"TO REPRESENT AND ASSIST OUTDOOR USER GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS INTERESTED IN KEEPING PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LANDS OPEN TO PROSPECTING, MINING,AND OUTDOOR RECREATION THROUGH PUBLIC EDUCATION, SCIENTIFIC DATA, AND LEGAL MEANS."
JUDGE ORDERS DREDGING BAN SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE TO CONTINUE IN SEPTEMBER
After two days of negotiations, California Superior Court Judge Gilbert G. Ochoa has ordered the Mandatory Settlement Conference on the statewide ban on section dredge mining to continue in September. The conference, which was closed to the public, was held June 24-25, 2014 in San Bernardino, California.
Among the plaintiffs and their attorneys on the pro-dredging side were Public Lands for the People, the New 49’ers and the Western Mining Alliance. Representatives for the anti-dredging faction were the Karuk Tribe, Center for Biological Diversity, California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the State of California.
PLP Vice-President Walt Wegner said that each attorney met with the Judge privately, and then each plaintiff was given time to speak with Judge Ochoa ‘one-on-one,’ but with their attorneys present in a casual setting in his chambers.
“It was very personal. In my opinion, it was surreal to address the Judge without being in a courtroom. I’m absolutely impressed with this guy. He’s going above and beyond and he is being fair,” Wegner said. “He listened. He heard me.”
At the end of the second day, Judge Ochoa listed numerous points of contention between all parties, and ordered the continuance of the Mandatory Settlement Conference to September 4-5, 2014. In the interim, the parties are to negotiate in an attempt to narrow or eliminate all points of contention between them.
“This is going to be our starting point for negotiating a settlement,” Wegner said. “We got the impression the Judge wants to see us back in the water through the Mandatory Settlement Conference.”
Public Lands for the People, its President Gerald Hobbs, its officers and directors, and its attorney, David Young, will be working hard in the next two months to present to Judge Ochoa in early September, a means and mechanism for ending the ban on suction dredge mining, and allowing the miners to work their claims in an economical and environmentally sound manner.
Judge ends fees at SoCal national forests for visitors who park and hike
By Teresa Rochester
Originally published 11:01 a.m., April 29, 2014 Updated 05:26 p.m., April 29, 2014
Visitors do not have to pay a fee to enter national forests in Southern California if they do not use bathrooms, picnic tables or other amenities, a federal judge determined this week.
Four hikers, including two from Ojai, filed a lawsuit in late 2012 challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s right to charge visitor fees at Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. on Monday agreed that the fee, called an Adventure Pass, cannot be levied if people use the forests but not amenities such as campgrounds.
Adventure Passes are $5 for a day or $30 for a year.
“If all a person wants to do is park and have a picnic or go for a hike or camping or backpacking, they do not have to pay a fee,” said Matt Kenna, the hikers’ Colorado-based attorney. “Now if you go and use a developed campground then you will have to pay a fee, as you should.”
John Heil, U.S. Forest Service press officer for the Pacific Southwest Region, said the forest service is reviewing the decision and had nothing further to add at this time.
Alasdair Coyne, conservation director of the Keep Sespe Wild group, said he was pleased with Hatter’s ruling.
The Ojai man was ticketed a couple years ago for parking and hiking in Rose Valley. Instead of fight the ticket, he joined the lawsuit.
“The fee law that was enacted in 2004 very clearly stated that there could not be fees charged for parking (and hiking),” Coyne said. “This is a clear-cut ruling and the message couldn’t be more clear.”
The fee law is formally called the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. It allows for fees in “high-impact” recreation areas that have amenities such as picnic tables, developed parking and security.
The lawsuit that led to Monday’s decision followed several legal challenges to the fees in recent years.
In February 2012, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with plaintiffs who sued the Forest Service over fees at Mount Lemmon in Arizona.
The Forest Service went too far in levying those fees on visitors who parked their cars to hike, picnic or camp on land that hadn’t been improved, the Arizona suit alleged.
Fees are used for improvements such as purchasing toilets or picnic tables, officials have said.
Kenna said that while the decision in the Mount Lemon case applied only to that forest, he and others expected the Forest Service to apply the ruling at other sites.
When that didn’t happen, the local lawsuit was filed. Both sides tried to hammer out a deal last year but were unable to reach consensus, Coyne said.
In light of Monday’s decision, which only applies to four Southern California forests, Kenna said he expected the federal agency to eliminate the fee at additional locations.
