WMA May 2012 Newsletter

This is the unformatted version, if you want the version with the pictures, go to: http://westernminingalliance.org/ in order to download the whole newsletter.


News From the Mines The Fight for Dredging

Venue Battle against Environmentalists

We’d rather be dredging this summer, but it looks like we’ll be in court.

The environmentalists, who filed their lawsuit in San Francisco are now trying to force the transfer of our case to Alameda County. We, of course, don’t want that and we are fighting to force their case to San Bernardino County.

We anticipated the environmentalists’ filing suit. As we wrote in our last newsletter we’ve been able to anticipate every move, so it was no surprise when a consortium of environmental groups filed suit to permanently block dredging. They filed in Alameda County; no surprise there.

You have to wonder if the California Department of Fish and Game feels as if they’ve been sold out. After pandering to the environmentalists on this



We’ve got some friends in high places. We are getting better at our political outreach. Thanks to some WMA members, we’re beginning to put together an alliance of local, State, and Congressional representatives who are on our side. Our side is the side of economic and personal freedom while improving the environment. e’re also starting to acquire friends in the media. At least we’re now

issue for five years they finally deliver an almost complete ban on suction dredging and then the very same environmentalists sue them because they’ve left a few rivers open. What did CDFG expect?

The PLP/WMA lawsuit to block the new regulations and reopen suction dredging under the old regulations does not have a hearing date yet while the venue (where it’s heard) battle rages on. The venue battle is the opening shots in the tactical maneuvering to win this case. San Bernardino, where we filed our case has the highest number of mining claims in the State. Alameda County has zero claims.

The environmentalists came to the fight with six full time lawyers hoping they can crush us with sheer numbers. We have one lawyer, but we have the will and the cause of freedom on our side.

getting interviews that are telling our side of the story. We managed to get an article published in the Wall Street Journal; you can read it online.

Our network of groups, miners, businesses, and supporters of mining is growing. We’ve surpassed 1,000 people in our network. We’ve also established a Twitter Account and a Facebook Page. The things we’ll do to get mining again…



We can’t overstate the importance of the legal battle we’re in.

This isn’t another case that’s nipping around the edges of your rights; this case is a sledgehammer aimed squarely at your forehead.

Our friends, the environmentalists, seek to ban dredging forever. As clear as we can be, the only thing stopping them is the PLP lawsuit.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t sent in a donationtoPLP,pleasedoitnow. Thereisno second chance in this fight. If we win, we win big; if we lose, we lose big. What’s at stake is your very right to mine.

If not for the PLP/WMA lawsuit the only lawsuit would be the one by the environmentalists seeking to permanently ban dredging. Our only choice would be to defend the regulations. Lawsuits don’t just happen, they must be planned; lawyers hired; research conducted and a lot of hours spent in preparation.

Our rights are being thrown under the bus so environmentalists can “remediate” mercury. We stand in the way of this money grab. Mercury is a valuable mineral and as such the mercury that exists on your claim belongs to you. If the government wants to pay to remove mercury, then they need to pay you, not the environmental groups.

If you read the Sierra Fund website, the true agenda becomes clear. Please visit the Sierra Fund’s“Reclaiming the Sierra” website and read their own words.

We haven’t mined in over two years, have we? Interestingly, there is discussion on their website on “reclaiming” idle mines. That would mean you.

Thanks to the Jefferson Mining District, we were made aware of the recent effort by the BLM to increase claim maintenance fees on Association claims. The majority of claims are Association claims.

BLM is planning on implementing new fees that will require a maintenance fee be paid on each 20 acre claim within the association. If you have 160 acres, then you owe 8 maintenance fees. This change wouldbeeffectiveonthe1Septemberfilingdate. The claim maintenance fee is currently $140.00; so fora160acreclaim,yourbillwouldbe$1,120each year you file. The small miners waiver would still apply for those holding ten or fewer claims, but you have to wonder for how long!

Please write your Congressional Representative and make them aware of this.

