Eastern Oregon Mining Association
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- Eastern Oregon Mining Association
- 20150601

JUNE 2015 Newsletter
Volume 309

The meetings are held on the first Friday of the month. The next meeting is Friday, JUNE 5TH at the Baker City Hall. The building is located at 1st and Auburn Streets in Baker City. The Board meeting usually starts at 6:00PM, however, due to scheduling conflicts, our guest speaker, Jon Matye, Special Agent for the Forest Service, will give his presentation at 6:00PM, and we will dispense with the Board Meeting. The general meeting will start after Jons presentation.

The next page of the newsletter contains a synopsis of a letter to the editor by Tom Kitchar that I hope you will read. Toms letter makes some good points about how the general populace sees the so-called “public land”. People tend to forget that practically all of the western lands were at one-time “public land” including the land under your house. This land was converted to private ownership through various homestead and patenting processes. The same principle applies when you follow the process to file a mining claim. Even though part of the complete patent process is right now on hold, the once public minerals become your private property. Just like the private property of a farmers field is used to grow the food you eat, the privately owned subsurface minerals are mined to provide the materials used to make almost everything else you use.

Many of the products you use to make your life easier, from computers to cars, from trommels to harvesting equipment, come from these privately owned minerals. Since 1955, with the passage of the Multiple Use Act, mineral claims are subject to various restrictions on the surface rights, but the underlying minerals are still private property.

MINING CLAIMS AND PUBLIC LANDS- Excerpts from letter to the editor by Tom Kitchar
A recent letter to the editor expressed concerns that miners act like they own the land their claims are on. In the words of the author: “Except that it is NOT their land. It is my land; it is YOUR land; it is public land.”

I beg to differ. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the definition of “public land” is: “…lands belonging to the United States and which are subject to sale or other disposal under general laws, and not reserved or held back for any special governmental or public purpose.”
Also, according to and as recent as the Congressional Record, October 23, 2000 (pgs. E1853-87): “…the lawful definition of ‘‘public lands’’ are ‘‘lands available to the public for purchase and/or settlement.’’ The courts have repeatedly held that when a lawful possession of the public lands has been taken, these lands are no longer available to the public and are therefore no longer public lands. \Where valid mining claims exist, that land is no longer public land.” The reality is that “public lands” are those lands belonging to the United States that are open to some form of appropriation, such as homesteading (now outlawed), direct sale, or by the locating of a mining claim. Once a mining claim has been properly located, that land is no longer “public land”.

Pursuant to the 1872 Mining Law, as long as the owner of a claim has complied with all the laws “…governing their possessory title, [they] shall have the exclusive right of possession and enjoyment of all the surface included within the lines of their locations…” (30 USC Sec. 26). According to Black’s Law Dictionary: “An exclusive right is one which only the grantee thereof can exercise, and from which all others are prohibited or shut out.”

This does not mean that a miner can do anything they want on the claim… like all citizens, they cannot cause harm or damage to the property of others; but short of that, miners have a Congressional grant right to extract the minerals (which are their property).

In 1955, Congress amended the Mining Law to allow the federal land management agencies to manage or use the other (non-mineral) surface resources on mining claims located after enactment of the Act; providing that such management or use “…shall be such as not to endanger or materially interfere with prospecting, mining or processing operations or uses reasonably incident thereto…” (30 USC Sec. 612(b)).

Under our American (non-socialist) system, it is the prospector that does all the work and takes all the risks – with the hope of a reward of the ownership of a valuable mineral deposit. Prospectors do not receive any government subsidy, and yet they pump untold millions of dollars into local communities while searching for valuable mineral deposits. It is this risk and reward system that made this country self-reliant and a world power.

Those that don’t like this system, are free to live without minerals or move elsewhere – unlike some countries, we do not have a wall keeping you in!

Please join us at 6:00PM at the June 5, 2015 EOMA meeting for a chance to meet Jon, and learn about his approach to law enforcement on the Forest. Jon worked on the Wallowa-Whitman previously and is familiar with this part of Eastern Oregon. He has had an impressive career which includes successful arson and criminal investigations, he has investigated organized crime drug trafficking and has been a member of a drug enforcement task force.

Jons phone number is 541-278-3922, and his cell number is 541-519-5644 if miners need to reach him. There will be time at the meeting to ask questions.

