2012 R.S. Letter

California Dept of Fish & Game

Northern Region

Suction Dredge Program

601 Locust St

Redding, CA 96001

Comments re Revisions to Proposed Amendments

 

Feb 29, 2012

 

Mr Stopher;

I am a independent miner and I oppose the regulations as written, I also agree with the complaints issued by Western Mining Alliance and Public Lands for the People.

General points of contention:

1. The whole process appears to have been biased against the dredgers from the beginning. DFG seems all too interested in complying with anti-dredging forces, and made no effort to present any evidence from the studies conducted over the last 40 years showing that suction dredging has a negligible effect on the environment or that there are actually beneficial aspects to suction dredging.

2. The permit process has become a thinly disguised DFG  “Plan of Operations” and thus allows the DFG to micro-manage the small scale placer operation. Your plan of operations (POO) requires site inspections, equipment inspections, various approvals and special requests to run a commercial operation- even if there isn’t any evidence of significant streambed alteration (apparently loaders running up and down the wetted part of the stream isn’t recognized as “streambed alteration” while a single miner shoveling gravel into a high banker is.  It seems all I need to do to come under your POO scrutiny is to hike my dredge into my claim. I’m not a rocket scientist, but I think your permit regulations are MUCH MORE restrictive than the USFS. I really am curious why you are imposing such strict regulations on us, especially since there is no evidence of any sort of widespread environmental damage ANYWHERE from small miner suction dredgers.

a. What other commercial operation in the world has a permitting process where the operator is the one permitted, rather than the operation? USFS has a POO where the whole operation is permitted. What gives the DFG the ability to mandate each operator be permitted, rather than the operation in general? Why does each dredge operator need a permit? With a single dredge, and only one of 6 permitted operators can be on the nozzle, so what is the wisdom of permitting the operators (other than being a generous revenue generator)? Sounds like the auto insurance scam.

b. By permitting the operators, the limit of 1500 permits allows the uninformed to assume that that there will be 1500 dredges operating in the State. Not so fast. In order to have a safe operation, it is advisable to have several operators who can take over the nozzle, as the work is extremely exhausting and one person can only safely stay underwater for a short period of time. On our claim we typically have anywhere from 4-7 dredge permittees at one time. Only one guy is on the nozzle and the others are doing other above water mining activities, but during the day, everyone shares in the strenuous underwater work, to ensure the diver working the nozzle is fresh and extremely aware of his environment. You don’t want to be tired underwater or you will quickly end up dead.

3. The word “Subsequent” EIR  means the new EIR is replacing an original EIR. In reading the SEIR, I must have missed the parts of it where it explains what has materially and substantially changed in the past 60 years of dredging to institute these draconian regulations. I looked all over the document and didn’t find one instance where there was a discussion of what had changed in either the process of dredging or what sort of proof was provided of  actual damages to the environment from modern day dredges. As a matter of fact, reading through your SEIR I found it odd that there were zero studies proving ANYTHING, but there was lots of conjecture assuming damage would possibly occur (its those conditional verbs).

4. I just don’t understand how you can regulate a WHOLE STATE with one set of regulations. The original complaint focused upon the Klamath river area, and somehow the project scope inflated to cover the whole state. There are millions of different projects, depending upon the specific conditions of each stream. How can you mandate one set of regulations which covers the whole state, without being too restrictive in areas where no potential for damage may exist?  My bedrock lined canyon has many differing features than someone’s claim which flows through a grassy meadow.

Your scope of the “project” is too broad and in its implementation, the rules you create to manage ALL aspects of various geographic features and environmental conditions becomes burdensome for EVERYONE involved.

At least break the regulations down for differing for different geological features and stream types. Why do I needlessly need to be harassed about mercury when in the last five years of dredging, I have not found enough mercury to put on a pin head. Everyone acts as if there are giant pools of mercury all over the place. It may be in some places  (like the Humbug Creek Superfund site which was used as a Statewide Control Study) but I know for a fact that there are a lot less mercury hot spots than everyone is making a big issue about.

