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highbanking rules

Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:45 pm
by OregonJim
I want very much to set up my highbanker, but I am not sure I understand the regulations. My understanding is that my highbanker would have to be at least 300 feet from the river to be legal. If that is correct, would it be permissible to set my pump up at the edge of the river and use 300 feet of hose to reach the highbanker? I realize that is a long distance for a pump to supply water, but I think my pump would supply plenty of water for one highbanker at that distance. I am sure many of you must have tried this already, so please tell me how it worked out for you. I'd love to set up my old unit this summer and hang out at Savage Rapids again like we used to do. I miss those days.

I'd really appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you!

Re: highbanking rules

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:27 am
by Jim_Alaska
That is a difficult one to speak to Jim. As you know, the rules say "no mechanized" equipment within 300 feet of the river, it may be hard to argue that the high banker is outside of the limit, while the pump is at the waters edge. My poor old brain says that the pump is part of the operation, so therefore not allowed.

Rather than ask other people's advice it is always best to go to the source, ask Fish and Wildlife. There is contact information on their website.

I don't mean to rain on your parade, but also don't want you to get in trouble just because you took someone's advice.

I have myself tested different theories and scenarios that seemingly go against the rules, but in so doing I have covered my bases by asking the authorities in writing, such as email.

I actually got to dredge in 2013 using this method. I came up with the idea that perhaps if I took the sluice box off of my dredge it could not be classified as a dredge and therefore legal. So, I asked Mark Stopher, head of Fish and Wildlife dredge enforcement if they would classify my rig as a dredge seeing as their definition of a dredge included a sluice box.

He replied in writing that what I had described could not be classified as a dedge by their definition, and I would not be in violation of the law if I used it in that manner. So, I did just that, pumped all material above the water line and shoveled it through a sluice separate from and at a later time than my dredge operation.

I got checked by three enforcement officers, who laughed when I explained to them what I was doing and that Mark Stopher said it was OK. Still they asked if I had the letter from Mark with me, which I did. They quickly stopped laughing and got real friendly.

But this scenario had it's bad points too. Once Fish and Wildlife saw what I was doing they then quickly changed the rules to say; "no mechanized equipment within 300 feet of the water."

I said all that to simply say you should ask them first and save yourself a citation and fine, especially now that Water Boards is figured into the mix.

Re: highbanking rules

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:15 am
by OregonJim
That is good advice. Thank you very much. I'd hate to get into trouble and I'd also hate bringing bad attention to the club. Thanks again!

Re: highbanking rules

Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2020 4:28 pm
by theseeker
OregonJim, if you get an answer from Fish and Wildlife, would you consider posting that info here so we can all get clarification. That would be greatly appreciated!

Re: highbanking rules

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:24 am
by OregonJim
I sent a letter to the Fish and Wildlife folks today asking if I could use my water pump to pump water from the river to a highbanker more than 300 feet from the river, or whether the use of the pump itself would be a violation of the rules. I asked if the pump itself was the problem, or if the problem was water returning to the river. Hopefully someone will reply.

I feel certain they will tell me the use of a pump is against the rules, but I will post their reply if I receive one. It is sad to be so restricted and with so little hope. I will let everyone know what I find out as soon as info arrives.

Re: highbanking rules

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 4:19 pm
by Joe.S.AK
Jim, on that written request:

Possibly as a way to prevent Fish and Feathers from just giving you their knee jerk, closed end statement / reply " No, Nuttin' s Allowed on Our Rivers!" you might consider further asking them, in your next letter (after you get their anticipated refusal), to please, specifically and in detail, reference to the actual legislation (and not their 'policies, rules or procedures') which defines this point.

Any no-brainer can say "NO!" but the legal basis behind their in-house reply certainly stands scrutiny.