The threats are all around us, and it’s getting worse. We need your help to turn this around. If you don’t join the WMA – join with someone.


In simplest terms, the wording from their lawsuit states their objective as “..the suction dredging program be rejected and the current moratorium on suction dredge mining be continued.” That’s a clear as it can be. If they win, you lose.


Who are we fighting?

We have one lawyer. Thanks to your continued donations, we have been able to retain the lawyer, file suit, and hold our ground. We are funded entirely through your donations. The taxpayers hand outs that are provided to the environmental groups and State and Federal agencies aren’t available to us. We must fight this out of our own pocket.

There are six attorneys on the list for the environmentalists. Who pays their fees? You do. That’s right, win or lose,you as the taxpayer are paying the fees of these attorneys through a little known law known as the Equal Access to Justice Act and California State Law that allows non-profits to get reimbursement for attorney fees. So how much are you on the hook for? How does half a million sound? Half a million of taxpayer dollars to fund their efforts to put taxpayers out of work. Go figure.

This is a common tactic of the environmental groups. They get paid to sue. We lose our rights.




The list of our opponents include:

Karuk Tribe
Environmental Law Foundation
The Center for Biological Diversity
Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman Assoc Institute for Fisheries Resources
Friends of the River
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance Foothill Anglers Coalition
North Fork American River Alliance
Upper American River Foundation
Central Sierra Environmental Resource Ctr

Also in opposition:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency California Water Resources Control Board California Native American Heritage Cmsn

 We are outnumbered by our enemies. If you look at the above list and consider that we have one attorney fighting six, it becomes clear we need your help. We know some of you are prior attorneys and legal staff; some of you are biologists, scientists, and engineers. If you’re retired and have some time on your hands we could sure use your assistance right about now.

You don’t ha ve to be a scientist to help out. We need people to just look stuff up for us and find answers. Please consider donating some time and responding to an email request for help. Send an email to Rick at [email protected] and let him know you’ll do some research. Or look at the forum and you’ll see postings of areas we need help in.

We, as a mining community, are more organized than we’ve ever been. People are stepping up and joining the fight.

This really isn’t about dredging. This is about America and the ability of extremists to force their will on us. I’m not much of a fisherman, but I think people should be allowed to fish; Logging kills trees, but they are free to do it without objection

from me. Rafters are free to run the rivers, mountain bikers, hikers, campers, and bird watchers are welcome to do their thing. This country was built on the notion that each of us is free to choose our path to success and happiness. It’s the freedom to choose. Our opponents want to deny us that freedom. Are you willing to help us fight to save what built this country?

The fight to save America starts here and it starts with us. America won’t be defeated by “terrorists.” It can only be defeated by a lack of will. Make no mistake, we intend to defend the environment and ourselves.


On April 2, 2012, a consortium of extreme environmental groups filed suit to permanently ban dredging. This suit was filed in Alameda County, a location they have had prior success in pushing their Big Green agenda. Their agenda is a return to pre-industrialized America and a restructuring of our culture. Our mining, which is based on individualism and freedom, is the target of their lawsuit.

On April 12, PLP and the WMA filed suit to block the regulations, throw out the SEIR, and reopen suction dredging. This suit was filed in San Bernardino County. The key points of our suit include:

1. Suction dredge mining is exempt from the CEQA process as an ongoing project prior to 1970

2. CDFG changed the program from the draft SEIR to the final and didn’t all ow enough time for review

3. CDFG used a notional and theoretical baseline that resulted in findings of significance where none would have been found if the existing conditions would have been used as required by CEQA and case law

4. Lack of feasibility of alternatives

5. F ailed to properly evaluate the economic effects

6.Failure to respond to comments

7.Failure to recirculate the EIR

8.Failure to reach thresholds of significance

9.Miners have a statutory right to mine and the new regulations are prohibitive

10. The use of a mining claim for mining can’t be preempted by the State for use as a wildlife refuge

11.The new regulations violate the US Endangered Species Act which states only specific areas may be set aside to protect endangered species – not broad, generalized swaths of land.

