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Jim_Alaska
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Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 02:23:38 ThuJan 15 2009 )

Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging

By Phil Hayworth
Pioneer Press
Fort Jones, CA
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
page 1 column 2
pioneerp@sisqtel.net

With the price of gold soaring once again to record levels, some treasure seekers are pulling out all the stops, spending big bucks on barges with suction gear used to draw wealth from river bottoms - and then spit the rest back out.

But the Karuk Indian tribe and two environmental groups are sick of suction dredging -- a technique they argue is polluting sections of North State rivers, making if tough for salmon and other critters to survive and thrive.

They even argue that the toxic sediment spit back out has high levels of mercury - mercury that finds its way back into the food chain and that can lead to mental retardation and birth defects.

"The reality is that there have not been many extensive studies on the effects of mining," admitted Karuk spokesperson Craig Tucker. "What is available concludes that dredging is harmful to fish and that is certainly the conclusion of our biologists."

Last week, the Karuk, California Trout and Friends of the North Fork formally petitioned California Fish and Game to restrict the controversial gold mining technique "as California faces the worst fisheries collapse in history," Tucker said.

Suction dredges are powered by gas or diesel engines that are mounted on floating pontoons in the river. Attached to the engine is a powerful vacuum hose which the dredger uses to suction up the gravel and sand (sediment) from the bottom of the river. The material passes through a sluice box where heavier gold particles can settle into a series of riffles. The rest of the gravel and potentially toxic sediment is typically dumped back into the river.

"Depending on size, location and density of these machines they can turn a clear-running mountain stream into a murky watercourse unfit for swimming," Tucker said.

In addition, dredging reintroduces toxic mercury into the environment.

"There is a lot of mercury settled on the bottom of these rivers as the result of gold mining operations in the 1800's," said Izzy Martin, director of the Sierra Fund. "Dredging reintroduces mercury to the stream creating a toxic hazard for fish and people."

The Department of Fish and Game is revising its regulations in compliance with a 2006 court order - revisions that could lead to restrictions and new laws about suction dredging.

But those rule changes could come too late, Tucker argues. The funding to perform the necessary California Environmental Quality Act processes to make rule changes may disappear from the budget in the wake of the current budget impasse. Restricting suction dredging could take years. The petitioners argue that the measures are needed immediately. The groups want Department of Fish and Game Director Don Koch to use the same authority he used to restrict recreational and commercial fishing last year again this year to restrict suction dredging.

But that could be easier said than done, Craig admits.

"Miners - although a small group of users -- they are politically savvy and get a lot of help from so called property rights groups like the Pacific Legal Fund," Tucker said.

Some 3,000 mining permits are issued each year in California compared to 2.4 million
fishing licenses sold each year in California. In other words, Tucker argues, only a handful of miners - particularly suction miners - are polluting streams and rivers at the expense of anglers and Indian tribes who depend on fish.

"Suction dredge mining is nothing more than recreational genocide," said Leaf Hillman of the Karuk Tribe. "The first gold rush killed more than half our people in 10 years. This modern gold rush continues to kill our fish and our culture. While we cannot harvest enough salmon for our ceremonies or to meet our families' food needs, miners are allowed to rip and tear our river bottoms to shreds."

"Folks' perception of tribal fisheries is inaccurate," Tucker said. "Although the Yuroks at the mouth of the river harvest significant numbers of fish in years that returns are greater than the protected spawning 'floor' of 30,000 fish, there are few fish harvested by Karuks. The only significant run of salmon left in the Klamath is fall run Chinook."

He said there is typically only a three-week window of harvest opportunity for Karuk.

"The result is that the Karuk rarely harvests more than 200 fish in a given
season. Karuk only harvest salmon from one site - Ishi Pishi Falls - using dip
nets. This is a gear-limited fishery as it's hard to catch fish in dip nets. The Karuk Tribe does not gill net!"

Fish and Game's Don Koch will have to consider the groups' petition to limit mining and make a ruling before the end of the month.

To comment, email:
presscomment@yahoo.com


The publisher grants permission for the article to be reprinted or distributed.


This information and much more that you need to know about the ESA,
the Klamath River Basin, and private property rights can be found at The
Klamath Bucket Brigade's website - http://klamathbucketbrigade.org/index.html --
please visit today.



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Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 02:28:29 ThuJan 15 2009 )

On Suction Dredge Mining

By James Foley, Klamath River
Guest Opinion
Pioneer Press
Fort Jones, CA
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
page 18 column 1
pioneerp@sisqtel.net


It is unfortunate that the leadership of Karuk Tribe, allied with fishing and environmental interests, have set out on an agenda to deprive people of their rights, namely, their statutory right under federal law to mine their claims. This article is a response to a Karuk Tribe press release published in the Eureka Times Standard, June 19, 2008.

