Eastern Oregon Mining Association
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- Eastern Oregon Mining Association
- 20150304

MARCH 2015 Newsletter
Volume 306

The meetings are held on the first Friday of the month. The next meeting is Friday, MARCH 6TH 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.

Find the last page of this newsletter, fill it out and get it back to EOMA ASAP along with your membership fees. That way you will continue to be informed on what is going on with mining in the west. If we do not hear from you, you will not receive any more newsletters and your vote will not count in the March elections.
EOMA ELECTIONS…..2015-Chuck Chase
For those that can’t make the March meeting in person, fill out the Absentee Election Ballot and send it in before the March meeting. For your ballot to be counted, you need to have your dues paid and have signed the ballot. If you have a dual membership, both of you need to sign the ballot and both of you need to mark the ballot. Election results will be in the April newsletter.

MSHA TRAINING-MARCH 11-13, 2015-Jan Alexander
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) training for new miners who have pre-registered, will be held at the Extension Office located at 2600 East Street on March 11-13. The class begins at 8:00AM each day.

The MSHA Annual Refresher, for miners who have already taken the new miner training class, will be held on Saturday, March 14, 2015, also at the Extension Office building. The cost of these classes is $20 per person per day. Call Jan Alexander at 541-446-3413 to register.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of October 21, 1976, affected locatable minerals by requiring recordation of mining claims with the BLM and authorizing regulations for surface protection of the public lands. The law states, ”no provision of this sec­tion or any other section of this Act shall in any way amend the Mining Law of 1872 or impair the rights of any locators or claims under that Act, including, but not limited to, rights of ingress and egress.” However, it seems to me that the intent of Congress has been eroded by Federal agency interpretations. We must pay exorbitant fees to file and maintain our mining claims, and BLM mining regulations require explicit reclamation standards and reclamation bonds before we can even explore. The 1872 Mining Law declared that \all valuable mineral deposits would be free and open to exploration and purchase\. Today, it appears nothing is free. With road closures, wilderness and ACECs, fewer and fewer places are open to explore. The intent of FLMPA might have been to not change the mining law, but agency interpretation of FLMPA has actually done just this.

Did you ever wonder about what your county fees go for when you record your mining claim location notice? I called Baker County and found out that only $5.00 goes to the County to record the document, $1.00 goes to the Oregon Land Information System, $10.00 goes to the State Assessment and Taxation Fund, and $20.00 goes to the Housing Alliance (HB2435) to help the homeless people. Every year when you record your affidavit of annual assessment, the County again gets only $5.00 per claim to record the document, with the rest of your fees going to the State. And they say miners dont support the State of Oregon!

I was pleasantly surprised with the high caliber of this event. It equaled anything I have attended at larger mining conventions. The speakers that Greg Smith, our Baker County Economic Developer, brought in were excellent. Most of the feedback I have had from people that attended was, \what an information overload!\ I personally learned a lot from the speakers. Also great, was the opportunity to talk one on one with County Commissioners, State Legislators, and representatives from County, State and Federal agencies. That alone made the summit worth attending.
Putting this Summit together was labor intensive, and I, for one, appreciate everything Greg Smith, Dave Hunnicutt of OIA, and Rich Angstrom of OCAPA did to make this event happen. It would be beneficial to our area if we could make this an annual event. I read the Record-Couriers article and it was very good. After the word went out about just how good this Summit was, I got a half dozen calls from miners all over saying they wished that they had attended. Our thanks go out to Greg Smith for putting on this Mining Summit.

WPCF PERMITS-Jan Alexander
Miners who use water in processing are required by State law to apply for Water Pollution Control Facilities permits (WPCF). There is no cost for a permit covering processing of up to 1500 cubic yards per year, and the fee is $273 for a permit covering processing of over 1500 cubic yards, but less than 10,000 cubic yards.

Miners need to understand, that the BLM and Forest Service will ask to see your WPCF permit before authorizing your notice or approving your Plan of Operation. Even casual use operators using hand tools, highbankers and sluice boxes must apply for this permit. There is an application you can download on DEQs water quality website. Fill it out and send to DEQ as soon as you can, so you have the permit in hand before the mining season begins. Anyone who needs help filling out the permit can call Jan at 541-446-3413.

In Rinehart, the suction dredging lawsuit in California, the issue was whether preemption could be a defense. Thus, the case is about rights of individuals under federal law preempting the rights the State considers are theirs. I cannot help but think that at some point in the near future, all parties will decide that it is time to investigate if there is any harm from suction dredge mining. That is when all of the studies we have accumulated over the years will be pulled out again to defend the lack of harm.
In EOMAs suction dredge case, it is about rights too. The sue and settle technique used by the environmentalists, failed to consider our rights to participate from the beginning of the permit making process. The legislature has specifically addressed this problem, stating that stakeholder/advisory committees will be made up of those affected by the permit or regulation. Thus, the second part of our lawsuit is also about rights, because the requirement is that there will be \contested case proceedings for orders\. 

