed greatly from advertised rates. When measuring actual material moved by a 3″ dredge the author found only .05 cubic meters per hour, but when measured using only pre-classified sands and gravel the “advertised rate” the amount of material moved was .13 cubic meters an hour, or double.

“Turbidity below the dredge in Napias Creek and Yankee Fork was nearly undetectable. A turbidity plume was noticeable only a few meters below the dredge in Napias Creek and no plume was seen in Yankee Fork.

Thomas, 1985, Experimentally Determined Impacts of Suction Dredging in Montana

In this study Thomas evaluated the effects of a 3″ dredge in Gold Creek near Missoula, Montana.

“The concentration of suspended sediment was greatest at the dredge outflow and decreased rapidly as the heavier particles settled out. Suspended sediment was 1.8 mg/liter 30.5 meters below the dredge, indicating a return to ambient levels…These data indicated that the bulk of the sediment stirred up by the dredging was re-deposited within 6-11 meters of the dredge.”

“Deposited sediment decreased exponentially downstream with the distance from the dredging.”

“The immediate effect of suction dredging was to reduce the number of all species of insects in the area dredged. The effect was very localized. No significant change in abundance was found downstream from the dredged section for any taxonomic group…The number of insects in the dredged section increased 1 month after dredging, even when the numbers in the control and downstream sections decreased – indicating most aquatic insects find dredged areas to be suitable habitat.”

“Intergravel permeability apparently did increase slighlty in the dredged section after dredging. However this difference was not significant.”

“The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of one small dredge operated for a relatively short period of time. The effects seemed to be small, very localized habitat modifications that had a minimal effect on the stream community.”

Prussian (US EPA), 1999, Fortymile River Study

The Prussian Study, conducted under contract to the US EPA is the only known study to evaluate the effects on water quality from suction dredging in regards to trace metals. The study also evaluated turbidity and the effects on aquatic insects. This was also one of the few studies to evaluate the effects of what are considered large dredges: an 8″ and a 10″ dredge.

The concluions of the study include:

“Dredge operations had no discernable effect on alkalinity, hardness, or specific conductance of water in the Fortymile. Of the factors we measured, the primary effects of suction dredging on water chemistry of the Fortymile River were increased turbidity, total filterable solids, and copper and zinc concentrations downstream of the dredge. These variables returned to upstream levels within 80-160 meters downstream.”

The results from this sampling revealed a relatively intense, but localized, decline in water clarity during the time the dredge was operating.

The impact of the dredge piles relative to the width of the Fortymile River was small. After one year, dredge piles at Site 1 had largely disappeared following the scouring flows that accompany snow melt.

Macroinvertebrate abundance and diversity were greatly reduced in the first 10m below the dredge at Site 1 relative to the upstream reference site. The abundance and diversity of macroinvertebrates returned to values seen at the reference site by 80-160 meters downstream. Recovery of macroinvertebrate diverstiy appeared to be substantial.

The results from Resurrection Creek indicated that there was no difference in the macroinvertebrate community between the mining area and the locations downstream.”

Harvey and Lisle, 1998, Effects of Suction Dredging on Streams.

“Effects of suction dredging commonly appear to be minor and local.”

This study fundamentally re-looks previous studies and comes to the same conclusions that suction dredges can kill un-eyed salmonid eggs; re-colonization of benthic invertebrates is rapid; and most effects from suction dredging are temporary and local.

This report adds nothing new to the research it only reviews previous research and makes a few recommendations for future studies.

Hassler, 1986, Impacts of suction dredging on Anadromous Fish

This study was prepared under contract to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is one of the most extensive studies at 147 total pages. The authors studied the effects of various sized dredges on Canyon Creek in Trinity County California.

The studies demonstrated that the impacts of suction dredge mining on fish and habitat were moderate at the current level. The impacts were seasonal and site specific. The current regulations controlling dredge aperature and size and season appear adequate to protect habitat, but careful monitoring of mining activity is advised.”

Johnson, 2004, Similkameen River Study

This study was prepared under contract to the Washington State Department of Ecology, Environmental Assessment Program. This study evaluated the trace metal impact of suction dredging on the Similkameen River in Washington. It is more thorough than the Fortymile Study.

