Dave Mack

By Dave McCracken General Manager




Gold prospectors Gold nuggets in a gold pan


All members are invited and encouraged to attend our weekend Group Mining Projects during the upcoming 2010 season. They are scheduled as follows: June 5 & 6; June 26 & 27; July 17 & 18; August 7 & 8; August 28 & 29.

We meet at our office in Happy Camp at 9 AM on Saturday morning. Then we sit down for a few hours of discussion and planning over at the local Lions Hall. After lunch, we will go out to one of our nearby mining properties and implement a sampling program while making sure everyone knows how to pan for gold. Our target will be to locate a high-grade pay-streak which is good enough to work on the following day. We go out of our way to make sure everyone knows how to pan well, so that each participant is able to assist in the sampling effort. Saturday’s effort is always followed with a nice potluck dinner. We have a lot of fun!

Mother and daughter Gold in pan

Then we will meet out on site early Sunday morning so we can get most of our work done before the day heats up too much. By then, we will already have formed several organized teams to operate high-bankers (pump-fed gold recovery systems). Depending upon the situation, we will either be filling buckets with the pay-dirt and feeding the material into the pump-driven sluices; or we will be booming ‘ or we might be doing both types of mining. ‘Boomingâ? is when we use the water discharge from our gold recovery system to help us excavate pay-dirt, and then use a suction device to feed the pay-dirt into the recovery system. All of this activity happens well up out of the active waterway. For the most part, it is a dry activity.

Digging More gold nuggets

We’ll be finished out in the field by mid-afternoon on Sunday, and move the program back over to the Lions Hall where we will all join in the final gold concentration and clean-up steps. By late afternoon, we will be splitting up the gold. Everyone will receive an equal share.

Feeding sluice box Gold in pan

Besides being a wonderful learning experience, these weekend projects are always lots of fun. Weekend projects are free to all members.

People waving

2010 Winter & Spring Show Schedule

All members are invited and encouraged to participate in our booth at these shows. We have a lot of fun. Doing these shows allows us to share some quality time together outside of Happy Camp.

If you can work a day or two into helping us, please contact Montine or Myrna in our office so we can schedule and plan on your help. Montine or Myrna can be reached at (530) 493-2012.

January 16-17, 2010: Antelope Valley Fairgrounds (661-948-6060) Lancaster, California

February13 & 14, 2010: Arizona State Fairgrounds (602-257-7118) Phoenix, Arizona

February 20 & 21, 2010: Fresno Fairgrounds (559-650-3247) Fresno, California

March 20 & 21, 2010: Puyallup Fair and Events Center (253-845-1771) Puyallup, Washington

March 27 & 28, 2010: Oregon State Fair Center (503-947-3247) Salem, Oregon

April 17 & 18, 2010: South Point Hotel and Casino (702-797-8052) Las Vegas, Nevada

EIR Process on California Suction Dredging has Started

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on suction dredging in California is being completed through a CEQA Process (California Environmental Quality Act); which, based upon best available science, requires the authorities to identify any important concerns. Then, those concerns must be addressed through implementation of regulations which are least-restrictive upon people and economic activity. This is not new to us, since we actively participated in the earlier EIR which was completed during 1994.

As part of the EIR Process, the Department of Fish & Game (DFG) has published a preliminary “Literature Review” which can now be found on their web site. This formal review basically identifies every known potential negative impact which could be associated with suction dredging. Our job now will be to take up each of these concerns and help DFG put them in perspective to the whole universe. We will accomplish this through written comments and by voicing input at the public hearings.

As an example, the simple act of walking across an open field could have traumatic consequences on some life forms if we were to zoom in close enough with a high-powered microscope to see what happens underfoot. Driving your car down a dirt road, gardening, swimming in the river, cleaning the bathroom floor in your RV; virtually everything human beings do can be found to harm some living organism if you zoom in and take a close enough look (which is the purpose of the Literature Review).

The purpose of the EIR Process is to find the balance where negative impacts on some level become large enough and so important that steps need to be taken (through regulations) to reduce them. Since suction dredging has basically been studied to death, a big part of what we now need to do is address each concern (which was raised in the literature review) with the already-published peer-reviewed study material which already found that the potentially-negative impacts from suction dredging in conformance with our past regulations do not add up to anything important.

Public Scoping Meetings for input from the public have been scheduled as follows:

5:00 p.m. November 16, 2009: California Retired Teachers Association Building
3930 E. Saginaw Way, Fresno, CA 93726

5:00 p.m.November 17, 2009: City of West Sacramento Galleria, 1110 West Capitol Ave., West Sacramento, CA 95691

5:00 pm November 18, 2009: Shasta Senior Nutrition Program Center
100 Mercy Oaks Drive, Redding, CA 96003

All members and others who are interested in suction dredging are encouraged to attend one or more of these meetings if you can, and voice your concerns.