With the resignation of Governor Kitzhaber, and Kate Brown stepping into the Governorship, the legislature is in a turmoil. The seven months of meetings in Salem to try to provide some sense to SB838, and making recommendations to Kitzhaber to take to the legislature may have all been in vain. There may be little we can do to avoid the moratorium, unless OCAPA can work some magic with the Democrats. Rich Angstom, our lobbyist from OCAPA, is working for Oregon miners to see if the moratorium can be averted. If you havent joined already, please do support OCAPA. Miners in Oregon must be represented in Salem.

All miners in the Granite watershed have been mailed either a paper or CD copy of the EIS. This document is much easier to read than the North Fork Burnt River EIS. I found it humorous that the Forest Service thought Ken and I should have to request a copy of a particular Plan of Operation in the North Fork Burnt River watershed under FOIA, but the Granite EIS has every operation, along with legal description and map, right in the document for all the world to see. Go figure....
If anyone needs help understanding this document, give me a call. I am very concerned that the Forest Service is requiring miners with water rights to quit using water on August 15, and I am very concerned that some operations analyzed in the EIS will never get District Ranger approval to mine. Why in the world did they analyze these operations for 10 years, spend millions of dollars, never meet with the miners to resolve the issues they saw with the operations, and then decide not to approve the Plans. This is just plain wrong and a waste of tax payer money.

Thomas Ferrero, who recently joined the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries as the assistant director, was murdered on February 2, 2015. Tom replaced Gary Lynch, who recently retired. Tom was responsible for leading the Mineral Land Regulation & Reclamation Program. This is a great loss to Oregon miners. According to Pat Perez, the Assistant Director of the California Department of Conservation Office of Mine Reclamation, where Tom recently worked, “I found Tom to be a very professional, exceedingly talented person,” “He was one of those people that’s easy to get along with. His staff respected him very well, as I did.” Tom has been replaced by Rich Riggs.

BAKER BLM OPEN HOUSE MARCH 9, 2015-Richard White
Baker BLM would like to invite you to the Baker BLM Open House on 03/09/15 from 3:00-6:00 pm at their newly opened office located at 3100 H St. in Baker City. BLMs State Director, Jerry Perez, will be attending and will be available to meet you as well. If you have any questions feel free to give me a call at (541)-473-6378.

Just when we thought we would have low fuel prices for the 2015 mining season, our legislature is about to vote in a darn gas tax. According to Representative Cliff Bentz, \SB 324 may raise the cost of gas by as much as $1 per gallon\. The LCFS (Low Carbon Fuel Standard) was passed in 2009. The law authorized the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to develop low carbon requirements for gas and diesel fuel, with the goal of reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2020. Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) said, \I will be voting \No\ on this bill. It does little or nothing to lower CO2 emissions. Instead, it sends millions and millions of Oregonians dollars to ethanol manufacturers. This hidden gas tax does not put a dime into our roads, bridges, and infrastructure.\ \This inept and expensive remedy concept will not achieve any meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and worse, it increases the wear and tear on engines. In fact, the amount of ethanol that this bill will force into diesel will actually void diesel engine warranties.\

Terry and I were invited to a meeting sponsored by the Forest Service January 8, 2015 in Pendleton, OR. The purpose of the meeting was to figure out, how can the USFS more effectively engage the public on the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision (BMFPR) and gain more information? The agency is trying something different at this point in the process, as normally once the DEIS comment period is closed and work has begun on the FEIS and Draft ROD, comments will no longer be taken. In this case the Forests involved, the Regional office, and the Washington D.C. office all realize there are still many issues to resolve before the FEIS is released.

We were asked during introductions to disclose two of the biggest issues that we saw with the plan revision. The general consensus was (1) environmental, forest health; (2) economic viability, employment in the area, or lack thereof; and (3) access, to be able to continue our ability to travel throughout the National Forests with the purpose of maintaining forest health, employment, and recreational opportunities. Several other themes were evident from the beginning of the meeting. A matter of trust between the Forest Service and public, and the lack of transparency on the Forest Services part, which initiated the lack of trust. Meeting participants disclosed the fact that a lot of the public groups felt they were not being heard by the agency. The fact that the agency requested this meeting with a very diverse group who represent constituents who have been engaged in the process, is a step, by the agency, to try and reestablish trust. The groups invited to this meeting were from County governments, state agencies, user groups, and general stake holders. (As a note, EOMA was not invited to this meeting).

