Posts Tagged ‘gold dredging’

I just had to share this video. This video is from a television program out of Washington D.C. that airs weekly and it highlights the best green practices from around the World. This program is called The Inside Scoop Emerald Planet and if you go to the 30 minute mark on the video you will see that in this segment which aired on March 12, 2017 highlights small scale suction dredging as a best green practice and interviews Joseph Greene. Enjoy and please share. The entire video is great!

March 21, 2017, Energy and Natural Resources Senate Committee Public Hearing on House Bill 591 Relative to suction Dredging in the surface waters of the state. This bill was introduce under the premise that suction dredging was harmful to the environment and fish habitat. This bill would prohibit all motorized prospecting as well as rocker boxes. Gold prospectors assemble at the State House in Concord New Hampshire to testify in opposition to this bill, gold prospectors came prepared. Over the last several decades scientific studies have been conducted in numerous states by and or for government agencies such the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Fish and Wildlife of California and Washington State just to name a few, and peer reviewed. There were a number of these studies presented to the Committee as well as summaries of these studies prepared by two respected Scientist in this field. All of these studies come to the same conclusion that small scale suction dredging’s impact on the environment and fish habitat is less than significant. The Army Corps of Engineers states that any dredge less than a 6″ nozzle size impact on the environment is “De Minimus”. There was a lot of great testimony from prospectors you can hear the entire hearing here: Senate Committee Public Hearing HB 591.

If you can’t play the hearing here is the summary report of the hearing: Summary Report Public Hearing the audio is far better since this is just a summary.

I commend these Senators for their integrity and honesty, they weighed the facts and based their decision on the facts presented. Their recommendation to the Senate was that HB 591 was inexpedient to legislate. On March 29, 2017 the senate met and voted on HB 591 based on the recommendation of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and HB 591 was officially killed.

Legislation should be based on facts, scientific, peer reviewed facts and not on assumptions, opinion or conjecture or even lies. Even the opinion of a professional such as a college professor or a biologist in the field, while this opinion may be the basis of a hypothesis, until that hypothesis is proven by scientific study and peer reviewed, is still nothing more than an opinion. The Senators of New Hampshire based their decision on the truth, unlike legislators of other states that pander to special interest groups, I will leave it up to the reader as to why they would pander to these special interest groups.

The Senators of New Hampshire give me hope that our form of government still works the way it should, with integrity and honesty, at least in one state. LIVE FREE OR DIE!!!

As many of you know I am a gold prospector and if you don’t know, you know it now.  I enjoy the great outdoors by prospecting for gold, I would hike miles and miles, over mountain ranges just to get to a good gold prospecting location. For me to hike I need a destination and a purpose. The same with camping, I will camp in the worst weather, for days and even weeks for gold prospecting. Gold prospecting is my serenity, just like fishing is to some, or hunting to others it is my passion. I like to prospect in New Hampshire, and I love to dredge for gold. I love New Hampshire, especially the state moto “live Free Or Die”. This is the state I was born in, I call New Hampshire my home state, most of my relatives still live in New Hampshire, my ancestors settled in New Hampshire while it was still the Massachusetts colony, one day I plan on going home. I want to spend my retirement in the mountains prospecting and dredging for gold.

Earlier this week I read an article in the Concord Monitor online titled: Bill would halt dredging machinery in N.H. gold prospecting , my blood pressure sky rocketed and I thought I was going to have a stroke because what I read was a proposed bill, HB 591 to ban gold dredging in New Hampshire. The entire bill is based on misconceptions about small scale suction gold dredging, possibly even lies. What happened to live free or die? There goes my whole plan for retirement. I would like to clear the air on some of these misconceptions about gold dredging especially those listed in this news article.

“There’s a surprising amount of damage that can be done by one of these things,” Claims Rep. Lee Oxenham, a Plainfield Democrat, which by the way indroduced and sponsored this bill. What I want to know is what is this surprising amount of damage. What is the merit for this bill? I don’t want to hear opinion and conjecture or flat out lies, show me the data that supports your claim. what I need to see are studies and or reports that have been peer reviewed, performed on the practice of small scale suction dredging because the ones that I have read prove otherwise.

