Tuesday, September 7, 2021

2021 Gold & Fish Pamphlet Released by WDFW


In May, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released the latest version of its Gold and Fish pamphlet.  The 44 page booklet, that was reportedly developed without public input from the small-scale mining community, is the most restrictive set of "regulations" to ever have come out of this agency.  For all practical purposes, only "non-motorized" prospecting and mining equipment is allowed, and even that is substantially restricted.  Nevertheless, it is important to have a copy of this document—and required to have with you when working in freshwater with timing restrictions—to avoid running afoul of the rules.  To facilitate acquisition, there is a direct link to the PDF version in this blog's sidebar under "Washington State Prospecting Rules and Laws."  For convenience, the same link is presented here

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Prospecting At The Washington State Library

From Washington Geological Survey,
Bulletin No. 1, Geology and Ore Deposits of Republic Mining District, 1910.

Over the years, beginning in about 1910, several agencies—including the Washington Geological Survey and the USGS—published a variety of reports describing the mines, minerals, and geology of different localities in the state of Washington.  These long-out-of-print booklets contain a wealth of information about the various minerals found in the state and the mining operations that worked to extract them.

Thanks to the Washington State Library, many of these works have been digitized and are available on the library's website.  Access is free and the documents can be downloaded as PDFs, enabling one to build a collection of this information.

In addition, most of these publications contain a bibliography listing related works that may be worth searching for.

Searching the Washington State Library is easy:

1.  Navigate to the library's website at https://www.sos.wa.gov/library/catalog.aspx.

2.  Select "Title" in the "Search By:" drop-down box and type a few likely title words in the "Search Words:" box.  Then select "Digital Collection" in the "Search In:" section under "Additional Options."

3.  Click on the blue "Search" button to the right of your "Search Words" entry.

4.  Click on one of the titles displayed in the search results.

5.  On the page that loads, click on "View online from Washington State Library" to access the document.

On this page, you will have the option to read the document, download it as a PDF, or print a copy of it.

You can also search by keywords which usually turns up a large selection of documents.  Sometimes, you will see a listing like the one below with a link titled, "Website."  Clicking on this link will usually take you to a PDF of the selected item.

The publications available from the Washington State Library will allow you to learn a great deal about the history of mining in Washington (and in other locations as well).  In addition, you will find information about locations and occurrences for a large variety of minerals as well as details about the mining operations that recovered them.

WARNING:  Should you decide to visit any of the old mines or prospects described in this literature, be sure you have permission to visit the property if it is under private ownership, as many of them are.  Also, DO NOT ENTER MINE WORKINGS!  They are extremely dangerous places.  The hazards are too numerous to list but include cave-ins, sharp objects, toxic gases, corrosive waters, wild animals, and vertical shafts, the openings to which can be in the floor of the tunnel and, hidden under debris, could send you plunging straight down for several hundred feet and going "splat" at the bottom.  STAY OUT!

To assist you on future visits to the WSM blog, the link to the Washington State Library search page has been added to the right-hand sidebar under "Prospecting Aids."

Have fun and be safe.

Monday, May 17, 2021

When Push Comes to Crunch in the Mining Realm


Photo by Eric Ortner from Pexels

It seems that decades of warfare against mining operations in the U. S. by eco-terrorists in Congress, state legislatures, and the enforcement arms of various agencies has led our country to an untenable position.  There are approximately three dozen key minerals that we need to maintain our present level of technology—namely cell phones, computers, solar and wind power systems, etc.  At the same time, the majority of federal lands have become off-limits to mineral exploration and development.

A key example of this situation is what has happened to placer mining for gold, in particular concerning the use of the motorized suction dredge.  This one device is surely the most effective and efficient way to recover gold from stream-bed deposits.  Over the years, state agencies—notably here in Washington—have placed limits on its employment.  First, came restrictions on the physical characteristics of the machine itself—nozzle size, intake screen specifications, etc.  Later, restrictions were placed on precisely when and where it could be used.  Then, there were the permits—Hydraulic Project Authorizations (or HPAs)—that the operator needed to acquire.  Finally, the use of the suction dredge was limited to those portions of those streams that are known to carry NO gold.  In this way, the use of the motorized suction dredge was effectively outlawed without the need to enact such a law.

