Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Approves Prospecting Rules Changes

As reported earlier on this site, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) requested the Fish and Wildlife Commission to approve several proposed changes to the HPA rules governing mineral prospecting, including changes to the work times on the Sultan and Similkameen rivers.

Here is the pertinent part of today's news release from WDFW:

April 24, 2018

Commission OKs mineral prospecting
rules....

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has changed the work times for mineral prospecting in and around the Sultan and Similkameen rivers to avoid periods when incubating eggs and young fish are present.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved the changes on Friday, April 20....

Until recently, a section of the Sultan River in Snohomish County was open to mineral prospecting using a variety of equipment, including suction dredges, sluices, and high bankers, for more than seven months each year.

That changed in 2016, when a fish-passage project at the City of Everett diversion dam opened an additional 6.3 miles of the river to spawning salmon and steelhead, said Randi Thurston, WDFW habitat protection manager.

"Last year, the department adopted an emergency rule that prohibited the use of certain types of prospecting equipment in that area, except during August," Thurston said. "This year, the commission adopted that new work window as a permanent rule."

The new rule applies to the use of mineral prospecting equipment in the water, Thurston said.

In a separate action, the commission agreed to expand the work window for mineral prospecting on the Similkameen River to include the month of June from Enloe Dam to Palmer Creek in Okanogan County. That decision was based on a new study by WDFW that found no evidence of incubating trout or whitefish eggs there in June, Thurston said.

"Prospectors urged us to conduct the study, and they were right about the results," she said.

Under the new rule, the work window for prospecting on the Similkameen River from Enloe Dam to Palmer Creek will extend from June 1 through Oct. 31.

For more information about mineral prospecting in Washington, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/mining/.

Contact: Mineral prospecting: Randi Thurston, 360-902-2602

Sunday, April 8, 2018

North Central Washington Prospectors Gold and Treasure Show is Next Weekend

My prospecting club is hosting its annual Gold and Treasure show next weekend.  Here are the details:

North Central Washington Prospectors presents its 19th Annual

                                             

                         GOLD TREASURE AND MORE SHOW

                                          April 14 & 15



The show will have over 50 vendors that will be selling prospecting and rock hound supplies, metal detectors, jewelry, art, gems & minerals, rocks, gold pay dirt bags, fudge, ATVs, leather goods, thrift store items and MORE.

Truck and cars on display.  Something for everyone!



Metal detecting hunt with paid admission both days, 10 AM.  Coins and metal tags for prizes will be buried on the fairgrounds for this event.  Top prize is a metal detector for both days.



Haystack Hunt for kids ages 2 - 10 both days (coins & toys), 11 AM.



Door and gold raffle prizes each hour.  Large kitchen serving breakfast and lunch items.



The big club gold show raffle will be held on Sunday.  1st prize - $2,000; 2nd prize - Whites MXT All Pro metal detector; 3rd prize - $500; 4th prize - large gold nugget.



Chelan County Fairgrounds in Cashmere, WA.

Saturday, April 14, 9AM - 5PM; Sunday, April 15, 9AM - 4PM.

Cost: $5, children 12 and under free.  Info: (509) 860-1145

Monday, April 2, 2018

Motorized Dredging Not Yet Safe in Washington

In what appears to be a contingency move, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will hear from WDFW staff regarding "options and possible timeline necessary for rulemaking should the Commission direct the Department to remove motorized prospecting methods from those approved under the Gold and Fish pamphlet."

This presentation is set to be conducted by Randi Thurston, Protection Division Manager and Teresa Scott, Environmental Planner, Habitat Program at the 9:30 am portion of the Saturday, April 14 Commission meeting.

Public input will be heard on this agenda item for those interested in providing same.

The meeting will be held at the Natural Resource Building, 1111 Washington Street SE, Olympia, WA 98501, on the First Floor – Room 172.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Small Changes to the HPA Rules Proposed at Fish and Wildlife Commission Meeting

At the March 17 session of Washington's Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Wenatchee, Habitat Program Protection Division Manager Randi Thurston outlined the proposed changes to the HPA rules that affect mining activities in Washington's waters.

One change would be to the authorized work times on the Sultan River in Snohomish County above the City of Everett's dam.  On the grounds that Coho and other fish can now reach the section of the river above the dam, the new permanent rule would change the authorized work times from July 16 — February 28 to August 1 — 31.