5. How can the miners respond to a Final EIR which has not been released to us? After March 5 (the deadline for the comments) you will release the Final Report two days later.  You tell us all the changes are noted in the document released on Feb 17, but with your track record, I’m not sure I trust anything you guys do without verification. Nothing personal, but you now have a history of bending over backward for the environmentalists and not doing anything to protect the miners. Not to mention, you are only allowing 2 days for our own review of probably many hundreds of documents AND making any changes to the final document? You guys are going to be burning a lot of midnight oil (that is if you actually READ any of the pro miner responses). So far there is no evidence that you either hear or understand ANYTHING any miner has said to you in the last 2 years. No reason to think you might start listening now.

6. The regulations are directed towards people whose INTENT is to dredge gold, as the focus of the regulations single out the gold miner vs the reclamation dredger. Both parties use the same sort of equipment, and yet there are acceptable mitigative procedures in place for the reclamation dredger, yet no such attempt is made for the suction gold dredger. As such, you are singling out the gold miner via his INTENT to mine gold. This sounds like a “use prejudice”.

Another curious aspect of this whole railroad job is a gold dredge is specifically designed to recover gold, not mercury- yet it still offers a 98% recovery rate- how is a recovery rate of 98% of ANYTHING, not good?  How come no one has suggested modifying a normal gold dredge with the intent to recover Gold & Mercury? I bet we could bump those percentage points much closer to 100%- except for the mercury which is already in suspension within the water column. Ask Dr Alpers about that one. At the NAAMLP Convention he was proudly announcing that there was a significant quantity of mercury which was entrained within the water column and was pretty much impossible to recover.

7. Has anyone ever considered the ramifications of 7200 placer mining claims losing their value by the inability of the taxpaying claim/property owners to mine their properties? The counties are already cash strapped. What happens if the claim holders say “the hell with it ” and let the claims go? My guess is the counties will lose lots of revenue which was a mainstay of their economies for the last 100 years.

8. Are There Actual Recorded Health Affects from Mercury Pollution in California’s Mountain Rivers & Streams?- I question that even though millions of yards or earth were removed off the mountain sides and washed through mercury laden sluice boxes from a hundred and fifty years ago, has anyone actually recorded even one direct connection between the health of even one person which has been adversely affected by the supposed mercury contamination in our mountain streams? With all the millions of tons of mercury in the water when the hydraulic mines were running, you would expect many instances of mercury poisoning if the rivers were so polluted.  Now, 150 years later all you hear about is the mercury contamination scares from all directions, WHO has actually had health issues from the residues of the mercury left in the streams? Now start screwing around with dam removal, and you will have a HUGE mercury removal issue as with 150 years of migration behind its propensity to travel, you can bet the sediments in the dams are full of mercury. But the question still stands, WHO has actually been harmed from the mercury contamination in the rivers?

The conclusion of the “Mercury Contamination in Fish From Northern California Lakes & Reservoirs, July 2007, published by the State of California Department of Water Resources, Northern District noted this conclusion to the study “ All fish can be expected to have some level of mercury in their tissues due to a variety of sources and ready bioaccumulation of mercury. This study identifies lakes and reservoirs in Northern California with elevated levels of mercury in fish tissues. The number of samples from individual lakes or reservoirs IS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR OEHHA TO ISSUE CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES, but this study does provide information to focus future efforts to determine the need for advisories.”  Other documents we have uncovered have stated that California has the cleanest mountain waterways of all the other states of the union.

“Most of the lakes and reservoirs from which fish were found to contain elevated levels of mercury contamination in this and other studies are in watershed with historical mercury or gold mining. MERCURY CONTAMINATION WAS ALSO FOUND IN THIS STUDY IN LAKES AND RESERVOIRS IN WATERSHEDS THAT LACK HISTORICAL MERCURY OF GOLD MINING, INDICATING THAT FOCUSING ON MONITORING EFFORTS IN WHICH HISTORICAL MERCURY & GOLD MINING OCCURRED WILL NOT ADEQUATELY IDENTIFY ALL IMPAIRED WATER BODIES…..”