Thankfully, our fears of an early fire season subsided with this last week of rain. However, remember, many allotments are no longer stocked with cattle, so miners must contend with the threat of fires, not only from thick unmanaged timber stands, but also from tall rank grasses. Before your Plan of Operation can be approved, all miners must submit a fire plan. If you have not already done this, contact me and we will put one together.

The following are some of your fire requirements for a mining site:
1) Fire Extinguishers and Equipment on Trucks, Tractors, etc. - All power-driven equipment operated on NFS lands, except portable fire pumps, shall be equipped with one fire extinguisher having a UL rating of at least 5 BC, and one \D\ handled or long-handled, round-point shovel size \0\ or larger. In addition, each motor patrol, truck, and passenger-carrying vehicle shall be equipped with a double-bit axe or Pulaski, 3˝ pounds or larger. Equipment shall be kept in a serviceable condition and shall be readily available.

2) Power Saws - Each gasoline power saw operator shall be equipped with a pressurized chemical fire extinguisher of not less than 8-ounce capacity by weight and one long-handled, round-point shovel, size \0\ or larger. The extinguisher shall be kept in possession of the saw operator at all times. The shovel shall be accessible to the operator within 1 minute.

3) Spark Arresters and Mufflers - Each internal combustion engine shall be equipped with a spark arrester meeting either (1) USDA Forest Service Standard 5100-1a, or (2) appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a) as now or hereafter amended unless it is:(a) Equipped with a turbine-driven exhaust supercharger such as the turbocharger. There shall be no exhaust bypass.

4) A passenger-carrying vehicle or light truck or medium truck up to 40,000 GVW used on roads and equipped with a factory-designed muffler complete with baffles and an exhaust system in good working condition.(c) A heavy duty truck, such as a dump or log truck, or other vehicle used for commercial hauling, used only on roads and equipped with a factory designed muffler and with a vertical stack exhaust system extending above the cab. Exhaust equipment described in this subsection, including spark arresters and mufflers, shall be properly installed and constantly maintained in serviceable condition.
5). The operator shall observe all the requirements of the Industrial Fire Precaution Level. It is the responsibility of the operator to obtain the Industrial Fire Precaution Level daily. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level may be obtained daily from the Forest Service at approximately 4PM to 6PM, local time. (R6-FS-6300-51 Regional Forester Order No. 3).

6). Fire Security - When the Industrial Fire Precautions Level is \I\ or higher, unless a waiver is granted, the operator shall designate a person who shall perform fire security services listed below on the mining claim and vicinity. The designated person shall be capable of operating the operators communications and firefighting equipment specified in F-6b, and of directing the activities of the operators personnel on forest fires. In lieu of having the designated person perform the required supervisory duties, the operator may provide another person meeting the qualifications stated above to direct the activities of the operators personnel and equipment during all fire fighting activities.

Services described shall be for at least 1 hour from the time the operators operations are shut down. For the purposes of this provision, personnel servicing equipment and their vehicles who are not engaged in cutting or welding metal are excluded. Fire security services shall consist of moving throughout the operation area or areas constantly looking, reporting, and taking suppression action on any fires detected.

7).Whenever the Industrial Fire Precaution Level is \II\ or greater, a fire security person equipped with a long-handled, round point, No. \0\ or larger, shovel, and a five-gallon backpack pump can filled with water will stay at the location of a blast for 1 hour after blasting is done. Blasting may be suspended by Forest Service in writing, in an area of high rate of spread and resistance to control.

MINING LAW OF 1872-Tom Kitchar
Many people think the Mining Laws need to be changed because they are \antiquated, as if just because the law is old it must be bad. In response I would ask if that means we need to throw out the U.S. Constitution, the Magna Carta, or how about the Ten Commandments – all of which pre-date the antiquated Mining Law? The reality is, civilization and society needs minerals, and minerals are where they are found. And, recovering those minerals almost always requires some disturbance of the surface (i.e.; you can’t dig a hole without moving dirt).