Another change involves the work times allowed on the section of the Similkameen River between Enloe Dam and Palmer Creek in Okanogan County.  Last summer, biologists from WDFW determined that the part of the river mentioned above is not suitable for resident trout spawning.  As a result, the authorized work times may move up one month from July 1 to June 1.  According to Ms. Thurston, this change would still protect the Mountain Whitefish that spawn in that reach.

The remaining requested changes are minor administrative ones, including some designed to make the HPA application process easier and clearer.  No specifics were given.

WDFW intends to formally ask the Commission to adopt these revisions to the HPA rules at the April 20 telephone conference call.

Be sure to sign up for email updates from the Miner to stay informed of matters affecting small-scale prospecting and mining in Washington State.  The sign-up box is at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar on this page.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to Hold a Public Hearing on Proposed HPA Rule Changes

At 9:10 AM on Saturday, March 17, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will receive a briefing from Randi Thurston, WDFW Habitat Program Protection Division Manager, on the proposed amendments to the Hydraulic Code (Chapter 220-660 WAC).  Following the briefing, the Commission will hold a hearing during which the public may provide input on these proposed amendments.

For those interested in attending this meeting, it will be held in Wenatchee at the Red Lion Hotel at 1225 N. Wenatchee Avenue in the Wenatchee & Chelan Rooms.

If you are interested in providing input on this matter, please read the procedure to follow here.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission set to hear input on Small-Scale Mining

Moving forward with their intent expressed at the January 5 telephone conference, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will hear input from various panels, including Trout Unlimited, Tribes, and small-scale mineral prospectors at their meeting on Saturday, February 10, 2018.  The Commission will also accept input from the general public and WDFW staff will provide the Commission with a briefing.

The meeting is scheduled for 11:15 A.M. in Room 172 on the first floor of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street SE, Olympia.

Those intending to provide information should read the Procedure for Public Testimony.  Each speaker has 3 minutes to present their information.

You can find the entire agenda for the February meeting here.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission Votes To Deny Trout Unlimited Petition

The Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission voted on January 5 to deny the Trout Unlimited petition banning motorized dredging.

Listening to the recording of the meeting, I learned that Jeff Davis of the Habitat Program declared that WDFW would be willing to work with the Ecology Department to coordinate mining regulation in line with the latter's water quality mandate.

Randi Thurston, also with the Habitat Program, reviewed the highlights of the Trout Unlimited petition for the commissioners and stated the WDFW staff's recommendation.

There was also some discussion on the language of the law regarding the definition of small-scale mining and that it should be clarified this summer by the outcome of current court cases.  A few of the commissioners indicated they don't want to wait for the court cases to be resolved before proceeding with this matter.

After the discussion, there was a motion to support the recommendation of the WDFW staff:

I move to deny the Trout Unlimited petition at this time. I request that staff schedule sufficient time at a future Commission meeting to provide an in-depth briefing on the science related to mineral prospecting; potential risks to fish life; avoidance, minimization and compensation options; and policy considerations.  We also request that representatives from Trout Unlimited and the mineral prospecting community be given an opportunity to present at that meeting. The Commission will decide what action to take after the briefing.

The motion carried on a voice vote (I heard no dissent, but the audio was a bit garbled) with the understanding that the intention of the Commission is to solicit general public comment as well as to invite representatives of the mineral prospecting community, various environmental groups, commercial fishermen, tribes, etc to present their views at a designated Commission meeting in the near future.

The entire discussion went on for just under a half-hour.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reinhart Petition Update

I've already posted twice on the Reinhart case that may come before the US Supreme Court (here and here).

Dave McCracken of California's New 49er's prospecting organization has called once again for miners to write to the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, and Donald Trump with updated information opposing the Solicitor General's recommendation.  Here is his latest message:

It has come to our attention that The Solicitor General’s brief to the U.S. Supreme Court was written by an Obama administration holdover, Assistant Solicitor General, LANE N. MCFADDEN. This is the very same person who briefed the California Supreme Court that States should have the authority to impose regulations upon mining on the federal lands that can be so burdensome; the regulations can be designed to kill mining altogether.

That is where we find ourselves in California and Oregon today – shut down unless we are given an impartial review by the Supreme Court. Mr. McFadden’s more recent brief to the U.S. Supreme Court basically makes the same leftist arguments.

We do not believe the Trump Administration is aware of the position Mr. McFadden has represented on behalf of the Attorney General's Office -- or represents President Trump's intentions.

We still have time to make them aware of it.

Even if these letters do not reach the target on time, bringing the matter to the Trump Team's attention is going to help us a great deal.  A very similar case in Oregon is working its way towards the high court. So the more we can do right now, the better off we are going to be in the end.  The stakes are too high for us to miss any opportunity!