It is obvious that who ever provided the information for this article knows very little to nothing about the subject of gold prospecting , gold dredging or anything associated with the practice thereof. The article states and I quote ” The bill also would outlaw similar processes and technologies with names like “rocker box” and “highbanking,” which suck up stones and water from steambeds via small gasoline-powered pumps and filter them in some way to help the users spot tiny flecks of gold that might be there.” Rocker boxes and highbankers don’t suck up stones you shovel into them. Rocker boxes don’t even have a motor on them it is a hand operated device that you pour water in with a pail. How does legislation get introduced on anything without even the basic facts even being known and better yet how does it pass a House vote? Something is wrong with our government.

Here is another quote from the article: “New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says these processes stir up too much silt and mud, “releasing fine sediments back into the stream” that can harm life in the waterway.” Flat lazy water is where mud and silt covers the bottom, rivers on flat land, swamps, ponds and lakes is where you would find this condition, this is not at all ideal for gold dredging. We don’t dredge here. What is ideal is a river that drops at least 10 feet per mile which means faster moving water, silt and mud does not settle in these areas for us to dredge up, we need to dredge in gravel, with mostly rocks (cobble) and boulders where only the heavy materials, minerals like magnetite, hematite, garnet and gold will settle, the lite materials have already been washed away by nature.

Another quote from the article:

“The turbidity can go for thousands of yards – it’s not just localized,” said Oxenham. “It’s disruptive for fish, insects, the benthic community in all its forms.” There are occasions where you may dredge into a pocket of clay and there is a moment of noticeable turbidity, it is not constant, travels about 50 to 100 yards and 100 is stretching it, not thousands. Notice in the picture below how clear the water is, this is typically how it runs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Typical dredge in operation, where is all this turbidity that travels thousands of yards?

Yet another quote: “Further, she added, the noise and smell of the machines “can drive those searching for the unmediated, unspoiled experience of our natural wonders out of the state, along with their tourist dollars.” Yes there is the noise of  a small engine, the size of a lawn mower engine, a push mower not a riding one.  What smell? This makes it sound like we are running a paper mill out here and we are driving all the tourist away, simply not true. We have just as much right to the wild as a hiker or any one else who is recreating out in the state of New Hampshire. I am spending my money too, on campgrounds or other lodging, groceries, restaurants, gas stations, ice cream stands not to mention the $50.00 I pay for the permit to dredge.

New Hampshire residents should be outraged by this legislation because it is all based on fiction and if this is how legislators deal with a matter such as this imagine how legislation is passed on matters that you really care about. Maybe they should focus their efforts more on things like the heroin epidemic in the state.

If you like to prospect for gold and dredge in New Hampshire then please stand up for your rights and attend the public hearing that is going to be held by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee which the date and place is yet to be determined.  You should be able to find the date here when it is determined: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/senate/committees/legislation/committee_billstatus.aspx?l=368&cc=S38&r=1

 

Here is the information on the case of People of California vs Rinehart from a letter to Jerry Hobbs of Public Lands For The people.

The following is an Email I received from Dave McCracken which explains what you as a small scale miner can do to help. If you ever want to get back in the water with your dredge in the state of California I strongly suggest you follow the instructions:

Dear John Dorval,

I am sorry to burden you with this request. I would not bother you
unless it was of the utmost importance. But if we cannot persuade
California’s Third Appellate Court to publish its recent Decision
overturning the conviction of Brian Rinehart, we will not be able to
make use of the stunning victory we have all worked so hard for as we
move forward with future litigation.

I am told that the Appellate Court can be persuaded to publish a
Decision if enough of the public demonstrates an interest in the case.
Therefore, we need as many supporters as possible to send a letter to
the Appellate Court in California. Here follows a sample letter from
which you can copy and paste to create your own letter:

http://www.goldgold.com/Ltr-re-publication-of-opinion-9-25-14.html

You are welcome to provide different information in the second
paragraph concerning who you are and your interest in the case.
Even if you reside outside of California, it is important to make
it clear that you have a personal mining interest inside of California.

Please note that in addition to mailing the letter, you are required
to mail copies to the parties on the service list for the case. So
the proof of service form must be filled in, executed with your signature,
and mailed as a second page to your request.

Your request must be received by the Court on or before 12 October.
Thanks very much for making the effort on this. All of our many years of
hard work and investment will be solidified into an important legal
milestone if we can just get this Decision published.

If the Decision is not published, we will basically be starting over from
the beginning! I don’t know about you guys, but the prospect of that reality
makes me very tired!