“If they don’t start following this in other forests, we will just keep suing them,” Kenna said.
On May 1, 2014, David Young, Counsel for Public Lands For The People and other plaintiffs, appeared before Judge Gilbert G. Ochoa in Rancho Cucamonga to argue our Motions for Summary Judgments, and oppose the State’s cross-motions for Summary Judgments. These Motions regarded the issue of Federal preemption of the State’s prohibition of suction dredge mining in California. Judge Ochoa was knowledgeable about the pleadings that had been filed, the arguments made, and asked challenging questions regarding the State’s position that there was only a temporary moratorium, and not a prohibition of suction dredge mining in California. The State could give no assurance to Judge Ochoa as to a date when the so called “moratorium” would end. At the end of all arguments, Judge Ochoa took the matters under advisement, making no ruling from the bench.
Judge Ochoa then asked all counsel to meet with him in chambers. He stated that he would like to see the matter settled, if at all possible, before he ruled on the various motions. We discussed the previous settlement attempts with judge Ochoa which were not successful. Nevertheless, Judge Ochoa exercised his judicial authority to order a Mandatory Settlement Conference (“MSC”) beginning June 24, 2014, which may continue for one or two more days. Judge Ochoa will personally preside at the MSC as the settlement Judge, and is prepared to make a substantial personal commitment of time and effort to see if any settlement can be achieved. Judge Ochoa will require all parties to the litigation to be either personally present in Court for the MSC, or to be available by telephone. Those parties who cannot attend personally, should be able to attend by telephone conference at no cost to them. Judge Ochoa has the authority to sanction any party who does not attend the MSC either in person, or by telephone.
When available, a copy of Judge Ochoa’s written Order regarding the MSC, and the mandatory attendance of all parties will be provided. Under any circumstances, Jerry Hobbs and David Young will be attending the MSC in person, and all other parties to the litigation are urged to attend in person. Judge Ochoa further stated that he would want to personally address the parties. The parties would have an opportunity, either through counsel, or personally to address Judge Ochoa. Since Judge Ochoa has yet to rule on the Motions now pending before him, the MSC should give everyone a more complete education on the realities of what it takes to actually engage in suction dredge mining in California, and the impact that the State’s prohibition has had on suction dredge miners.
It Is Bottom of the Ninth
Be advised small mining community, suction dredging is about to disappear permanently in California if PLP does not immediately obtain substantial additional funding. The California outcome will reverberate throughout all of the states with suction dredge mining. If we lose, the radical environmentalists have a roadmap to replicate their success everywhere.
PLP’s preliminary injunction arguing irreparable harm to the small miner was denied by our judge despite the fact that a Siskiyou County case found in favor of irreparable harm to the miners. Our trial is again delayed, this time until May 2014.
Our deep pocket opponents: the radical environmentalists; the Karuk Indians; and the State of California; have no financial issues. Their combined effort to delay our case has successfully run PLP out of money. Without additional funding, PLP will not be able to continue hiring legal representation nor pay our share of the estimated $100,000 administrative fees required by the State to compile the complete record of all the previous trials.
There are two ways for miners to never be able to suction dredge in California again: have our judge rule against us on the merit of the case, which is appealable; or PLP failing to show up for the case because we ran out of money, which is not appealable.
Folks, we need a grassroots effort here. PLP is requesting that each club immediately become creative and initiate fund raising opportunities. Designate the resultant funds for our collective legal fight.
PLP is calling on all clubs to immediately encourage each one of their club members to enroll as individual PLP members. The annual individual membership is $35.00. That is only 9.6 cents per day per member. Is there any small miner who cannot afford a dime a day? A family membership for $50.00 is only 14 cents a day. But, why stop there? Imagine what can be done if every small miner gave 30 cents a day. PLP could really go on the offensive and take the small miner fight to the rest of the nation. Thirty cents is just the change that you take out of your pocket and throw into a jar at the end of your day.
Let’s be clear fellow miners, suction dredging is only the opening gambit in the admitted radical environmentalist effort to eliminate all prospecting & mining in the country, not just California. Highbanking, sluicing, dry-washing, panning and even metal detecting are all on the chopping block. You need to look no further than Oregon to see that prediction coming true.
For this case, it is the bottom of the ninth inning. We either open our wallets or we permanently lose prospecting and small mining in California. Remember folks, in so many ways where California goes so goes the rest of the nation. If they beat us here, they will beat us everywhere. Let’s give the radical environmentalists and the complicit government a legal whopping that they won’t soon forget.
