Last Post 28 Aug 2021 12:56 AM by  Sergio Ramirez
Are battery shop vacs legal in California
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Art Anders
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03 Apr 2021 05:33 PM
The original question was whether it is legal to vac mine the banks of a river, lake or waterway in California. The vague, ambiguous wording of SB 637, passed in 2015 or 16 was amended by SB 1222 in 2018, which didn't change the dredging law, only the wording as to what constituted illegal dredging activity in and around water.
SB637 Subsection 5653 (g) "For purposes of this section and Section 5653.1, the use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment, also known as suction dredging, is 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. This section and Section 5653.1 do not apply to, prohibit, or otherwise restrict non motorized recreational mining activities, including panning for gold.".....this was the troublesome language. The term, "bank" caused many miners to have various equipment confiscated because of inconsistent interpretations from the various law enforcement agencies , when enforcing the SB 637 dredging rules. SB1222 addressed those issues and changed the wording to, "(g) For purposes of this section and Section 5653.1, the use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment means the use of any equipment that removes minerals and water in conjunction to process and recover minerals. This section and Section 5653.1 do not apply to, prohibit, or otherwise restrict non motorized recreational mining activities, including panning for gold. any equipment that does not transport mineral bearing material through a suction or nozzle."

These aren't my sole interpretations of the law. I've discussed these issues with both forestry folks and others who have much more knowledge and expertise than I. The real question might be if everyone in various law enforcement circles are on the same page in their enforcement strategy.
I guess the bottom line is bad legislation creates erratic and inconsistent enforcement of it's results.
Lia McVicker
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03 Apr 2021 05:55 PM
Hi Everyone,

I agree with Michael Panelli, technically using a any kind of "suction" including a vacuum would be a violation of the law, however Artur Waugh has a good point. There are some DFG Wardens who will only question what you are doing and just watch and observe and just wish you luck, BUT unless you're friends with the Warden and knows which way he is bent I'm not sure I would take the chance. There are other ways to getting the gold from the crevices and cracks, might take longer but it might be less costly.
Art Anders
Greenhorn
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03 Apr 2021 06:31 PM
Probably the best and safest way is to ask the local enforcement organization in the area you're prospecting, what is their interpretation of the law as it pertains to surface vac mining.
If there's confusion on the enforcement end of a particular law, usually it is because the State Attorney General hasn't interpreted and provided guidelines to the various enforcement agencies involved. I'd like to find and read the Atty. Generals notes or guidelines on the issue, if there are any. Always better to be safe than sorry....and you are right...there are many other ways to find that pesky shiny stuff.
They appear to not have a problem with surface vacs up on the Klamath area, but I don't know their interpretations in other areas. I guess it's too much to ask that the enforcement be consistent across the state.