These developments bring us to the situation we face today.  Although the anti-mining agenda is still in full swing, the changing mineral needs of our society may well soon force a change in mining policy.  Not only do we need the specialty minerals mentioned above to maintain our existing technologies, but they will be even more necessary if the leftists' loony visions of a "green energy" and "zero-carbon" future are to have any chance of happening at all.  Moreover, the need for domestic production of these minerals is underscored by the fact that we are currently dependent on an increasingly hostile China for these resources.  And, while other countries also produce these materials, many are also politically unstable, and none too friendly either.  Thus it seems there is a possible future for the small-scale miner in prospecting for things other than gold.

Now, lest you think that your poor, old blogger has gone "green-in-the-head," and now embraces the pie-in-the-sky nonsense of so-called "renewable energy" touted by wokesters, leftists, and their assorted fellow travelers, I wish to assure you that is not the case.  But, when fate hands you a winning lottery ticket, you'd be a fool not to cash it in.  So, with that caveat out of the way, allow me to proceed.

The minerals deemed necessary for the continued security of the United States are, according to the U. S. Geological Survey, the following:




















Platinum group metals*


Rare earth elements group**












*  The Platinum group metals consist of the elements Platinum, Palladium, Osmium, Iridium, Ruthenium, and Rhodium.

**  The Rare earth elements group consists of the elements Scandium, Yttrium, Cerium, Dysprosium, Europium, Lanthanum, Neodynium, and Terbium.

A wealth of detailed information about these minerals is available through the links in the list at the USGS web page here.

While not as obvious to the eye nor as "easy" to locate as gold, the above minerals DO occur and CAN be found by prospectors who make the effort to educate themselves accordingly.  Some of the links in the right-hand column of this blog will be of help in researching, identifying, and locating deposits of these minerals, both in Washington and elsewhere.  For example, a search of the Mineral Resources Data System for occurrences of Beryllium in Washington returns 26 matches.  A similar search for Zirconium returns 15 matches.  Information related to mineral properties and identification can be found at the links for Mindat.org and the Mineralogy Database.

Although the WSM has been primarily focused on prospecting for and recovering placer gold—and that will continue to be the case—it is my intent to, from time to time, include articles on prospecting for other elements and minerals.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

February Update on the Mineral & Land Records System

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released an update on the new Mineral & Land Records System (MLRS).  The update contains a number of useful links within the MLRS system, information about key features of the system, and a short video that illustrates what you can do online.

Please read the February update bulletin from BLM at the link here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Mineral & Land Records System is Now Active

The interactive claims map is now operational on the MLRS website.  Instructions for using the map appear on the lower part of the web page below the map image.  The initial view is very wide.  You can use the "+" button in the upper left corner of the map to zoom in, and drag the map with your mouse to position it over your area of interest.

The image at the top of this post (Click on it to enlarge it.) shows that portion of the Similkameen River just west of Oroville, Washington.  The areas with red diagonal lines are those with active mining claims.  If the lines slant down to the left, the area has active placer claims.  Lines slanting down to the right indicate areas with active lode claims.  Most of the highlighted areas shown on this map are a quarter section (160 acres) in size.

For this post, I elected to highlight areas with active claims.  You can also highlight areas with closed claims or areas with both.

Clicking the "i" button on the right-hand side of the map creates a "?" icon.  If you drag this icon over one of the lined areas and click, a report box will pop up at the left-hand side of the map.  This box has scroll arrows in the bottom right-hand corner that allow you to step through the different mining claims in that area of the map.  The listing includes both active and closed claims and shows information about each.  See the image below.  (Click on it to enlarge it.)

When I used it to get information for this post, the application was sluggish in preparing a map to print.  The rest of it worked fine.

My suggestion is to play around with the map to get familiar with what each of the controls does.  And have fun!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Changes Coming to BLM's Mining Claims Record System (UPDATED)

 The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is introducing changes to the way the public can access mining claim records.  The LR2000 system is being replaced by the Mineral & Land Records System (MLRS).

According to the BLM website (https://www.blm.gov/services/land-records/mlrs):

MLRS is being implemented in phases. When we first launch, you can use MLRS for mining claim related filings and information. This includes filing new mining claims, managing existing mining claims, paying annual maintenance fees, transfers, amendments, and affidavit of assessment work – all online! In the coming months, MLRS will be expanded to include other case types, including oil and gas (2021).

Since the MLRS is a work in progress, more features are planned over the next couple of years.  For example, Master Title Plats will be integrated into the system by 2022.

