Eastern Oregon Mining Association
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- Eastern Oregon Mining Association
- 20130215

FEBRUARY 2013 Newsletter
Volume 281

President Ken Alexander.......................................... 541-446-3391
Executive Director Chuck Chase ...............................541-523-3285
Director of Governmental Affairs Terry Drever Gee.....541-523-6228
Editors Chuck Chase 541-523-3285 and Jan Alexander 541-446-3413
Mineral Policy Director Jan Alexander......................... 541-446-3413

The meetings are held on the first Friday of the month. The next meeting is Friday, FEB 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.



Membership and bond payments must be clearly identified in order for us to give you proper credit for paying. The information you need is on the last page of this newsletter.
Please send in your dues, bond, medallion and calendar payments in separate checks. It really makes a bookkeeping nightmare when you don’t…..Bobbie and Chuck thank you.

New Wallowa-Whitman Forest Service Supervisor John Laurence and District Ranger Jeff Tomac will be at the EOMA meeting on February 1st. John Laurence began his U.S. Forest Service career in 2002 as a research scientist for the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland. He had worked 25 years as a research scientist at Cornell University in New York and three years with the Environmental Protection Agency in Corvallis. Jeff Tomac will also be available to answer questions you may have about the upcoming mining season.

The new Forest Supervisor is looking forward to meeting the miners in the communities surrounding the Wallowa-Whitman. Please come to the meeting and welcome him.

Enclosed with this newsletter is your absentee ballot for the nominees for both the Executive Officers and the Board of Directors. 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.

All miners should be aware that there is proposed legislation to shut down placer mining in Oregon. The major bill attacking placer mining directly is SB 115 (formerly LC2125). Believe it or not, it basically bans all motorized placer mining in the State of Oregon. The committee is most likely going to move this Bill to the floor of the Senate as rapidly as possible. The proponents are trying to take advantage of the fact that most of the legislators in the legislature have little or no understanding of what placer mining actually involves. There is a real danger that the legislature will not take the time to understand the consequences of this Bill before they vote on this so-called emergency legislation. This committee needs to hear from all of us. Be respectful, and ask them to put your comments into the record. They need to understand the profound effect that this legislation would have on miners and mining. Further information about how to respond can be found in the Action Alert.

2013 will continue to present major challenges for our industry, primarily on the regulatory front. The most serious remains EPA’s financial assurance rulemaking pursuant to the Superfund statute. Our efforts with Congress, SBA’s Office of Advocacy and western governors have significantly delayed EPA’s time table. However, EPA still intends to issue a proposed rule in 2014 requiring financial assurance from all mining operations (including previously approved plans of operation), that could pre-empt state programs, duplicate existing federal/state requirements and require up-front financial assurance for worst case scenarios. All of our continued proactive efforts are required.

It is not just EPA either. The BLM and the USFS will be amending land use plans to address conservation of the Greater Sage-grouse and its habitat across 11 western states, potentially impacting prospecting, exploration and mining.

As many of you know, Earthworks and other anti-mining groups have challenged two BLM rules that go to the heart of the right to use and occupy mining claims for exploration, development and production. Northwest Mining Association has intervened because a successful defense of this lawsuit is critical to mining interests.
The NWMA, on the public relations/education front, will expand “The More You Dig and It All Starts With Mining” public awareness campaign with more campus events, continue our highly successful summer teacher’s workshop, and implement a program to help connect our member companies with the labor pool of highly motivated and trained military Veterans and Reservists.

The mining industry continues to need strong constituent-based organizations like NWMA to provide an effective western voice in support of industry’s efforts in Washington D.C. NWMA stands ready to continue to provide the proactive leadership necessary to face and overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

We have received the shipment of the 2013 medallions. They are the same proof grade quality medallions with gold nuggets that we have been getting in past years. These medallions are currently selling for $50 dollars apiece plus $5.00 shipping and handling and insurance. These prices are subject to change. You can order a 2012 or 2013 from the EOMA website, or send in $50 plus $5.00 shipping and handling before the price goes up, to EOMA, Medallions, PO Box 932, Baker City, OR 97814, or call Bobbie at 541-523-3285.

