Rural Californians organize Walk 4 Liberty to oppose out-of-control state government, over-regulation

Just in the past year, hundreds of thousands of miles of roads have been closed under the travel management plan (TMP) by the USFS and BLM. They claim from December 15 to April 15, the roads are off limits to the public.

From the AMRA YouTube channel

Californians fed up with over-regulation and the destruction of our rural communities walking the entire length of highway 49 in protest (300 miles) in August and culminating with a huge protest at the state capitol in Sacramento. If you love public lands, your rural town, join us, come to the capitol and protest an out of control government.

Protest August 27, 1pm, state capitol. We do not need walkers, just support. Want to be a sponsor and have your company logo displayed on this walk and on our vehicles?

Want to make a donation for this walk?

Go to: Follow our walk live on Facebook at: Walk 4 Liberty

Video posted by American Mining Rights Association // AMRA

See more on the Walk 4 Liberty Facebook page

Essay By: Mr. Shannon Poe
President and founder, American Mining Rights Association (AMRA)


Most of us just want to run out on our public lands or our favorite spot and find a little gold.  We don’t generally think about political agendas, environmental groups suing and settling over a frog  and those who want to change the foundations of our country. We just want to dig, detect, breathe  clean air and see the glint of gold in our pan or hear the solid beep of a little nugget from our detector. Most of us do not like politics and reading about how politics affects our passion is, well, boring and hard to understand.

All across our great nation we are seeing increasing attacks on small-scale mining and our rights to public land use. Ranchers, farmers, hikers, hunters, campers, small-scale miners and even fishermen are under attack. Roads and lands are being closed every single day by agencies who were created to “manage” our lands for us. Politicians, with pressure (and money) from environmental groups have banned suction dredging in California, Oregon and other states like Washington and Idaho are now under attack. Fishermen are losing fishing spots, ranchers are losing grazing and hunters can’t access their favorite hunting grounds. All across the west your public lands are being closed at alarming rates and to put this in perspective, we performed a study a several years ago in the Stanislaus National Forest of California and determined during the winter, the vast majority of your public roads were closed in this forest in the winter. Just last week in Paradise California, where the whole town burned down in a huge fire in 2018, environmental groups are suing to stop the residents from cleaning up debris and rebuilding the town and homes. They are claiming they will displace a tiny frog. We know what you’re thinking…didn’t the fire burn all the frogs? Some things only make you scratch your head in wonder, or is it something else? 

This isn’t about a frog and suction dredging isn’t about fish, it never has been. This is about an ideology where those pushing it simply do not like rural communities and certainly do not like the idea of public lands. Rural communities tend to vote for one political party, and they do not like that. We aren’t delving into conspiracy theories, black helicopters and aliens landing in downtown Denver, we only focus on facts. Right now, the Wyss Foundation, a very far left Socialist driven group from the U.K. has dedicated 1 billion dollars to fund their radical environmental groups, mostly in America to buy portions of public lands and some private lands to create corridors which block the public from using their lands. These corridors then connect to other large swaths of lands and become larger and larger, blocking more and more of your lands. These are the same organizations suing (and settling) with the BLM, USFS and the EPA. Some of these groups even sue individuals or those who stand up to them or expose this agenda. I know this because they are suing me for suction dredging in Idaho, on my claim, with a valid state permit claiming I violated the Clean Water Act. While we are actively defending this case and its ridiculous claim, it is costly and we believe it is solely to intimidate and financially ruin any opposition to their agenda.

