We have been in daily discussions since the bill was brought to the CA Senate Natural Resources Committee nearly two weeks ago. The bill (SB1222) was “stayed” for further discussions after it was clearly shown that Ben Allen’s (D Hollywood) SB637 (the suction dredge bill) had language so vague it was causing over a hundred thousand small miners in California to be severely and adversely affected. Allen agreed the language needed to be changed and the intent of SB637 was not to affect dry washers, generators, and tiny pumps to be considered “a suction dredge”. This vague language has resulted in citations, confiscation of equipment, threats and fines.
Department of Fish and Game’s job is not to “interpret” law, it is to enforce it. What we are seeing is Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s) who interpret everything as a suction dredge. A tiny hand-held 12v Harbor Freight water pump used in a tub is a dredge, a generator, a post hole digger and even a dry washer used in the desert out of Barstow is now a dredge.
The language was so vague, even a man running a sluice box on the Trinity River with a garden shovel was cited for “suction dredging”. AMRA is representing this man in court.
During our testimony, Mr. Allen agreed the language in his bill, SB637 needed to be changed and the Chairman presented SB1222 should be stayed so the parties could open up a dialogue on how to correct the language. We believe this was primarily done to salvage Mr. Allen’s small mining killing bill and give him a chance to save face and correct the language.
The following day, early in the morning, Senator Allen was anxiously waiting in Senator Stone’s office (the sponsor of the language correction bill, SB1222) to discuss how to correct the language. It was agreed all of the items we presented in the Capital were not a dredge and therefore should be clarified as not a dredge.
Throughout the next week, multiple discussions were had on defining a dredge as a dredge, the same way one would define a coffee maker as a coffee maker and not a blender. Common sense would tell one that someone being cited for a sluice box is a significant problem and because of this vague language of SB637, the bill is a prohibition on mining. The language states it does not outlaw panning as a method of mining. Panning has never, ever, in the history of mankind been a method of mining, it is a prospecting tool and a clean up tool, it is not mining.
What SB637 is, is a ban on small scale mining in California. It has deep economic impacts, is causing lives to be altered, adversely and in our opinion, it is also illegal.
Ben Allen is now stating anything which involves water should be evaluated by the California Water Board (CAWB). Even if it is a tiny 12v pump recirculated in a tub in camp. He’s even gone so far as to say if you scoop a bucket of water out of a creek, that needs to be evaluated by CAWB for potential permitting for water and environmental impacts. The absurdity of this is nothing short of stunning, and frankly, it is reprehensible. We believe strongly this is a result of Izzy Martin of the Sierra Fund whispering into his ear on a daily basis of what to do.
We firmly, and with good cause believe Ben Allen, and Izzy Martin, who sponsored the original SB637 want to ban mining and they have been all along. This is the only logical conclusion one can come to. We also believe Ben Allen thinks you will remain silent and will just accept this crap sandwich without complaint.
The California government is in fact tyrannical. Taking a bucket of water out of a creek, dumping it into a tub and recirculating it for a Cube is not dredging and any sane person would agree. We have more talks slated for today and throughout next week but Mr. Allen needs to hear from you. He needs to hear how angry you are, how his insane actions make you feel and how they impact you.
Pick up the phone, call Ben Allen today and let him know he needs to stop this illegal banning of all forms of small mining in California. That he needs to work with the small miners immediately to correct this language as he agreed to.
Pick up the phone.
State Capitol, Room 5072
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4026
Fax: (916) 651-4926
2512 Artesia Blvd., #320
Redondo Beach, CA 90278-3279
Phone: (310) 318-6994
Fax: (310) 318-6733