We filed our lawsuit against the 700PM suction dredge Permit in 2010, about one day before the environmental org, Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), also filed against the permit. The next few months we fought over venue. We filed in Baker County, NEDC filed in Multnomah County and the State wanted to consolidate all cases in Marion County. This meant that we had to file documents in State Circuit Court for Baker County and in Multnomah County.

We did not believe we could receive justice in the Multnomah Court, and there was no mining really going on there. An interesting note is that there were no less than three judges that had to excuse themselves from the case in Multnomah, because they had either donated to NEDC, or served on the Board for the organization. We accepted the fourth judge who had a son- in-law working in a different division for the Attorney General.

In consolidating our case with NEDC in the Marion County Court, our lawyer won for us the right to ask for dismissal of the environmental organizations for lack of standing. This was a huge advantage for us because seven other environmental groups had also jumped on to the case. Months of arguments ensued over the production of documents from NEDC. We had to go back to the judge and get an order from him that NEDC would be held in contempt if they didn’t produce the documents. They whined loud enough, because the judge also required us to pay for their production of documents. The cost was something less than $200. When we finally got the documents, we had to sift through thousands of pages of almost worthless information. We did find out how they had been tracking the owners of all mining claims in Oregon by the LR2000 website, some who have plans or notice of operations and mostly all of those that have suction dredge permits.

The fact that the 700PM permit was issued as an order and not as a rule is what allowed EOMA to challenge the standing of NEDC in the Administrative procedures statutes. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and NEDC came up with a settlement agreement that let NEDC leave the case as the prevailing party. DEQ even paid NEDC $7,500 for attorney fees. Although we objected, NEDC was let go from the case. We now had all of these documents and months of arguing with NEDC having no standing and they were let go as the prevailing party against DEQ against our objections.

In November of 2012, we battled with the Court again over letting EOMA amend our complaint against DEQ by adding the settlement agreement since it harmed the miners and it did not follow the procedural requirements of the Oregon Administrative Procedure Act (APA). DEQ claimed that the settlement agreement cannot be viewed as a Final Order, because there will be further proceedings that will include the miners later. They view the agreement as setting up a “stakeholders” advisory committee for renewing the permit before December 2014.

Our lawyer argued that the settlement agreement better represents a contract between NEDC and DEQ that is directed at, and leaves out, the miners, who are the principle parties the order (and permitting) is directed at; therefore, it leaves the miners out of the public process that the legislature requires of the state agency. The judge agreed, and we won the right to amend our complaint to add the settlement agreement.
However, in December 2012, DEQ filed a motion for partial summary judgment. They want to challenge again that the miners are not harmed by the settlement agreement. So, the judge made a new scheduling order for a new round of arguments. We just received DEQ’s first argument and I have not had a chance to go through it yet. By our next newsletter I will probably have that information available. Our response will be due around the 27th of January, so the next few days I will be busy reading and preparing comments.

One of the items I will be researching is that the legislature requires public involvement in rule making, but there is no provision in the APA for a “stakeholder” advisory committee to help DEQ with orders. Miners should most certainly be included, but as of today they are not. I have read in the recently received documents where DEQ said that the settlement agreement was not about rule making, because they plan to issue the permit again as an order. If orders are based on the authority of statutes, rules and policy that are not being changed; I am wondering whether there is authority, or need for an environmental group being considered as “stakeholders”. The real issue is the old argument of whether NEDC and the environmentalists have standing in the first place, since the permitting is not directed at any of their activity.

The Eastern Oregon Mining Association, along with the Waldo Mining District, has done it again. The first preliminary drawing will be coming up on March 30th. Prizes we have lined up for all of these preliminary drawings, besides the gold that will be the grand prize, will be Keene 4 inch dredge; Whites Metal Detector; 2 Shares to Emily Camp; Louie Build 4 foot Hand Sluice and more coming. There will be drawings at all the gold shows, including Miners Jubilee. So fill out the tickets in the back of the newsletter and send them in to Drawing, PO Box 932, Baker City, OR 97814. Your tickets will be good for each and every drawing up to the final one of the 1/2 pound of gold. Your money goes to help miners continue litigation on miner’s rights. Thank you for all your support..... Chuck Chase

EOMA got the results of our Freedom of Information request for copies of all special use permits and easements issued to private land owners who access through the forest to reach their land. Fifteen copies of permits were received.

