Eastern Oregon Mining Association
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- Eastern Oregon Mining Association
- 20150501

MAY 2015 Newsletter
Volume 308

The meetings are held on the first Friday of the month. The next meeting is Friday, MAY 1ST at the Baker City Hall. The building is located at 1st and Auburn Streets in Baker City. The Board meeting starts at 6:00PM, and the general meeting starts at 6:30PM.

Miners are getting more and more frustrated with both State and Federal governments. Right now, Oregon heads the list of frustrating agencies with their proposed new law, SB830-3, which was recently amended to propose prohibiting upland mining within 300 feet of 303(d) listed streams. Those waterways include the Burnt River (from the dam to the Snake River), Geiser Creek, Cracker Creek, Powder River, Elk Creek, Wolf Creek, Deer Creek, McCully Fork, California Gulch, Bull Run Creek, Granite Creek, Willow Creek and lots of others, just in our local area. Some legislators are confused about the difference between suction dredging in-stream, and upland mining beside the streams.

OCAPA members, EOMA, Jan Alexander, Chuck Chase, Roy Campbell, Thom Seal and two other mining organizations have been working with Rich Angstrom, our lobbyist. Many miners have complained to Rich about what the State is trying to do to mining, but in the end, it is the OCAPA members that Rich must listen to. I am disappointed that more EOMA members and other mining organizations have not yet become members of OCAPA. Rich is working hard to negotiate some reasonable regulations for all miners. We are also getting support from Matt Ellsworth of AE&MA. I would suggest that if you believe in your industry, you might think about joining OCAPA and AE&MA. Applications are in this newsletter or sign up online. www.ocapa.net or www.miningamerica.org Become part of the solution.

UPDATE-SB830-3-Jan Alexander
This Senate Bill was drafted as a result of the recommendations from the Governors Study Group meetings that I attended for seven months last year. We never reached consensus with the recreation folk, Tribes or environmentalists, but did make some headway in averting the moratorium scheduled for 2016. SB830 was onerous enough, with prohibitions recommended on suction dredge mining in waterways that run through private lands where streams support salmon, steelhead and bull trout. It also recommended individual permits on Federal lands, but miners on federal lands still would be able to mine.

Unfortunately, this already bad bill was recently amended three times by the environmental groups, and now SB830-3 proposes not only a prohibition on mining adjacent to salmon, steelhead and bull trout streams within all lands, but also proposes a prohibition on mining adjacent to 303(d) listed streams for parameters such as sediment, arsenic, mercury or toxins. Just our little Elk Creek near Baker City has ten or more operations that would be subject to this law if it went into effect.

Suction dredge miners have simply had it with the State of Oregon and the States quest for higher revenues and more stringent, (to the point of being impossible to comply with) permit stipulations. Many are opting to let the moratorium go into effect. The feeling is that it would be easier to litigate than to try and obtain and comply with the new suction dredge permit.

SB830-3 and its prohibitions on mining is completely short-sighted on the part of Oregons legislators, who are always looking for more revenue. Mining operations, particularly those who mine in the uplands, put many thousands of dollars annually into local economies. Shutting down mining would simply be another nail in the coffin of economic viability of Oregons rural economies. It is hoped some of the problems with SB 830-3 will be fixed before passage.

Jeff Tomac responded to EOMA with a list of the Plans of Operation in the North Fork Burnt River where miners have not responded to the Forest Service concerning approval of their plans. Since that time, it was discovered that a mistake had been made concerning the Sue operation, which has been approved. Also, the Star operation had been incorporated into the Gold Buster Plan, rather than being a separate Plan.

The POOs where the miners are ready to work with the Forest Service to get their Plans approved include EJ, EOMP Camp Creek, Gold Busters/Star, McNamee, Rusty Bucket, Sluice Box, Snow Creek, Wild Flower, Big Elk, Rocker, Silver Eagle, Roberts and Midas/Lady Bug.

