Dear PLP Supporters and Friends,
Dear PLP Supporters and Friends,
The Board of Directors voted unanimously to take up and fund the defense of John Godfrey in the Ninth Circuit Court on the two remaining charges brought against him by the Department of Agriculture for mining with hand tools on his mining claim. PLP Northern Director Clark Pearson has been working with the federal defenders office from the beginning of this case. To date, three of the five charges brought against Mr. Godfrey have been reversed. PLP admires Mr. Godfrey’s willingness to stand firm on his rights and not cave to an oppressive agency that often abuses the authority given to it by the people. The two charges left are:
Count #3 36 C.F.R. 261.9 (a) Damaging any natural feature or property of the United States.
Count #4 36 C.F.R. 261 which prohibits “constructing, placing, or maintaining any kind of road, trail, structure, fence, enclosure, communication equipment, significant surface disturbance, or other improvement on National Forest System lands or facilities
without a special-use authorization, contract, or approved operating plan when such authorization is required.”
Public Lands for the People is honored to take up this case on behalf of Mr. Godfrey and the mining community at large. Please consider taking ownership of this fight with us and the many PLP supporters across the United States. Many, many of you have stood with us in the legal fights for your rights over the past 25 years, and we sincerely appreciate that (as do your fellow miners and public land users)! We can’t do what we do without you doing what you do.
To become a PLP member, make a tax deductible donation, or find other news of interest, please go to:
Public Lands for the People
20209 Ventura Bl. Ste. 47-466
Woodland Hills CA 91364
And remember- “Let’s take it back and KEEP IT!”
President, Public Lands for the People
Latest Dredging Legal News MAY 28th, 2015
We would like to say thanks once again to all of you who have stuck with us through the years, especially the last SIX PLUS YEARS fighting in the courts of California to restore our right to dredge and prospect on Federal Mining Claims. What follows is an update of where we stand legally and what happens next on June 23rd in the combined cases being heard in San Bernardino. Come to court in support if you can. If you can’t be there in person, support us online. We can’t win anything without the support of thousands of individuals. You have made this happen by consistently contributing over the years. THANK YOU!
We are winning and plan on finishing strong! Be part of the winning team! If you haven’t renewed your membership lately, you can do so on our new website:
We will be at the GPAA Gold and Treasure show this weekend in Charlotte, NC. Thanks again to GPAA for their steadfast support of PLP through this long legal battle. Come out to the Gold Show Saturday and Sunday, May 30th and 31st in Charlotte and say hello! We would like to meet you and of course say “Hi” to old friends. Let us know what is happening in your neck of the woods.
UPBEAT Update for PLP Members
As the PLP membership has already been informed, on January 12, 2015, the Honorable Gilbert G. Ochoa, Judge of the Superior Court, San Bernardino County, issued a Ruling which, in effect, granted PLP’s motions for summary adjudication regarding Federal preemption as to the State’s prohibition on suction dredge mining and the 2012 Suction Dredge Mining Regulations (“2012 Regulations”) promulgated thereunder. On May 1, 2015, Judge Ochoa entered an order (nunc pro tunc) formalizing the Court’s granting of summary adjudication, as a matter of law, regarding Federal preemption as to the prohibition on suction dredge mining, and the 2012 Regulations.
The end result of the Court’s Ruling and Order is that California Fish & Game Code § 5653.1, and the 2012 Regulations promulgated thereunder by the Department of Fish & Wildlife (“DF&W”,) are declared unconstitutional, as being preempted by the Federal mining laws. As the Court explained:
“…the State’s extraordinary scheme of requiring permits and then refusing to issue them whether and/or being unable to issue permits for years, stands “as an obstacle to the accomplishment of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” under Granite Rock and a de facto ban.”
Based upon the Court’s Ruling and Order, on May 18, 2015, PLP filed a motion, along with The New 49’ers, for an injunction against DF&W from:
1.Enforcing the provisions of the Fish & Wildlife Code prohibiting suction dredge mining in the rivers, streams, and waterways of California without a permit, and possessing a suction dredge near closed waterways;
2.Enjoining the enforcement of the 2012 Regulations promulgated pursuant to § 5653.1 of the Fish & Game Code; and
3.Mandating the development of a permit program and regulations that do not stand as an obstacle to the full purposes and objectives of the Federal mining laws.