Ten years ago, permanent Easements were issued to land owners. This gave them perpetual access to their private land inholdings. A clause in the easement states, “Grantor shall review terms and conditions of this easement at the end of each 30 year period….” But that is all the Forest Service will do, the Easement is a private property right that goes with the land.

As time went on, instead of issuing Easements, the forest began issuing Special Use Permits, with termination dates, however, the person requesting the permit had the option to renew at the end of the time period (At that time, if the holder still needs the road for the purposes for which this permit is granted, the permit will be reissued for a period of 10 years…). The permits stated, “access under the permit shall continue as long as access is needed”. However, there was one small problem, the permit could no longer be transferred in a sale or by inheritance.
One very interesting thing we found in this FOIA was that an Easement, not a Special Use Permit, was issued to Bruce Munger on May, 29, 2009. This Easement states, under item C. “Upon the change of ownership of the Grantee’s land served by this road, the rights granted under this easement can be transferred or assigned to the new owner upon written notification of the Regional Forester”. Two Special Use permits for access issued the same year stated: “the permit shall expire and terminate on 12/31/2029. The permit shall not be reissued”.

Summary: Our initial investigation reveals that the Forest Service used to issue Easements to private property owners if that owner wanted one. If no request was made by the landowner, the Forest Service left all access roads into private parcels open. After a few years, when land owners requested Easements, the Forest Service issued temporary Special Use Permits instead, but there were no expiration dates. Later, the Forest Service tightened the noose, issuing no Easements, only temporary Special Use Permits with expiration dates. The permits were not transferable.

Bruce Munger’s Easement, issued in 2009, is the only exception we found. It is an Easement, not a Special Use Permit. There was existing access via an open forest road, but the proposed access route was a better route. This 2009 Easement has no termination date and is transferable. In talking to Regional Office staff, the Forest Service must facilitate private land access, but they will consider what you want to do with your property before deciding whether to issue you an Easement or a temporary Special Use Permit. It is possible that the reason Mungers got an Easement, and other people the same year only got temporary Special Use Permits, is that Mungers wanted to build a cabin on their property.

Another thing we learned from the Regional Office staff in discussing this FOIA, is that there is nothing in the regulations that requires the Forest Service to issue the Easement all the way to the nearest State highway or County road. This is only a “policy”. This may be a good idea if a public road is nearby, but there is absolutely no requirement in the regulations that mandates that the Easement be issued in this manner.
One final thing that we learned in discussing this FOIA with Regional Office staff is that the Forest Service does not have to use the standard Special Use Permit clauses that require termination of the permit and reclamation of the improvement. The Forest had the option to choose permit clauses that do not require termination of the permit in a set amount of years.

Perhaps the local Forest personnel were not aware of this option. EOMA will contact all land owners who have these onerous Special Use Permits, and assist them in obtaining a more reasonable permit, such as an Easement, if they so choose.

Existing Forest Roads: From what we can gather from the results of this FOIA, landowners who wish to get a permanent easement on the existing road into their private property, need to be talking to the District Ranger, and if they cannot get satisfaction, they need to be talking to the Regional Office personnel. The Regional Office advocates leaving private property access roads as open roads, thus, alleviating the need for any kind of a permit. If the Forest has closed your access route, and you want to apply for an easement, you might want to let the Forest know you will be building a cabin (i.e. single family dwelling) on your property, or at least have secured permitting through the county to build, before making the request.
Those landowners, who do not care if they have an easement, do not need to make any request. You have a right to access your private lands through the public lands, and the Forest Service has no right to close private land access roads, or to threaten to close them in order to make you apply for a permit.

New Road Access Needed: From what we can gather from the results of this FOIA, landowners who wish to get a permanent Easement on a new road that they propose to construct for improved access into their land, might want to consider planning to construct a single family dwelling on their property. It worked for Mungers’ 2009 easement, it should work for others in similar situations.