The Karuk press release is intended to misinform the public to the reality of what suction dredge mining is and convince people who know nothing about suction dredge mining that it is harming fish. As such, it is full of misinformation and outright lies. The lies have been proven false in numerous peer reviewed scientific studies and in numerous court actions, as well as a 1994 EIR promulgated by the California dept. of Fish and Game.

These people are not stupid; they know that science and law have debunked their ridiculous assertions about suction dredge mining for years. But they also know that if you just keep saying a thing long and loud enough, people will believe it.

The rest of this article will include the Karuk's assertions and lies in Italics and my response to them in normal text.

Assertion:

"The rest of the gravel and potentially toxic sediment is simply dumped back into the river," the release stated. "Depending upon size, location and density of these machines, they can turn a clear running mountain stream or river segment into a murky watercourse unfit for swimming."

Response:

If we assume that there is "potentially toxic sediment," it must have been in the river in the first place. The truth is that it is simple sand and gravel. A suction dredge adds nothing to the river that was not there in the first place.

Assertion:

The second part of this statement is, "they can turn a clear running mountain stream or river segment into a murky watercourse unfit for swimming."

Response:

These conclusions are from reputable scientists who have actually done the science concerning suction dredging. These excerpts are only two of many that reach the same conclusion.

"The effects of suction dredging would appear to be less than significant and not deleterious to fish." (By Joe Cornell)

"Studies to date have not shown any actual effect on the environment by suction dredging, except for those that are short-term and localized in nature." (Bret C. Harvey)

Assertion:

"At the same time, opponents say, the dredging disturbs spawning gravels, killing the salmon eggs and immature lamprey that live in the gravel."

Response:

The truth is that suction dredge mining regulations do not allow miners to work when spawning fish or eggs are in the river. The Tribe and fishermen know this, so why would they say this other than to spread misinformation?

Here is the truth about disturbing the spawning gravels from reputable scientists:

"Salmonids spawned in the vicinity of the previous season's dredging, but, in one study, salmonids redds were not located in tailing piles. The gravels dispersed by the high stream flows, which included dredge tailings, certainly composed a portion of the suitable spawning gravels each year. Dredge tailings have been observed to provide good salmonid spawning ground due to the loose condition of the sand and gravel. In some places, mining debris may provide the best or only habitat." (By Joe Cornell)

"A five-inch dredge could improve the intergravel environment for both fish eggs and benthos. Weighing all factors, dredging can improve the gravel environment for both fish eggs and aquatic insects." (By Joe Cornell)

Assertion:

"In a system like the Klamath where salmon can be stressed due to poor water quality, having a dredge running in the middle of the stream affects the fishes ability to reach their spawning grounds," Karuk Tribe lead fisheries biologist Toz Soto said.

Response:

Any suction dredge miner, including this writer, can tell you that a suction dredge does not disturb fish in any way. We see fish around us and the dredge all the time. They are attracted to the outfall of the dredge to feast on insects that pass through the sluice box unharmed.

Mr. Soto's assertion would lead people to believe that a suction dredge blocks fish access. He is speaking of the Klamath River, which is a very large river. A common suction dredge is about three feet wide, while the river is many times that wide at it narrowest. Fish can pass by if they choose not to stop for a snack provided by the dredge.

"The effects of suction dredging would appear to be less than significant and not deleterious to fish" (CDFG, 1997)

The results from scientific investigations presented in the environmental impact reports prepared by the state of California, Clearwater National Forest and Siskiyou National Forest, provide all the evidence required to support the determination that small scale suction dredging is "De-Minimus" and impacts from these dredges are "Less than Significant." Even the USEPA's own study has classified suction dredging as "De-Minimus."

Assertion:

Toz Soto said. "There is a lot of mercury settled on the bottom of these rivers from gold smelting operations from the 1800s. Dredging reintroduces mercury to the stream creating a toxic hazard for fish and people."
Response:

You would think that a biologist attempting to inform people would at least know what he is talking about and tell the whole story, not just a part of it. Mr. Soto claims the mercury is from "smelting operations in the 1800s" Smelting is a refinery process that does not use mercury. Any mercury in rivers was deposited there by hydraulic mining practices that used mercury to recover the gold, this is not done any more, there are more environmentally friendly ways of recovering the gold.

Mr. Soto asserts that dredging reintroduces mercury to the stream. This was the conclusion of a test (not a scientific study) done by California Water Boards. The rest of the conclusion was that suction dredges removed 98% of the mercury that passed through their sluice.
So then, Mr. Soto would have us believe that it is better to leave 98% of the resident mercury in a watercourse than to take it out??? What kind of skewed logic is that? As of this date, suction dredge miners are the only entity working to remove mercury and lead in the form of fishing sinkers old batteries and bullets from our rivers and doing it at no charge to citizens or our state.

