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The New 49ers Newsletter

By Dave McCracken General Manager

Anti-Suction Dredging Legislation
is Dead in California!

Here is a final summary by Pete Conaty giving us confirmation that we have won another very important battle. In all of this, we must all realize how lucky we are to have Conaty & Associates on our team. I am certain that if we did not have such capable lobbyists working for our side, we would not be suction dredging for gold next season in California. This is the same team that helped us overcome AB 1032 last year.

As many of you know, this was just one more attempted cowardly sneak attack by our adversaries (there have been several during the past few years). Imagine trying to hide language to entirely eliminate suction dredging in California inside of the Stateís annual budget bill!

It is a very good thing our lobbyists are paying such close attention to the things happening in Sacramento! As we stepped up our lobbying pressure, our adversaries then modified the language to eliminate or reduce some of our most important suction dredge seasons, calling this a "compromise" (from their sneak attack to eliminate suction dredging altogether). Then, as we stepped up our lobbying efforts even further, our Republican friends in the California legislature were able to get the language completely eliminated.

Please don't get the idea that any of this was easy. It was a combination of a lot of hard work (and money) carefully managed by our very skilled lobby team. I cannot detail all the things which happen behind the scenes. Because of the nature of politics, some things must remain secret. I'm sorry about that.

As we move forward, it is important for all of us to know who are friends are Ė and who are not our friends. You guys should know that nearly every Republican stood with us, and nearly every Democrat within the California legislature would have voted to put small-scale miners out of business.

Just as importantly, while we cannot find it listed in the budget as a line item, the Department of Fish & Game (DFG) is acknowledging that the $1 million was approved to pay for an update of the California Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which supports our suction dredge regulations. With the EIR update finally beginning, I suspect there is a reasonable chance that the Court will reject any motions by our adversaries to intervene -- and therefore allow the administrative process to resolve any real issues that might be related to suction dredging. This is a good thing!

I want to personally thank everyone who contributed to our efforts by sending in your messages as we requested.

I also want to thank all of you who sent in financial contributions to help us pay the costs. For the first time ever, we have actually ended up with enough money in our fund to pay all the costs at the time we have won a battle (see report below). Always before, I have had to request help from you for months after we have won a battle! Raising the money to pay our experts is one of the most stressful parts I have to play. So I want to thank all you guys (and gals) for all your wonderful support!

None of this is to say the war is over. We will now be fighting every step of the way through the administrative process (through an update of the EIR which supports our suction dredge regulations). Still, since the whole administrative process is designed by law to resolve real problems by imposing the least-restrictive regulations, based upon the best available science, I predict that we will come out alright in the end. But I am certain that we will have to hold a firm line every step of the way. So please stay with us!

Most of the legal challenges to our activity will come to an end once the updated EIR is in place. So there actually is a light at the end of our particular tunnel.

Meanwhile, since the anti-dredging language was defeated in the California legislature, our adversaries (Karuk Tribe and their far-left friends) have notified the Court that they intend to file a motion to place the State of California in Contempt, and ask the Court to impose an injunction upon further issuance of suction dredge permits in California until the EIR process has been completed. Our attorneys are already working with specialists to build a defense against any such motion. From our perspective, a contested hearing with experts to weigh evidence concerning the impacts of suction dredging would be a direct effort to circumvent the full administrative process which has been created to settle these very matters.

It is interesting how our adversaries repeatedly attempt to circumvent the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by using the very war cry that the State is not following CEQA! In other words, the Karuks and their liberal supporters really only want to use the Stateís laws if the outcome supports their own agenda. One thing in all of this has become very clear: While the environmentalists always position themselves on the moral high ground (saving the world from the evils of free enterprise), they are continuously willing to pursue unethical and immoral methods to meet their objectives.

I personally have been on the front line of this war (against the basic freedoms we all hold dear) for the past 5 or 6 years. Since we will be voting again in just a few weeks, I would like to share my perspective with you: Whether by design or accident (I personally donít know), we are up against a very serious and powerful anti-American movement inside of the U.S. When I say this, I am talking about the concepts of property ownership and liberty. Liberty is a big word that basically means personal freedom. With a broad stroke, I believe it would be accurate to say that nearly all of the left-leaning organizations (nearly all of the Democratic Party candidates) and the environmentalist organizations stand for a substantially increased socialist agenda and less free enterprise for America. Many Republicans are also pushing a socialist agenda upon America, just at a slower pace.

One would think, with the clear decline of our American institutions, the desertion of our American manufacturing and industrial base, and the loss of 9 trillion dollars from our economic base during just the past year, that there would be more talk by our leaders about the need to get Americaís economic engines fired back up again. Rather, we are hearing more of the same old stuff about the need to increase social benefits for everyone and decrease productive activity to further protect the environment from the evil profiteers!

Isnít it time to wake up?

I suppose we will start hearing the right kind of rhetoric from our politicians when we begin demanding it of them. So we do have a part to play in this. Iím trying to do my part right here.

Meanwhile, for whatever its worth, from my own perspective on the front line of the war, regardless of what the politicians say or what kind of spin the commentators put on it, as bad as they are, for the most part, the Republicans at least come in on our side. The Democratic Party wants to eliminate the mining law and any remaining true enterprise opportunities that exist on the public lands of America. Iím talking about your remaining freedoms here.

Iím sorry if this opinion offends anyone. Still, this is an election year, and I would be remiss to not share my own perspective which has come directly from facing off with the forces who want to bury America even further.

Back to our immediate situation, because a motion by our adversaries for an injunction would very likely require an extensive evidentiary proceeding that will require proof of measurable harm to Coho salmon as a result of existing suction dredge regulations (they have yet to present any evidence of this), our adversaries have devoted the last two years attempting to eliminate suction dredging through the California legislature. Having repeatedly failed there, they should also plan on our meeting them in Court if they motion for an injunction. Short of any real proof of harm (unlikely), we will be arguing that our regulations must be addressed through the legal process which has been created specifically for that. Now that the money has been set aside to accomplish this, our argument seems like a reasonable one.

We should not relax ourselves yet, because we still have a ways to go. But we should all allow ourselves a pause and give ourselves another well-deserved pat on the back. I want to personally thank you a lot for being there. You guys make it a personal honor for me to play my own small part in all of this. Without you, it certainly would not be a winning game!

Those Who Are Helping Us!

You guys will be interested to know that we brought in $18,527.33 in legal and political contributions since the first of June when we began the effort to overcome this most recent harmful legislative language. During the same time period, we have expended $15,450.36, with around $2,000 remaining due at the end of this month. In all, we received 225 contributions, of which 60 amounted to $100 or more.

It is important that I acknowledge the help which other prospecting organizations provided in generating letters and messages to support our lobbyists. The Shasta Miners (Redding, California) made a strong effort. Public Lands for the People (PLP) made a strong, national push for letters and messages to the California Governor. I understand the Mother lode Miners (Auburn, California) pushed messages towards the governor. I am sure other organizations also provided this kind of support. It is nearly impossible to know who they are; because that kind of help went directly to the governor.

We would not have won without all that help.

We also could not have possibly have won if it were not for the financial contributions that you guys sent in. The main reason we have been winning our battles during the past 5 years is that we have been hiring the best lobbyists and attorneys (available anywhere) to help present our position in the way that is necessary for us to compete on the modern battlefield. As these highly-qualified specialists must be paid, a big part of the challenge these days has to do with fundraising. This is a reality which cannot be ignored.

Being that fundraising is our lifeblood (so we can hire specialists), and we would have long since ceased to exist without the help of our supporters, I would like to present a special acknowledgement to those specific companies which have made financial contributions during this past year or so. We will certainly need to continue the good fight as time moves forward. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to support the companies who stand with us when we need them. Here they are:

Pro Line Dredges, American Placer Supply, Armadillo Mining Supplies (Grants Pass, Oregon), Pioneer Mining (Auburn, California), Miners Cache (Redding, California) Pro-Mack Mining Supplies (Happy Camp), Jobe Wholesale (with Tesoro Electronics), Louie Welding (Salem Oregon), Whites Electronics, Minelab Electronics, Fisher Electronics and Garrett Electronics.

The following individuals have also contributed valuable prizes to our drawings: Don Espey, John & Madel Koczan, Dave Stoner and Richard Jensen. I especially want to thank Roger Larson who has donated ounces and ounces of his own beautiful gold.

In respect for personal privacy, I will not name the individual financial donors who made substantial contributions. Iím sorry about this, because there are several individuals who have helped a lot along the way. They have asked to remain anonymous, so we will respect their wishes.

I apologize if I have overlooked anyone here. Please just quietly remind me if I have, and I will add that company or organization to the list. Otherwise, if you do not see them listed here, then you can just pretty-much assume that they have rejected our requests when asked for help with the costs of retaining specialists to defend our industry.

To avoid negative internal politics within the industry, I am making a strong request that we/you do not openly discuss or complain about those commercial enterprises within the industry that refuse to help us win these battles, even when they stand to lose everything if we lose. Making them mad is less likely to engender their support as we move forwardÖ

In the meanwhile, I encourage you to give as much of your support as possible to those organizations and commercial enterprises listed above who are actively helping to preserve our industry.

On that note, by the way; since nearly all of the help we receive from commercial enterprises within the industry are in the form of prizes for our drawings, nearly all of the financial assistance we receive has come from you guys (and gals); our most valued friends and supporters. Thank you very much!

I also want to acknowledge our much-treasured, Jim Yerby. Jim is the person who has worked tirelessly to turn up prizes for our fundraisers, and who has worked so hard to keep it all alive on our Message Forum (on the Internet).

Winter Hours

Our office in Happy Camp has resumed winter hours beginning on 1 October: We will be open between 8:00 a.m. and 12 noon. Closed for lunch 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. Open 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We will be closed on the weekends until May of next year.

Our Saturday evening potlucks will resume in the spring of 2009.

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              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

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