After multiple meetings and exchanges of correspondence, the final decision arrived last week via certified mail. EOMA and the Forest Service resolved 22 appeal points. The Forest Service would not budge on the other four points. These were (1) if a goshawk nests near your operation, the Forest Service may restrict use of heavy equipment and tree cutting (2) all mining excavations must be completely reclaimed each season if located within the 300 foot area along fish bearing, perennial streams (3) no less than 3” of certified weed free straw, (which is completely unavailable in this area), must be spread on every part of your reclaimed site every year (4) the ranger will “expire his approval” of all Plans of Operation in ten years, and at that time, all roads must be closed/obliterated.

Triangle Mining operators and Ken and I met with Deputy Forest Supervisor Tom Montoya on January 22, 2013 for an “oral presentation” of our four appeal points (same four points that EOMA brought forward but lost on). We explained that the threat of being shut down by a nesting bird, which is not T&E, is not reasonable. We explained that mining sites without any potential for a discharge should not have to completely reclaim their mining excavations each year, when the hydrologist clearly stated in the EIS that there was no possibility of a discharge. We also explained that we considered the requirement that we must spread exactly 3 inches (not an average of 3 inches) of straw over every inch of reclaimed ground as micromanagement, and we reiterated that certified weed free straw is not available, and miners who can’t find certified straw will use weedy straw or hay, which will spread noxious weeds.

In our final appeal point explanation, we explained how unreasonable it is that miners who are not through mining in ten years should have to obliterate their roads. Instead, these miners should have the opportunity to submit a supplement to their plans and continue mining without having to obliterate their roads and without being shut down.

Triangle’s situation is a case in point. Their deposit has over 2.5 million cubic yards of ore. It would take Triangle 400 years to complete mining at their current rate of mining in the project area. It is not the Forest Service who decides how long an operation will take to complete, this is the miners’ decision. Triangle has been mining for 14 years, and will not be done mining in their lifetime. Restricting them to a 10 year life of mine is not reasonable.

Deputy Supervisor Montoya will consider our oral reasons, along with our written appeals, and make a decision within 30 days. After that, if we are not satisfied with the decision, we can appeal to the Regional Office. Triangle has a good case, because they have defined their deposit, they know what the values are and know the time it will take to complete mining at this site. All miners must gather this type of information about their own deposits if they want to work more than ten years.

According to Kathy Anders of the Supervisor’s Office, the MOU had to be reviewed by the Office of General Council and now is in the process of being signed by the Supervisor of the Umatilla and the Wallowa-Whitman. All miners will be required to post some out of pocket bond money to cover the reclamation costs not covered under the MOU.
Ranger Tomac still has not told EOMA whether Davis-Bacon rates for equipment mobilization will apply when calculating our bonds. EOMA asserts that since we do the work and don’t hire a contractor, only local rates should be used. This would help to lower all bond amounts that are covered under the EOMA bond agreement.

We are now offering a new 18 month EOMA Calendar with historical mining pictures. It also has date reminders to help you keep your claim valid. It also has addresses and phone numbers of the agencies you have to deal with. So support the EOMA by ordering your calendar now for the price of $10 each, or three for $29 bucks, plus a dollar for each calendar for shipping. There is an order form in the back of the newsletter. You can also call Chuck Chase at 541 523 3285.

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.

The Gold Spinner System: Save that ultrafine gold with this high gravity separator. It runs on 12volt, only weighs 45 pounds, is easy to set up and run, and can run all day long without a clean up. This is a must see, and sells for only $1304. E-mail Ted at tedcraghead@gmail.com. Or come on down and take a look at 10415 HWY 95, Payette, ID 83661.

Two claims starting on the Burnt River and running up Clarks Creek. The Gold Danser is an eighty acre claim, with a lot of un-worked placer and good water. The Gold Danser II contains forty acres on Clarks Creek, and has had Geophysical Magnetometer mapping done on it, showing a large buried placer structure running through the claim. Both of these claims are accessed on year round county roads. $35,000 for both. Call: 541-523-3285, or Cell: 541-310-8510.

Retiring from mining, time to sell my equipment. 8” jaw, small rod mill, two impact mills, Panamatic jig, small jig, Humphrey spirals, 2 power plants, lots of motors, one small gas generator, one diesel generator, jack leg, two stopers, steel, railroad track and more. Call Dick Potter at 208-375-2055.