In its motion for an injunction, PLP, among numerous other matters, asserted that the injunction should be granted because DF&W is continuing to violate the rights of the Miners by prohibiting suction dredge mining, and making the Court’s grant of summary adjudication ineffectual. Because of this, the Miners are suffering irreparable injury and harm, including, arrests, threats of arrest, and jail time, as well as substantial monetary loss. PLP stated to the Court:
“What the Miners now seek is the practical mechanism by which this Court’s Ruling and Order is implemented in reality, so that the purpose and objectives of the Federal mining laws can again become a living and practical presence in their lives. Specifically, the Miners ask this Court for the customary remedy in such circumstances; an injunction that is in substance permanent until it might be modified by the Court when and if DF&W devises a lawful and functioning permitting program.”
PLP is hopeful that the Court will grant their requested injunction against DF&W. A hearing on PLP’s motion for the injunction will take place at 8:30 a.m., on June 23, 2015, or as soon thereafter as counsel may be heard, in the courtroom of the Honorable Gilbert G. Ochoa, Department S36J, located at 247 West Third Street, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0210.
PLP: FIGHTING TO “TAKE IT BACK AND KEEP IT” FOR TWENTY-FIVE YEARS!
-Your Board of Directors
The Prez. Sez
On May 1, 2015 Judge Gilbert Ochoa signed an order based on his ruling in the miners favor on the issue of Federal preemption in the suction dredge mining cases in San Bernardino Superior Court. Unfortunately, he did not sign the order that PLP had submitted for him to sign which would have given the miners injunctive relief immediately. In PLP’s proposed order we wanted Judge Ochoa to enjoin the State from enforcing and implementing Fish and Game code 5653 & 5653.1 in their entirety until the adoption of regulations that do not materially interfere with our Federally granted mining rights!
What the Judge signed was basically what he ruled on in our favor back in January. No injunctive relief which is desperately needed after 6 years of this unlawful prohibition!
The New ‘49ers are filing for injunctive relief with the court with PLP signing on, and we will be submitting papers to the court by May 18, 2015. A hearing for an injunction will be held on June 23, 2015.
There are some who are already dredging based on Judge Ochoa’s ruling on Federal preemption, which was very strong in our favor! In his ruling the court found that there is NO triable issue of material fact on the issue of Federal preemption and that as a matter of LAW and in actual FACT, that the State’s “extraordinary scheme” of requiring permits then refusing to issue them is an “obstacle to the full purposes and objectives of Congress”!
The State of California at this time appears to be thumbing their nose at this court and confiscating equipment. They have arrested at least two dredgers that we know of. The DFW even has put on their website that dredging is still ILLEGAL! Unbelievable arrogance on behalf of the Government of California!
We will fight on! We are working hard to get the injunctive relief that is due to the miners in court on June 23, 2015.
We want to thank all who are supporting Public Lands For The People for keeping us in this David and Goliath battle. A special thank you to AMRA who donated 25% of their net proceeds from the GPAA raffle at the Las Vegas gold show to PLP. Thanks again to GPAA/LDMA for their continued support, ICMJ’s Mining Journal, Keene Engineering who donated a 151S drywasher, Mike Pung who donated a Gold Cube plus the new Banjo Pans, and Royal manufacturing who donated a recirculating sluice box to PLP at the Vegas show for our fundraising efforts.
FIGHTING for YOUR RIGHTS for 25 YEARS! Lets “Take it back and KEEP IT!”
Walt Wegner, President
IN HONOR OF JERRY HOBBS
PLP is celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary this year! Please come out to honor Jerry and celebrate PLP’s many fine accomplishments with us! We will honor Jerry’s memory and acknowledging his role in mentoring those who are carrying on his legacy of keeping our public lands open to multiple use.
