Subject: Oppose SB 765

New 49’er Prospecting Association

27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039

Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair
Senator Floyd Prozanski (D)
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4

Dear Sir,

Our organization represents more than 2,000 active members who participate in small-scale mining activities. Our members come from many States, and also from international locations.

As you may be aware, California has issued a moratorium on suction dredging until the environmental impact report which supports our regulations can be updated. The process is ongoing, but newly-issued regulations will not happen in time for the upcoming summer season.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) updated its own Administrative Process and issued new recreational-scale dredging regulations last year. My understanding is that 85 State-wide permits (out of about 1,200) were issued to people from California last season.

Senator Atkinson has made no secret that his intention behind SB 765 is to prevent non-resident prospectors from going to Oregon. And with a $2,500 fee for each permit, he will succeed in doing just that!

Many of our active members continue to prospect along our properties along the Klamath River in northern California. Since dredging is not allowed at the moment, they are engaging in surface mining activities (outside of the active waterway). This is all in conformance with California’s regulations and our ongoing Agreements with the U. S. Forest Service.

But to those who prefer to dredge, we have been encouraging them towards Oregon. Here is a link with several stories which we have published that promote Oregon as a friendly place to go.

Our members are made up mostly of normal middle class people (average age 62) who enjoy the outdoors and prospecting for gold. They arrive in RV’s which they place in local private parks. They eat at local restaurants, shop in local stores, buy fuel, get their hair cuts, and do all the normal things which Americans do. Wherever they set up on their vacations, or for the whole summer, you cannot find a better bunch of visitors who are helping to support the local economy.

The communities along the Klamath River in California lost millions of dollars last season because of the dredging moratorium.

We are all aware that Oregon has its own challenges in balancing its budget. I submit that the answer is to encourage more tourism to your State, rather than keep it away! All of us in the private sector know that the answer to fixing the economy is to provide more valuable goods and services, not less!

While Senator Atkinson may have his own issues with suction dredgers (issues which he has made in public statements), I can tell you from personal experience along the Rogue River last season that local businesses are quite happy to take any and all visitors who come their way!

This is not about the environment. Oregon DEQ and Department of State Lands have issued a State-wide dredging permit after studying the potential impacts.

This is about keeping non-residents from coming to Oregon! Otherwise, the non-resident permit asked for in SB 765 would not cost 50 times more than the resident permit!

This SB 765 is a crossroads for how Oregon is going to treat out-of-state visitors. The message to small-scale gold hunters is that Oregon does not want you! Is that really true?

Some of us have already purchased the existing permit from DEQ ($90 for a 4-year permit) in advance. Adding to our annual permit fee by more than100 times is a clear message. No couple will spend $5,000 on permits so they can spend a few weeks, or even a whole summer, enjoying what Oregon has to offer! Who could afford that?

With projected (perhaps much) higher gas prices by summer, it is already going to be difficult for Oregon to attract out-of-state visitors.

I encourage you to not allow this harmful bill to prevent out-of-state Americans to enjoy Oregon’s waterways.


Dave McCracken
President, New 49’er Prospecting Association