Eastern Oregon Mining Association
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- Eastern Oregon Mining Association
- 20141101

NOVEMBER 2014 Newsletter
Volume 302

The meetings are held on the first Friday of the month. The next meeting is Friday, NOVEMBER 7th 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.

It is hard to believe; now I am the bad guy that closes forest roads! Miners, like me, who operate in the North Fork Burnt River watershed, were required to sign a set of stipulations in order to have their Plans of Operation approved. One of the stipulations is that at the end of the mining season, each miner is required to close his or her access road. Jan and I decided we would not destroy our access roads by digging a berm, like the Forest Service does, and we didnt have a spare gate, so we closed our access roads with nearby logs which we placed across the road entrances. We need to spread the word that these closures are mandated by the Forest Service, and are not the result of miners wanting to close their roads. Hunters, wood cutters and other forest users should have access to \our forests\.

We took a picture of the closures to prove we were in compliance with our Plan of Operation, but it concerns us that the public will not understand that temporary closure of our access roads is a condition of mining. It sure would be easier for us in the spring to not have to remove those logs when we bring the equipment in for our 2015 mining season.

We have just received written correspondence from the District Attorney of Siskiyou County, which is refusing to prosecute suction dredgers without a permit as a result of the recent Third Appellate published Decision. This should go a long way towards prompting California to establish a reasonable set of regulations and permitting system in time for our 2015 season. 

This decision should also be helping Oregon miners. The Governor should be motivated to recommend to the State Legislature that the 2016 moratorium on suction dredging be voided.

This was our last meeting. Our task was to come to some agreements that could be presented to the Governor to stop the moratorium on mining, which under the existing law, would go into effect on January 1, 2016. We agreed that upland operations adjacent to DEQ 303(d) listed and ESA and bull trout waterways, would be exempt from the moratorium if they obtain site specific WPCF (settling pond) permits. We also agreed that miners on Federal lands could not be prohibited from suction dredge mining. We also recommended the following.
Consolidated Regulatory Approach
The miners generally supported this \one stop shopping\ approach. Our concern was that the simple system we have now will be replaced by a far more complicated and expensive process. Counties should be included in the process.
Natural Resources and Social Protections
The miners generally supported a combination of approaches to voiding the moratorium on suction dredge and upland mining; a moratorium that SB838 will implement in 2016.

We had concerns about four definitions and supported the following:
(1) Motorized Recreational Placer Mining Activity: This is the definition for mining in State controlled waterways and in areas withdrawn from mineral entry for the purpose of recreational mining, this does not refer to mining under the 1872 mining law.
(2) Motorized Suction Dredge Mining: This activity takes place in-stream on federal lands, patented lands and other private lands with private mineral rights.
(3) Motorized Upland Mining: This activity takes place outside the bed and banks on dry land on federal lands, patented lands and other private lands with private mineral rights.
(4) Riparian habitat: ODF&W defines riparian habitat as, \those areas adjacent to rivers and streams or occurring on nearby floodplains and terraces. Riparian habitats are shaped and maintained through seasonal flooding, scour, and soil deposition\.

A. Prohibitions: The miners generally supported the prohibition on recreational mining in State controlled waters where there are water quality and/or ESA concerns. We were clear, that valid existing rights be recognized, even in wilderness, and that private lands with private or federal minerals and federal lands withdrawn for the purpose of recreational mining should not be included in the prohibitions. A further concern we voiced is the prohibition on lands under application by the Tribes. This prohibition is without merit.
B. Permitting Approach: The miners supported the \one-stop shopping\ approach contingent upon (1) making a distinction between \motorized recreational placer mining\ (state controlled waterways) and motorized suction dredge mining and motorized upland mining (federal lands with federal minerals, patented lands or private lands with private or federal minerals), (2) removing any reference for permits for non-motorized, since this has nothing to do with the language in SB838 (3) replacing \riparian vegetation\ with \riparian habitat\, and using ODF&Ws definition (see above).
C. Management Zones: The miners were in general agreement with the management zone approach, but did have the following concerns. (1) There can be no caps on the number of permits on federal lands, patented lands or on private lands with private or federal minerals. (2) We suggested removing the word \recreational\, since mining on federal mining claims, patented lands and private lands with private or federal minerals is not \\recreational\.

