Another New Family

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Oro Cas Reflects

As I traveled around the country in 2013 during the first year of Oro Expeditions I spent a lot of time living in a tent. It was easy to do this because of my membership in a popular gold prospecting and mining club known as the Gold Prospectors Association of America.

We joined the GPAA in 2009 while I was still driving a truck around the country for a living. Being on the road all the time made it easy to visit quite a few leases and properties owned by them and I took advantage of this almost every weekend while trucking.

It only took a couple visits to some of GPAA’s eastern spots for me to realize that gold miners and rock hounds have a lot in common with over the road truck drivers. They both live outside the norms of modern society and most live a solitary life…

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Public Lands For The People Press Release

 

MEDIA RELEASE

Public Lands for the People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, Nov. 23, 2015

The following is a media release issued by Public Lands for the People, a national non-profit organization based in California:

CEQA court case settlement to cost taxpayers $350,000

Public Lands for the People has recently learned that the state of California has offered to pay $350,000 to a coalition of environmental groups, including the Karuk Tribe and Center for Biological Diveristy, to drop a lawsuit over the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s 2012 suction dredge mining regulations.

The case centers around a flawed study under the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires state and local agencies to identify significant environmental impacts and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. The court battle, known in mining circles as the CEQA case, involves two separate lawsuits:

  • The Karuk Tribe, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Law Foundation, Pacific Federation of Fisherman’s Associations and Friends of the River allege that the regulations adopted in March 2012 were not developed in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act, fail to mitigate identified impacts and are inconsistent with existing state law. The case was filed April 3, 2012 in Alameda County Superior Court.
  • Meanwhile, Public Lands for the People also sued the state, alleging that the Subsequent Environmental Impact Report, which was based on reports from Horizon Water and Environment, a consulting firm based in Oakland, Calif., was improperly and unlawfully conducted and therefore rendered skewed, unscientific findings.

“The 2012 dredging regulations were based on bad science from a deeply flawed environmental report,” said PLP President Walt Wegner. “The SEIR results were used to prop up the case for far more restrictive suction dredge mining regulations because of pressure from these environmental groups.”

The SEIR study claims that suction dredge mining has several “potentially significant impacts” on the environment, even though all previous studies had concluded that dredging causes a “less than significant impact,” Wegner said.

“How does this drastic change in study results happen overnight? The study is bogus and heavily influenced by politics—not science,” said Wegner. “And, now after years of battling the CEQA case, these environmental groups have decided to take the money and run, leaving California taxpayers on the hook for $350,000.”

PLP Attorney James Buchal said it’s a shame that state taxpayers will be stuck with the tab, again.

“It is regrettable that once again the state of California has decided to shovel hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to entities working to cripple the state’s natural resource economy. To make matters worse, the state agreed to pay that money and allow the tribe and its allies to dismiss their claims without prejudice, meaning they could bring them all over again for a second payoff,” Buchal said. “The Karuks are done; they’ve settled. The state and the tribe have agreed to it, and at this point I think it’s just a pro forma approval by the judge, and the money will be paid.”

PLP’s CEQA case is expected to proceed Jan. 20 in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

“With the tribe dismissing its claims, that leaves only the miners claiming that the environmental analysis of the 2012 regulations was defective. But, what gives this a sort of surreal and Kafkaesque quality is that back in January the judge ruled that the regulations are unconstitutional anyway,” Buchal said, referring to another dredging case heard by California Superior Court Judge Gilbert Ochoa.

Ochoa ruled in January 2015 that the federal Mining Law of 1872 pre-empts the state ban on dredging under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that federal law supersedes state law. The ruling was deemed a win for miners, however the state continues to cite dredgers and has refused to issue dredging permits to miners.

Clark Pearson, northern director for PLP, said the CEQA case settlement wreaks of cronyism and corruption between the state and environmental groups.

“It doesn’t pass the smell test,” Pearson said. “This was a sweetheart lawsuit … so basically they were paid off to drop the case. Do you think the same offer will be made to miners? I highly doubt it. No offer has been made to us, and we are the prevailing party. We should be entitled to attorney fees.”

Suction dredge mining has been banned since 2009 in what began as a two-year moratorium imposed under Senate Bill 670, and extended under various legislation.

“That so-called moratorium has become a de facto ban, which is unconstitutional—and small-scale suction dredge miners are paying the price,” Wegner said. “The state has crippled the local economies of many mining towns in California, and is actually making the mercury problem worse. Contrary to the propaganda from some environmental groups that it may harm fish, dredging not only removes mercury and lead from California streams and rivers but it cleans hard-packed, silt-covered gravels that salmon and other fish need to spawn, and it also improves fish habitat by creating refugia.”