Sincerely,

Dave McCracken
The New 49’ers Legal Fund

The New 49er’s, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039, USA

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation are going to regulate prospectors out of the waters of Tennessee, their final draft of the 2014-15 Recreational Prospecting Permit is out. Here is the link to the final draft: 2014-15 General Permit for Recreational Prospecting. If you find these regulations to be heavy-handed, overbearing and unfair as we do then you can take action. Here is the link for the Notice of public hearing: Public Notice of Hearing . If you send an E-male make sure you put Gold Prospecting Final Draft in the subject line or else your testimony will end up in the trash.

Coker Creek GPAA is on the frontlines of this one and you can get more information on how you can help by visiting their forum at: Coker Creek GPAA Forum . Scroll down and you will see information for the General Permit. There is a petition that you can sign as well so check it out and please act fast, you have until May 15, 2014 to do something. It would be most helpful if you were to contact the Senate and Congress of Tennessee, all the contact information is on the Coker Creek Forum. Just remember to be polite and if you have scientific data please include that in your testimonies so that it will be on public record. There are plenty of scientific facts out there that are from studies that have been performed by government agencies on the effects of small-scale suction dredging and reports that have been written based on the findings of these studies that detail small-scale suction dredging has minimal impact on the environment, please use them. This is an example of what is out there:  USACE, 1994, Small scale suction dredging is deminimis  . Can you argue that the Army Corps of Engineers is wrong, they don’t know what they are talking about? Knowledge is power so use it!!!

 

Claudia Wise and Joseph Greene are collaborating on a project and they need your help. I received the following survey from Claudia Wise, you can email the photos to me and I will forward them to Claudia. Thank you very much.
Please send photos and information to: prospectorjack919@gmail.com

March 14, 2014

Dear Miners,

Joe Greene and I are working on a small scale gold suction dredge, stream waste products removal survey report. We need to ask all miners for any good pictures they have, of waste they have removed from our waterways.

This waste can include but is not limited to such items as:

Fishing weights, Lures, line

Oars

Beer and Water bottles and cans

Sunglasses, Sun visors and Hats

Golf Balls

Iron Waste:

Nails, screws, bolts, spikes

Horseshoes

Car parts

Construction material

Tools Etc.

We ask that you also include:

Type of waste (If you know)

Weight of each type

Waterway it was removed from

State you worked in

Waterway waste removed from (need NOT to be specific to location, just name general waterway)

Include your contact information so Joe and I can get ahold of you if we have questions. Your contact info will not be published or shared otherwise.

If you could expedite this information to us it would be greatly appreciated. Please forward this request on to other miners.

Thanks you for your help with this project,

Claudia Wise

Physical Scientist

USEPA (ret)

Maine LD 1671 (SP646) “An Act To Prohibit Motorized Recreational Gold Prospecting in Certain Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout Spawning Habitats”

Presented by Senator BOYLE of Cumberland.

Cosponsored by Representative McCABE of Skowhegan and

Senators: MAZUREK of Knox, PATRICK of Oxford, SAVIELLO of Franklin,

Representatives: FARNSWORTH of Portland, GATTINE of Westbrook, ROCHELO of

Biddeford, SANBORN of Gorham, THERIAULT of Madawaska.

This new legislation is not necessary due to the fact that last year legislation was introduced and passed to impose a dredging season from June 15 to September 15. With this law in effect the spawning period for trout and salmon are protected. This should be enough right? Wrong. Trout Unlimited seems to think otherwise, they are the driving force behind this legislation.

On January 27, 2014 there was a public hearing on LD 1671 before the Environment and Natural Resources Committee at the Cross building in Augusta Maine. John Clark (Hillbilly John) and I were in attendance along with members of Central Maine Gold Prospectors,  Prospectors from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and New York.

LD 1671 Public Hearing Jan. 27, 2014

LD 1671 Public Hearing Jan. 27, 2014

Testimonies started with those in support of LD 1671, each person was given 3 minutes to speak for a 30 minute period and then those in opposition had the floor for the same amount of time and back and forth until every ones testimony was heard. A lot of the testimony I heard from those that support this legislation was based on opinion and conjecture. Laws should be based on facts not on opinion and conjecture.

Over the past several decades there have been studies performed and reports written by professionals  on the effects of small scale recreational gold suction dredging. Many of which were presented to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee for their review.

Here are some excerpts from Fact Sheet June 9, 2013 Written and prepared by:

Claudia Wise, Physical Scientist (USEPA retired), Miner

Joseph Greene, Research Biologist (USEPA retired), Miner

Guy Michael, Miner

Tom Kitchar, President, Waldo Mining District

Scientific studies have identified both detrimental and beneficial effects from this level of mining.