12.The new regulations violate the California Endangered Species Act

13. Denial of due process rights of the US Constituion

14. Denial of equal protection clause of the US Constitution

We intend to prove and win every argument. If you have read the list, hopefully you’re saying to yourself we’re right.

A third lawsuit was filed by James Buchal on behalf of the New 49ers and a class of plaintiffs alleging illegal takings of property. This suit will fight the authority of the State to ban suction dredging on claims, which is the only economically viable method of recovering placer gold under the current regulatory environment.

Finally, the lawsuit to overturn AB 120 is ongoing led by Public Lands for the People.

This lawsuit is also critical for the future of dredging. The next hearing on this case will be May 22.

No date is set while the venue battle is ongoing for the challenges to the new regulations.

We’ve got our hands full for the summer. We would like to be dredging, and we’re fighting for all of us to get back in the water. Our opponents are clever, crafty, and well funded. We don’t underestimate their resources.
In fact, in the case of the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Law foundation, all they due is sue. They don’t have day jobs.

Help us win this. Don’t give in, don’t give up your claims, and don’t give up hope.

The Closing Statement

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the legal fight. We continue to ask you to donate an hour ($250) of lawyer time.

Often we sit back and watch the fight and believe there’s a lot of money out there for our cause. There’s not. This fight is funded by You and Me. That’s it. There are no big corporations or grant foundations funding us; it’s individual donations.

We are not paid. The staff at PLP is not paid. Our opponents are all paid, and your tax dollars are paying their salaries.

Right now we need two things:

We need money

We need your support

We need money to keep this fight going. In May we’ll have a bill for $15,000 to pay for “preparing the record.” The truth is you can’t get justice without money.

So, please donate to this legal fight. This is the fight to save suction dredging. If they win California, they will use the same tactics in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and eventually all western states. If you believe they’ll stop with a win in California, well…

We need your support. Your support means joining a club and getting engaged. We have to stand as a community or we’ll fall as individuals. We don’t care who you join; there are lots of good clubs out there, but join someone and throw your support in.

We need you to meet with your State and Congressional representatives. If you do nothing else, schedule a face-to-face meeting with your elected representatives. Use the Suction Dredge Information Sheet we have provided to assist in preparing your talking points. Be reasonable, be nice, but explain to them what’s going on and tell them the truth about suction gold dredging.

We need you to get involved. If you want to defeat our opponents, then we must be as engaged as our opponents. It’s not just about suction dredging; it’s about America, and it’s about freedom. Freedom that a lot of good people died for. It’s not about conservative or liberal; it’s about rights, and it’s about rights guaranteed by a little document called the Constitution of the United States.


May’s  Highlighted Retail Supporter:

The Miners Cache in Redding, CA


We don’t ask for money to advertise, but the businesses we put on the back page are run by people we know and trust. In fact my last dredge was bought from Chip, the owner of the Miners Cache in Redding, California. Chip sells just about anything you could want for mining and we highly recommend you stop in and see him (and buy something). Help support our own community, buy from our small businesses. Let’s ensure that when the ban is lifted there are still stores to buy our equipment from.


Quote of the Month

Sure, it’s just ridiculous the double standard imposed on us. Thanks to Rich E., doing volunteer research he came up with this statement from the head of the Navigation Irrigation District, the very same district that provided comments in opposition to dredging based on mercury. Tim Crough, of the Nevada Irrigation district in 2010 said “Remember, every time we have a storm, mercury is disturbed. What is released in our project (Dredging Lake Combie) is not any worse than a couple of bad storms – and what is released has an insignificant effect compared to the overall benefit.” This quote is in reference to dredging for mercury in Lake Combie with a dredge that releases 7% of the mercury it sucks up versus gold dredges which release 2%. So why can’t we dredge, but they can? You can read the full text on our web site in research articles and under the media releases.

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