Details of this event subject to change as we plan further improvements.
What: The PLP Octoberfest
Sponsors: The PLP (Public Lands for the People), MMAC (Minerals & Mining Advisory Council), Sleepy Bear Mining &
American Prospector Treasure Seeker ask you to “save the dates” for the 2015 Oktoberfest PLP/MMAC Fundraiser.
Who: This event is open for gold prospecting, metal detecting, hiking, off-roading, dirt biking, camping, bottle
collecting & relic hunting at an old dump site.
ALL outdoor enthusiast groups welcome!
Any and all age levels are welcome to join. Come on out, find some gold! This is a family friendly event.
Event Location: Sleepy Bear Mining, Randsburg, CA
Who: EVERYONE is welcome to join in this event. The claim will be open to
prospecting, metal detecting, off-roading, dirt biking- camping etc.
When: Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday October 9th through 12th, 2015
** NO SHOOTING WILL BE ALLOWED **
* Objective: Our goal is to bring all types of outdoor enthusiasts TOGETHER and UNITE ourselves in effort to raise funds for the PLP and MMAC. The PLP Is a A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization which fights for our rights to public lands. As outdoor enthusiasts & Americans WE ALL have rights to public lands, which are being taken away from us more and more each day. In 2014 we had approximately 300 people attend the Oktoberfest, and we hope to double in size this year!
UNITED WE STAND …. DIVIDED WE FALL
(volunteers/sponsors/prize donations will be needed for this event)
“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our
children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to
do the same.”
More details will be available as time progresses at: www.aptsgold.com
Please follow the link from the home page of our website and join the “Oktoberfest email update list” to receive more
information as it becomes available.
CURRENT & UPDATED DETAILS WILL BE POSTED HERE:
*** This event will take place pending permit approval.***
Please contact American Prospector Treasure Seeker
via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.American Prospector Treasure Seeker
28900 Old Town Front Street, #101
Temecula, CA 92590
Like us @ www.facebook.com/AmericanProspectorTreasureSeeker
After two days of negotiations, California Superior Court Judge Gilbert G. Ochoa has ordered the Mandatory Settlement Conference on the statewide ban on section dredge mining to continue in September. The conference, which was closed to the public, was held June 24-25, 2014 in San Bernardino, California.
Among the plaintiffs and their attorneys on the pro-dredging side were Public Lands for the People, the New 49’ers and the Western Mining Alliance. Representatives for the anti-dredging faction were the Karuk Tribe, Center for Biological Diversity, California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the State of California.
PLP Vice-President Walt Wegner said that each attorney met with the Judge privately, and then each plaintiff was given time to speak with Judge Ochoa ‘one-on-one,’ but with their attorneys present in a casual setting in his chambers.
“It was very personal. In my opinion, it was surreal to address the Judge without being in a courtroom. I’m absolutely impressed with this guy. He’s going above and beyond and he is being fair,” Wegner said. “He listened. He heard me.”
At the end of the second day, Judge Ochoa listed numerous points of contention between all parties, and ordered the continuance of the Mandatory Settlement Conference to September 4-5, 2014. In the interim, the parties are to negotiate in an attempt to narrow or eliminate all points of contention between them.
“This is going to be our starting point for negotiating a settlement,” Wegner said. “We got the impression the Judge wants to see us back in the water through the Mandatory Settlement Conference.”
Public Lands for the People, its President Gerald Hobbs, its officers and directors, and its attorney, David Young, will be working hard in the next two months to present to Judge Ochoa in early September, a means and mechanism for ending the ban on suction dredge mining, and allowing the miners to work their claims in an economical and environmentally sound manner.
On May 1, 2014, David Young, Counsel for Public Lands For The People and other plaintiffs, appeared before Judge Gilbert G. Ochoa in Rancho Cucamonga to argue our Motions for Summary Judgments, and oppose the State’s cross-motions for Summary Judgments. These Motions regarded the issue of Federal preemption of the State’s prohibition of suction dredge mining in California. Judge Ochoa was knowledgeable about the pleadings that had been filed, the arguments made, and asked challenging questions regarding the State’s position that there was only a temporary moratorium, and not a prohibition of suction dredge mining in California. The State could give no assurance to Judge Ochoa as to a date when the so called “moratorium” would end. At the end of all arguments, Judge Ochoa took the matters under advisement, making no ruling from the bench.