We are requesting as many of you as possible to immediately send a letter to Attorney General, Jeff Sessions with copies to the Trump-appointed Solicitor General and Donald Trump.  Here is a sample letter that you can either copy and paste from or use to draft your own language:

http://www.goldgold.com/sample-ltr-ag-sessions.html

Here is the link to our attorney's letter that we refer to in the letter:

http://www.goldgold.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Letter-to-President-Trump-12-8-17.pdf

As always, we are asking all of the other mining organizations to develop a concentrated effort in this last big push.

For as long as we have been fighting to recover our mining rights, there has never been a more important time to make our voices heard. Our future, and to a large degree, America's future, hangs in the balance which very well might swing our way if we all make a lot of noise right now!

Thanks for all that you guys do to support our efforts!

Dave McCracken

The New 49'er Legal Fund

The New 49er's, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039, USA

It looks like the anti-miners are attacking on a broad front.  Let's do all we can to save small-scale mining for 2018 and the years to come.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Trout Unlimited Petitions WDFW to Outlaw Suction Dredging in Washington

As reported last night on this blog, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is holding a conference call on January 5, 2018, to decide whether to approve a petition on motorized suction dredging.

In response to a query from your editor, WDFW this morning sent the following details regarding this petition:

The petition is from Trout Unlimited and requests the Commission to

1.  Remove motorized suction dredging as an authorized activity in the Gold & Fish Pamphlet, and instead, require individual applications for standard Hydraulic Project Approval (HPAs).

2.  Ensure HPA requirements provide for protection of fish life and habitat necessary to comply with federal law, namely the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Clean Water Act (CWA).

3.  Prohibit motorized suction dredging in rivers and creeks designated as critical habitat for ESA-listed fish species.

Trout Unlimited describes itself as "the nation’s largest coldwater recreational fisheries and conservation organization, with over 5,000 members in the State of Washington."

Among other things, their petition requests the Fish and Wildlife Commission to limit the methods used in small-scale prospecting and mining to those specifically authorized in RCW 77.55.011(21):   Pans; nonmotorized sluice boxes; concentrators; and minirocker boxes.  At present, they are requesting a ban on only motorized suction dredging.  Potentially, however, the reasoning behind this petition could result in a ban on such basic tools as picks and shovels.

If any form of small-scale mining is to survive in Washington, this petition needs to be stopped and some semblance of sanity injected into the process of mining regulation.  For those who are willing and motivated, a communication campaign to the Commission on this topic would be in order.  Their address is:

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission
600 Capitol Way N.
Olympia, WA  98501-1091

Phone:  360-902-2267
Fax:  360-902-2448

Email:  commission@dfw.wa.gov

Online contact form:  http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/contact.html

The Trout Unlimited petition may be downloaded from the link below:

https://mega.nz/#!xZcECDrA!2C8oVUF5wHJGMvEher6400X0ZjW4oa3nQlyHCuB_c1A

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to Decide Motorized Suction Dredging Petition via Conference Call

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has scheduled a conference call for 8:30 A.M. on January 5, 2018, to decide on a petition about motorized suction dredging.  The public may listen to the discussion on speakerphone at the Commission Office on the 5th floor of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street SE, in Olympia, or at one of the Regional Offices.  Those planning to come to one of the offices to listen to the call are requested to contact WDFW Commission staff at (360) 902-2267 so they can ensure adequate space is available.

The only information I can find on the Commission website about this is:

The Commission will be briefed and consider changes to WAC 220-660 regarding motorized suction dredging.

WAC 220-660 covers just about everything having to do with projects in Washington waters.  WAC 220-660-300 covers mineral prospecting.

More information as it becomes available.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

More Action Called For On The Reinhart Petition Before The Supreme Court

A follow-up alert from Dave Mack of The New 49'ers regarding the subject of the previous post:

First of all, I want to thank you for the response you provided to our recent Action Alert!  We received some very good feedback from the mining community and believe we have also received some additional positive traction carried forth by those through Face Book.

We apologize for such short notice but the Solicitor General’s brief came out late Wednesday night and there was concern that it would be part of the Supreme Court’s review process that Friday.  The good news is it was not reviewed at that time and is currently scheduled for review on January 5th, 2018.  This allows us time for a chance for additional action.