Gee, imagine that….. Mercury was also found in creeks and rivers without mining activities, which for my simple mind means to me that concentrations of mercury in rivers and lakes have NO RELATIONSHIP to suction dredgers. It amazes me that there is no consideration of atmospheric pollution to this problem. So that begs the question – why are you so focused upon the small miners? I am sure there are much bigger fish to fry (bad metaphor, I know)

9. Does not compute- The more I deal with your organization, the more my head hurts. I feel like I am in an episode of “The Twilight Zone” .  Hopefully you can make some sense for me. When the DFG hired contractors to “improve the spawning gravels” in the river near the Nimbus Fish hatchery as per the American River Restoration Project, your contractors were driving full sized loaders and heavy equipment up and down in the streambed of the American River and yet your biologists saw no long lasting effects.

Yet, your scientists are in a tizzy when dealing with a small floating one man commercial  gold suction dredge, which would take a year to move as much gravel as the loader in the creek bed does in a day.  Yet, apparently you see no issues with a loader driving up and down in a wetted streambed.  You want containment vessels on our small engines,  but your scientists have no worries about heavy equipment driving in the river leaking hydraulic fluid all over the place. Which is it? Do you or don’t you care what happens to your streambeds? What efforts were made to ensure that redds weren’t being driven on while working on the Nimbus Dam project?  What am I missing here? See link: http://www.sacramentopress.com/headline/38251/American_River_restoration_project_one_step_closer_to_completion#comment-39779

10.  Conflict of Interest- The Sierra Fund is Dredging  for mercury (and gold) at Lake Combie. Here are a couple of comments regarding their operation.

1. Don’t you see a conflict of interest where they are instrumental in lobbying to throw dredgers off the river for gold dredging, while at the same time they are applying for taxpayer funded grants of $3M to do essentially the same thing that they are helping create legislation to eliminate?  Doesn’t that sound a bit fishy to you?

2. Remote dredging with a boom- I talked to the S.F. representatives at the NAAMLP seminar and they described their dredging operation to me. They have a very extensive recovery operation which transports the mercury laden sediments removed from the lake and separates the mercury (and gold) from the sediment on a shoreside location. They were pretty proud of their operation – even though it’s mercury recovery rate is much lower than a gold dredge.

One point of contention I had with them was (as I remember) they said their dredge was a “cutter head” which was operated remotely. I asked them what percentage of the sediment that they stir up do they recover and they thought the recover was pretty high (thus not a lot of muddy water around the operation).  Then I asked them what happens when the cutter head encounters underwater boulders – what sort of containment system do they have when the cutter head is bouncing off underwater boulders and underwater obstructions- how do they ensure that all the stirred up silt is sucked up. The point they didn’t get (as I was trying to make it clear to them) was a gold dredger has much better underwater recovery than a remote controlled boom because we can work around rocks and move them out of the way with winches if needed. A boom operated cutter head bounces off underwater obstructions and stirs up silt which may not be observable by the operator on the surface, but it never the less stirs the silt up. On a gold dredge, a silty workspace is a dangerous workspace, and thus the miner works to ensure that all the silty water is passed through the filtration section of the sluice box in order to attempt to recover both the mercury and the gold.  The point of this diatribe is the small miner has better control of his workspace because his life depends upon being able to see imminent dangers nearby.

Sorry to prolong the getting to the gritty stuff, but I have a lot of questions:

Questions before further progressing:

1. Has the DFG quantified or qualified the amount of hazardous materials and garbage, trash, pollution, heavy metals, mercury and asphalt currently found in the mountain river systems? Do any of the other hazardous materials present a danger to the aquatic life of the rivers or human health of those eating the fish from the river? Is mercury the ONLY waste issue in the rivers?

2. The rivers are filled with the garbage of the other users and of past flood flotsam and jettsom.  No other (non-taxpayer funded) user is currently cleaning the rivers, yet the suction dredge gold miner has been doing it for over 60 years without receiving a single mention of appreciation from any official agency. The suction dredger does this every day he is out working. If the garbage continues to pollute the rivers, with each successive flood and the intense grinding action which occurs during each flood, it is evident that permanent damage the aquatic environment may occur with ground up plastic, asphalt, scrap metals, etc. How come there is no reference to this fact in the SEIR?

3. When fishermen and hunters get a license, they get a “take permit”-  why aren’t the miners afforded the same opportunity? These other users are out in the forest to purposely kill fish & wildlife and the DFG recognizes it as a “cost of doing business”. The miner’s intent is NOT TO KILL ANYTHING, yet we are held to a higher standard of a 100% non-impact. Why is that?