One matter that will probably be of interest to many prospectors is answered by the following FAQ:

How will I access mining claims reports?

A new subpage to reports.blm.gov containing MLRS data will be made available at the same time MLRS launches.

For more complete information on the MLRS system, please visit the website linked above.  There, you will find a list of FAQs as well as explanatory videos.

One final note.  The MLRS system is scheduled to launch tomorrow, January 25, 2021.


UPDATE as of January 28, 2021

As promised, MLRS is now live.  I had no difficulty setting up an account.  Just follow the instructions at https://mlrs.blm.gov/s/creating-a-new-account.

The LR2000 system no longer contains mining claim reports.  These are now located on the Mineral & Land System Reports page at https://reports.blm.gov/reports/MLRS.

The only other thing I have to mention is that, at this time, the Real-time Map application is failing to load.  Hopefully, BLM will have this matter sorted out shortly.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas!

The Washington State Miner wishes its readers a Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year in 2021.  I appreciate each and every one of you.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

New Washington Law Banning Motorized Mining Took Effect on June 11, 2020

Well, gang, the above map shows where you "might" be allowed to obtain a permit to run your dredge or other "motorized and gravity siphon aquatic mining*" equipment.

According to a new law (ESHB 1261) which took effect on June 11, 2020, motorized mining is prohibited in some locations where it was historically allowed.  In addition, there are new permitting requirements from the Department of Ecology before you can secure an HPA permit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Basically, in order to use motorized or gravity siphon equipment in the minuscule areas shown on the above map, you must first obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water quality permit from the state Department of Ecology, and then submit that permit to WDFW along with your application for an HPA permit.  All other "waters of the state" are off limits and no permits will be issued.  There is, however, one exception:  You may use motorized or gravity siphon equipment, within the areas shown on the map, under the Gold and Fish Pamphlet as long as the discharge waters from that equipment remain contained within the equipment rather than being discharged into the water or upon the ground.  See the current Gold and Fish Pamphlet for details.

Of course, you may still (at least for now) use non-motorized, hand-held equipment such as pans and sluice boxes anywhere within the state with only an HPA permit or under the terms of the Gold and Fish Pamphlet.

Do note, however, that as a practical matter, all the aforementioned permitting may be irrelevant.  To see why, compare the map below showing where gold has been found in Washington with the map at the head of this post.

As anyone can readily see, the areas where motorized and gravity siphon aquatic mining may be allowed coincide nicely with the areas where gold has never been found!  Might this be by design?  In any event, special permit or not, it would hardly seem worthwhile for one to go through the effort of setting up and operating motorized equipment just to prospect on barren ground.  In conclusion, it would appear that the legislature has finally found a way to ban all motorized prospecting in the State of Washington.


*For an article on the development of "Gravity Siphon Mining," see here.

Article header image courtesy of State of Washington Department of Ecology.

Original source for this article:  The Spokesman-Review.

Gold locations map for Washington courtesy of USGS Mineral Resource Data System.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Rich Gold Deposit Found on the Similkameen River in Washington — A Look Back to 98 Years Ago

While it is true that our chief interest has to do with finding valuable mineral deposits in the present day, it can be both interesting and educational to read about important discoveries that happened many years ago.  For this reason, I have decided to reprint a newspaper story from The Oroville Weekly Gazette of Oroville, Washington.  This particular account appeared on the front page of issue number 17 dated October 6, 1922.  I hope you enjoy this peek back into the history of placer gold discoveries.




Most Remarkable Placer Gold Strike Aside from Klondyke, Since Days of Coeur d'Alene Made Near Oroville.