(D). Social Issues Related to Noise, Recreation Conflicts: The miners generally supported this approach, which included dropping the 9:00AM-5:00PM time for mining, except next to residences or camp grounds, but did have some concerns. (1) As stated above, mining on federal mining claims, patented lands and private lands with private or federal minerals is not \recreational\. (2) We suggested changing the wording of the last bullet to \suction dredges should be pulled to the side of the waterway and/or situated where they do not interfere with navigation\.
e. Monitoring, Compliance, Enforcement: The miners were in general agreement on these.
f. Adequate Fee Structure: The miners were in general agreement with this approach, as long as fees are reasonable. Right now we have reasonable fees and a simple State permitting system, for both instream and for upland mining. The proposed approach will require additional personnel, which will mean each permit will cost more to issue. Miners will not benefit from the new, more complicated system, and since mining is a benefit for the general public, the general public is the entity that must absorb the additional permitting costs.

There was a good turn-out for the Round Table with the new Forest Supervisor, Tom Montoya, Senator Ted Ferrioli, Kathleen Kathy from Ron Wydens office, Jan, Ken, Chuck and Terry from EOMA, Fred Warner Jr., Baker County Chair, Mark Bennett, County Commissioner, Ranger Jeff Tomac and his new employees, Wade Krist, Minerals Administrator, Robert Macom, Special Uses, Lands and Minerals, and Lori Wood and her Staff, Mark Pierce and Geologist, Steve Flock.

Lori discussed the Sage Grouse EIS and told the group it is being revised. The Paul Ada Mining EA is out for comment now, next will be Don J and then True #1.

Jeff Tomac discussed the Granite EIS and stated it will be out for public comment in December. He said that a Plan of Operation that was analyzed under the North Fork Burnt River EIS could quickly be approved for another miner if there were no changes to the plan. Ken asked if that was also true if a miner proposed doing less than what was analyzed in the EIS and Jeff said that these changes would not stop the Plan from being approved for the new miner.

Jeff is trying to decide whether to lump all the upper Powder River projects, where there are bull trout, with the lower Powder River projects, where there are no ESA concerns. EOMA voiced concerns that the lower Powder River projects would be held up because of environmental organizations concerns with protection of ESA species.

There was a discussion about the way to comment on the Forest Service \baseline\ maps. There were comments from EOMA that not all the roads are on the maps, and that the maps are really difficult to read. The suggestion was made again to use the Forest Service topo maps at 4 inches=1mile. These are easy to see and easy to understand exactly where on the ground the road is located. Ted Ferrioli said he would FOIA these maps if necessary. Tom Montoya said he was willing to give the public additional time to make comments, and he would look for the large scale maps. So far, there have only been a handful of comments on the roads and road use.

BONDING-Jan Alexander
Calculation of reclamation bonds is working well, now that the Forest Service and BLM are on the same page with both agencies using the BLM spreadsheet. Steve Flock brought up the fact that the spreadsheet works well for placer miners, but it is not useful for underground operations. He stated that they would work to revise this part of the spreadsheet, since bonds are unreasonably high for lode miners working underground, the way the spreadsheet is set up now.

I attended the recent Forest Access for All meeting in Baker. FAFA had all 19 \baseline\ maps displayed around the room. The public in attendance agreed that the maps were too hard to read, because of the small scale. Some roads were superimposed over other roads and the numbers were not legible. Other members of the public noted that road numbers were changed.

Attendees expressed their feelings that they did not want to spend their time driving roads that might appear to be open where the road met the main road, but could have been closed around the corner. They did not have the time or the will to drive the entire road to make a determination as to use. They felt the task required by the Forest Service of deciding which roads were truly open and which were closed and which were used or not used or which were on the ground, but not on the map and which were on the map, but not on the ground was unreasonable. They felt this was the Forest Service job, not theirs. They remembered too well when they spent their time, energy and fuel driving Forest roads, taking pictures, filling out forms and returning them to the Forest Service, only to find out later, the Forest used their information against them in the TMP.
There was a discussion about \baseline\ and what that really entailed. Jan stated that the Forest Service needed to establish what roads are actually out there on the ground. Once we can all agree that the roads depicted on the maps are also on the ground, then the next step is to determine road use. The Forest Service finds it difficult to just take one step at a time. Thus, the red roads and green roads and grey roads we are seeing on the maps. What we really need is a baseline of what Forest system roads exist. FAFA will be working with other groups on a strategy to accomplish this.

The BLM has moved to 3100 H Street, the building behind the bowling alley. Their mailing address remains P.O. Box 947, Baker City, OR 97814, and all phone numbers are the same. The trailers that the Forest Service and BLM shared for a number of years are being dismantled and moved. The Forest Service is now located, as most of you know, in the Post Office building. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 907, Baker City, OR 97814.