4. Many of your regulations interfere with the safety of the mining operation, and I am curious if you the DFG is prepared to be held liable for creating an unsafe work environment via your restrictive winching regulations.

5. How can any sort of an commercial enterprise work within a lottery system with so few “winning” tickets? There are many other forest users who aren’t as environmentally concerned as the small miner and yet they are not on a lottery system. Why are we so lucky? I have yet to see any explanation for this insanity. Is there any other industrial miner in this country who has to try to run a business on a yearly basis by winning a lottery? How can I prepare for each successive season of running my business when my livelihood depends upon the luck of the draw of permits? Where is the sense that I am denied use of my commercial mining operation because someone wants to come out for one day a year and wins the lottery to do so? Or what safeguards are in place to prevent any one entity from buying up all the permits (that would be the easiest and least expensive way for the opposition to curtail dredging)?  Is there any preference for those who have held permits in previous years? Who comes up with these great ideas?

6. Mercury was a main point of contention in this argument and I know for a fact that a lot of data was sent to you from both sides of this issue. I am really surprised you made no revisions on the Mercury issue? Can you clarify? Why are you not addressing mercury in your changes?  Could it be that some other entity is dealing with the mercury issue? Can you clairify?

7. How come there are no discussions of fees? Is there some sort of formula for determining fees     which the small businessman miner could use to determine my yearly cost of doing business. If I have to have on-site inspections will they be included with my permit fee, or are there “extra fees” incorporated with that? If there are extra fees, I’d like to know about them now.

8. How come your “all inclusive” EIR neglected to include the economic cost to the local communities where suction dredging occurs? Many of these small communities were literally supported by the money the small gold dredgers spent with them all summer long. Been to Downieville lately? A lot of stores are boarded up after the passage of SB670 and AB120.

9. Instead of working with the gold dredgers by offering ideas for mitigating supposed effects of suction dredging, all of your regulations are intended to discourage and interfere with the mining process and thus creates an adversarial relationship between the miner and your agency.

10. I attended the the Mercury seminars at the NAAMLP gathering in Squaw Valley this last fall and it was quite interesting. Dr Alpers commented that there are portions of mercury which are suspended within the water column of all rivers - and thus are difficult to recover (by any means). The Phd’s were also yucking it up that the mercury regulation are so strict that NO ONE can reach their standards. I find it interesting when you review the mercury contamination of California’s rivers vs all the other rivers of all the other states, California’s rivers have the least amount of mercury contamination of any other states. How come this is not a factor in your determination?

 

Specifics:

Section 228

 

(g)  Number of permits- 1500.

Why 1500? – with roughly 7200 placer claims in the state and potential numbers of miners in excess of 50,000 gold seekers,  what criteria let you to account for only issuing 1500 permits? On our mining claim, all my partners have a dredge permit (on my claim 6-8 people have permits) and there is only one permitted nozzle holder in the water at a time. I think we could project that it is safe to say that with 7200 claims times….. say 4-6 people on the claim with permits, that would ideally equate to the potential of 28,000- 42,000  permits if all claims had all dredgers with permits. So  your 1500 number equates to making available only .03% of the potential permits for all the possible miners, for all the claims.

In effect 1500 permits (figuring at least 4 permits to a claim) means that only 375 claims in the State of California would have the ability to run a suction dredge. So, in effect there would be less than one dredge in each watershed in this state which would have the potential to operate.

Another way to look at this is there are 172,000 miles of dredgeable waterways in California, and figuring 4 permits per claim, that means that there would be one dredge per 458 miles of waterway. I don’t think you have to worry about too many dredges, too close to each other, dirtying up the waterways. Four hundred and fifty miles between each dredge will pretty much assure that there will not be any muddy water  or miner “congestion” downstream.

If I were the one person who could operate my dredge in the middle fork of the Yuba river watershed, it would only be operating on weekends. So there would be 5 other days of the week where all the other claim holders would not be able to economically and efficiently work their claims. If they could not economically and efficiently work their claims, would the BLM mandate the forfeiture of the claims due to them being uneconomic to mine? As it is, a tremendous amount of work is required to extract meager amounts of gold and by adding more unmitigated restrictions the profit margin becomes miniscule.