To join or donate to PLP visit www.plp1.org and access USA EPay or send a letter to Public Lands for the People, Inc. at 20929 Ventura Blvd., Ste 47-466,Woodland Hills, CA 91364 or call (909)-889-3039.
Azusa Chamber of Commerce
The new forms issued by BLM for the annual proof of labor do not comply with California Recording law.
Public Lands for the People's goal is to uphold constitutional and statutory rights related to the use of appropriated and unappropriated public lands by
1. Educating the public about their rights & laws that apply in their activities. 2. Educate the government agencies in their application of those laws.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER AND WE CAN GIVE YOU THAT KNOWLEDGE!
October 16, 2013
On August 28, 2013, Judge Gilbert G. Ochoa, of the San Bernardino County Superior Court, denied PLP’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction on the grounds there was no proof of irreparable harm caused to miners by California’s ban on suction dredge mining. Judge Ochoa appeared to take the position that whatever harm occurred to the miners could eventually be made good by the payment of money damages. Among numerous matters, PLP, in its Motion papers, and at oral argument, vigorously asserted that the fact that the miners face criminal prosecution if they violate an unconstitutional statute, was in and of itself irreparable harm. A criminal record attaching to a miner’s good name is not something that can be made whole by the payment of money damages.
One of the cases that PLP brought to Judge Ochoa’s attention was the criminal conviction of Brandon Rhinehart for suction dredge mining in violation of California’s prohibition on such mining. PLP help retain an attorney for Mr. Rhinehart in defense of his prosecution for violating the ban on suction dredge mining. The conviction of Mr. Rhinehart has been appealed, and PLP has been informed that the California Court of Appeal has accepted Mr. Rhinehart’s case for review.
In addition, PLP’s attorney is appealing to the Court of Appeal Judge Ochoa’s denial of a Preliminary Injunction staying the ban on suction dredge mining. The Rhinehart case will figure as an example of irreparable harm caused to miners should they violate California’s unconstitutional prohibition on suction dredge mining. Both appeals will raise issues not only of irreparable harm, but also of Federal preemption allowing suction dredge mining, making the California prohibition on suction dredge mining unconstitutional.
PLP has previously been successful in the Court of Appeal in having that Court overturn the decision of a Superior Court Judge who prohibited issuing of permits for suction dredge mining, prior to the California statute banning such mining that is now in intensive litigation.
PLP’s appeal, as well as the Rhinehart appeal, does give miners hope for light at the end of the tunnel, and could well bring suction dredge mining back to California before the next dredging season. PLP would like to thank all of the folks who have supported us in the past, and thank those who will continue their support in the future. PLP is fighting for you!
President, Public Lands for the People, Inc.
Update August 28, 2013
Preliminary Injunction Denied
Sorry to inform all of the suction dredge miners that the Court denied the Preliminary Injunction. He found that the miners did not have irreparable harm. He will writing up a decision on the demurrers that were filed, probably next week.
If I had to guess why he felt the miners had no harm it would be because about 80% of the miners that have been involved in this whole process consider themselves as recreational. No matter how much we have driven home to the public that they are not considered recreational, they still maintain that they are.
Personally, I don't feel there is such a thing as recreational mining simply because, if someone could show them where they could pan an ounce of gold and hour, you could shoot dice on their shirt tail as they are running to that spot. A mining claim has rules and they are what can be done on a mining claim. Recreation is not on the list.
The trial date was postponed till sometime in May of 2014 but in the meantime there will be several motions and the acquisition of the complete record for all of the cases. We were informed today that the record is several hundred thousand pages and is the largest record in the history of the Ca. Fish and Wildlife and the cost of that record to the plaintiffs can be $100,000 or more.This far more money than we could normally acquire so again if we want to stay in this case we have got to rely on the miners and the clubs to help us raise the necessary funds. By staying in this lawsuit and fighting, we do not know the outcome yet, but we do know the outcome if we do not fight back.
due to listing of 479 Endangered Species in 14 California counties!