Just in the past year, hundreds of thousands of miles of roads have been closed under the travel management plan (TMP) by the USFS and BLM. They claim from December 15 to April 15, the roads are off limits to the public. Some of you are probably scratching your heads right now thinking “I thought these roads were public and they can’t close them”. You would be correct in most instances, they can’t. We’ve found they do not care that it violates federal statutes like RS2477 and the mining grants. RS2477 (Revised Statute 2477) is a part of the mining grant of 1872. Simply put, it states that
prior to the creation of the Federal Lands Policy Management Act (FLPMA) in 1976, all roads in the public domain MUST remain open to the public for the purpose of mineral development (mining). Not should, could or may remain open. Must remain open. This is even backed up by a recent Utah Supreme court case and their unanimous decision that valid RS2477 roads must remain open and also with the Congressional Record investigation of the year 2000 in Nevada. Over the past 7 years AMRA has helped negotiate access to hundreds of miners, GPAA chapters, individuals and the pubic to obtain keys to gates put up by BLM or USFS which block them from accessing their mining claims. Get a  key or the gate goes. Under federal law, they cannot legally block your access to a mining claim, especially if the road was created prior to the formation of FLPMA in 1976. Have a map from the  1950’s which shows the road, basically it must remain open and you are granted access.

How about small-scale mining?

Dredging is essentially banned in Oregon and has been in California since 2009. You are told you need a permit from the California Water Board in California, but they are not available. You are told you need a permit in California to run a high banker or a dry washer, but no permits are available. This is the very definition of a prohibition. Imagine for a minute the state telling you that you need a license from DMV to drive in California, but the offices are never open to you. Due to the passage of SB637 “The Suction Dredge Bill” in 2015, anything that is mechanized or motorized which aids in the processing of materials for mineral recovery is considered a suction dredge. Want to run a generator in the desert to light your area at night to avoid the heat? That’s a suction dredge. Even if it is hand cranked, that is mechanized and yes, it is considered a suction dredge. This is why we introduced a very simple bill last year (SB1222) to clarify a dredge is a dredge and an apple is an apple, an airplane is not a phone and a beer bottle is not a car. Pretty simple right? The democrats in Sacramento disagreed and refused this simple language clarification of one paragraph. It is not about fish. The vast majority of mining claims in California do not have anadramous fish (salmon and steelhead) on them. Many of the dams in California were never built with fish ladders so the fish runs ended the day those went up.

Over the past 10 years, litigation on over-regulation of small-scale mining has taken place in Oregon and California mostly. At the fundamental core of most of the litigated cases is whether or not the states can create laws prohibiting, or severely restricting an activity which has rights granted by the United States (federal level). As an example of this “federal supremacy” clause…take the sanctuary cities issue. We are not going to debate the right or wrong of the cities, just the legal aspect of whether or not a state can do this legally. The United States government has, at its core a duty to protect the American citizens and to protect our borders. It is in our founding documents. At issue is whether or not a state can ignore federal law and institute their own laws in place of the federal laws. This “frustrates” federal law, which is supposed to have “supremacy” over state laws. In simple language: the states are not supposed to pass laws which are against our federal laws like the mining acts of 1866, 1870 and 1872. From a legal standpoint, sanctuary cities violate federal law, whether it is the right thing or wrong thing is not the argument. We are a nation of laws, not feelings. Here lies the problem; If you have a state like California and lawmakers in that state which do not like a particular activity like high banking, they pass laws prohibiting it. They obviously do not care if it is illegal or not. They have an unlimited bank account (your tax dollars) to drag the case out and defend their actions with state paid attorneys, hundreds of them who do nothing but try and get their case to the next level. Even if they lose in court the first time, it is likely to end up in the 9th Circuit which, if you didn’t know, is one of the most contested courts in the country. The 9th Circuit is not very favorable to small scale mining. They have a high percentage of their cases which are immediately reversed at the highest court in our country, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The problem is the percentage of cases which are presented to SCOTUS is high and the percentage of cases they year is extremely low. Just 3% of cases presented to them are then heard. Sad actually.

What cases?

The Brandon Rinehart case, a suction dredge case which contested this argument of whether or not the states could create a prohibition on Mr. Rinehart obtaining gold which he owned (mining claim) located underwater. The only method Mr. Rinehart could use to obtain his valuable minerals was with a dredge which does not pollute, does not harm fish habitat and to which he had a fundamental right to obtain. Mr. Rinehart was cited, after the original law was passed banning it. His case was presented to SCOTUS and was vehemently opposed by environmental groups funded by the Wyss Foundation and George Soros’s Center for Biological Diversity and eventually the SCOTUS declined to hear the case. Fast forward to today and there is another case, the Bohmker case out of Oregon which, while similar to Mr. Rinehart’s case, was also just recently denied to be heard by SCOTUS.

