New 49'er Newsletter

SECOND  QUARTER, MAY 2014                               VOLUME 28, NUMBER 5

Dave Mack



Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager






Story by Rich Krimm, Director of Internal Affairs

Panning in tubGold in Pan

Lots of members have already arrived in Happy Camp to start the season off early this year.  Our office and store in Happy Camp have been busy each morning even with some members waiting out front before the door is opened.

First time pannerFirst gold

Craig and Alicia Hill finding their first gold last week up on Indian Creek

While more members are around, most people are only just getting started with mining activity.  Jeff Hight and Stuart Allen have been doing pretty well working the bedrock down on the Ukonom Claim K-25AA recovering some very nice course gold.  Jeff enthusiastically shared that he has already recovered as much gold this season as he has accumulated during the past four seasons.  Further down river, I saw Jim Shannon at the Elliot Bar Claim K-25AB doing some diligent sampling out on the gravel bar where very few members have been.  Dennis Turner has been doing very well for the past six weeks working at the Wingate River Claim K-23A.  He has been working large cracks and crevices in the bedrock, classifying material that he takes back to his camp where he processes the material through a small recirculating high-banker.

Panner on riverGold in pan

I have seen members working at a number of claims from K-2A all the way down to K-25AB.  Last week, four members spent several days at our long term camping area at Schutts Gulch K-11. They were high-banking on the gravel bar.  Montine had a chance to talk to them before they left the area to go home. She says they were very pleased with the gold they recovered.

GatheringIndian Creek

Father & sonJohn Rose, one of my Internal Affairs assistants, organized a gold panning outing up on Indian Creek just a few days ago, and at least ten people went along for a day of fun.  John says everyone had a blast.  They finished up the day with a great meal sitting around a campfire.

I talked to Derek Eimer and Dan Collins just a few days ago. They are working on some type of an underwater blowing system that they can use to uncover more of the extremely rich gold discovery they made last year on our new K-23AA property.  Clearly they want to have their equipment ready to take advantage of this year’s low water opportunity.  Other members have been preparing to begin using underwater blowing techniques — and also hand-operated suction devices to recover the gold from underwater cracks and crevices.  This is going to be a great year for crevice mining both above and below the water!

Heightened river sceneLow water

Speaking of low and slow water, I was coming downriver a couple of weeks ago and saw two kayakers paddling ‘up river’ faster than I could drift down river in the current.  The current is now flowing almost 3,000 cubic feet per second slower than the average for this time of the year. The river is over three feet lower than where it should be.  The Forest Service Snow Report for May 1st shows several sites that normally record 28-to-55 inches for snow depth and water content at this time of the year.  The most recent survey reveals there is no snow at these sites, which means there is no water.  My guess is that the current and water level in the creeks and river are going to continue to drop through the summer. This will expose more areas that members can access for our gold prospecting activities.

DemonsrationOver the past couple of years, a few members have shown some interest, and have actually used small boats and kayaks to prospect on the other side of the river.  Lower and slower waters this year have caused several of our members to take that idea more seriously.  A couple of the members are already making plans to coordinate their efforts and work together to place their vehicles in position so they can shuttle their equipment and kayaks after they drift the river sampling our claims on the far side.  Stuart Allen told me that he called his girlfriend and asked her to bring his kayak down on her next trip. Stuart has convinced me to get my kayak out and join him.

We have been doing some concentrate cleanup sessions in front of the store on Friday mornings during the early spring for the past few seasons.  Several pieces of cleanup equipment get set up and operated. This allows members a chance to see demonstrations of the latest innovations in mining gear and the processes.  Quite a few members show up for these events. A couple of weeks ago, John Rose set up a rather large panning station, and even Montine from our office was out there showing off her panning skills!  These Friday morning get-togethers also provide our members a chance to meet each other, drink coffee, eat donuts, and tell stories. Here are some video sequences we captured during the last event:

This coming Friday morning, we will be joined by Steve Herschback. Steve will be present to talk to members and answer questions about using our metal detectors for gold prospecting.  Steve owned and managed Alaska Mining & Diving for many, many years, and is one of the world’s leading experts in electronic prospecting.  Several members who have recently arrived have told me that they have metal detectors with them, and they are looking forward to talking to Steve to get some welcomed tips so they can become more efficient while using their equipment.

We have scheduled the Saturday evening potlucks at the Happy Camp Grange Hall to begin May 31st. They will extend through August 23rd of this year.

Legal Update: Federal Preemption Decision Coming Soon! 

As many of you are aware, our legal specialists have brought a federal preemption challenge in front of the Superior Court of San Bernardino. We also have a similar challenge in front of the Third Appellate District of California.  We are arguing that the Supreme Court has already decided that the State does not possess the jurisdictional authority to prohibit suction dredge mining on the public lands, which is exactly what they have done with the existing Moratorium in California.