Robert Macom of the Forest Service, advised miners at the Round Table discussion that they needed to make an appointment in order to view their files. Miners do need to abide by this request, not only with the Forest Service but also with the BLM. I had made an appointment two weeks ago to look through the mining folder for one of our claims on the Forest Service. I noted that a lot of information that was previously in that file was missing. Ranger Tomac informed me that there are also history files that are available to view. It is important that miners look at what is in their files. Two years ago, Ken and I found pictures of mining disturbances on another F.S claim that had been erroneously filed in our folder. Miners need to be their own advocates.
This panel discussion, hosted by Greg Walden, included representatives from timber, range, access, counties, an environmental collaborative group, and mining. There was standing room only with concerned citizens, and also in attendance were the Forest Supervisors from the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. The panel members each explained what our problems were. I discussed (1) inability to approve plans of operation in a timely manner (2) road closures (3) lack of effective communication. I requested an additional 90 days to review and comment on the baseline maps.

Regional Forester Jim Pena then told us our complaints were not unique, and that he had head these concerns expressed on other forests. He said he wanted to do a better job of managing resources and that the timber harvest will not be going up very much. He said he and FAFA had a common goal-they both wanted a good road system. He said there is more need than ever for all types of access. He warned that they would not be throwing out the Blue Mountain Revision, but would consider all comments. Greg Walden then stated that there had been a huge amount of public involvement in the TMP process, then the Forest Service failed to consider the publics recommendations. Greg had picked up on my request for a 90 day extension of time to view and comment on the maps, and asked the Regional Forester if he would grant this extension. He stated he would talk to the Forest Supervisors. The pubic comment period was heated and to the point. People openly expressed their frustration and anger at the way the Forest Service is managing the forests.

Bill and Sandy Johnsons mining operation was vandalized and equipment destroyed on October 11, 2014. Two vials of gold were taken along, with a gas can and hand tools, but the scary thing is that the criminals must have been hiding in the nearby brush and trees watching the miners all morning. When the miners drove back to camp for lunch, about 1/4 mile away, the criminals moved in. At camp, the miners heard the shooting, which sounded like 20 rounds of ammunition being fired, then after a pause, another 20 rounds. They called the Sherriffs office to report the gun fire, then after the shooting stopped, they drove down to see what was going on. What they found was complete devastations of their mining site. The rounds fired into the highbanker and pump, caused the fuel tank on the pump to rupture and burst into flames. The highbanker is ruined, mats and hoses were burned and ruined. The Grant County Sheriffs Office is investigating the crime. Call the Grant County Sherriffs office, 541-575-1131, with any information about this incident.

$1000 REWARD OFFERED BY EOMA -Bobbie Danser
EOMA has a standing offer of a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons committing theft, arson, or vandalism on a mining site. People with information on a mining related crime, such as happened to Bill and Sandy, should contact the Sherriff first, then call EOMA Executive Director Chuck Chase, at 541-523-3285.

EOMA is currently updating its mailing list for the newsletter. When you renew your membership, please make sure your address, phone number and e-mail are current. It costs EOMA every time an address is wrong and we have to resend the newsletter.


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.

These are beautiful proof grade one ounce silver medallions with the addition of real gold “nuggets” in the pan. Your choice of years; 2012, 2013, or 2014. Send $50 plus $5.00 shipping, insurance, 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.

Written by a miner for miners, this book covers all aspects of researching mining claim records, how to locate your own claim and keep it. Send check or money order for $32 dollars to: Tom Kitchar, PO Box 1371, Cave Junction, OR 97523.

These claims are located upstream from the patented Dooley Placer. Several new operations are starting up on Clarks Creek, both on patented lands and on BLM. These three claims, Iron Spoon, Lucky Dream, and Blue Trigger have plenty of virgin ground available. They were mined by the old timers with hand tools but were not dredged by the bucket line dredges which mined Clarks Creek in 1924, because the dredge capsized at Clarksville and could not continue upstream.

Great reference for family histories. This collection of maps, pictures and articles details the history of upper Burnt River. Has excellent maps that specify homestead locations, old town sites, early day roads and trails. Has sections with pictures and descriptions of early day logging, agriculture, and, of course, mining. It also includes some accounts and pictures of recent mining activity of the area. Much of the historical material is from family histories of people who still live there and are descendants of original homesteaders. This is a quality, hard-bound 586 page book with an index of over 5,000 names of people who are mentioned in the book. $59.95 + $8.00 SHIPPING See the EOMA website or call Ken Alexander 541-446- 3413.

This backhoe is ready for use. Hydraulics and breaks work well. Asking $7,500 or best offer. Call Ken at 541-446-3413.