    During the past fortnight a discovery of placer gold has been made on the Similkameen river, a few miles west of Oroville, that had it been discovered near any other town in the northwest it would have created a wild sensation, although in this community the find has been taken so placidly as not to create a ripple, and one never hears the incident mentioned upon the street.  Not since the stirring days of the Coeur d'Alene gold discovery has there been such a remarkable placer find in the northwest, barring, of course, Alaska, as that made within the past few days almost in sight of Oroville.  Since the great discovery on the Similkameen in 1856, when the washings vied with the richest on the Pacific coast, the auriferous sand and gravel of that stream have been worked spasmodically and crudely, always with some response to efforts put forth by the prospector in the way of flour, or small scale gold, but somehow or for some reason the gold hunters failed to strike the proper deposits and most undertakings of a more ambitious character—and there have been many—have been abandoned.  It has been left to a single prospector, after a period of 66 years since the first discoveries, to prove that the bed, bars and banks of the Similkameen river, in the neighborhood of Rich Bar, just above the Falls of the Similkameen, contained untold riches.
    During the past summer several prospectors have put in much time prospecting the gravel along the river, and while they have been encouraged with the results of their labor, it was left to a single prospector, Riley Coyle, an old resident of Oroville who has done more or less placer hunting along the same stream and on Mary Ann creek, near Chesaw, during the past fifteen years, to make a discovery that promises to create a sensation in mining circles and yield a substantial fortune to the discoverer.
    Mr. Coyle had been washing gravel on the north shore of the river, on land embraced in a quartz claim that had been held for years by Julius Brechlin.  Some three weeks ago Attorney W. E. Grant was driving along the road, the washings being just below the road between Oroville and Nighthawk, and stopped to talk with Mr. Coyle, suggesting to that gentleman that he prospect along a reef running from the hill into the river some 200 feet up the stream from where Mr. Coyle was working.  Mr. Coyle took the hunch and immediately made the discovery that the gravel was fairly lousy with gold.  Not the fine, flake gold, so hard to save, and which requires so much labor in order to obtain a quantity of any value, but large pieces of solid gold, two of which at least are as large as the first joint of a man's finger.
    Mr. Coyle at once returned to Oroville for the purpose of securing a lease, or option, upon the ground, and displayed his find to a few acquaintances.  Besides the two nuggets mentioned he had a small bottle partially filled with coarse gold.  We have never seen such placer gold since the Coeur d'Alene discovery, and, as has been said before in this article, if the same gold was placed upon exhibition in any community in the northwest anywhere in touch with mineral bearing ground a stampede would instantly follow.  Old and experienced mining men who have examined the gold declared it to be as fine a sampe of placer gold as they have ever seen, both as to size of the specimens and the quality of the gold.  Mr. Riley (Coyle) states that the gold was picked out of the gravel with the point of his pen knife.  He made no attempt to pan any of the gravel.  There it was before his eyes and he was too excited and busy picking up nuggets to waste time with pick, shovel and pan.  All he wanted was to establish the fact that the gold was there, secure sufficient to prove beyond caval that he had made a marvelous discovery, and then held off further investigation until he could secure possession of the land and thus not be robbed of the fruits of his labor by being forced off the ground.
    It required some days to get in touch with the man who held the ground under a quartz location, and more days to close a deal, but at last the lease has been consumated.  Mr. Riley (Coyle) is now on the ground preparing to make more thorough investigation and push work until cold weather compels a shut down.  Those who have seen the gold that Mr. Riley (Coyle) picked out of the gravel will look forward with keen interest to the further extraction of the precious metal, and if the quantity increases, or even holds out to the present promise, it can be expected that there will be great activity along the Similkameen this fall and next spring and summer.
    It may be stated that from the appearance of this placer gold it has not traveled a great distance, and while it is perfectly smooth showing that for ages it has been ground flat and smooth by the action of the water and gravel, some of the samples have quartz attached, an indication that the ledge from which the gold was originally broken off cannot be a great distance from where it was found.  This theory is further carried out by the fact that in all the years that gold has been found on the Similkameen very little color has been discovered above the point on the river locally known as Rich Bar.
    Now the discovery of gold at this particular place is not the opening up of a virgin placer ground.  Placer gold has been known to exist on this stretch of the river since the first discovery in 1856.  In 1856 and the year or two following fully 5,000 miners worked the river bars, and the amount of gold extracted has been estimated to have run up into the millions.  The discovery was first made by accident by prospectors pushing through the country on their way to the Cariboo mining district in British Columbia, the same argonauts who found gold on Rock creek, northeast of Molson, and just across the line in British Columbia.  We met a man nearly a quarter of a century ago who was at the diggings, a man who subsequently died at Nighthawk, who told us of the marvelous discovery and that 5,000 men were in camp at one time and not a single woman.
    Recently Guy Fruit, a former resident of Oroville, met Jas. Healy at Los Angeles, a wealthy man far advanced in years, who told Mr. Fruit that he was with the party that made the first discovery of gold on the Similkameen.  Mr. Healy stated that with fifteen other miners he was on his way to the Cariboo country in the fall of 1856, traveling through the Okanogan valley.  The season being late the party went into camp on the flat at the foot of Palmer lake, on land afterward owned by Jack Long.  In the spring gold was discovered on the Similkameen and the party forgot Cariboo and commenced washing.  The Indians became hostile and the party left in the fall for Fort Colville, by the way of Rock creek.  At Fort Colville the 16 men divided up $300,000 and dispersed.  Such is the story of the early gold discovery on the Similkameen, told by one who was omong the original discoverers, and as has been said before almost every year since that time, 66 years ago, men have prospected the river shore and bed with more or less success.  During the past 25 years numerous companies have been organized to carry on placering on a large scale along the river, but in every instance from one cause and another, these efforts have failed to bring returns commensurate with the capital invested in the enterprises.