The Mining Laws of 1866-1872 are some of the most democratic laws on the books, and are unique to this country, in that Congress granted nearly everyone the right to freely enter the public lands in search of valuable mineral deposits, and to claim them once found. (In all other nations, there are no “public lands” – instead, it’s “The King’s Forest” where no one has a right to even enter). Contrary to what many believe, other than the rights granted to all in the Mining Law, there is no law granting the right to enter the lands owned by the United States; all such non-mining use is a mere privilege (allowed activity) which can be denied at any time. The average citizen does not have a “right” to hike, fish, hunt, or even hug trees.

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, 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.

Wade Krist of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest would like miners to give him a call at 541-523-1345 if they need help with their Plans of Operation. He e-mailed me that it would be very helpful if miners would leave their contact information on his answering machine: who, what, when, where, and why they are calling, so he can gather the required information to return the call.

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a bill that would prohibit the Administration from declaring the sage grouse as an endangered species for 10 years. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) is a strong supporter of the bill, and worked hard to get it passed in the House today.

“This bill is excellent news for farmers and ranchers in eastern Oregon. A premature listing of the sage grouse could severely impact jobs in rural communities, so a delay would give states like Oregon the breathing room to implement local conservation plans without the heavy hand of the federal government getting in the way,” Walden said. “I am proud that this common-sense provision passed the House with strong support today, and I hope that the Senate will quickly take action on it. Livelihoods in eastern Oregon and throughout the rural West depend on it.”

The sage grouse provision was included in an annual defense authorization bill because an endangered species listing could impact the military’s ability to train on key lands throughout the United States, potentially harming military readiness and national security.

The bill was passed by the House by a vote of 269-151. It must now go to the Senate for consideration. 

ROUNDTABLE-Jan Alexander
The last Round Table discussion took place on May 1, 2015. The Forest Service, BLM, County and EOMA members took part, as well as Kathleen Cathey of Senator Wydens office.

Ken Alexander discussed bonding policies and problems with miners being shut down for ten years, not being able to use their roads, then the Forest Service calling these roads \decommissioned\ because of the grass growing there and bonding them like it was new road construction. Jeff Tomac stated that he might not have had all the facts when this bond was calculated. Ken discussed the appeal process. He stated he could have appealed the rangers decision, but it would have held up his operation. Also that the appeal process is flawed-a miner appeals a decision from Jeff to his boss Tom Montoya. There is no disinterested third party to appeal through such as BLM has with IBLA appeals.

There was also a discussion on road closures. Jeff stated that his minerals staff looks at LR2000 before recommending roads for closure through timber sale NEPA documents. Bill Harvey stated that there needed to be a mechanism to assess road condition when the Plan of Operation is submitted.

There was discussion about issues that had been brought up at previous Round Table discussions, such as miners on the Forest not being allowed to view their files. Jeff said the files needed to be purged of proprietary information and his staff just did not have time. Bill suggested that instead of doing all the files at once, clean up files as operators ask to view them. Jan stated again that miners could not get the Forest Service to reply to their letters. Terry Hurd is still waiting for a reply to his letter of last fall. Jeff said they might have to look at the site specific analysis already done for the site.

Granite miners will not be mining this season. It will take time to answer comments and produce the final EIS. There was discussion that the Granite EIS analyzed only 104 acres proposed total ground disturbance over a ten year period. Some operators would only impact one acre in ten years. Using an EIS makes no sense. Marc Pierce commented that sometimes an EIS is more defensible in court. There was also discussion about the Exhibit A stipulations. Why didnt the Forest Service use the set of stipulations that we all agreed upon for the NFBR miners? Jeff said the team that came up with the new stipulations was the same team that came up with the NFBR stipulations. He didnt know why they were so different.

Tom Montoya told the group that EOMAs new bonding agreement, where we put up cash via an assigned deposit at the bank, appears acceptable to the Grants and Agreement staff at the RO. Lori Wood stated that BLM is already set up to do this kind of bonding through a third party bond rider.

Don Gonzales stated that the agencies are reviewing the draft Sage Grouse EIS. He expects a final in June and warned us that there were recommendations for wilderness in core areas.

SB838, which is current law, contains a moratorium that will go into effect on January 2, 2016, and this law prohibits suction dredge mining and upland mining within 300 feet of streams which are designated ESH or bull trout habitat.