Another aspect of this minimal amount of dredgers per claim is safety issues. If there is only one permit on a claim and the claim owner only has a set amount of time to mine, my guess is you will find a lot more accidents and deaths on the claims. By having numerous permit holders on a claim, when someone gets tired from working underwater, another guy gets into the water. With these restrictions there will be a lot of people working by themselves (only one permit per claim), for long periods underwater which in itself creates  extreme stresses on the human body and makes for an extremely dangerous working environment.

So, rather than permitting the dredgers, why not permit the dredge? What other back country commercial operation mandates that the operator himself be permitted, rather than the whole operation? Is every timberfaller in a logging operation permitted? How about every loader operator building a road in the forest? After all, it is not the dredger who is creating the potential damage, it is the equipment. Why are the permits attached to each person? I would think the most reasonable way to do this would be to permit the operation. In effect, you are requiring a Plan of Operations for each person in the pursuit of mining their own mining claims. Sounds like a real money maker to me. If you have four guys working on a single mining claim you have the potential to have 4 POO’s because you can attach the requirements to each miner.

 (h) Suction Dredge Reporting-

Why is this information important? Why not offer the same reporting requirements to ALL other users of the forest? Make it so every person who drives a car in the forest has to fill out a form, or everyone who has a logging operation- make all the timber fallers fill out forms where they cut trees. Many claims are small enough that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where the mining is occurring.

Let’s say I am reporting on my claim card, and our favorite DFG representative comes out, and finds a previous area worked before the permit (and report card issuance order)  and notes that the other area is not noted on my card. What safeguard is in place to protect me from being accused of creating some sort of damage which I had no part in? What happens if someone comes into my claim and “highgrades” it while I am not there and then the DFG representative sees the damage and fines me for it? – what safeguard is in place to protect me from being falsely accused?

With a report card like this, which would have to be located near the equipment, what happens if it gets lost? Or stolen? I could see filing a report at the end of the season, estimating yardages being moved, but any other reporting doesn’t mitigate any environmental concern, so I don’t know why you need the info.

Have you considered privacy issues? All the DFG and BLM info is in the public arena. As the economy continues to deteriorate, I am not sure I want everyone on the planet to know what I am doing and when. Mining is dangerous enough with all the potential things that can happen during the course of a day, even on the safest operation. Add to the dangers that some bozo will be coming down to check out my bonanza to he can rip me off, isn’t my idea of a good time. This is NOT and industry where you want to telegraph ANYTHING unnecessary to strangers.

(i)Who is the Assistant Chief of Enforcement?

Is this the same person who I encounter out at my claim? How much money (or gold) will he extort from me to ensure that my “inspection” passes without any hiccups? Or is this just another “cost of doing business?” What safeguards will be in place to ensure I don’t get “shaken down “ by your enforcement officer?

(k) Is this regulation for ALL suction dredging?

(Reclaimation & Gold) or just Gold? If for only gold, please explain why the reclamation dredger is held to a different standard as the gold dredger, since we are using basically the same equipment.

4” nozzle- In your effort to save the environment, you will in effect be increasing wear and tear on the environment. A 4” nozzle demands a using a lot more fuel to move the same amount of gravel a larger nozzle allows. And there is a lot more maintenance of the equipment and location than when using a larger dredge. Larger dredges are quieter as many of them actually have automobile engines on them.  A 4” dredge is a sampling dredge and cannot be effectively be used for commercial dredging. With the 4” there will be more wear and tear on the ingress and egress areas to fill the gas tank of the smaller motors more often, and it is not the most efficient use of the equipment.

A 1602 permit for a 5” or 6” dredge?  I could see it with a dredge which moves mountains, but the amount of material moved with a dredge smaller than 8″ doesn’t compare with larger dredges. 5-6 inch dredges are the minimum size needed for any sort of commercial operation and by denying their use, you are impeding a miners ability to economically extract mineral wealth from their property.

4. Containment system- Many of the new gas cans have anti-drip spouts, and mandating their use would be a lot simpler remedy.

(l) Winching

(1A) On-site inspection- I see, and how long will it take to get one of these inspections? Two weeks? Two months? And those of us who are restricted to a two month season? Oh, darn, your season is over- well maybe next year…..And if I paid for my permit and I don’t get an inspection in enough time to conduct mining in my shortened season, will I get reimbursed for my inability to work? Are the inspections free? Or are there extra fees involved (anyone want to bet on this one?)