The study specifically evaluated the effects of suction dredging on levels of arsenic, copper, lead and zinc in the water column. The report concludes:

Results showed that the metals concentrations discharged from small-scale gold dredges are not a significant toxicity concern for aquatic life in the Similkameen River. Although this activity will exacerbate exceedances of arsenic human health criteria, it would take very large numbers of dredges to effect a 10% change in the river’s arsenic levels, even at low-flow conditions.

Based on analyzing 14 effluents and 27 plume samples, it appears that small-scale gold dredges have little or no potential to cause exceedances of aquatic life criteria in the Similkameen River.

The metals concentrations measured in gold dredge effluents during the present study were at or below aquatic life criteria. Therefore, criteria exceedances would not be anticipated in the Similkameen River, regardless of the number of dredges operating.

Krueger, 2007, Some Effects of Suction Dredging on Mussels in Washington

As the name of this study implies the purpose was to determine what happens to mussels if effected by suction dredging.

The study was conducted in two different areas: Mill Creek and the Similkameen River.

On Mill Creek the study found mussels had a 100% survivability rate of being entrained (sucked up) and all mussels were able to extract themselves from burial of up to 40cm of dredge tailings.

On the Similkameen River the study found a 100% survival rate (and recovery rate) of all mussels which were entrained by the dredge. The study involved simulated entrainment and placement on top of a simulated tailings pile. The mussels were observed for one week and all mussels were able to re-orient themselves and begin feeding after six days.

The Similkameen Study also found from 6% to 13% of mussels which were buried under dredge piles could suffer mortality.

Stern, 1988, Effects of Suction Dredging on Canyon Creek, Trinity County

At 89 pages this Master’s Thesis is another very thorough evaluation of the effects of suction dredging. The study evaluated a twenty mile length of Canyon Creek with dredge sizes ranging from 2″ to 6″.

“Turbidity and TSS levels decreased with distance below the dredge. Values 50 meters below the dredge were 2 to 3 times higher than that of the control, but at 100 meters below values returned to normal levels.”

“Sediment deposited decreased with distance below the dredge, average deposited sediment ranged widely between dredges.”

Substrate embeddedness generally increased below dredge sites in the local area.

Minor scour and fill occurred at all dredge sites ranging 6-10%.

There was no statistical difference in young steelhead population counts above the dredge, below the dredge or at control sites indicating the suction dredging operation had no measurable effect.

The normal annual flows at Canyon Creek were adequate to siperse dredge tailing piles and fill in dredge holes. Less than 9% of the holes and tailings from the 1984 mining year were visible at the start of the 1985 season.

“Most streams with mobile beds and good annual flushing flows shold be able to remove the instream pocket and pile creations of suction dredges, although regulated (dams) streams with controlled flows may not.

“In Canyon Creek, several spawning surveys located approximately 60 salmonid redds in the study area, but none were within a dredge tailing pile.

“Suction dredge mining did not appear to influence the locations of adult anadromous salmonid summer-holding areas.”

“Although distinct to even the most casual observer, dredge plumes in Canyon Creek were probably of little direct consequence to fish and invertebrates…In general, dredge turbidity plumes were highly localized and occurrred during midday which is not a peak feeding peeriod for steelhead.”

Fish living space may be reduced within the first few meters below the dredge, but just upstream a new pool is created by the cone-shaped dredge hole. During the study, young steelhead, dace and suckers were observed in active and abandoned dredge holes.

“A high level of suction dredging was evident in Canyon Creek, but adverse effects on aanadromous fish habitat were minimal to moderate.

R2 Resources, 2006, White Paper on Suction Dredging for State of WashingtonThis paper is one of the lesser known, but more thorough evaluations of suction dredging. At 164 pages it is second only to the 2012 California EIR in page length. It was done under contract to the Washington Department of Ecology. It is essentially an environmental impact report of the effects and provides a great single point of reference for suction dredging impacts. This study provides a good review and summary of previous research but adds nothing new to the existing research.