The review process, called a conference, is when the justices consider whether to grant cert on certain petitions. When a petition is conferenced, the justices can (1) deny the petition, (2) grant the petition, or (3) relist the petition (which means they don’t take action and mark it to be considered at another conference).  We have been advised, with the exception of the long conference after the summer break, the Court does not usually grant a cert unless a petition has been relisted. A relisted petition is one that has been scheduled for two consecutive conferences.

The really good news is that only four of the nine Justices are needed to vote in favor to grant the case to move forward.

What we are asking for is that each of you send in one letter to each of those justices likely to rule in favor to grant the Rinehart case on the basis of the facts of the case, the intent of congress, mining law and the actual question before the court. We only need to send in one letter but need to do it in a manner which ensures it arrives in time to have an effect before the conference.

Here is our sample letter that you can copy and paste, add your name and address and print out to mail in:

http://www.goldgold.com/sample-ltr-scotus.html

We are also recommending that you print out and enclose the formal letter that has been sent to Donald Trump by our attorney:

http://www.goldgold.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Letter-to-President-Trump-12-8-17.pdf

You can also create your own letter from these talking points, from what you already know, and just ask the court for the case to be heard.  Like I said earlier the federal government certainly gets in our way in some places, some states are determined to stop mineral development on the federal lands. This is especially true in California, Oregon and Washington.

We must create such a large commotion over this that the court will grant the Rinehart writ to be heard.  We are reaching out to all of the other mining organizations to develop a concentrated effort in this last big push.

For as long as we have been fighting to recover our mining rights, there has never been a more important time to make our voices heard. Our future, and to a large degree, America's future, hangs in the balance which very well might swing our way if we all make a lot of noise right now!

Thanks for all you can do,

Dave Mack

The New 49'er Legal Fund




The New 49er's, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039, USA

Friday, December 8, 2017

United States Solicitor General Tells Supreme Court To Not Review The Rinehart Case

According to an Action Alert from Dave Mack of California's New 49'ers gold prospecting organization, the Solicitor General of the United States has submitted a briefing to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The briefing states that the position of the United States is that the Court should not review the petition of Brandon Rinehart for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of California.

Mack goes on to say that if the Supreme Court accepts the Solicitor General's arguments, the results would be extremely damaging to the right of the mining community to operate on federal lands, not just in California, but everywhere.

Below is the text of the Action Alert together with links to the relevant documents and for sending comments to the White House and the Supreme Court.

We just found out that the Solicitor General has submitted a briefing to the U.S. Supreme Court which completely misrepresents what is at stake in the Rinehart case, and presents a completely false explanation of why the Supreme Court should not review the Rinehart case. This is hugely alarming since the Solicitor General is supposed to be on the side of “Making America Great Again."  Here is just one more reminder of how deep and pervasive the deep state is -- or "the swamp" as it is commonly referred to.

The following is a link to the Solicitor General's briefing to the Supreme Court. It was undoubtedly compiled by our worst enemies; the very same people who are attempting to bring Donald Trump down:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/16/16-970/22901/20171206191927741_16-970%20--%20Rinehart%20v%20California.PDF

At this point, it would seem as though our final hope is to bring this terrible injustice to President Trump's attention. The best way I can think of to do this is through a massive email program by so many people, that whoever manages the President's communications cannot ignore the message.  This is nearly the last opportunity we have to save our industry, folks!

Here is where you go to write a message to President Trump:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/write-or-call

Please read the following formal letter that has been sent to Donald Trump by our attorney:

http://www.goldgold.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Letter-to-President-Trump-12-8-17.pdf

You can create your own talking points from what you already know, or by reading the letter just above, or just by reminding Mr. Trump that there is no way we will ever make America great again unless we open mineral development once again on the federal lands. While the federal government certainly gets in our way in some places, some States are determined to stop mineral development on the federal lands. This is especially true in California, Oregon and Washington.

Please copy and paste into your message the link just above which goes to our attorney's letter.

It might also be helpful if you send a copy of your message to the U.S. Supreme Court. You can find the email address here:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/contact/contact_pio.aspx

We must create such a large commotion over this that Mr. Trump or his Attorney General will immediately withdraw the existing briefing to the Supreme Court, and have a new briefing written by pro-mining, pro-America attorneys. There are plenty of these available in the private sector.

For as long as we have been fighting to recover our mining rights, there has never been a more important time to make our voices heard. Our future, and to a large degree, America's future, hangs in the balance which very well might swing our way if we all make a lot of noise right now!

Thanks for all you can do,

Dave Mack

The New 49'er Legal Fund

The New 49er's, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039, USA