All of the briefs have been filed with the Third Appellate District. We are patiently waiting for them to issue a Decision.  If we win this challenge, we suspect the Appellate District will tell the State of California that they cannot cite prospectors for using suction dredges unless the activity violates lawfully-issued permit regulations.

Meanwhile, in a completely separate case, we are making similar arguments challenging the existing Moratorium in front of the Superior Court of San Bernardino.  If we win that motion, we anticipate that the judge may order the State of California to immediately resume issuing suction dredge permits.  During the motion hearing several weeks ago, the judge Ordered that we attempt to settle all of the mining-related issues in front of him on June 24th before he issues a Decision concerning federal  preemption.   Here is a short memo from our attorney which provides further explanation.

My best guess is that any such settlement would require all outstanding issues in front of the Court to be resolved once and for all. This is because they are all connected in one way or another to the preemption motion.

Don’t get your hopes up too high on a successful settlement agreement. I only suggest this because there are many different interests that would have to come together, some whose only interest is to prohibit mining on the public lands. Though the judge has ordered that we should try. So we will. He will preside over the settlement discussions.

I will personally attend the mandatory settlement discussions alongside our attorney in San Bernardino next month. Cross your fingers that this will lead to the judge deciding for us on the federal preemption motion.

Thanks for all your support, you guys. The fight would have been lost a long time ago if it were not for you!

Note that we only have a little more than a month remaining in The New 49’er Legal Fund active fund-raiser.  The Legal Fund will be giving away 25 gold and silver coins  during our weekly potluck in Happy Camp on July 5th.  To date, there has been very little participation.  I encourage you to send in some contributions, since this is how we generate the necessary funds to pay for legal support.

Make a Legal Contribution 

Join Us This Season on Our Weekend Group Mining Projects!


 Running high-babkerHappy smile

There is a learning curve to successful gold prospecting.  One of the most effective methods of progressing through the learning curve is to go on prospecting trips with others who are further along on the curve than you are.   We are fortunate in The New 49’ers that we have experienced members who take pleasure in going out and helping on the weekend projects.

Our 2-day Group Mining Projects are one of the primary benefits of New 49’er membership which set us apart from other mining associations.  We started them during our second season in 1987 with the purpose of helping members to learn how to successfully prospect for gold on their own.  Long since then, the weekend projects have evolved into fun events that many members attend just for the adventure and shared camaraderie with other members.

The weekend events for the coming 2014 season are scheduled for May 31 & June 1; June 21 & 22; July 12 & 13; August 2 & 3; August 23 & 24. These events are free to all members.  We appreciate it if you contact our office in advance to let you know that you will attend: 530 493-2012.

We have free long term (dry) campgrounds available to participants who prefer to enjoy the complete outdoor experience.  There are also private RV and other lodging options in and around Happy Camp for those who prefer more accommodations.  The staff in our office will go out of their way to help you with your individual needs. Montine specializes in helping people get the most enjoyment from their visits to Happy Camp. Here are our contact details. On that note, if you prefer private accommodations, I suggest you don’t wait until the last minute.  Sometimes they fill up! 

What We Can Do on Our Properties in California 

Members have been calling in wanting to know what we can and cannot do these days for prospecting activity on our extensive property holdings in Siskiyou County.  While I do not have a license to provide legal advice, I will follow with my own understanding of the current state of affairs.

1)      We all know that suction dredging in the active waterways is closed until we overcome the existing moratorium in California.  As explained above, this is presently being challenged in two separate legal proceedings. It is possible that either of these two challenges could be decided in our favor during the 2014 season.

2)       Surface mining (high-banking) is still alright.You can do that on your own, or you can join in on our Weekend Group Mining Projects.

3)      The State of California has adopted modified regulations which now define “suction dredging” as using any type of motorized vacuum or suction to excavate material off the bottom of a waterway.  Therefore, the underwater suction gravel transfer systems we used last season will no longer be allowed until we overcome the suction dredge moratorium.

4) There is no problem with booming (motorized suction mining) 100 yards from the active waterway.  There is also a way to boom using blowing methods (see below) that should not be affected by the 100 yard rule.

Please note that all surface mining activities on New 49’er properties are governed by our internal set of Surface Mining Guidelines which are available from the office.

5)  Underwater crevicing is what most active members were doing within the waterways at the end of last season, using the hookah and pump from their 5 and 6 HP motors on floating platforms to provide air for breathing and a jet of water to help blow material out of the way. Our attorney agrees this cannot be classed as “suction dredging” under the expanded definition.

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The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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