It's an ill wind that blows no good, brothers and sisters. Here in the American West and Southwest that ill wind continues to blow straight into the faces of small-scale gold miners, as much as it pains me to say so.
New Madness in Idaho
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Nez Perce National Forest District just released their draft environmental assessment of gold suction dredging...yep, you know exactly what's coming any time the Feds get involved in your outdoor activities. And suction dredging?? Well by gosh and by golly that's the absolute WORST outdoor activity that ever came down the pike as far as the Feds in Idaho are concerned (not to mention their fellow travelers, the "greenies" and the corrupt politicians). The goings on in Idaho are significant though...they will have impacts that will adversely impact small-scale gold miners throughout the West and Southwest, unless I miss my bet that is. The Idaho assessment was sponsored to study the adverse (it's always adverse in their eyes) effects of suction dredging on salmon and the Bull Trout (I grew up knowing it as the Dolly Varden). The way the green weenies pulled this magic act off was by demanding that the Dolly Varden be classified as a "new" species. Guess what the trout of that new species is called? Oh yeah, you got it. The Bull Trout. Good bye Dolly, hello Bull (as in BS). If the green cultists continue getting their way (and they will, sadly) this means that the Dolly Vardens in states like Oregon (already becoming a lost cause) and Washington (next on the green "hit list") will soon be awash in Bull Trout as well.
(Is that a Dolly Varden?)
(Nope...that there's a Bull Trout.)
1) Submit a complete plan of operations for your dredging activities to the U.S. Forest Service.
2) Obtain a Clean Water Act Section 402 Permit.
3) Get Idaho's State Clean Water Certification.
4) Next, get yourself an Idaho Department of Water Resources Permit.
5) Last but not least, obtain a Streambed Alteration Permit.
6) Submit all these permits and your operations plan to the state and Federal bureaucrats and wait for them to respond.
See where we're going here? Not only is this total bull shit, but it's meant to deter anyone from using a suction dredge in their mining activities in the Potato State. By the time you get through jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops, the damn dredging season will be over in Idaho (and elsewhere, for that matter). Oh, and one last thing. The anti-mining forces in Idaho are setting up to deliver the knock-out punch in the future. That is, no form of motorized gear at all. Once they get that through the system your gold pans and classifiers will be next. I have one question and that's for my Idaho mining pard, "Muskrat." Gary, what the hell is wrong with people up there???
(Hmmm...is it board, bored, or just plain stupid?)
Ditto for Oregon
The anti-mining thing in Oregon doesn't surprise me as much as the recent Idaho rulings. Why is that, you ask? Simply because that I know there was a mass migration in the '70s and '80s from all the hippie-dippie types, dope seed farmers, zonked out Rastafarians, various and sundry tree huggers, and general miscreants and n'er-do-wells from California up to the new "green" paradise of Oreegoon. In fact, I know a few non-mining types from my California days who did exactly that. RANT WARNING! RANT WARNING! RANT WARNING! Let me backtrack a moment and talk more about "wannabe Rastafarians." Now you tell me. What's worse than seeing some mindless, deadbeat-looking middle-class white kid bouncing along the sidewalk with thick rolls of filthy natty dreads (dreadlocks) adorning his or her brow? Oh, and let's not forget the dirty, raggedy shreds of left-over clothing they call "apparel" go unmentioned either. Every time I run into one of these pasty faced, blunt-smoking "bra's" or "sistas" here in Northern New Mexico I have to fight the urge to burst out laughing and then plant my size 12s in their foolish asses while saying something like, "Sorry bra o' sista, but I and I have fi check hard...I-man (Sorry brother or sister, you see I was greatly upset..Amen.)." I only use this sterling example to give you an idea of some of the fine upstanding folks we're dealing with in the Green Bowel Movement. And at the risk of offending a few of you hardy and very adept Oregon miners (and I apologize profusely beforehand), I wouldn't try mining up there if you stuck a f'ing gun to my head. Idaho, California, or Wyoming either. The horseshit going on in those places in terms of the greenies and general BS is exactly why I departed my home state of California for New Mexico 25 years ago. But I also empathize with you. Been there and done that in Califa.
We're Losing the Battle
There's no doubt that my grievous predictions about small-scale gold mining in the American West and Southwest are becoming truer each and every day. Once again I take absolutely no joy in that fact. We're losing the battle for our mining rights, bit-by-bit, despite the good fight put up by many. There very well may come a time when even our venerable sluice boxes and gold pans will require plans of operation and permits. Hell, what am I talking about using "may?" Here in New Mexico there's at least one open gold location operated by the state that requires permitting for gold pans, sluices, and dredges! I'll tell you straight...all this makes me yearn for the old days, but those days are behind me now and I, like you, have to live in the now despite the madness surrounding us. All of this environmental horse crap had its beginnings in earnestness and right-mindedness and concern for good ol' Ma Nature. But the environmental movement has been take over and re-shaped by leftist radicals, self-righteous do-gooders, glassy eyed cultists, and any one else who thinks they can shake some power or money out of it. That's the long and the short of it. It seems there's no place to run, no place to hide for small-scale gold miners any longer.
Want to know how I really feel? To hell with all of them...
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2016
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org