Assertion:

"We need the governor to take a stand with Native People and the 2.2 million anglers in California -- not 3,000 recreational gold miners," Karuk Tribal member Leaf Hillman said.

Response:

Mr. Hillman and his fishing interest allies assertion may be seen for the hypocrisy that it is by the following rebuttals.

There is absolutely no evidence or science to show that a suction dredge has ever killed a fish. And yet these special interests are on a crusade to eliminate a natural resource user who has a statutory right, granted to him by federal law to legally mine his claims.

According to Mr. Hillman 3,000 gold miners who have never harmed a fish should be eliminated and deprived of their rights so that 2.2 million fishermen can kill fish. To make matters worse, the State of California sells permits to fishermen so that they can kill fish, while regulating miners who kill no fish to the point of elimination.

How many fish do you suppose 2.2 million fishermen kill in one season? How many fish does the Karuk Tribe kill? This is a Tribe that has no reservation and therefore no fishing rights, yet the Dept. of Fish and game allows their illegal activities.

This hypocrisy is brought to a grand finale by an event called "Salmon Aid," that is put on by a coalition of west coast commercial, recreational and tribal fishermen partnered with environmental organizations.

How hypocritical is it to accuse miners of killing salmon when these special interests are killing and selling the very fish they are telling others they are trying to protect from miners, loggers, farmers and ranchers? Mr. Hillman of the Karuk Tribe claims that they do not even have enough salmon to fulfill their ceremonial needs, but they can kill and sell them and blame others for the decline in the salmon population? Hypocrisy at its best!

By James Foley
Property and Mining Rights Advocate
Klamath River, California

__________________________________________
Footnotes and credits:

Josiah H. Cornell, III
P.O. Box 881
Grants Pass, OR. 97528
To whom it may concern;

This letter is a statement of my qualifications to comment about environmental controversies of the Pacific Northwest.

Education:
B.S. Geology, U. of Kentucky, 1967
M.S. Geology, U. of Oregon, 1971

Employment and Experience:
Engineering Technician, 1969-1973, seasonal,
USDA Forest Service in western Oregon.
Geologist, 1973 to 1994, (Retired, 1994)
USDA Forest Service in western Oregon.
Peter B. Bayley
Dept. Fisheries & Wildlife,
Oregon State University
104 Nash Hall, Corvallis OR 97330
peter.bayley@orst.edu


The publisher grants permission for the article to be reprinted or distributed.


This information and much more that you need to know about the ESA,
the Klamath River Basin, and private property rights can be found at The
Klamath Bucket Brigade's website - http://klamathbucketbrigade.org/index.html --
please visit today.





---
Jim (Alaska)
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JOE_S_INDY
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 03:40:59 ThuJan 15 2009 )

Excellent work Jim,

It would seem that we all should be on the lookout to "copy cat" this form of direct, public rebuttal whenever we can.

Once again, Good Work!

Joe



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Wiser Mining Through Endless Personal Mistakes
 
 
Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 04:21:36 ThuJan 15 2009 )

Thanks Joe, a great man once said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I believe it too.



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Jim_Alaska
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BillLamica
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 17:29:51 ThuJan 15 2009 )

I do not know if we have these on the New 49'ers Website:

AMDS Alaska Mineing and Diving Supply has a page dedicated to the studies done by EPA, USGS, Army Corp of Engineers and state studies -
http://www.akmining.com/mine/study.htm

The studies do not show dreding as adverse and a couple of them actually consider the dredges activity a help in fish reproduction with small gravel distribution creating larger Redds that are easier for the fish to excavate.

  
Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 02:05:01 FriJan 16 2009 )

Hi all,

Just a "heads up". The Siskiyou County Board of
Supervisors will be voting on a letter I wrote for them in opposition to this Karuk petition to stop suction dredge mining.

My letter was approved by the county administrator to be placed on the agenda. So I am scheduled to present it to the board and publicly ask them to send the letter to CDFG in the form of a resolution. This is going to happen at next Tuesday's board meeting in Yreka at the court house on 4th. St. That date is the 20th. at 9:00 am.


The county Natural Resources Specialist thought it would be good if we could get as many miners to come to the meeting as possible. It is good to show a lot of support to the board in situations like this. So feel free to pass this information around.



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James Foley
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Horse Creek, California
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colo_nuggets
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 17:27:16 FriJan 16 2009 )

Whats shakin Jim? Got a idea, how about you take a laptop with you and we all sign in to show our support? Alot of us cant make it out there but that would easy. Scott

  
rivergoldohio
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 02:38:55 SatJan 17 2009 )

Thank you Jim for the info.
I wish I could be there in person as I have future plans out that way. (and this can affect us all sooner or later...like a virus).