As a part of the consolidated cases in California, an appeal lawsuit was filed by PLP, Public Lands for the People, WMA, Western Mining Alliance and a handful of individuals over the California Dept. of Fish and Game’s 2012 regulations they published for suction dredging. They were challenging, and rightfully so, the incredibly poor regulation and the science behind justifying these horrendous regs. In those regulations, they list almost all waterways in the state as “impaired” and would be off limits to the permits. The regulations are highly restrictive on where, when and how one can mine their claims. Most of the waters which are impaired are because of minuscule amounts of mercury detected at some point in history. Suction dredges, as a matter of settled science, studies and fact remove 98% of the mercury when they operate. The argument is that we “methylate” the mercury, meaning we flour the mercury into micro-particles which then can be ingested by fish and poison people. This has never happened…ever from a suction dredge and in fact, it is scientifically impossible in the cold water streams where they operate, but that is what CA DFG is sticking with. As an analogy, it would be like saying you should never, ever vacuum your carpet because you might get dust on your coffee table. PLP, WMA and the individuals settled their lawsuit with the state for $50,000 and now we are stuck with those regulations and the severe restrictions in them. Even if we are able to get the permits, which we are very actively working on with the Water Board, it is likely your favorite spot will be impacted by this settled lawsuit.

So now what?

While we debated on sugar coating this article and softening the language and outlook for California, Washington and Oregon, we feel you, the reader are smart enough and need to hear the truth. All is not lost, in fact this may just be that motivating factor which gets you involved. If you are one, like many who is looking for a knight in shining armor to come rescue you and your passion, I can assure you, there is no knight on a horse, but there is a mighty army waiting to wake up… and your fellow small-scale miners. Your friends, the hikers, hunters, campers and fishermen and women. Have
you ever considered what motivates a politician? Votes and money. We are not recommending bribing, nor giving money to a politician to legalize something which is legal, but bogged down by a corrupt legal and judicial system. We are recommending you start speaking out, loudly and with a clear voice that this must stop. 

Here’s what we are going to do:

We are coordinating a Walk 4 Liberty in California August 12-25 of this year. Three AMRA board members are going to walk the entire length of highway 49. 300 miles through rural California in August and we would like to state we do not need people to walk with us, just support us and get everyone you know involved. We would prefer if you want to go out in the field and support this, show up in one of the many rural towns and cheer us on as we walk. We will also have a large social media campaign on Facebook under “Walk 4 Liberty”, like and share this page. We are going to hang a sign every 3 miles for all 300 miles announcing the rural communities are sick of over-regulation and to join us at a huge protest at the state capital on August 27th. All of the groups we listed above should be there as we all face the same problems. As we walk through Downieville, Angels Camp, Sonora, Coulterville and Mariposa to name a few, we are going to live stream interviews with local business owners, farmers, hunters and anyone who will answer this one simple question “how has all this regulation in California impacted you, your business and your family”? We are then going to make a documentary, post every one of the videos not live streamed and take that message to Sacramento. After the protest at the capital, we are going to walk 4 blocks over and protest the California Water Board who was supposed to have permitted suction dredging over a year ago. The primary purpose of this is to open that dialogue with lawmakers and regulatory agencies that we are in fact united, informed and must be heard, represented and not ignored.

•Unity is the key to success and to unite, we must speak out, join hands with others.

•Are you ready to be heard? Join us, August 27th at the state capital and tell the politicians to stop over-regulation.

•Share, follow and read the daily trek through rural California. Talk to your neighbors, talk to your friends, stand up, proudly and let’s show the California politicians we don’t much care for them taking away our Liberty.

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