Suction dredge miners from throughout the state worked with our lobbyist from OCAPA, Rich Angstom, to try to make the newly introduced law, SB830 into a reasonable law to replace SB838 and stop the moratorium. The onerous individual permits that the proposed law, SB830 would have required, kept getting more onerous with each amendment by environmental groups. Eventually, the suction dredge miners just decided that they would be in a better position if they let the moratorium go into effect, and then litigated. Obviously, the State cannot shut down mining on Federal lands, but that is just what Oregon intends to do, and the suction dredge miners plan to take the State on.

SB838s moratorium also will shut down upland miners working within 300 feet of ESH and bull trout streams. However, the upland miners took a different tact than the suction dredge miners did. They told their lobbyist they wanted to mine, not litigate. Upland miners are prepared to deal with individual WPCF permits, if need be, but their bottom line to Rich was that they did not want to be included in the 2016 moratorium.

EOMA was asked to amend the current law, SB838, by deleting all references to upland mining. The rest of the wording is the same as the law in place right now. This current law exact wording, except for deletion of upland mining, will replace (gut and stuff) the onerous SB830. I have my fingers crossed that this actually will work. If not, both suction dredge miners and upland miners will be looking forward to an interesting year ahead. These are difficult times to be mining in Oregon.

The Forest Service filled the FOIA in two submittals to EOMA. The first \CD\ included the hydrology field notes for the Granite Mining Projects DEIS. We are currently looking at these to see why the Forest Service included some of the onerous stipulations we saw in the draft document. The second submittal included Plans of Operation. Many still did not have the maps submitted by the operators. EOMA is trying to determine why the Forest Service decided that some of the operations, where a ten year mining plan was submitted, would only operate for a year or two. Miners in the Granite Creek watershed can contact me for copies.

Chuck Chase, Alice Knapp, Ken Anderson and I will be going over the Baker County Natural Resources Plan, mainly in the area of Mining, to see where we need to strengthen the document so that the County can request Coordination with the Forest Service and BLM on mining projects. One area we have identified is that the County Plan must require reasonable timeframes for Operating Plan approval. If there are other areas of concern, let us know. The next NRAC meeting will be on June 23, 2015 at 3:00PM in the Court House in the Commission chambers. The public is invited.
The second annual Forest Access For All (FAFA) was held on May 16th at the SunRridge Inn in Baker City. Items were donated from a multitude of businesses, and from citizens from all over Union, Grant and Baker Counties to help raise money to stop the Forest Service from closing off motorized forest access.

It was a $25 dollar a plate dinner with your choice of either chicken cordon bleu or tri-tip steak. The featured speaker this year was Fred Kelly Grant, an attorney, and founder of Stewards of The Range. Fred Kelly Grant explained to the audience the difference between cooperation and coordination, the latter being the only way our county can hope to keep our forest open. Fred went on to explain the success that coordination has brought to counties in Idaho, California, Montana and other counties that have initiated coordination, pitting the counties resource plan against the agencies. Fred went on to say that coordination has had 19 straight wins without a loss and that he couldn’t understand why counties have refused to use coordination, instead of cooperation. Cooperation was explained to us as when the Forest Agencies listen to the Counties concerns, put a couple of county concerns into the Preferred Alternative in the Forest Plan and that way the Forest Service placates the counties by giving them lip service and then closing off the Forest to public use.

Other speakers included John George, Executive Director of FAFA and Glenn Palmer, Grant County Sheriff, who supports keeping Grant County roads open to the public. Kerry White, who is a Montana state legislator, and was the founder of CBU, an organization of grass roots people opposed to Forest Service locking up the public lands, was present as was Ben Erickson, also of CBU.

After the dinner, the Auction started, with Meb Dailey as the auctioneer. For those of you that haven’t heard Meb Dailey, you are really missing out big time. Meb not only did a great job auctioning off over ninety items in the brief span of a couple of hours, but the jokes and gyrations kept us in stiches. There was a deep fryer, an ATV winch, a couple of chain saws, fishing poles, just to name a few items that were quickly and efficiently auctioned.

FAFA grossed over $7,000 from their auction, which included the raffle for a Treager Grill worth over $1,000, as well as an additional $2,500 donation from Citizens for Balanced Use (CBU) the sister organization from Montana, and an additional donation from Rick and Terry Denton. FAFA would like to thank all who attended and helped raise funds to help keep our public lands public.

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.