Gold Suction Dredging Moving Forward in California

 (Some New 49'ers hard at work.)

My friend and highly experienced fellow miner here in New Mexico, "Rattlesnake" Jim, keeps me apprised of current happenings in the small-scale gold mining and prospecting realm. To a great degree I'd be lost without his help since I don't follow the news media in any form whatsoever. Just today Jim has provided me with the latest news on the suction dredging moratorium in California.

Fighting the Good Fight

Those of you who aren't living in the once-Golden State or mining there may think this situation doesn't concern or impact you but I have to tell you right here and now that you're dead wrong in that regard. What happens to small-scale miners in California is, in effect, the yardstick that at some point will be used for measuring small-scale mining efforts (particularly suction dredging) in all the states of the American West and Southwest. If you think I'm off the beam in this regard just wait and see what transpires in your own backyard somewhere down the road. Nut cases or not, what the various anti-mining interests in California ultimately want is all of us OFF the gold-bearing streams, rivers, and dry washes we now work. You see, they are essentially self-righteous elitists who want us all to reflect their environmental world view. Unfortunately for us, they are well organized, well-stocked with folding green, and have been lining the pockets of liberal politicos for quite some time now.

(Methinks they should use a red background on their flag and perhaps add a hammer and sickle in one corner!)

A number of small-scale gold miners and mining clubs and consortia have been carrying the fight forward for the rest of us over the past few years (and a few for much longer). Chief among the latter are Dave McCracken's New 49'ers, Public Lands for the People (PLP), and the Western Mining Alliance (WMA). I've mentioned these groups in past posts and at times I've supported them with cash from my own pocket and will continue to do so. They fight the good fight for all of us and deserve both our respect and our support. Since "Rattlesnake" Jim has close ties with the New 49'ers he keeps me updated on Dave McCracken's (Dave Mack's) ongoing battle against the green fascist agenda in California. So what follows is the latest on the suction dredging issue in California distilled and paraphrased by yours truly.

Dredging Already Taking Place

As you are probably aware, the San Bernardino Superior Court ruled on January 12, 2015 that both the California Legislature's Moratorium against gold suction dredging, along with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife's (DFW's) recent adoption of suction dredging regulations in 2012, are illegal and not enforceable as a matter of law.

Since that time, the DFW has been acting as if the California Superior Court never even ruled on this issue and they have been informing the public that they intend to continue enforcing the State's illegal suction dredging moratorium. This fact is made abundantly clear on the DFW's web page which was updated as recently as March 2, 2015. You can check out what the DFW has to say here:

At the same time, based upon the San Bernardino Court Ruling, suction dredgers statewide have been preparing for the upcoming mining season which has already begun on those waterways that have historically been open to dredging year-round within the boundaries of all previous California dredging regulations. Suction dredging is already taking place along the Klamath River near Happy Camp!

(Note: Happy Camp is in extreme Northern California and is home to the New 49ers and the bulk of their claims. As a child I lived in the Siskiyou County seat of Yreka for a number of years and my grandfather even has a road named after him there! So, I am very familiar with the Klamath and the surrounding area. J.R.)

 (Yreka, the Siskiyou County seat.)

The New 49'er policy concerning suction dredging is that we will follow the San Bernardino Court ruling and direct our legal resources to strenuously defend any member or supporter who is harassed or prosecuted by California State authorities attempting to enforce regulations that have already been deemed illegal by the California court system. We fully intend to have a productive 2015 suction dredging season on the Klamath River!

 Because we here at the New 49'ers believe this is all coming to a head very quickly, today our attorney served the following revised Proposed Order to the San Bernardino Court and all parties within the ongoing litigation. Our revised Proposed Order directs California to immediately begin issuing suction dredging permits pursuant to the previous regulations which were adopted in 1994. Additionally, during the interim the revision orders State authorities not to prosecute anyone who is operating a dredge within those regulations. You can read the Revised Order here:

Ignorance is Bliss?

Interestingly enough, not long after the New 49'ers delivered their Revised Order, one of their longstanding members (Derek E.) ended up in a toe-to-toe stand off with two DFW wardens (storm troopers?). Derek was told in no uncertain terms that he was breaking California State Law by suction dredging in the Klamath River. Derek then produced a copy of the San Bernadino Court ruling stating that the State's suction dredging moratorium is illegal and unenforceable. After reading it, the two wardens scratched their heads a bit and gave every appearance that they knew nothing about it whatsoever! Why am I not surprised? Now if you or I get jammed up in some sort of legal issue and we declared we knew nothing about the law we had just broken, do you think the judge would look kindly upon us? Not too likely. Ignorance of the law in question is NO excuse. So way to go California DFW.

More suction dredgers are arriving along the Klamath as each day passes and my hat's off to them and Dave Mack and the New 49'ers. Go get 'em tigers and don't just bite them...chew those ass clowns up and spit them out!

 (Gotta love those bureaucratic ass clowns...)

Best to all.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. The problem with the anti's (of any kind) is that they can't just leave folks alone. They never stop trying to "Save the world" which is a good thing unless taken to the extremes they do. We are all environmentalist, none of us want's to see things destroyed, but we are not all extremists. After all, if we ruin things (mining, hunting,trapping,logging.......) we can't do it anymore.......we don't want that either. The anti groups can't seem to look past emotion and what looks good on paper, and use a little common sense. The flower children,hippies have grown up and are running the show......God help us!

  2. You said it all Gary
    Amen to that brother!

  3. Something is missing from Rattlesnake Jim to J.R. to the readers here. With the information presented up above it is still illegal to dredge. All I see is one party's proposal and the State of CA still saying how it is. It appears the DFW can still issue citations for illegal mining. July 2017 is when the water quality acessment-damage-whatever report is due. Actually it's due before that. I noticed the indian tribe didn't get a copy of the proposal or did they? My opinion- as long as mercury levels are acceptable down stream from dredging I'd assume the miners will be back in business. Let's hope the environmentalist people are really doing their job by testing the waters for safety.


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