This article is originally posted on and is property of American Mining Rights. Original article can be found here>> The Actual Dredging Studies Support Miner’s Arguments

New Hampshire Senators Walk the Talk “live Free or Die”

March 21, 2017, Energy and Natural Resources Senate Committee Public Hearing on House Bill 591 Relative to suction Dredging in the surface waters of the state. This bill was introduce under the premise that suction dredging was harmful to the environment and fish habitat. This bill would prohibit all motorized prospecting as well as rocker boxes. Gold prospectors assemble at the State House in Concord New Hampshire to testify in opposition to this bill, gold prospectors came prepared. Over the last several decades scientific studies have been conducted in numerous states by and or for government agencies such the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Fish and Wildlife of California and Washington State just to name a few, and peer reviewed. There were a number of these studies presented to the Committee as well as summaries of these studies prepared by two respected Scientist in this field. All of these studies come to the same conclusion that small scale suction dredging’s impact on the environment and fish habitat is less than significant. The Army Corps of Engineers states that any dredge less than a 6″ nozzle size impact on the environment is “De Minimus”. There was a lot of great testimony from prospectors you can hear the entire hearing here: Senate Committee Public Hearing HB 591.

If you can’t play the hearing here is the summary report of the hearing: Summary Report Public Hearing the audio is far better since this is just a summary.

I commend these Senators for their integrity and honesty, they weighed the facts and based their decision on the facts presented. Their recommendation to the Senate was that HB 591 was inexpedient to legislate. On March 29, 2017 the senate met and voted on HB 591 based on the recommendation of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and HB 591 was officially killed.

Legislation should be based on facts, scientific, peer reviewed facts and not on assumptions, opinion or conjecture or even lies. Even the opinion of a professional such as a college professor or a biologist in the field, while this opinion may be the basis of a hypothesis, until that hypothesis is proven by scientific study and peer reviewed, is still nothing more than an opinion. The Senators of New Hampshire based their decision on the truth, unlike legislators of other states that pander to special interest groups, I will leave it up to the reader as to why they would pander to these special interest groups.

The Senators of New Hampshire give me hope that our form of government still works the way it should, with integrity and honesty, at least in one state. LIVE FREE OR DIE!!!

Updates From The Western Mining Alliance

AMRA FUNDS LEGAL EFFORT
Many thanks to AMRA and AMRA members for contributing $3,000 to paying off our current legal bills. This brings us really close to being zero balance with the lawyers.
AMRA has repeatedly funded the right effort at the right time including contributing substantially to the Rinehart case, the Oregon case and our San Bernardino litigation.
Our thanks also to Motherlode Gold Hounds for helping
fund the Rinehart amicus brief.
SIERRA FUND AND LAKE COMBIE TO GET ANOTHER $6.1 MILLION
Based on the astounding success of being able to recover mercury ( 2 grams total) at the cost of $1 million per gram Governor Brown announced another healthy heaping of graft to be bestowed on the project. You can read the article here. https://yubanet.com/regional/governors-budget-includes-funding-to-improve-waterquality-and-water-storage-at-combie-reservoir/
WATER BOARD HEARINGS
We’re done with the Water Board hearings. We’ve provided them with a lot of information
and references which we hope they’ll read. Ultimately this is a political decision, not a science decision. If it was based on science we’d be confident of the outcome. We have continued to work with the Water Board through the public input period and we are trying
to schedule separate briefings to the directors of the Water Board. We hope to have this
meeting sometime in April. Thanks to everyone who took the time to attend, and present.
LEGAL SAN BERNARDINO HEARINGS PUSHED BACK AGAIN
Trial date is: July 12th, 2017
Environmentalists Push for Washington Ban
Yet another front in the dredging war is opened with environmentalists pushing for a California style dredging ban. You can read the article here. https://www.wateronline.com/doc/lawsuit-launched-rivers-salmon-from-destructive-suction-dredge-mining-0001
Pacific Legal Foundation submits Rinehart petition on time
On February 10th Pacific Legal submitted the petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the California Supreme Court decision in Rinehart.
WMA Preparing Amicus Brief in Support of Petition.
Thanks to everyone who provided supporting material for the Amicus brief in support of the Rinehart petition. Our brief is due on 10 March, we should have a draft of it this week.
Submit for Section 404 Permits Now
If you hope to dredge legally this summer then you should be requesting your Section 404 Clean Water Act permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. We have posted some samples on our web page, but each permit request must be specific to that operation. According to California Senate Bill 637 three permits are required. First you must obtain a federal Clean Water Act permit, this is the Section 404 permit. Secondly you must obtain a state water quality permit or waiver. The state, once you have a Section 404 permit, can issue a Section 401 certification, but only after you have obtained your federal permit. Finally, you must obtain a Fish and Game permit. Although it’s a long process, you are guaranteed to not
have a permit if you don’t submit.

