First, I would like to wish all a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015. Great things are happening this year for the small scale mining community and all public land users!
For those of you who are not aware, we lost our President and our most courageous advocate, Jerry Hobbs, on December 28, 2014. Jerry will be sorely missed. I am honored to take over where Jerry left off. I am grateful for the time we spent together, what he taught me and the experience I gained by watching his actions over the years. I am also grateful for the new board of directors that have stepped up to support PLP as we move forward.
Jerry left us with very special gift. On January 12, 2015 Judge Ochoa ruled in PLP’s favor regarding Federal preemption overriding the State’s blanket prohibition on suction dredge mining. PLP is very excited about this ruling and I know Jerry would be too. We would have not achieved this victory without Jerry Hobbs. We would not have been able to fight this fight without the financial support from GPAA/LDMA. They have been the #1 contributor to support this battle over the past five years. Thank you GPAA/LDMA! In addition Keene Engineering, Prospecting and Milling Journal, American Prospector and Treasure Seeker, Gold Cube, Jobe Tools, MineLab, Whites and Fisher are all major contributors to our cause and we Thank You! We are especially grateful to the individuals and clubs who are members of PLP for your support for all these years. PLP wishes to thank everyone. A win for PLP is a win for the small scale mining community and all public land users.
Now what does this ruling mean to the small scale miner now?
PLP argued several points before Judge Ochoa:
- Miners and prospectors on Federally managed land have a statutory right; not just a mere privilege;
- Administrators may not unreasonably restrict or prohibit, temporarily or permanently, the exercise of that right;
- The issuance of a permit from DFW is a non-discretionary act
- SB670, AB120, SB1018 and the 2012 regulations are PROHIBITORY not regulatory in their fundamental character and that they are in direct conflict with Federal laws and violate the Supremacy Clause and Article IV of the United States Constitution.
- And on a Federal mining claim where a waterway runs through it that a suction dredge is the ONLY viable, economic and environmentally sound manner to recover placer gold.
In the Judge’s ruling he declared that “prevailing parties to prepare notice and order”!
That means that PLP, as one of the prevailing parties, will write the order of the court, file it with the court and upon approval of the judge he will sign it. Once again, PLP is very pleased with this (!) while the State and the environmental extremists appear to be very frustrated with this.
We are scheduled to resume the Mandatory Settlement Conference on January 23,2014 with the intent of settling on reasonable regulations that will not prohibit us illegally. The momentum is clearly on our side.
Now, the question is, “Can we go dredging”?
That, as far as the State is concerned, is still illegal! As far as Federal law goes, you have statutory rights to mine that cannot be preempted or prohibited by an arbitrary State action. Since the State still does not concede your right to suction dredge mine, despite Judge Ochoa’s ruling, the individual will have to determine what actions to take or not to take at this time. PLP strongly recommends that if an individual should decide to exercise one’s federally granted rights that one should first apply for a suction dredge permit from CDFW. If you are denied a permit, record the date, time, location and the name of the CDFW official that has denied your request. This will be valuable in the event that one is cited by either a Federal or state agency.
As the newly elected President of PLP, I will continue to fight to keep our rights to mine and access our Public Lands! PLP needs your continued help. Please join or renew your membership now to keep this winning juggernaut going! Go to publiclandsforthepeople.org to become part of this movement and let’s TAKE IT BACK AND KEEP IT!