EL DORADO COUNTY Chamber of Commerce’s Voice of Business
542 Main St. • Placerville, CA 95667 • (530) 621-5885 • www.eldoradocounty.org
March 4, 2013
YOU CAN HELP By Laurel Brent-Bumb Chief Executive Officer The purpose of this article is to state our support of all efforts to preserve the constitutional, historical and property rights of miners in El Dorado County and the State of California and to share a perspective of the impact that mining and suction dredging have on public health and safety. Alarming attacks against the mining industry in El Dorado County and other parts of the state suggest, based on flawed science, that suction dredging “may”, “might” “could” harm the environment. This is not reliable science when other studies in support of suction dredge mining give specific facts that prove suction dredge mining cleans rivers and streams of mercury, lead, trash and other harmful substances and improves wildlife habitat. We are concerned about the constitutionality and legality of the tactics and strategies used to enforce the laws that deny miners their rights to earn a living. There often seems to be an imbalance between laws implemented to protect the environment and those that impact people. Regulatory provisions have increased unemployment, reduced the miner’s ability to survive, have eliminated precious tax revenues, threaten businesses and jeopardized the constitutional rights of our miners. No evidence has been presented that show that proper coordination and consistency has been initiated or achieved pursuant to federal and state law. The unreasonable environmental policies implemented at the expense of people and jobs adversely impacts wages and tax revenues and is having a negative impact on our economy and heritage. The El Dorado County Chamber supports our miners and their constitutional rights. The decline of once thriving industries such as, mining, timber, farming and ranching is impacting our economy, traditions, heritage and health and safety. Please join the Chamber in our support of miners by writing to;
Public Lands for the People
President Jerry Hobbs
7194 Conejo Drive
San Bernardino, CA 92404
For any questions or more information, please contact me at 530 621 5885.
PLEASE DONATE TO PLP TO HELP SAVE OUR PUBLIC LAND RIGHTS!
PUBLIC LANDS FOR THE PEOPLE, INC. IS SOLELY MEMBER AND DONOR SUPPORTED. WITHOUT YOUR MEMBERSHIPS AND DONATIONS, PLP COULD NOT CONTINUE TO FIGHT IN COURT FOR YOUR RIGHTS TO USE PUBLIC LANDS OR FIGHT TO KEEP THEM OPEN!
PLEASE DONATE GENEROUSLY - WE THANK YOU FOR WHATEVER AMOUNT YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE!
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To Oppose Oregon Senate Bills SB 12, SB 115, SB 370, SB 388 and SB 401
We, the undersigned, by affixing our signatures to this petition, do hereby oppose Oregon Senate Bills SB 12, SB 115, SB 370, SB 388 and SB 401, which are intended to infringe upon or interfere with our rights to access, locate, develop and work the locatable mineral deposits upon the Public Domain of the United States under the 1872 Mining Act. As petitioners, we oppose any action made by the State of Oregon, its Legislature, its Governor, or its People, that poses a threat to our rights upon the Public Domain of the United States, which were granted to us by the Congress of the United States. As petitioners, we demand relief from the attacks made upon our rights by Oregon Senate Bills SB 12, SB 115, SB 370, SB 388 and SB 401 and demand that the State of Oregon, its Legislature and its Governor take immediate action to protect our rights and property. PLEASE SIGN TO HELP OREGON MINERS DEFEAT THESE ANTI-PROSPECTING/MINING BILLS!
NOT A POLLUTANT, LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY UPDATE ICMJ Prospecting and Mining Journal, February 2013, page 3.
A recent US Supreme Court ruling regarding the transfer of "pollutants" from one portion of a river to another is a win for miners. The Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, alleging the county was polluting a stream when it took polluted water from one portion of a river and transferred it to another portion of the same river through a concrete channel.
The Ninth Circuit had ruled that the water transfer violated the Clean Water Act. In a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Ninth Circuit.
The Court stated, "...the transfer of polluted water between two parts of the same water body does not constitute a discharge of pollutants under the CWA. 541 U. S., at 109-112. We derived that determination from the CWA's text, which defines the term 'discharge of a pollutant' to mean 'any addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source.' 33 U.S.C. §1362(12). Under a common understanding of the meaning of the word 'add,' no pollutants are 'added' to a water body when water is merely transferred between different portions of that water body."A link to the decision is available on our website under the Legislative and Regulatory Update column for February 2013.
One of the major regulatory tools agencies have used against in-stream placer miners-and suction dredgers in particular-has been struck down by this decision!
Other courts have also blocked overzealous water regulators In Virginia, District Judge Liam O'Grady ruled that the EPA exceeded its authority by attempting to regulate storm water runoff as a pollutant And in Siskiyou County, California, Superior Court Judge Karen Dixon found that the California Department of Fish & Game overstepped its authority by requiring permits for farmers and ranchers to take water from the Shasta and Scott Rivers
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