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From Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor 7/17/07

Important Water Quality Control Board Meeting in Yreka!

AND Detrimental Mining Bill AB 1032

Blue-green algae concerns on water board agenda, Siskiyou Daily News, posted 7/20/07. "(Felice) Pace is requesting the Water Board to order the Montague Irrigation District, operator of Dwinnell Reservoir, “to submit a report of waste discharge and/or to issue waste discharge requirements.”

WATER QUALITY:  Heads up! The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board will hold their regular meeting here in on July 25 at 8:30 a.m. at the Yreka Community Center Main Room on north Oregon. The public who wish to make any comment on items not on the day’s agenda may do so at that time – (limit three minutes, fill out speaker card.) Agenda items include waste discharges of the Montague Irrigation District; waste discharges of the Iron Gate Hatchery; and a Scott and Shasta TMDL implementation informational update by staff.
The agenda will also include a proposed region-wide amendment to control excess sediment. This amendment would create sweeping new regulatory authorities over land use for the Water Quality Control Board. The proposal would prohibit the discharge of sediment into waters from human-caused activities that are harmful to “beneficial uses” of the water or cause a nuisance. The amendment would require an $875 permit for anyone who’s activities (including farming and grading) would threaten to discharge sediment into the water. The permit would require the permit applicant to: (1) Inventory sediment sources; (2) prioritize efforts to control discharge; (3) implement practices to prevent, minimize and control discharges; and (4) Monitor and Adapt strategies accordingly. http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/agenda/06_2007/items/02/DraftSedimentAmendment6_4_07.pdf

MINING A.B. 1032:

Recently, I had a refresher course in the “art” of creating state legislation. As Bismark once said: ” To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.”   
 (Wolk) is a bill that presumes that suction dredge mining is harmful to fish, wildlife and amphibians in all the wild and heritage trout streams located in most of western California. It would close all of these rivers to suction dredge mining. (Dredging is done by a small vacuum unit, usually with a nozzle 6 inches or less.) If a miner wants to work his claim, he must prove to the CA Fish and Game Commission at his own expense, that his activity will not have a “deleterious” (harmful) effect on various species. The Commission will decide whether a site specific permit may be issued. The bill exempts gold panning.
There have been several unsuccessful lawsuits by the Karuk tribe and others to halt suction dredge mining in the Klamath River and its tributaries. In the latest of these suits, the judge ordered the CA Department of Fish and Game to do a complete CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) study on the impacts of any new regulations that would prohibit dredge mining. This is what the miner’s have asked for. However, the state legislature has failed to budget any funding for the study. Instead, AB 1032 was introduced to change the law legislatively and shift the burden of environmental impact analysis onto the backs of individual miners.
The Board of Supervisors formally authorized me to present testimony to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on the economic impact of the potential loss of suction dredge mining to Siskiyou County and the Klamath River corridor. Official testimony was written and submitted. I attended the hearing in Sacramento. Two speakers were permitted from those in favor and two speakers from those opposed. The Karuk tribe and the County were also allowed to speak. We were limited to 2 minutes. (I was permitted to deliver 4 paragraphs of our official County testimony.) Attorney James Buchal and Jerry Hobbs from Public Lands for the People were speakers against the bill. Anyone else was only permitted to state their name, affiliation and whether they were for or against the bill.
The Senate voted to approve the bill along strict party lines – 5 ayes and 3 noes.  The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Because there were amendments on panning, it will then return to the Assembly. The process reminded me how important it is for small rural interests to have a lobbyist or other presence at the state capitol. It is also important for interest groups to go down and visit with legislators and explain your position on a bill. It was apparent that individual positions by the legislators had pretty much been formed by the time the bill came up for a public hearing.


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