Judge Ochoa then asked all counsel to meet with him in chambers. He stated that he would like to see the matter settled, if at all possible, before he ruled on the various motions. We discussed the previous settlement attempts with judge Ochoa which were not successful. Nevertheless, Judge Ochoa exercised his judicial authority to order a Mandatory Settlement Conference (“MSC”) beginning June 24, 2014, which may continue for one or two more days. Judge Ochoa will personally preside at the MSC as the settlement Judge, and is prepared to make a substantial personal commitment of time and effort to see if any settlement can be achieved. Judge Ochoa will require all parties to the litigation to be either personally present in Court for the MSC, or to be available by telephone. Those parties who cannot attend personally, should be able to attend by telephone conference at no cost to them. Judge Ochoa has the authority to sanction any party who does not attend the MSC either in person, or by telephone.
When available, a copy of Judge Ochoa’s written Order regarding the MSC, and the mandatory attendance of all parties will be provided. Under any circumstances, Jerry Hobbs and David Young will be attending the MSC in person, and all other parties to the litigation are urged to attend in person. Judge Ochoa further stated that he would want to personally address the parties. The parties would have an opportunity, either through counsel, or personally to address Judge Ochoa. Since Judge Ochoa has yet to rule on the Motions now pending before him, the MSC should give everyone a more complete education on the realities of what it takes to actually engage in suction dredge mining in California, and the impact that the State’s prohibition has had on suction dredge miners.
By Teresa Rochester
Visitors do not have to pay a fee to enter national forests in Southern California if they do not use bathrooms, picnic tables or other amenities, a federal judge determined this week.
Four hikers, including two from Ojai, filed a lawsuit in late 2012 challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s right to charge visitor fees at Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. on Monday agreed that the fee, called an Adventure Pass, cannot be levied if people use the forests but not amenities such as campgrounds.
Adventure Passes are $5 for a day or $30 for a year.
“If all a person wants to do is park and have a picnic or go for a hike or camping or backpacking, they do not have to pay a fee,” said Matt Kenna, the hikers’ Colorado-based attorney. “Now if you go and use a developed campground then you will have to pay a fee, as you should.”
John Heil, U.S. Forest Service press officer for the Pacific Southwest Region, said the forest service is reviewing the decision and had nothing further to add at this time.
Alasdair Coyne, conservation director of the Keep Sespe Wild group, said he was pleased with Hatter’s ruling.
The Ojai man was ticketed a couple years ago for parking and hiking in Rose Valley. Instead of fight the ticket, he joined the lawsuit.
“The fee law that was enacted in 2004 very clearly stated that there could not be fees charged for parking (and hiking),” Coyne said. “This is a clear-cut ruling and the message couldn’t be more clear.”
The fee law is formally called the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. It allows for fees in “high-impact” recreation areas that have amenities such as picnic tables, developed parking and security.
The lawsuit that led to Monday’s decision followed several legal challenges to the fees in recent years.
In February 2012, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with plaintiffs who sued the Forest Service over fees at Mount Lemmon in Arizona.
The Forest Service went too far in levying those fees on visitors who parked their cars to hike, picnic or camp on land that hadn’t been improved, the Arizona suit alleged.
Fees are used for improvements such as purchasing toilets or picnic tables, officials have said.
Kenna said that while the decision in the Mount Lemon case applied only to that forest, he and others expected the Forest Service to apply the ruling at other sites.
When that didn’t happen, the local lawsuit was filed. Both sides tried to hammer out a deal last year but were unable to reach consensus, Coyne said.
In light of Monday’s decision, which only applies to four Southern California forests, Kenna said he expected the federal agency to eliminate the fee at additional locations.
“If they don’t start following this in other forests, we will just keep suing them,” Kenna said.