    Some 25 years ago a father and two sons came to Oroville from California for the purpose of dredging the river.  A large boat was constructed and equipped, but for reasons unknown the effort proved abortive.  The upper works of that old boat were used for a residence on the south side of the Similkameen for years, and we believe is still used for that purpose.  Other companies constructed a large steamboat above the falls years ago, with the object of dredging with pumps, but that enterprise went on the rocks and the boat over the falls.  Another company built a large steel coffer dam in the center of the river near Rich Bar, but high water came and wrecked the plant before it could be put to use.  Other companies installed expensive hydraulic plants, one of them below the falls from which much was expected, yet nothing resulted.  Thus the placer grounds of the Similkameen river have not been forgotten, although all efforts to secure the gold which exists in abundance without a doubt, have failed, and a vast sum of money has been squandered in those enterprises.  Let us hope that Mr. Coyle will be able to solve the problem, and that in the months to come the long hidden treasure may be recovered to the benefit of mankind.
    Naturally the writer was wraught up to a high pitch of excitement when he was shown the placer gold that Mr. Coyle had picked out of the gravel on the Similkameen, for he had seen nothing like it since the time the Coeur d'Alene placer field was first made known to the world.  We have seen the scale, or flour gold that has been taken from the bars of the Columbia river for time immemorial, and much and ever larger samples taken in small quantities from the Similkameen and Mary Ann creek, but nothing that would compare in size with that which Mr. Coyle has to exhibit.  That display carried our memory back to the fall of 1883, when the gold discovery on Eagle Creek was first made known to the world.
    Thirty-nine years ago this month A. J. Prichard, the discoverer of placer gold in the Coeur d'Alene, walked into the office of the Spokane Falls Review and casually said "he wanted to show us something."  Mr. Prichard asked for a sheet of white paper and we opened out a quire of white newspaper.  He reached down into his clothes and pulled out a fat buckskin purse, in Alaska known as a "poke," and proceeded to pour the contents out upon the paper.  Heavens, what a sight.  A mound several inches high of virgin gold.  The greater portion of his gold was no larger than the flakes and pieces displayed the other day by Mr. Coyle, but there were chunks as large as a large man's thumb and graduated from that size down to the smallest flakes.  We had hardly passed the age of callow youth, we had never seen placer gold before, and the sight of so much wealth in the very raw fairly took our breath away.  A remarkable feature to us was the apparent placidity and indifference of Mr. Prichard, the owner of so much riches.  He tossed the gold about as though it were so much dirt, and did not consider the showing of any considerable importance, for, as he said, there was plenty more where that came from and all he had to do was to pick it up.
    Of course the Review broke loose in great head lines and extravagant descriptions of the new El Dorado.  It was big stuff for a newspaper and every scrap of information from the land of gold was grabbed with avidity and worked to a finish.  The demand for copies of the Review from Butte, Salt Lake City, from every point of the compass was greater than the old hand press could supply.  A stampede, such as the west had not seen since the discovery of gold in California followed, Spokane Falls became the outfitting point for the mines.  People flocked to that embryo city by train, by wagon, by horseback, by foot and such a heterogeneous mass of people was hardly ever seen before.  Accommodations were inadequate to meet the demand.  Exhaused men paid a dollar a night to sleep in chairs.  People camped anywhere and everywhere.  The lust of gold had drawn out all kinds and classes of men.  There was a feverish anxiety to get to the diggings.  It was every man for himself and the devil take the hindermost.  Every human instinct was bent on gain, and while there were many instances where humanity overcame the power of greed, the outstanding feature of the rush was selfishness and eclipse of the higher virtues.
    One unfortunate feature of this rush was that it took place late in the fall and winter, and hardships untold were suffered by those who were the first to make the trip, for the trip was made over almost impassable trails on foot at first.  The winter of 1883-4 was one of the hardest that had been known for years.  Snow fell to a great depth in the mountains over which the trails crossed and mining was impossible.  Many returned to the outside disillusioned and cursing the country as worthless.  It was not until the next spring that mining could commence in earnest and much gold was taken out.  But the wealth of the Coeur d'Alenes did not rest upon the placer washings.  That ground was soon worked out as the gold was confined to a rather restricted district, but miners turned their attention to quartz leads, many leads were discovered from which great mines were evolved and to this day the Ceour d'Alenes is one of the richest mining districts in the world.
    The original discoverer, A. J. Prichard, has passed to his fathers.  For four years before he finally located placer gold, he lived and prospected in the Coeur d'Alenes, far from any civilization and living the life of a hermit.  We have an original letter, somewhat yellow with age, written by Mr. Prichard in January 1883, the writing as distinct as the day the aged hand traced the words.  In that letter he spoke of the discovery of gold and also of a ledge after his years of hard searching.  It appears that Mr. Prichard was obsessed of a cult, or ism, and his chief desire was to benefit his brethren of that cult.  The letter was written to one Mr. Chow, of California in which Mr. Prichard tells of his find and explains how he wants the friends of this cult to reap the benefit.  He proposed to withhold publicity of the find until these people could secure all the gold they desired.
    It seems that Mr. Prichard also wrote to "friends" in Montana and that parties started both from California and Montana for the Coeur d'Alenes in the dead of winter.  They met Prichard, but at that time the ground was covered with snow and Mr. Prichard was unable to locate is discovery.  The crowd that made the long trip in expectation of a fortune was incensed against Mr. Prichard, believing at the time that he had intentionally deceived them, and the Montana people were so exasperated that they wanted to hang Prichard, but the Californians prevented that drastic proceeding.  The way we came in possession of the letter was that when the Californians returned home the man who had received the letter from Prichard sent it to the Spokane Falls Review with the request that the paper "roast the everlasting life out of the old dotard," and use every effort to warn people from going to the alleged placer mines.  How little those birds dreamed of the marvelous wealth hid away in the  mountains of the panhandle of Idaho, which have since given employment to thousands of people and produced great fortunes for many men.
    What did Prichard get out of it?  Nothing, so far as we know, except to have a creek named after him.  Like the pioneer in every enterprise, he sowed that others might reap.