Sue-and-settle cases

Friendly lawsuits, or sue-and-settle cases, have been the subject of investigations in Washington, D.C. In fact, the Center for Biological Diversity is listed as fourth on the list of most frequent environmental group plaintiffs in sue-and-settle cases in a 54-page report, “Sue and Settle, Regulating Behind Closed Doors,” published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2013.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Sue and Settle, Regulating Behind Closed Doors” report: https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/documents/files/SUEANDSETTLEREPORT-Final.pdf

The Karuk Tribe is based in the northwestern corner of the state in Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties and has opposed suction dredging mining along with environmental groups, such as the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Fund, which is listed as the worst offender in the Sue and Settle report.

Public Lands for the People is a 501[C](3) nonprofit corporation whose mission statement is “to represent and assist outdoor user groups and individuals interested in keeping public and private lands open to prospecting, mining and outdoor recreation through public education, scientific data and legal means.”

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NOTE: (Kafkaesque refers to Franz Kafka and his novels about arbitrary bureaucracy.)

For more information, contact:

PLP President Walt Wegner

Phone: (818) 887-5970

Website: www.PublicLandsForThePeople.org

Email: info@publiclandsforthepeople.org

Public Lands for the People

2029 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 47-466

Woodland Hills, CA 91364

 

Public Lands for the People is a 501[C](3) nonprofit corporation: #95-4521318 & 1880483

It’s Been A Summer of Epiphanies

Oro was channel surfing one day and happened upon a show with this big man in beat up cowboy hat panning for gold in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. Oro began to reminisce about panning at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch when he was 14…then asked if I remembered Bob, the guy we worked with in Texas taking us into the high desert near Alpine to collect sand out of the dry washes and taking it home to process it for gold. From there his interest and curiosity grew until we were taking vacation time to go prospecting in North Carolina.

I had a great time with lots of pretties found and enough phone signal to do our radio shows with two smartphones and computer for battery power. I like camping, but also like a few creature comforts when I do. LOL

As life sometimes goes, Oro was forced from behind the wheel of Lil’ Pete and out of a thirty year career. That’s when Oro Expeditions moved from an idea into reality.

I must admit when the ideas started moving from paper and discussions into the real world, I was overly cautious. I was raised by the generation of parents where you worked a job for forty or fifty years, and lived your golden years on your pension, but that’s not the reality of my generation.

When Oro pulled out of the driveway on April 14, 2013, it was on a wing and a prayer. Thank goodness there were lots of bus trips this spring to keep the expedition going until it slowly began to support itself through the First Nugget Contest and the generous support of new and old friends, and Oro finding good places to mine for gold.

As we’ve gotten deeper into Expedition ’13, a few more things have come into the light. What started out as a new career path for Oro is slowing morphing into something else. Yes, it’s still about becoming self-sufficient through the retrieval of gold and gemstones, but it’s also become about other things…the continued access to public lands, teaching people a way to be out in Nature while learning a skill the whole family can enjoy (even if it’s just playing in creek), and that can actually add to your pool of resources as a ‘rainy day’ fund or those times when your retirement and Social Security whimper at the cost of living.

So Oro Expeditions is no longer just about Oro going out into the wilderness to bring home the gold–it’s also about sharing…stepping into the battle to retain the few individual freedoms that’s been left to us–sharing time with family and friends old and new in the breathtaking beauty that is the wild places of our country where we can breathe, and ground ourselves then carry that balanced and centered energy back into our everyday lives.

As Oro and I work to pull together funding for Phase II, we’re once again depending on those that can see the dream, and someday say, “If Oro can do it…so can I.” This time when he pulls out of the driveway to head South, instead of cautious, I am optimistic. It’s not just Miss Paula supporting Oro in his dream, but also being able to see all the things that can happen when that dream comes to fruition. That’s why I suggested crowdfunding to fund Phase II and beyond. I have seen the generosity of people when a dream catches fire, and hope they too can see our dream.

Blessings to Everyone and as Oro says on his Expedition videos…”More Later.”

Oro Expedition ’13 Crowdfunding Site

Stories From Gold Camp

Gold ShowOro Expeditions Blk

Join us, April 30th at 8pm edt on Oro Expeditions And Then Some… as Oro Cas And Miss Paula along with some of their new found friends from Coker Creek, Tennessee, regale you with updates on Expedition ’13’s adventures from gold camp, stories from the Eastern Gold Rush of the 1800’s, and the government’s plans to shut down all gold mining operations in the state of Tennessee by the year 2015.

You’ll be caught up in the natural wonders of our National Forests, regaled with tales of the ‘old days’ and angry at one more attempt by the government to force us out of the wild areas of OUR state and national parks.

Oro Expeditions on FB

KDCL Media on FB

If you’re ever in or around Coker Creek, Tennessee be sure to stop in and see Bill and Marsha at Bill’s Pit Stop of Coker Creek. Tell ’em KDCL Media sent you.

Bills Pit Stop