In a developing story some are comparing to the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada, Bureau of Land Management officials and miners west of Grants Pass, Oregon, are in an impasse over who has the rights to the minerals in the ground around Galice Creek.
According to the Shasta Lantern, the Sugar Pine mining claim has existed as a rightful claim since 1876 and is one of the oldest claims in the country. On March 18, the BLM issued two stop orders on the mining district, citing authority under BLM Surface Management 3809 regulations.
“Reportedly late this week, BLM officials accompanied by deputies of Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel issued a Cease and Desist order to the mine and its owners,” writes Red Smith of the Shasta Lantern. “The order has given the miners until April 25th to remove all equipment, buildings and supplies from the mine. It has been reported local BLM officials have threatened to burn the buildings down if they are not removed by the date.”
Miners from the Galice Mining District, which encompasses the Sugar Pine Mine, say they have been arguing with the BLM since roughly 2012.
“The Galice Mining District is a private consortium of claims, owners and miners that has continuously operated since the early 1870s,” writes Smith. “This means the mining district actually predates the BLM by decades.”
The mining district has produced in excess of 10 million ounces of gold since its inception, and geologists estimate only 10 percent of the gold in the ground has been removed.
The miners expressed the intent to fight in court what they believe to be an illegal order, as the current cease and desist order was served on the Sugar Pine Mine even though the issue is scheduled to be heard in court later in the year. They have retained an attorney and requested the assistance of the Oath Keepers of Josephine County, who are currently staging a camp near the mine, terming the event the Sugar Pine Mine Security Operation.
Oath Keepers reports, “While serving a BLM Stop Order upon the Sugar Pine Mine, BLM Contract Deputy Jason Stanton, when told by the parties involved that they were ‘constitutional people,’ Deputy Stanton replied, ‘I have issues with the Constitution.’”
Oath Keepers has two sworn affidavits from two witnesses to the exchange. Oath Keepers say their mission is to ensure the Fourth Amendment constitutional right to due process is not being violated by the BLM.
“Under the 1955 Surface Resources Act, claims of this age have exclusive surface rights unless the Department of Interior utilizes a mechanism outlined in that Act to sever those surface rights,” wrote Smith. “According to a statement by the Galice Mining District, demands made to BLM to produce evidence of their surface authority in accordance to the 1955 Act have thus far garnered only ‘because we say so’ answers and numerous stonewalling tactics. According to the Galice Mining District, the BLM is in active violation, on multiple counts, of federal Freedom of Information Act statutes. Documents secured appear to have been ‘heavily parsed,’ raising suspicion that BLM is either actively suppressing the release of documents or has been actively destroying documents which they are obligated under Federal Law to maintain and provide on request.”
“It’s kind of an odd situation,” Jim Wittington of the Medford, Oregon, BLM, said in an interview with WND. “As far as we’re concerned, we had an inspection of the area in January after we realized there were some operations going on there. In March, we issued a notice of noncompliance, primarily because operations that were taking place at the site were not at the level of documentation – the documentation that we had allowed.
“So they have a mining claim, they were doing the kind of activity that probably demands a notice or a plan of operations. And so by virtue of sending them the notice of noncompliance, that gives them a couple of options.
“One, they can work to get into compliance and get a plan of operations in place, or they can appeal our decision that they are not in compliance. Based on what the issues were, they have two routes that they can go, depending on which issue it is. They can either appeal to the state director of the Bureau of Land Management here in Oregon and Washington, or they can appeal to the Interior Board of Appeals. In informal discussion with their lawyer, it sounds like they’re going to appeal, but they have a few days before they have to let us know.”
The Galice Mining District says although it hopes to resolve the issue legally and properly through the courts, it will “fully disobey” an order it views as “illegal and invalid.”
Law enforcement authorities have responded and are currently on the scene.
Showdown with feds over right to gold in ground
Wed, 15 Apr 2015 00:22:59 GMT