The Plans where the Forest Service has heard nothing from the miners include:(1)August, (2)Camp Hale, (2)Jay Gould, (3)R&RK#2,#3, (4)Racer, (5) Parkerville, (6)Upper Geiser, (7)Upper Winterville, (8)West Parkerville.

Too many things going on. Last month we forgot to report that Ed Hardt has replaced Terry Drever Gee as Vice President. Terry remains as EOMA Director of Government Affairs.

President  Ken Alexander   
Executive Director                                 Chuck Chase
Vice President                                        Ed Hardt
Treasurer                                                Bobbie Danser
Corresponding Secretary                        Bob Heitmanek
Recording Secretary                               Carmelita Holland
Director of Governmental Affairs          Terry Drever Gee
Director of Mineral Policy                       Jan Alexander
Sergeant-At-Arms                                    Jerry Florence

Board Members 2015 to 2017
Ron Anderson Pam Haney
Alice Knapp Diane Florence
Wanda Ballard Dr. Thom Seal
Larry Chase

Rich Angstrom and OCAPA, have introduced a bill that would establish a process for counties to evaluate whether a proposed mining use would actually cause a significant change in the county or if the mining would cause a significant increase in cost when a federal or state agency has not issued a permit authorizing the proposed mining use. The bill is an attempt to deal with frivolous assertions of citizens opposing approval of new surface mining sites.

As we reported in the last newsletter, the Granite Watershed Mining Projects EIS contains a stipulation requiring miners to obtain and provide a copy of their WPCF permit before a Plan will be approved. All miners who use water in processing, not just those who use equipment, are required by State law to apply for a WPCF permit.

EOMA and many of the miners with operations in the EIS submitted comments. It was a long, very difficult to understand document. Many miners did not receive their EIS until a few days before the comment period was to end. EOMA, Baker County and Grant County all requested an extension of time to make comments, but the extension was not granted. Most comments that we were aware of focused on inaccuracies in describing the Plans of Operation and the unreasonable stipulations. Once the Forest Service has reviewed the comments, they will either make changes in the EIS based on the comments, or publish the Final EIS without making any changes. We will see if they listen to what the miners had to say.
Representing two California counties and a broad coalition of associations and individuals who value public access to national forests, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) has sued the federal government for acting to prohibit motorized travel on thousands of roads and trails in Plumas National Forest that have been used for decades for responsible and legally permissible recreational purposes. The lawsuit argues that the U.S. Forest Service, a division of the Department of Agriculture, violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), by blocking access to much of Plumas National Forest without a careful, factually specific review of environmental impacts, including consequences for the public.

“We are suing to stop federal officials from illegally ‘fencing off’ a vast portion of Plumas National Forest from responsible recreational use by the public,” said PLF Senior Staff Attorney Ted Hadzi-Antich.  “Federal officials have a duty to protect the environment, but not to keep humans out of the environment.  One of the primary purposes of our national forests is to provide for recreational uses.  Yet the Forest Service is now prohibiting responsible recreation, by restricting access to thousands of roads and trails that the public has long had the right to use in motorized vehicles.” More information can be found on PLF’s website: http://blog.pacificlegal.org/2015/americans-to-the-u-s-forest-service-dont-shut-us-out-of-our-national-forests/
For years, I have run a highbanker by suction dredging the stream bed and power sluicing the material up the bank to a settling basin located away from the stream. I build a sand bag settling pond to control the run off, and settle the water off-channel. Because of the suction nozzle, I must have a suction dredge permit, (combo high banker) but because my dredge does not float, the new suction dredge permit will not authorize this use. The 600 WPCF permit authorizes my use of the settling ponds, but not the use of a dredge.  I do not mine anything above the high water mark, but I do settle my water above the high water mark. Most true highbankers do not use dredge nozzles, but do power wash the hand fed materials. Usually these materials are dug above the high water mark, but highbankers are sometimes used in-stream. These are just other variations of placer mining operations which DEQ did not address in their recent 700PM permit.