I'll make sure I at least donate to the cause.
Thanks.

rivergoldohio, Ed

  
Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 06:27:05 SatJan 17 2009 )

hah! What an idea. No laptop here.

It would not be as effective as a bunch of grizzled old miners filling the seats.



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Jim_Alaska
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Real49er
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 14:38:44 SatJan 17 2009 )

Jim

A most excellent letter!

The only point I can think of to add would be that the whole river bed gets run through "Natures Sluicebox" during periodic storm surges and high water levels, and that is when the dangers of residual mercury become problematic. Suction dredging is the only thing working to reduce that threat, as you did point out!

During those times silt, sand and gravels are put into suspension, and carried by the river in a zero visibility condition, even tearing up sections of bedrock and pushing downstream the largest of boulders, yet the fish still live in the river and survive those conditions which are vastly greater than could possibly be caused by a trillion dredges.

Well done, and thank you for speaking so well on behalf of all of us!!!

Daniel
[1 edits; Last edit by Real49er at 15:15:26 Sat Jan 17 2009]

  
Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 16:13:17 SatJan 17 2009 )

Thanks Daniel, yes there is a lot more that could be added to what I wrote. But you have to stop somewhere and I was only addressing what the opposition wrote in their petition.

If you get too far off of the issue the state is dealing with, they tend to not read it all.



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Jim_Alaska
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rivergoldohio
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 20:06:30 SatJan 17 2009 )

Is "The New 49'ers Legal Fund " what you all need on a check/money order ? I couldn't find/get a answer on site or at the phone# listed for it.
Thanks.


I'd donate through paypal but I refuse have anything to do with them/ebay.


Ed G

  
BillLamica
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 20:24:46 SatJan 17 2009 )

You can reach The New 49'ers at the following addresses:

Our mailing address is: The New 49'ers, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039

Our physical address is: The New 49'ers, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039

Those addresses are listed under CONTACT on the www.golggold.com New 49'ers website. No need for a special address for checks and money orders.

If however you happen to have a big chunk of gold (or other item) to help in the auctions, that would go to Jim Yerby: E-mail him direct to get a send to address: grizzwag@charter.net

Just put a note on the check or money order "for the legal fund" the mail is opened only by a couple of people in the office, both of which are very informed about legal issues. The money will be directed properly and will be made good use of.
I know I speak for everyone when I say THANKS!
Bill

  
rivergoldohio
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 21:30:52 SatJan 17 2009 )

I guess I should of asked... To whom do I make the check out to ? The New 49r's ?

I just want to be sure is all. ( ole brain likes to misfire at times..haha)
Thanks.

  
Real49er
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 01:17:11 SunJan 18 2009 )

I'm sure you are right about that Jim. You're experience along these lines is quite vast, while mine is quite minimal.

Again, just let me say........ Thanks!!!

  
Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 02:23:37 SunJan 18 2009 )

Yes Ed, The New 49'ers is just fine on your check, and thank you very much for it.



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Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 05:08:57 MonJan 19 2009 )

I just accessed the county website and found the schedule for this Tuesday's meeting.

It looks like we are scheduled for 10:50am. (p to 10am is closed session, then other business, then our issue.



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Jim_Alaska
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dredger49er
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 16:23:58 TueJan 20 2009 )

Jim, the Sacramento Bee has an article on this as well today. Found by my "long lost" buddy in Sacramento and sent to me this morning. It invites replies to the article. After getting your letter signed off by the county today, maybe you should post it up as a reply. As good as a letter as you have written, it should go up on the Capitol's main newsrag.

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/story/1556368.html

  
colo_nuggets
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 22:49:43 TueJan 20 2009 )

So what happens if they accept Jims letter? Scott

  
Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 03:51:42 WedJan 21 2009 )

I saw that today dredger49er. Our lobbyist sent it to me. I may post a response to it. There are already some good responses in the comment section.



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Jim_Alaska
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 03:57:59 WedJan 21 2009 )

colo_nuggets,

They voted on both the letter and a resolution to send it to CDFG. It passed the board unanimously. And since one board member is going to Sacramento, she will hand carry the letter and resolution.

I will do a short write up on the meeting tomorrow, kinda beat today.



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Jim_Alaska
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UncleMark
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Re: Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging ( 09:40:40 WedJan 21 2009 )

Jim,
Outstanding work. Thank you and everybody who helps. I sent my 9 pages of comments to CDF&G today. I also commented on the SacBee article.
Mark
[1 edits; Last edit by UncleMark at 09:41:36 Wed Jan 21 2009]

  

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