Live Free or Die but not in New Hampshire, House Bill 591

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

 

 

~ February Newsletter ~ Public Lands For The People ~

Hello Folks,

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 PageEven 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!

Ron Kliewer

President

Source:  Public Lands For The People

Prospectors Fight for Rights in Black Hills

Forest Service cites fairy slipper orchid as reason to ban new mining claims

 

Prospectors fight for rights in Black Hills

By SARAH REIJONEN
For the GPAA

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 sarahreijonen@yahoo.com.

 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 

I Am Legion …

“And He asked him, What is they name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion; for we are many.” Mark 5:9.
“We communists are like seeds and the people are the soil. Wherever we go, we must unite with the people, take root and blossom among them.” Mao Zedong

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?

When the Western Mining Alliance made this exact same argument to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board they said we were wrong, afterall how could we know, we didn’t have PhDs. When a person gets paid over a quarter million dollars to tell them the same thing, but in less pages than we explained it, they wring their hands in worry over what will become of the valley with all this mercury.

How much mercury? About .001% moves each flood, or as the paper estimates it will take about 10,000 years for the Gold Rush era mercury to purge from the system. The leading mercury researcher in the country, Dr. Nicholas Ralston of the University of North Dakota states at those levels there is no concern, but that doesn’t make headlines nor does that position receive grant money.

The Truth is Flexible

Two weeks after the Western Mining Alliance released an article based on a California Water Board study which found all fish in gold mining areas were well below US EPA thresholds for mercury the Sacramento Bee ran a story with the headline “Study finds unsafe mercury levels in fish from Delta Watershed.” This report was actually good news, yet there is an amazing ability of the environmentalists to make lemons from lemonade. The Water Board study did find some fish in the Delta were unsafe to eat because mercury travels downhill, collects in low lying, warm areas and transforms into a harmful type of mercury which can be collected in the food chain. However, the good news was virtually all fish from areas where people fished, or swam, or boated had fish which were perfectly safe. Good news? Or the sky is falling?

Four billion dollars per year goes to environmental groups. That kind of money buys the headlines. Who decides at USA Today a six page paper from an obscue researcher is worthy of a headline? Who decides at the Sacramento Bee to report the dire warnings of unsafe fish in the Delta and ignore the vast majority of fish were perfectly safe? Four billion dollars buys a lot of propaganda. It’s clear the environmental groups aren’t doing a whole lot to save the environment such as planting trees or repairing eroding ditches, so where does the money go? It buys this kind of headlines which then prompts yet more grant money to “study the problem.”

While the leftists complain about a country run by capitalists, and the inequality of the free market, they are plotting for a system whereby they control the decision making and the power. It will be their doctrine and their ideology forced upon you. It’s a system of top down planning, sustainability and rationing where everyone is universally miserable. Well, everyone except for the planners. The lessons of the Soviet Union are completely lost on these people, they just think they can plan better.

Yet we have hope. We now know the name of our enemy and it is Legion. Like running into a nest of hornets you rarely know they’re there until you stir them up. This fight is about power, control and money – big money. This country was founded and built by people who asked only for the freedom to pursue their own lives yet now we are faced by those who wish to control your lives for you.

The environmentalists hide their money in the shadows. They twist the truth to ensure a continued stream of grant money to study problems which may not exist. It’s a racket, it’s an industry, it’s corruption and greed. It’s time to shine the light of day and watch them scurry.

Source:  Western Mining Alliance