In the last newsletter, we listed the 10 items the group agreed to accomplish in their February 4, 2015 meeting. During the last three months, Jeff Tomac sent EOMA the list of NFBR operations where the Forest Service had not had contact with the miner, Steve Flock found out the answer on extending BLM Notices, Lori Wood and I met and finalized the Staking a Claim brochure, Jeff let Ken know about the Golden Bandit Plan and a settling pond. Jeff has not responded concerning Terry Hurds request to continue to mine under the existing Golden Angel EA. Tom Montoya has not responded concerning the FS EOMA MOU and if it could be reinstated, and neither Tom nor Jeff has responded concerning whether a miner can look at his own mining file. There will be another Round Table on May1. Perhaps we will get our answers then.

The law in place right now, SB838, which will end in a moratorium in 2016 on mining within and beside waterways with salmon, steelhead or bull trout, covers two very different types of mining. One is \upland placer mining \ which takes place in the dry uplands away from streams, and the other is \suction dredge mining\ which takes place in-stream. Legislators who passed SB838 two years ago, had no idea that upland mining and suction dredge mining were as different as apples and oranges.

Upland placer mining can be described as taking place on gravel highbars that the current stream or an ancient, now dry, stream has left over many years, with gold concentrated, either by floods or natural erosions. It is very confusing, that SB838 describes the \stream banks\ as any area between the high water mark and 300 feet from the stream. No one I know would say they were working in the \banks\ when their operation is located in the uplands. Stream banks are not impacted during upland mining operations. The use of the term \banks\ to describe upland mining is deceptive, and has led to a lot of confusion on the part of the Legislators. Upland placer miners using mechanized equipment do not work in-stream or even near the stream, and these operators are required to maintain an undisturbed buffer strip along the waterway, protect water quality, recycle process water in off-channel settling ponds and never to discharge into the stream. Upland miners excavate the pay gravels from the dry uplands, classify the material using water and gravity means, with the end result of recovering the gold. All that is required from the waterway is process water used under legal water rights.

In contrast, \suction dredging\ involves a floating machine which sucks up gravels from the bottom of the stream with a suction hose, where the slurry is pumped into a sluice box where gold is separated from the gravel. Process water returns to the stream. There is a small plume of sediment, which settles rapidly, but which attracts fish which feed on the invertebrates that were in the gravel. Countless studies have been done which prove there is no harm to the fish and plant life from this type of mining, and for sure there is no harm from mining in the uplands. But there is no doubt, that upland mining and suction dredge mining differ in mining method, location, machinery used, and impacts to waterways-they are as different as apples and oranges.

Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) and Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) will hold a \Legislative Hotline\ (video conference) call once per month during the 2015 Legislative Session. These appearances, hosted by the Baker County Chamber of Commerce, provide Baker County residents an opportunity to discuss with the Representative and Senator legislative events and other statewide and local issues. These video conference meetings will be held at the Baker County OSU Extension Offices media room at 7:00AM, 2600 East Street:
• Wednesday, May 6th at 7:00am (PST)
• Wednesday, June 3rd at 7:00am (PST)
\These meetings will provide the opportunity to review what is happening in Salem with Baker County residents. Please join Cliff and Ted for these information sessions.
TAKE BACK OUR PUBLIC LANDS-American Land Rights Council
Nevada currently holds the unenviable record for the highest percentage of federally controlled lands within its borders – more than 80%! But this is not just a Nevada problem; the federal government controls about half of the all lands within the western states. In contrast, States east of Colorado have, on average, less than 5% federally controlled lands.

But Nevada doesn’t even come close to the all-time record holder for federally controlled lands within a state. This remarkable record was held by that great “western state” of Illinois. During the 19th century, the federal government controlled more than 95% of all lands within the State of Illinois for decades! But, it wasn’t just Illinois. The federal government also controlled for decades as much as 90% of all lands between Indiana and Florida. But not so today.