Newspaper article source:  Library of  Congress.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Site Update for July 2020

My sincere apologies to everyone visiting the Washington State Miner blog.  The lack of posts and updates for the last few years is due to my ongoing health issues.  Nevertheless, I am determined to revitalize the site with new offerings beginning now.

The first order of business was to update all the existing resource links found in the right-hand sidebar on this page.  Some links were no longer operational.  Others had migrated to new URLs, and these are now current.  Finally, some organizations changed their web offerings entirely.  In these cases, the old listings and links stand replaced with the new ones.  The details of these changes are listed below and in the right-hand sidebar.

Thank you for reading the Washington State Miner.

Removed links:

Discussion Forums
    Gold Prospectors Forum of America
    The Canadian Prospectors Forum
Clubs and Organizations
    North Central Washington Prospectors
General Geology, Mining and Prospecting News and Information
    Alluvial Exploration and Mining
Stream Flow Information
    Washington River and Stream Flow

Edited links:

Discussion Forums
    The New 49'ers Forum - http://new49ers.x10host.com/phpBB3/
Clubs and Organizations
    Jefferson Mining District - http://www.jeffersonminingdistrict.com/
    Resources Coalition - https://resourcescoalition.net/

Replacement links:

BLM Websites
    Geocommunicator is now Navigator - https://navigator.blm.gov/home
USGS Mineral Data
    Replaced both old listings with Mineral Resources Data System - https://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/find-mrds.php
Washington State Prospecting Rules and Laws
    2018 Gold and Fish Pamphlet replaced with 2020 Gold and Fish Pamphlet - https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/02150/wdfw02150.pdf

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Update on Mechanized Mining Regulation by the States

Dave McCracken, President of The New 49er's prospecting organization of California, recently sent out an update on the matter of the legality of the states regulating mechanized mining operations on federal lands.  The gist of the matter is that the states do not have the lawful authority to do so and that the apparent authority under which they purport to do so was unlawfully granted by the U. S. Forest Service and the BLM.  Here is the text of the email from Dave:

After careful review of the court documents from the Rinehart and Bohmker cases, we realized that the BLM and USFS (Forest Service) mining regulations had been amended in the early 2000’s, basically allowing the States authority over mining on federal lands in excess of authority which the BLM or USFS is allowed by law!