Re: highbanking rules

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:38 pm
by OregonJim
As we suspected, they say it is against the law to use a pump. Here is what they wrote;

"Thank you for your questions. You ask, for example, about what you refer to as the 300-foot rule and how it relates to motorized mining equipment. You also ask if it would be lawful to “use a water pump to pump water from the river to a highbanker more than 300 feet from the river.” Further, you ask if use of the pump is the problem or the water returning to the river. Finally, you mention you have a place to set up your highbanker more than 300 feet from the river where the pumped water would not run directly back to the river. We hope the following information is helpful.

Use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment is currently prohibited by statute in California rivers, streams, and lakes. (Fish & G. Code, § 5653.1, subd. (b); see also Id., § 5653, subds. (a), (b).) Use of any such equipment is also currently defined by statute in much broader terms than traditional suction dredging. Current California law defines use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment to mean the “use of a mechanized or motorized system for removing or assisting in the removal of, or the processing of, material from the bed, bank, or channel of a river, stream, or lake in order to recover minerals.” (Id., § 5653, subd. (g).) This definition, importantly, and the two code sections just mentioned “do not apply to, prohibit, or otherwise restrict nonmotorized recreational mining activities, including panning for gold.” (Ibid.) Finally, section 5653 of the Fish and Game Code states, “It is unlawful to possess a vacuum or suction dredge in areas, or in or within 100 yards of waters, that are closed to the use of vacuum or suction dredges.” (Id., § 5653, subd. (e).) We assume your mention of a 300-foot rule is a reference to this latter prohibition.

Turning to your questions, possession of your highbanker more than 100 yards from a California river, stream, or lake would not be a violation per se of Fish and Game Code section 5653, subdivision (e). As to the use of a motorized pump to pump river water to the highbanker more than 100 yards from the river, the principal issue relevant in the first instance under the two controlling sections of the Fish and Game Code is not use of the pump or the water returning to the river. The relevant issue is the source of the materials you would process in the highbanker and the purpose. This issue is highlighted in the portion of the definition quoted above. That definition speaks, in relevant part, to the use of motorized or mechanized equipment to remove or assist in the removal of, or the processing of, “material from the bed, bank, or channel of a river, stream, or lake in order to recover minerals.” (Fish & G. Code, 5653, subd. (g).) To the extent you propose to remove and process material from the bed, bank, or channel of the river to recover minerals, including gold, and to use a motorized water pump and highbanker as part of that operation, that activity is currently prohibited and subject to citation under section 5653 of the Fish and Game Code. That the highbanker would be used as part of the mining operation more than 100 yards from the river would not make overall operation lawful.”

Chief David Bess
Law Enforcement Division
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
(916) 653-4094

Re: highbanking rules

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:34 pm
by OregonJim
As a follow-up I asked if they could tell me what the penalty is for violating their rules so that I could inform other club members.

The outlaw side of me is wondering about things I probably should not be thinking...

Re: highbanking rules

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:35 pm
by Jim_Alaska
Thanks for posting their reply Jim. Now there can be no question if it is legal or not and miners don't have to keep guessing and asking others.

Miners will never overcome this travesty unless and until they realize what our enemies have already discovered and used; it involves organization and personal commitment. I have beat this drum for many years, but the result is always the same simply because of complacency and even apathy and an aversion to commit to the cause on a personal level for the long haul.

I don't say this lightly, there are those who have been and are committed, but for the vast majority this is not the case, they want to sit back and let someone else do the hard stuff.

As to the "outlaw side", we for the most part, will all resort to this kind of thinking once it looks like there is no hope. To each his own, but others have done it and some have paid dearly. Some have even made an outlaw of themselves to get us into court. This was commendable and a means to an end, as far as could be seen at the time.

You don't kill a snake unless you strike at the head, which miners have not been willing to consider up to now. This snake's head is the law as initiated by the legislature. Our enemies have used this means against us and we are too complacent to understand that with effective leadership, education, active participation and an unbending will to organize on the part of all miners, we can turn this around.

Cut the head off and kill the snake, simple huh? :idea: