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Suction Dredge Mining Victory

9/24/08, by Dave Mack

Hello KBC,

I am very pleased to report that we have won another very important victory in preserving the rights of small-scale gold prospectors!

Here is a final summary by our head lobbyist, Pete Conaty:


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 eliminate suction dredging in California in the annual budget bill!

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 legislature were able to get the language completely eliminated.

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. Always before, I have had to request help from you for months after we have won a battle! As raising the money to pay our experts is one of the most stressful parts I have to play, 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. Still, since that whole administrative process is designed by law to impose the least-restrictive regulations, to resolve real problems, based upon the best available science, I predict that we will come out alright in the end. But I'm certain that we will have to hold a firm line every step of the way. So please stay with us!

Meanwhile, we are in the clear again, and we should all be able to start our planning for next year's dredging season!

We should all just pause for just a moment and give ourselves another well-deserved pat on the back. Thanks a lot for being there. You guys make it a personal honor for me to play my part in all of this. Without you, it certainly would not be a winning game!

Dave Mack
The New 49er's, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039, USA

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