2. Motorized Winches – So you are saying we need to have someone come out to the claim to look at my winching location before I begin to winch? Hope he likes to hike straight down into steep canyons. Oh, and how long can I expect to wait until it is my “turn” for someone to hike into my canyon to visit me? Can I have that in writing? What  protocol is in place to ensure that I don’t end up waiting the whole season until I get my inspection? After all, I only have two and a half months to dredge my creek, as per your new regulations.

Non motorized winches are not of commercial quality and they are cumbersome, dangerous and lack the pulling power of motorized winches. By requiring this regulation you are mandating me getting your version of a plan of operations, even if I move just one rock. You are in effect forcing the small miner into a POO even though the surface disturbance is not significant.

(A) Boulders- My canyons are really steep bedrock lined canyons and there is a lot of rock movement during flood season. I am having difficulty understanding what the difference is between me moving the rock with a winch, vs mother nature moving the rock 6 months later. The nature of steep canyons is there is constant erosion of the stream materials (read movement) . Every rock that was there last year is 100 feet downstream this year. And in my really steep canyon, any rock that happens to roll downstream, is quickly replaced with another 100 tonner rolling down the cliff to take its place. Need some rocks? I’ve got a few.

(B) Winching embedded Rocks- by the nature of suction dredging pretty much everything is embedded in the gravels. It is only as we suction the gravels away does the rocks become capable of being moved. This regulation opens the door for every suction dredge mining operation in the state to be shut down because it could be construed that ALL rocks are embedded somewhere in the stream channel. What determines the bank and the stream bed? My bedrock lined canyon literally has no “banks” as it is a bedrock lined channel with little woody material.

3. Three foot lateral edge- In one of my canyons there are “no banks” and the lateral edge of the water is bedrock. Very few trees, a few shallow rooted grasses, and solid rock. What are you protecting in my bedrock lined canyon with this rule? Once again, one rule for the whole state doesn’t work. Another one of my claims has a creek 5 feet wide. While you are not “closing” that creek by direct mandate, that is in effect exactly what you are doing. The three foot rule would probably shut down 50% of the remaining non-A stated creeks in the state.

10. Fuel within 100 feet of current water level- you guys must be smoking crack. 100 feet of my stream side up my 50% slope  is maybe several hundred feet higher than the bottom of the creek. It may take me 20 minutes to hike up and back just to get gas. Do any other forest users have this ridiculous restriction? As I stated before, a good anti spill gas can is good enough.

12. No person shall displace any material embedded on banks of rivers- gee, let me think about that…. Hmmm… I bet that could be interpreted to mean that if you are winching a rock which is underwater and it is being held in place by other rocks or dirt, that it is against regulations to move that rock, right? Even if the canyon is bedrock lined? Too broad of a regulation for too many differing environments.

14. Reasonable Care for silt- It depends upon the definition of reasonable. This EIR isn’t reasonable, so why should I expect you to expect reasonable care. What should a reasonable person do when they encounter silt?  EVERY creek/ river has silt in it. What mitigative measures do you suggest for the OTHER reclamation dredgers who don’t have the extreme regulations you are imposing on us? Rather than making a regulation for silt, provide a “common use practice guideline” which recommends to the dredger, when encountering silt layers, not to hog the layers and take it easy.

15. Leveling Tailing Piles- This is a joke? Right?  If you are so concerned about moving rocks and silting up the creek, why do you want us to move the silt twice? The deep pools are used by fish to stay cool during the heat of the day. Maybe we could make an effort to spread the tailings in an even manner downstream from our work site while we are working. That is a reasonable request.