We have found over and over again, that once people understand the history of the transfer of public lands...the promises made and the promises broken...they realize that the transfer of public lands is truly the only solution big enough to improve the health, access and productivity of our public lands and the sovereignty of our states. Please share this article series with your friends and colleagues and be a part of the only solution big enough to solve the Public Lands problem.

There is a lot of information, and probably misinformation on the situation at the Sugar Pine Lode Mine. I discussed the situation briefly with BLM geologist, Diane Perry, who was a part of the Governors Study Group last year and who supports the rights of miners working on Federal lands. I also looked at a lot of information that is on line. Even the local mining community has stated that the \initial reports of an armed standoff are overblown\. Evidently, about half a dozen Oath Keepers are camped on site to protect the miners rights under the Constitution.

The main problem at the mine appears to be that the miners have recently constructed a cabin, installed a water system, brought in travel trailers and put up gates and \no trespassing\ signs. They have equipment, including a cat, mini-excavator, several small crushers, a small ball mill on site, and by all appearances, they are working underground. BLM regulations require that operators using mechanized equipment submit a Notice or Plan of Operation under 43CFR3809, and apply for occupancy under 43CFR3715 for cabins, trailers, signs and gates. BLM gave the miners three options (1) submit a Plan of Operation and occupancy request (2)remove the equipment and trailers and conduct casual use operations (3) appeal BLMs decision.

The miners evidently do not want to submit a Plan of Operation, but they also do not want to remove their equipment and trailers and signs and gates. Thus, their recourse is to file an IBLA appeal of the non-compliance letter, stating their reasons why they feel they are not subject to the regulations, and requesting a \stay\ of the request to remove trailers and equipment (not the buildings) by April 25, 2015. This issue will not be resolved quickly, and it is possible that IBLA will not grant a \stay\ of BLMs decision that occupancies must be removed. The Sugar Pine miners may agree to disagree with BLM, and simply submit a Plan of Operation, or they may take the issue into the courts.
EOMA medallions are beautiful proof grade one ounce silver medallions with the addition of real gold “nuggets” in the pan. We have a limited supply of 2012, 2013 and 2014 medallions along with the newly minted 2015s. These medallions are currently selling for $50.00 apiece plus $5.00 shipping, handling, and insurance. (Prices are subject to change). You can order a medallion from the EOMA website, and pay by pay-pal. Or, you can send $50 plus $5.00 shipping and handling to EOMA, Medallions, PO Box 932, Baker City, OR 97814, or call Bobbie at 541-523-3285. Be sure to specify what year you want.

The advertising listings are only $1 per month to get your ad listed below. Send your ad to: EOMA, Box 932, Baker City, OR 97814 along with your remittance for each month you want us to run your ad. The number next to your ad is how many months your ad will run.
Gold Cat double sluice high banker with 3.5 hp Briggs and Stratton, 2in pump, 30ft 2in hose, 14ft of 2in suction hose. $1,695 or obo. Call 541-403-4143

A mine sluice made out of wood plus a larger sluice about 4ft long out of wood all for $150 obo. Call 541-403-4143

Custom made trommel, 5.5hp 2in. pump, 60 ft. 1.5in hose, 12ft suction hose with foot valve $1,695 obo. Call 541-403-4143

(1) Four inch water pump, powered by a 2cycle Wisconsin Engine, $300.
(2) High Pressure 4 inch pump powered by 30 HP electric motor, $500.
(3) Two sets of 13-20 tire chains for tractor or grader, $100 each. Call 541-523-2521.

CLAIMS FOR SALE (1): Three Unpatented Placer Mining Claims: Each claim is 40 acres in size, located along Clarks Creek, near Bridgeport Oregon. The claims run from the patented Dooley Placer upstream to Blue Trigger Gulch. Come test the ground yourself. There is a Notice in place with BLM for processing on site and exploration using mechanized equipment. These claims are historic producers. Price is $7,000 per claim or $20,000 for all three claims. Call Larry Pestes, 503-663-5500 for additional information. If anyone is interested in looking at them on the ground, I would be glad to show them to you- call Jan Alexander at 541-446-3413.