Written comments must be postmarked by December 3, 2009 to Mark Stopher

California Department of Fish and Game, 601 Locust Street, Redding, CA 96001, or they may be submitted by email to

The New 49’ers will be actively involved with the Administrative process, pushing it towards completion while fighting to prevent unreasonable solutions (regulations) from being imposed upon our industry. Completing the Administrative process is the one thing that surely is going to get dredgers back in the California waterways. We are right on top of this.

We Have Suction Dredge Opportunities in Oregon

Oregon’s annual suction dredge permit presently costs $25 per year for both residents and non-residents.

We struck high-grade gold on our dredge sampling project along the Rogue River. So you will be hearing much more from us during the next few months about how we intend to support our members who wish to operate your dredges over there. We

are in the process of printing maps and an Access Guide for all members who wish to suction dredge during the 2010 season. Members are invited to contact our office for more information.

Meanwhile, as you know, we continue to have the best high-banking opportunities anywhere — along the Klamath River in Northern California for members who prefer prospecting for gold above the water.

We Need Help with our Legal Fund!

Here a list of prizes which venders and other supporters within our industry have donated as an incentive for our members and friends to contribute to our legal fund. The girls in our office are automatically creating a prize ticket on your behalf for each $10 which we receive from you. There is no limit to the number of tickets you can be issued, or the number of prizes you can win. The drawing will take place on 4 January, 2010. That’s less than 2 months from now.

We started this fundraiser several months ago, and I am concerned that contributions have been so poor that we may not even raise the market value of the prizes which have been donated. I don’t know if the lack of participation is because our normal supporters are still in shock over the dredging moratorium which was passed in California (until the EIR is completed), or because people are hurting for money and have less to contribute, or if it is because you guys have lost confidence in our ability to win battles on behalf of the industry. I don’t know; I just know that we have not been receiving very much financial assistance to pay the specialists that we still have on retainer (attorneys & lobbyists). At the same time, we keep getting enquiries (from those that do support us) about when we are going to file or join in a federal lawsuit to challenge California’s temporary moratorium on suction dredging.

The main reason we have not started a federal lawsuit is because we have ongoing expenditures with existing litigation in Alameda County, and with a federal appeal that was just filed by our adversaries to try and overturn the lawsuit which we won with the U.S. Forest Service several years ago. We also have lobbyists on a retainer contract through the rest of the year.

Since I must provide a personal guarantee to the attorneys and lobbyists for payment, and industry contributions have been very poor for the last 6 months or so, I have been cashing in my personal reserves to make payments on legal ‘ so far, to the tune of $8,495 in the last 3 months. In addition, we still owe $11,148 to our attorneys for ongoing services related to existing litigation in defense of the industry.

Legal costs continue. We cannot just quit litigation once it has started (unless we just want to forfeit the industry position). Here is just one example of what I mean; it will allow you a perception of how much work is involved just in defending against anti-mining interests’ ongoing attempt to overturn (appeal) a federal court Decision which we won several years ago. If we lose this one, it will be the end of most small-scale mining in all the national forests across America. There is a lot at stake here. As far as I know, we are the only organization within our industry that is actively defending small-scale miners in this appeal which our adversaries have filed. Read both briefs if you have time. Or, at least scan through the sixty-page brief filed by our attorneys so you can grasp the magnitude of the issues at stake, and gain a perception of the costs involved with mounting a strong defense:

I have always told you guys that raising the money is the hardest part of defending the industry. Asking you guys for help is always uncomfortable for me. The reason we push the prize drawings is to make it more fun and interesting for you guys by giving you a chance to win something valuable.

Rather then beg you guys for money (that’s what it feels like to me), I have just been digging in to keep making payments towards the balance of what we owe the specialists that are fighting for us. Those contributions which some people have been sending in have not been keeping up with ongoing costs.

This should explain my reluctance to commit us to an entirely new legal action without having some strong show of support from our members and other supporters in advance. I have not been getting a message of strong support! Not even of weak support to support an entirely new legal action!

Someone on our Internet message forum suggested that people just might not have the extra money to send in. Yes, I’m sure that’s true in some cases. But with gold prices shooting up as they are (and they are just going to keep going up), I am also wondering why the thousands of prospectors on our Internet mailing list cannot come up with $10 (each) a month to help fight for our right to continue mining? It doesn’t take big contributions if a lot of people pitch in!

I cannot cover the cost of our shortfall every month on my own. We need more help on this!

Gold is now worth $55 per pennyweight as I write this newsletter. You can almost make wages with a gold pan right now! The way things are going, gold could be worth $100 per pennyweight within a year. We still have the freedom to go out on the public lands and keep all the gold we find. California just took away our right to dredge for it. Anti-mining activists are not going to stop there.

Who is going to defend our rights if it is not us? We should not expect to keep our existing rights if we are of a mind that others should fight for them on our behalf!

I would like to spearhead our effort; I would like to do the job! But not if it is going to drive me personally into bankruptcy! This thing is bigger than what I can do alone or with just a few supporters!

Don’t get me wrong. Some of you guys (and gals) out there really do help. There are just not enough of you.

There, now I’ve said it; we need more help on the legal front! Can’t you guys please send something in to participate in this great prize drawing?

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