16. Redds aren’t an issue and if I ever saw egg masses, I would move because I respect the environment in my canyon.

18. Wheeled equipment for suction dredging: I have never used wheeled equipment for in-stream anything. But you may want to talk to the geniuses who were in charge of creating fish habitat near Nimbus dam with the American River Restoration Project. They had really BIG Wheels in the river. Did you know they had LOADERS running up and down the creek? Can you imagine? I bet you can. See for yourself: http://www.sacramentopress.com/headline/38251/American_River_restoration_project_one_step_closer_to_completion#comment-39779

19 & 20. Cleaning of dredges- Not an issue on my claim, but it seems it would be pretty much unenforceable. Do any other river users have these same regulations? Fishing boats? Swim rafts? Ski Boats? Hell, what about fishermen’s waders?  God knows where they have been. If everyone has to do it, I am ok with it. But I don’t think singling out the miner is any benefit to anyone. The dredges on my claims live in their respective canyons, so importing a dredge is a moot point.

21. 500 feet between dredges- If your new regulations go into effect, this won’t be a problem. There probably won’t be two operating dredges within 480 miles of stream between them. 1500 permits  with up to 42,000 miners in the lottery to use them? Congestion definitely will NOT be a problem.

The place where this would be an issue is on club claims. Maybe depending upon the geomorphic conditions, a site by site analysis can be made and a determination could be made agreeable to all parties involved.

(m) State Wildlife Areas- dredging prohibited, unless the claim was granted before the creation of the Wildlife Area. And of course if you annex a claim, you will pay the claim owner for his economic loss.

(o) Emergency Closure – based on what? Like the emergency closure of suction dredging because a politically connected group (who gill net fish by the millions) accused the suction dredgers of killing a fish, with no evidence of a single fish being killed? Is that the kind of emergency closure you are talking about. Please be more specific, as inquiring minds want to know.

(p) Timing of Activity- I cannot wait to find out why we can only dredge for 6 hours.

Possible Reason #1: Could it be that the rafting concessions on the S. Fork of the American got their fingers in on this? My friend tells me that from day break to 10 am the river is low enough to dredge, but after 10 am, the water releases from the dams raise the rivers and the rafters float down river enmasse until???? (come on guess) ????– the answer is 4pm…. Who would have thunk??? Then the river goes down again and the dredgers could go out into the river again. If that time line sticks, then it runs the dredgers off the S. Fork of the American River entirely and the rafters have it all to themselves. What other reasonable explanation could there be??

Possible Reason #2- These seem to be the same hours used for running generators in campgrounds. One can only guess the wisdom of this regulation. Do gravel plants in residential areas have a regulation like this? The closest residence to my claim has to be at least 3 miles. If it is a noise factor, maybe  offer suggestions  to modify the small engine mufflers in order to quiet them down.

If it is a noise vs wildlife issue, do you have the same regulations on loggers so they don’t fire up their chainsaws before 10am? Or construction jobs in the forest?

228.5 Suction Dredge Use Classifications

I cannot wait to see the reasons why the restrictions were added to the creeks.

This section is based upon the SEIR Appendix L “Biological Action Species” which is not based in any sort of sound science (imaging THAT!), population surveys, and does not comply with the endangered species act.

I’ll be honest with you people. I had no idea a railroad job like this could occur in our country. I guess I am a little politically naïve and just now recognize how the corrupt the system can really be, back room deals and all.  At the beginning of this process I couldn’t understand how you guys could miss all the science which showed how beneficial suction dredging was to the environment, but as this part of my life has unfolded, the ONLY conclusion that makes sense is  you were only looking for the negative aspects of gold dredging and you never, ever even considered that gold dredging could have any environmental benefits. As such it appears that you only considered the informed opinions (1500 of them in the SEIR) of your hand-picked scientists who you knew would give you the results you intended to find. Your entire intent was to banish (gold) dredging from the State. I recognize I am not the brightest guy around, but it all sinks in and I get it.

I got my first clue at the Sacramento Session you hosted with Horizon Environmental. I asked Michael (whatever  his name is) why with all the millions of factors affecting the watershed, the miners were singled out as being the bogey man. He told me because the court ordered them to (in effect) run the dredgers off the rivers. They were told to run the dredgers off the rivers. And so they have done. To hell with science! If the science doesn’t conveniently work in your favor, don’t use it and replace it with conjecture and opinion. Hey, it’s noting personal, its just business (for the environmental non-profits).

It’s been a real eye opener. You guys have your cushy jobs, fat pensions and as long as you keep kissing the right butts, life will be good. I just hope sometime in your life you get the opportunity to get a real feeling of what it is like to be RIGHT but the world sees you as being so WRONG.

R**************    S***************

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