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  1. #1
    maksutaSTAR Guest

    Questions & Answer to suction dredging in Ca.

    Frequently Asked Questions – Suction Dredging SB 670 (Affects Current Permit Holders) Updated August 6, 2009

    Why is suction dredging now illegal in California?

    SB 670 (Wiggins) was enacted on August 6, placing a prohibition on the use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment in any California river, stream or lake, regardless of whether the operator has an existing permit issued by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). The moratorium does not apply to suction dredging operations performed for the regular maintenance of energy or water supply management infrastructure, flood control, or navigational purposes.

    When does the moratorium go into effect?

    The moratorium went into effect on August 6. SB 670 contained an urgency clause, putting it into effect immediately upon enactment.

    Who is affected by the moratorium?

    The moratorium affects both individuals and companies that use vacuums or other suction dredging equipment for instream mining in any California river, stream or lake. The ban does not affect suction dredging operations performed for the regular maintenance of energy or water supply management infrastructure, flood control, or navigational purposes are not included in the ban.

    What if I already have a suction dredge permit issued by DFG?

    SB 670 prohibits all instream suction dredging mining, even if the operator has a permit previously issued by DFG.

    Can I get a refund of fees paid for my suction dredge permit?

    DFG can only issue refunds if authorized to do so by law. SB 670 does not provide this authority, nor does any other provision of law. DFG is therefore prohibited from providing refunds for 2009 suction dredge permit fees.

    When will the ban be lifted?
    The ban will remain in effect under SB670 until three things occur: (1) DFG completes a court-ordered environmental review of its permitting program; (2) DFG updates the existing regulations governing the program as necessary; and (3) the updated regulations take effect. The court-ordered environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is currently underway and DFG expects to complete the effort, including any updates to the existing regulations, by late summer 2011.

    When will the EIR be completed?

    DFG is preparing a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to conduct the court-ordered review. DFG estimates at this point that it will complete and certify the Subsequent EIR (and updates to the existing regulations, if necessary) after a series of
    public meetings and other opportunities for public comment and review by late summer 2011. The environmental review and regulation processes are governed by the California Environmental Quality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act, respectively. The time line is driven by the requirements of these laws.

    Why is this process going to take so long?

    DFG has already begun the environmental review necessary to analyze the current regulations; this was last done in 1994. The review process will be complex and lengthy given the statewide scope of the analysis and the time that has passed since the last review. In addition to the detailed written analysis prepared by DFG in coordination with the State Water Board, the review process will also include several opportunities for public involvement, both via public meetings and through solicitation of written comments and suggestions. Initial public meetings to discuss the scope of the environmental analysis are currently being planned for November 2009 in Fresno, Sacramento and Redding. Additional details, including time and place of the meetings, will be posted on the DFG Web site, www.dfg.ca.gov, as they become available.

    What is DFG doing to notify suction dredge permit holders about the ban?

    DFG staff is notifying current permit holders by mail and will contact suction dredge operators in the field as opportunities arise. Information about the moratorium is available at DFG license counters and at the DFG Web site, www.dfg.ca.gov. DFG has also issued a press release and is working with the media to make information about the new law widely available.

    Is there a “grace period”?

    The urgency clause in the bill put the moratorium into effect immediately. DFG wardens are authorized to issue citations to anyone found violating the law.

    What are the legal consequences of suction dredging now that the moratorium is in effect?

    A violation of the law is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and/or six months in jail.

    Why has DFG stopped selling suction dredge permits?

    Consistent with the moratorium DFG has ceased issuing suction dredge permits. DFG is also currently subject to a court order prohibiting the issuance of suction dredge permits. (Leeon Hillman et al. v. California Dept. of Fish and Game et al., Super. Ct. Alameda County, 2009, Case No. RG09-434444.) The court order prohibits DFG from spending any money from the California State General Fund to issue suction dredge permits.

    Will permits be sold again in the future?

    Permits may be sold again in the future if: 1) the prohibition on suction dredging is lifted; and 2) the Hillman lawsuit is no longer pending or until a further order is issued by the court.

    If I already have a permit, is it still valid?

    SB 670 prohibits all instream suction dredging mining, even if the operator has a permit previously issued by DFG.

    Where can I find more information about this in the future?

    Additional information can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Sonoma County

    USFS Terror: USFS Employee Steals California Miner's Property

    Mark is a friend of mine and is a great guy, post this where you will but lets help him

    On March 12th, 2012, miner Mark Hepfner of Sacramento, along with his brother went to inspect his mineral deposit property, known as the Golden Eagle (CAMC# 0280109), which is located on the North Branch of the Middle Fork of the American River, Placer County, Jefferson Mining District. Golden Eagle was originally located by Mark's father, the late Tony Hepfner, who some of you may know was the inventor of the D.A.M. Blue Bowl.
    What Mark and his brother encountered stunned them.

    It seems that on February 1st, 2012, employees of the United States Forest Service, namely LEO Tom Madrigal, came to the Golden Eagle and stole his property, which included, but was not limited to water pumps, sluice boxes, a wheel barrow, hoses, tools, wet suits, a winch, tents, sleeping bags, air mattresses, stove, pots and pans, coffee pot, tarps, rope, and all the other things that are typically used by a miner.

    Madrigal left his calling card in the form of a bright yellow sign stating that the USFS had confiscated “abandoned property”.

    However, Mark received no lawful notice that his mining incident tools were in any way under threat, let alone had been seized by the USFS. He immediately filed a criminal complaint with the Placer County Sheriff's Department and the FBI, both of which have went unanswered.

    Investigation and a short note to the local ranger station resulted in a three page letter from Eric Beckert, Acting USFS Patrol Captain of the Tahoe National Forest, which stated that USFS employee Tom Madrigal had removed his property and had done so via helicopter and cargo net. Beckert also stated that his office had even destroyed some of the property.

    USFS Patrol Captain Erick Beckert identifies USFS LEO Tom Madrigal (pictured above) as being responsible for Hepfner's missing mining incident tools. Beckert stated that USFS did not know that Mark Hepfner owned the property, stating that his office had actually consulted with a neighboring miner, assuming that he was the claim holder. While this miner stated that USFS did contact him, he also remarked that he had informed USFS that it was not his claim! As the Golden Eagle is very clearly and plainly marked, not to mention the fact that claim records are publicly available from BLM, USFS employees violated Mark's rights by not following through with their fiduciary duties to protect his property.
    Mr. Hepfner is willing to fight the United States Forest Service to the wire and has demanded the return of his stolen property. These demands were ignored to the point that USFS have refused to accept his notices sent by recorded mail. Mark intends to pursue criminal and civil damages relating to the theft and destruction of his property and is currently working with Jefferson Mining District to this end.

    At this point, Mark's priority is to get his stuff back so that he hopes he can mine this summer. But he needs your help. We need miners to contact Tom Madrigal and demand that he return Mark's property to him, as well as to contact Placer County Sheriff Edward Bonner and demand that he investigate the theft of Mark's property.

    To demand the return of Miner Hepfner's stolen property, please contact the following persons.

    USFS District Ranger, Chris Fischer at: 530-367-2224
    USFS "Acting" Patrol Captain, Eric Beckert: 530-994-3401 ext 6634
    USFS LEO, Tom Madrigal at: 530-367-2224 ext 226

    Tell Chris Fischer to do the right thing and to fire Madrigal and to return Mark's property.


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