Dozens of studies on the environmental effects from small scale mining, and in particular “in-stream suction dredge placer mining”, have been performed by various agencies since the 1980’s, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, and other federal and state agencies and universities at the cost of millions of dollars. To date, other than a few short-term and highly localized detrimental effects that are already mitigated to the point of being “less than significant”; the only other effects studies identified were beneficial to fish, the aquatic habitat, and the economy.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

Relevant Science showing miniscule effects:

There have been a number of studies on the effects of small scale gold suction dredge mining that have concluded that these operations have impacts on the environment that are temporary, highly localized, and less-than-significant:

  •  1994, The Alaska District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued Special Public Notice 94-10, which concluded that, the effects from small suction dredges and hand operations were de minimus and did not require Army Corp permitting;
  • 2004,The Alaska District of the Army Corps issued Special Public Notice 2004-06, which restated that these placer mining activities still have “de minimus impacts” on the aquatic environment:
  • 1994,In an Environmental Impact Report, the California Department of Fish and Game, reached the conclusion that suction dredge mining had a less than significant impact on the environment;
  • 2012,The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, under a court order, completed another Environmental Impact Report on small-scale gold suction dredging, at a cost to the state of $1.2 to $1.5 million dollars. The overall conclusion was that the environmental impact from operation of these small scale dredges was less-than-significant for 56 of the 60 factors reviewed;
  • 2001, The Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon Draft Environmental Impact Report, Suction Dredging Activities are less-than-significant;
  • 2004, The Clearwater National Forest, Idaho completed the draft Environ-mental Impact Statement for Small-Scale Suction Dredging in Lolo Creek and Moose Creek Clearwater and Idaho Counties. The report stated that “EPA generally supports the terms and conditions for dredging and we believe they are designed to protect fish habitat and seem to minimize the potential to damage stream channels and banks.”, which supports a less-than-significant outcome;
  • 2012, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Oregon FINAL Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement reached the conclusion that suction dredge mining had a less than significant impact on the environment; and,
  • 2013, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Biological Evaluation Small Suction Dredge Placer Mining in Idaho reached the conclusion that suction dredge mining would have a less than significant impact on the environment.

 

There have also been a number of other more recent reports with the same conclusion, starting with:

  • Results from the 1992 Chugach National Forest, Alaska Report of Water Quality Cumulative Effects of Placer Mining which stated that, “The results from water quality sampling do not indicate any strong cumulative effects from multiple placer mining operations within the sampled drainage” (Huber and Blanchet).( NOTE: The operations studied here were large on-stream and off-stream commercial operations.)
  • In 1999 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported the results of a cumulative field study evaluating the performance of 10, 8, and 4 inch gold dredges and concluded environmental impacts from these operations were less than significant (Royer et al., 1999).
  • Bayley (OSU), 2003, (for Siskiyou N.F., Oregon) Response of fish to cumulative effects of suction dredge and hydraulic mining in the Illinois subbasin concluded,”The statistical analyses did not indicate that suction dredge mining has no effect on the three responses measured, but rather any effect that may exist could not be detected at the commonly used Type I error rate of 0.05.”

All of these reports agree that the effect of small-scale gold suction dredging on the environment is less-than-significant, minimal, or immeasurable.

Net Environmental Benefits of Small-scale Suction Dredging: These important studies of small-scale suction dredge operations show impacts on the environment have a less-than-significant footprint. Furthermore, they make note of beneficial factors that create an overall net benefit to some areas. These factors need to be taken into consideration when interpreting suction dredge activities and further incorporated into best management practices agreements.

Experts agree that fish survival improves under moderate turbid conditions (25 NTU):