On June 18, 2019, we sent a formal Petition to the Departments of Interior and Agriculture, asking for the federal regulations to be changed.

About the time we recognized the problem in the federal mining regulations, we were contacted by a fairly high official within the Department of Interior (DOI) who had seen all the letters we sent in from our previous Action Alert. They wanted more information. After reviewing the materials, they wanted to help! We were told that they (DOI) wished they had known about the Bohmker case six months ago. We believe they would have submitted an amicus brief on our behalf defending mining to the Supreme Court. This would have greatly increased our chances of a hearing… and winning.

This raises an important Question: If the BLM & USFS are prohibited from endangering or materially interfering with mining, how can those very same agencies provide the States with authority to do what the federal agencies are barred from doing in the first place?

The good news is that we finally have gotten the attention of top officials in the Trump Administration!

We do not need the courts or congress at this time. We need the Trump administration to develop a federal Rule making to enforce federal law which is already on the books.

The Petition was submitted two weeks ago along with the support of eleven major mining associations including The New 49ers.  In addition, there are letters of support from several county governments that have sustained serious economic harm because of the misguided policies against mining by some State agencies.

The Petition has landed home where it needs to be. It is being taken seriously. Now, if we can please just take it to the next step: We need to encourage supportive messages from as many people as possible. This is the moment of truth! Notwithstanding any other opportunities that could arise in the future, this is, to a large extent, our last opportunity in the foreseeable future to regain the use of our mechanized equipment and gold dredges.

You can find everything you need to work with in our July newsletter right here:


After 10+ years of battling with State agencies over exploring the federal lands for highly valuable mineral deposits on the public lands, we have finally arrived at the place where we may turn the whole problem around. This might be the closest we have ever been! Now we need you guys and gals to please step up and send in messages in support of our side.

Thank you for whatever you can do!

Fingers crossed,

Dave McCracken, President

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

"Land Matters" - A Website With Tons of Interactive Maps

It's almost time to head for the hills in search of gold and other minerals and a new website called Land Matters is in the process of assembling links to a large and comprehensive collection of map resources.  Many of these will be of interest to prospectors and small-scale miners as they plan their outdoor adventures.

Among the currently available interactive maps on the site are the following:

Land Status Maps:

Users may choose a base map to add to the plain United States Map (World Street Map, Topo, or Aerial Photos) and then display land ownership and status by BLM, National Forest, National Parks, Wilderness, State, Master Title Plats and Supplements, the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), and Special Surveys.  Zooming in to a local area of interest works best before displaying the land status and other features.

Topo Map Downloads:

This section of the website shows all the available USGS topo maps in the selected area.  The current digital maps are available as are older historical scanned maps.  Clicking on a map of interest on the base map opens a window with links to download the map.  In the case of historical maps, the download link will bring up a list of available maps.  On working with this feature I noticed that not as many old maps are available as on the USGS topoView site but I expect the selection to improve as work on this resource continues.  Also available for download in this section are Forest Service Topo Maps and Coastal Survey Topo Maps.

Mining Claims Maps:

One section of particular interest to miners is the one showing mining claim locations.  Here users may display the locations of current mining claims drawn from the BLM's LR2000 system and download the BLM Serial Register Reports for any they choose.  They can also display the locations of old mines on the base map.  Also available here are the USGS Mineral Resource Data System (MRDS) reports on individual mines and claims as well as historical activity reports on individual mines.

Geology Maps:

Another section of special interest to miners is the one containing state geology maps.  These maps show the various rock types by different colors and symbols and detailed information on each is available by clicking on the particular area of the map you are interested in.

New Projects:

As mentioned earlier, this website is a work-in-progress and many exciting features are in the process of being created.  A few of these are maps showing meteorite falls, minerals, agriculture, recreation, and real-time conditions such as weather radar and infrared satellite data.  The developers of this service are also interested in hearing from users about additional types of maps that they would like to see.

So, head on over to the website, check it out (there are detailed instructions for getting the most use out of it), and sign up for their email newsletter to keep informed of the latest features being added.

Happy prospecting!