URGENT CALL TO ACTION, PLEASE SHARE THIS POST:
Here we go again folks, the Idaho USFS has decided they do not need to adhere to Supreme Court decisions, are now Congress and that you need to bow down to them. They quite obviously do not believe they work for us, but we bow to them.
They have come up with a new scheme, just like the EPA, which does not have the authority under the CWA (clean water act) to require new permits, a PoO (plan of operations) and to limit the number of dredges which can dredge the South Fork of the Clearwater. This is the same river AMRA has two claims on, and where we dredged last year in opposition to the EPA’s power grab on behalf of all the suction dredgers in Idaho.
We need everyone, and we mean everyone, to write a short email or letter in opposition to this ridiculous scheme to destroy suction dredging in Idaho.
A simple email stating “I oppose the Small-Scale Placer Mining Project”. This is a scheme which as been decided by the Supreme Court of the United States and specifically states they DO NOT have the authority to require a “pollutant discharge permit”. This goes back to the very thing we have been quoting from this case and Justice Ginsberg’s ruling that: if you dip a ladle into a soup pot, lift it up out of the pot, then pour the soup back in, you are not adding anything to the pot. Dredge tailings are called “incidental fallback” and it is precisely the opposite of what these regulatory and management agencies are stating.
Suction dredges remove 98% of the mercury and almost 100% of the lead from our waterways. That is just a simple fact as proven by numerous accredited studies and agencies……..including the EPA which stated “suction dredges are the most effective method of removing mercury from our streams”.
Below is AMRA’s formal response on behalf of suction dredgers and you can feel free to use any part of this letter in your response to the USFS. But a simple email saying you oppose this scheme is more than adequate. We only have a few weeks to oppose this so PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TODAY TO:
You must include this in the subject line:
Small Scale Placer Mining Project
Here is AMRA’s letter:
Cheryl Probert April 22, 2015
Forest Supervisor, Nez Perce-Clearwater NF
903 3rd Street
Kamiah ID 83536
Small Scale Placer Mining Project
Dear Ms. Probert,
AMRA, American Mining Rights Association is an advocacy and education association which represents tens of thousands of small miners all across America. We are also small miners ourselves, claim owners in Idaho, and more specifically, own mining claims on the SF Clearwater. For generations, small miners have been suction dredging the SF of the Clearwater with existing permitting and regulations without any adverse effects to the sustainability of the fisheries or waterway.
We, and all of our members and followers vehemently oppose your new permitting and regulatory scheme to further restrict these environmentally sound methods of mining. Throughout the past 30 years, there have been dozens of studies which conclusively prove suction dredging is not deleterious to anadramous fish and removes 98% of the mercury from the streams, rivers and waterways. We can cite study after study which again, conclusively state “less than significant” results on suction dredging. There is not one study which shows even one fish has ever been harmed by this activity.
Firstly, a plan of operations (aptly named PoO) is not required for any suction dredge under 5” on the SF of the Clearwater. A suction dredge of this size has been determined by court precedence to not create a “significant disturbance” which is the basis for PoO’s.
Secondly, under the CWA, the USFS and the EPA does not have the authority to require an NPDES permit, which is also another scheme by the Federal Government to further restrict this activity. This issue has been decided by the United States Supreme Court, the highest court in America and the final say in matters such as this. In LOS ANGELES COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT. v. NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL decided in 2013, it was unanimously determined by the court that “incidental fallback”, which is precisely what a suction dredge creates, does not add any pollutant to the waterway and therefore does not require an NPDES permit. Justice Ginsberg stated in the opinion that if one dips a ladle into a pot of soup, lifts it up and then pours it back into the pot, one is not adding any pollutant and therefore does not meet the requirements under the NPDES permitting scheme. Suction dredges clean the waterways, not pollute them. Again, we remove 98% of the mercury, nearly all of the lead and remove other pollutants such as heavy metals left by fishermen, rafters and others who unfortunately have caused these pollutants to be discarded into our streams and rivers. Why is the USFS against having the most scientifically proven, and environmentally effective method of removing pollutants creating another regulatory scheme?
Thirdly, by what authority does the USFS have to restrict the number of miners who can, and cannot mine their validly held mining claims? Mining claims are recognized as “real property in every sense of the word” by the United States Supreme Court. As an analogy, this ridiculous scheme to restrict the number of dredges on the SF Clearwater is akin to telling one home owner they cannot use a shovel to plant a flower in their flower garden because you have decided only 20 shovels can be used on a particular street of houses. Government, and more specifically, the USFS, a MANAGEMENT AGENCY which is funded by tax payer money, the employees of the USFS, including you Ms. Probert, work for the people, are answerable to the people and can be held accountable by the people when you step outside the boundaries of your authority. This scheme is clearly and legally outside the boundaries of your authority and the authority of the USFS. The USFS was created to manage “OUR” forests, not yours, nor was the USFS created to come up with new schemes to oppress a particular class of people.
What specific science, data, studies or facts does the USFS have that has magically appeared which shows suction dredging is harmful to any fisheries? With dozens and dozens of studies by the EPA, DFG, Fisheries Biologists, accredited agencies and entities, we are unaware of any study, ever, which shows this activity is deleterious to any fishery. Please promptly provide your basis for this conclusion.
It is abundantly clear that the USFS is influenced by special interests from environmental groups and this scheme is promulgated by these very entities to further restrict and destroy small mining and suction dredging in Idaho. This scheme adversely affects the low and middle class of Idaho with devastating economic impacts to the rural communities which rely on these miners to provide income to their businesses during the very short windows they can dredge their claims. Millions and millions of dollars are spent on gasoline, hardware, food, camping supplies and lodging in these areas. As a part of your proposed scheme, is the USFS also going to perform an economic study on the impacts to these local businesses, or is this something the USFS does not concern itself with?
We anxiously await your responses to our requests.
Mr. Shannon Poe
PMB #607, 6386 Greeley Hill Rd.
Coulterville CA, 95311