We broke into three groups, with each group tasked with identifying a main topic of interest, and then making suggestions on how to engage the public and have them make comments and add credible information. After the groups came back together in the general session and reported their findings, most were in favor of using existing groups (i.e.the forest collaborative groups, county government, user groups, and forming new alliances, as necessary, to get information). The problem with this approach is these groups would be going over input already given, with not much new material coming out. But again, to be able to do this process is a start to realizing a better product.

Upon completion of the meeting it was put back onto the agency to find out what the legal options are. Options that were presented: * scrap the entire plan and do another one. *present a new alternative under the existing plan. * do an alternative with a combination of the alternatives already in the plan. It was the consensus of the participants that until we know what we can do, no one wants to put a lot of time and energy into changes then have them not even considered because of law or policy.

The Forest Service will now come up with a strategy. They stated they would be open to another alternative if it was based on new material.

Present for the Round Table were the WWNF FS Forest Supervisor, Tom Montoya, and WWNF FS District Ranger Jeff Tomac; Jan & Ken Alexander, Chuck Chase, Terry Drever Gee, and Ed Hardt from EOMA; Bill Harvey, Baker County Commission Chair, and Mark Bennett, County Commissioner, Don Gonzales, BLM Vale District Region Manager, BLM Baker Field Manager Lori Wood and her Staff, BLM Assistant Field Manager Marc Pierce and BLM Geologist, Steve Flock. Also present were Julie Hicks, Baker County Economic Development, Ken Anderson, retired geologist.

· BLM Lori Wood: she stated they will advertise for another geologist position.
· Don Gonzalez reported how his staff work with operators on the bond amount, and how sometimes a smaller operation, and thus, a smaller bond amount, will work for the operator.
· Jan Alexander reported that using the bond spread sheet helps operators understand what their bonds will be before they submit a notice or Plan of Operation.
· Chuck Chase noted that since the MOU was cancelled with the Forest Service, EOMA does not have the ability to put pressure on operators to get their sites cleaned up or reclamation completed.
· Tom Montoya said he would look into the MOU and the possibility that it could be reinstated.
· Don Gonzalez - The final sage grouse EIS will be out in the spring. After that there will be appeals and probably litigation. BLM is coordinating with all western states so that the state EISs are balanced. The hope is to keep the bird from being listed.
· BLM - There was some question as to when the two year notice renewal date would be. Is it two years from the date the first notice was authorized, or the date the Regional Office approves the new bond amount. Steve Flock said he would look into this.
· There was a short discussion about the BLM/EOMA\Staking a Claim\ handout. Lori Wood and Jan Alexander will work on this.
· There was also a discussion about the Forest Service policy that miners cannot look at their Forest Service file. BLM does not have this policy and miners can look at their files to be sure the information in their file is correct. Tom Montoya and Jeff Tomac will look into this.
· Tom Montoya stated that the Forest Service is having more meetings on the Blue Mountain Revision, and they have gotten some good ideas about what the public wants to see. Last week the state, counties and Tribes (co-conveners) met. There may be revisions and there may be new alternatives.

Members of the Round Table committed to the following action items:
1. Tom Montoya will look into whether the FS EOMA MOU could be reinstated.
2. Steve Flock will look into how miners can determine when their Notices expire.
3. Jeff Tomac will let EOMA know which operations in the NFBR have not been approved.
4. Lori Wood and Jan Alexander will arrange a time to discuss the brochure.
5. Tom Montoya and Jeff Tomac will look into whether miners have the right to review their mining files.
6. Jeff Tomac will let Ken Alexander know about approval of the Golden Bandit POO.
7. Jeff Tomac will let Ken Alexander know about his request for an additional settling pond on Old Channel.
8. Jeff Tomac will look into a response to Terry Hurd about his request to continue to mine under the existing Golden Angel EA.
9. When issues surface between miners and Forest Service and BLM, the Field. Manager/District Manager and District Ranger/Forest Supervisor will be informed and issues will be resolved at that time, if possible.
10. Tom Montoya will check with FS enforcement officer out of Pendleton of availability to be a guest speaker at the April EOMA meeting, the first Friday of April – the 3rd.
11. Find a date in May for the next RT meeting. Check availability for Friday May 1?

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, which convened February 2nd. 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 on the following dates:
• Wednesday, February 4th at 7:00am (PST)
• Wednesday, March 4th at 7:00am (PST)
• Wednesday, April 1st at 7:00am (PST)
• 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. I hope that those who follow the Oregon Legislature will join the two of us to talk about proposed laws and other legislative actions. We want to know what you think and what you believe should be happening in the Legislature,\ said Rep. Bentz.
Those interested should be at the OSU Extension Office/Baker County Events Center (2600 East St., Baker City) at 7:00 a.m. (PST) on the above dates.