  • Results of the Gregory 1993 report notes that any reduction in feeding efficiency of fish may be offset by reduced risk of predation at moderate levels of suspended sediment.
  • CH2M HILL in 2000, added to that result showing that elevated total suspended solids (TSS) conditions, similar to turbidity plumes created from dredging activity, have been reported to enhance cover conditions, reduce piscivorous fish/bird predation rates, and improve survival.
  • Stern 1988, stated that, “Pools created by abandoned dredger sites can provide holding and resting areas for juvenile and adult salmonids”.
  • Harvey 1991, studied fish size and habitat depth relationships in headwater streams. During times of low flow in a river or stream, increased water depth can provide a refuge from predation by birds and mammals.
  • Nielsen 1994, examined excavations from dredging operations finding they can result in temporarily formed pools or deepen existing pools, which may improve fish habitat. Deep scour may intersect subsurface flow creating pockets of cool water during summer, which can provide important habitat for fish
  • 2001, Siskiyou National Forest, found if excavated pools reduce pool temperatures, they could provide important coldwater habitats for salmonids living in streams with elevated temperatures.
  • In1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported the results of a cumulative field study evaluating the performance of 10, 8, and 4-inch gold dredges. The findings showed an increase in macroinvertibrate density and improved diversity in mined areas.
  • In 2010, The American River Spawning Gravel Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) points to the benefits of additions of spawning gravels even coming from an outside source. The addition of spawning gravels are to increase and improve Chinook salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat.
  • Again in the 2011, American River Spawning Gravel EA; the supplemental Environmental Assessment Report supported the previous EA reporting benefits of supplementing spawning gravels

Tailings from small-scale suction dredge mining provide excellent spawning gravel. Suction dredging breaks up compacted steam beds; the gravels are dispersed by the high stream flows, making up suitable spawning gravels each year. If insufficient substrate is available Salmonids are left with the choice of spawning over and destroying previously built redds, or using cleaned dredge tailings.

Additional benefits of small-scale suction dredge mining include:Measureable improvement in water quality due to removal of wastes left by other users of the waters or that have eroded into the waterways. 100’s of pounds of lead fishing weights, bullets, water bottles, sunglasses, car debris, nails, broken glass, etc. are removed from our waterways and camping and recreational sites by miners every year.

Laws should be based on facts not on opinion and conjecture.

Here is a list of studies and reports that have been compiled over years of research that can be referenced available to all:

CDFG, 1997. draft Environmental Impact Report: Adoption of Amended Regulations for Suction Dredge Mining. State of California, The Resource Agency, Department of Fish and Game

Cooley, M.F. 1995. Forest Service yardage Estimate. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Siskiyou National Forest, Grants Pass, Oregon.

Griffith, J.S. and D.A. Andrews. 1981. Effects of a small suction dredge on fishes and aquatic invertebrates in Idaho streams. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 1:21- 28.

Harvey, B.C., K. McCleneghan, J.D. Linn, and C.L. Langley, 1982. Some physical and biological effects of suction dredge mining. Lab Report No. 82-3. California Department of Fish and Game. Sacramento, CA.

Harvey, B.C. 1986. Effects of suction gold dredging on fish and invertebrates in two California streams. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 6:401-409.

Hassler, T.J., W.L. Somer and G.R. Stern. 1986. Impacts of suction dredge mining on anadromous fish, invertebrates and habitat in Canyon Creek, California. California Cooperative Research Unit, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Humbolt State University. Cooperative Agreement No 14-16-0009-1547.

Huber and Blanchet, 1992. Water quality cumulative effects of placer mining on the Chugach National Forest, Kenai Peninsula, 1988-1990. Chugach National Forest, U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Region, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Lewis, 1962. Results of Gold Suction Dredge Investigation. Memorandum of September 17, 1962. California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, CA.

North, P.A., 1993. A review of the regulations and literature regarding the environmental impacts of suction gold dredging. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, Alaska Operations Office. EP 1.2: G 55/993.

Prussian, A.M., T.V. Royer and G.W. Minshall, 1999. Impact of suction dredging on water quality, benthic habitat, and biota in the Fortymile River, Resurrection Creek, and Chatanika River, Alaska, FINAL REPORT. US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, Seattle, Washington.

SNF, 2001. Siskiyou National Forest, Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Suction Dredging Activities. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Siskiyou National Forest, Medford, OR.

Somer, W.L. and T.J. Hassler. 1992. Effects of suction-dredge gold mining on benthic invertebrates in a northern California stream. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 12:244-252

Stern, 1988. Effects of suction dredge mining on anadromous salmonid habitat in Canyon Creek, Trinity County, California. M.S. Thesis, Humbolt State University, Arcata, CA.

Thomas, V.G. 1985. Experimentally determined impacts of a small, suction gold dredge on a Montana stream. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 5:480-488.

US EPA, 2001. Mercury Recovery from Recreational Gold Miners.

Wanty, R.B., B. Wang, and J. Vohden. 1997. Studies of suction dredge gold-placer mining operations along the Fortymile River, eastern Alaska. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-154-97.