My next trip up to the Klamath will be in May. I will make it a point to go by the DFG office or find a officer and get a definitive answer to the surface vac question. I'll share whatever they say.
Leo Lorenz
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03 Apr 2021 08:02 PM
This is a very real political play. If you have a liberal democrat hard core supporter who works as a DFG employee, he will act in a totally different manner than a Trump supporting DFG and votes Republican. Its a fact of today's world. Environmentalist activists are totally against any sort of mineral extraction unless it fits "their" rules. Any member of the GPAA who wants to collect gold/mine/and detect cannot possibly also be sitting on the fence in their support. Its very easy to understand why up along the Kalamath River DFG can have a different attitude. There are many who believe the government should butt out of private citizens business, they are out doing this recreationally and dont need to be told how and what to do in protecting the environment. Besides, California is guilty of doing more harm to the environment and pumping more carbon into the atmosphere with its yearly forest fire circus. All the ash which pollutes the rivers and streams is 100's times more than any dredging can do in many years time.
BRIAN WILLIAMS
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03 Apr 2021 08:33 PM
Squeaky wheels get the grease. I’d drive on and use it without drawing attention to yourself by tapping on a Forest Service Officer’s shoulder with technical questions. Take your good faith interpretation of the law and boldly drive on. I’m going to use my inconspicuous set up on my claim irregardless. Again, depends on the area you’re working. If in an unfriendly/uninviting area, then take your business elsewhere...my Texas $ goes a long way in boosting the local economies of Northern California!!
Art Anders
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03 Apr 2021 09:24 PM
That's pretty much how I operate up there. Last year I worked a section of the River that is very remote. 40-45 miles west of Happy Camp, on the Klamath. I prospect with buckets, classifiers, pans, scoops, shovel, crevicing tools, and sometimes my metal detector. Occasionally I'll use the small Dewalt to clean out some exposed bedrock and moss. I have no equipment with me that raises suspicion or concern. I'm in an area that one can't hike into. Sheer cliffs on both sides and on the far side of the river. I launch a small boat with a trolling motor and go approx 1/2 mile upstream to get there. I take my classified buckets back to camp where I'll run them through a Gold Hog multi sluice, in a closed recirculating series of tubs filled with water and circulated with a 12 v pump. Everything legal and above board. My partner and I keep to ourselves and go about our business without concern or bother from others. Actually, it was a fantastic place to spend 5 months last year during the height of the covid lockdowns. Unfortunately, the Slater fire roared through Happy Camp last September, forcing the wife, dog, and myself to evacuate to Yreka, but that's another story for another forum.
Sergio Ramirez
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27 Apr 2021 08:22 PM
Hi Art Anders,
Sounds like you have a nice slice of gold heaven up there in the Klamath, I love Northern California, used to camp & fish up there all the time, during that time I didn't know about gold there. Would like to get back up there sometime to explore, for gold this time, i do love fishing though, guess I can do both,
maybe i'll see you there sometime.
Serg
Art Anders
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05 May 2021 02:17 PM
Hi Sergio, I'll be up at the LDMA Scott River camp for a dig party June 1-6. I believe it's open to both GPAA members and non members. Probably stay for a total of 3 weeks. Then I'll head back up probably end of July in my motorhome and stay until probably the end of October. There's also a 3 day metal detecting trip I plan on attending October 7-10, up on the Salmon River area. Haven't really got my schedule ironed out yet. Let me know if you plan on being in the area...always willing to meet a fellow prospector and have some fun.
Sergio Ramirez
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06 May 2021 04:36 PM
Hi Art,
yes I would like to meet a fellow miner, sounds like you do a lot of traveling, I guess your retired, my problem is i'm
still working, running 2 businesses and I stay pretty busy, so i usually do a 4 day weekend over at the s.fork of the Stanislaus,
camping & fishing & mining an open area of the river, hard for me to get away for extended period of time and the Klamath is
pretty far, but if I do get some time to go there in July i'll let you know, it sounds good, we'll keep in touch.
Let us know how you do,
Thanks,
Serg
Sergio Ramirez
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07 May 2021 02:15 AM
That LDMA Scott River Camp looks like a fun time, how can I find out if i'm just a GPAA member, would I be able to go there for that dig party,
if yes do you have to sign up or can you just show up and can you camp right there? or do I need to be a LDMA member.
Thanks Art
Serg
Art Anders
Greenhorn
Greenhorn
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07 May 2021 12:04 PM
Serg, one doesn't have to be a LDMA member to attend the various dig parties. They are open events but non LDMA pay a little more to attend. You would need to register beforehand.

Simply contact Keith or Karen
Caretakers
LDMA - Scott River Camp
tel 530.496.3204 | email - scottriver@goldprospectors.org

Many of the LDMA exclusive properties offer periodic dig parties or group prospecting/metal detecting adventures that are open to everyone. Personally, I want to attend the dig events so I can learn from other much more experienced prospectors. Also, sitting around the campfire at night with a bunch of like minded folks after spending the day processing material from the river....well, it is a lot of fun. I'll still do my individual prospecting on the various GPAA/LDMA claims I have access to, but the knowledge you gain and the friendships you make at the various events justify the price of admission, in my mind. $100.00 bucks for LDMA members and $150.00 for everyone else. (which includes some camping options)

Keith or Karen are very friendly and helpful folks...just give them a call. Feel free to give me a call if I can help in any way. 510 552-6692

Good luck...hope it works out for you
Art
Sergio Ramirez
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09 May 2021 02:32 AM
That's great Art, you hit the nail on the head, that's exactly what i would like to do, is meet more experienced miners & learn from their operations & experience, also sounds like fun too, thanks for the info, i'll call them when I get a chance, hopefully I can make it in June to meet them & hopefully meet you, it would be tough though for me, but we'll see.
If I do not make that one in June, do they have other dig parties? and how do i find out about those?
Thanks again,
here's my number also,
650-483-8360
Serg
Art Anders
Greenhorn
Greenhorn
Posts:9



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09 May 2021 11:50 AM
Serg, there's a listing of the various events. I'll look around for it and forward it to you. The best resource for that information would be a call to Karen or Keith. They're both so helpful and friendly...truly great ambassadors of the GPAA/LDMA organization. Once you have the schedules and listing of the various events, you can decide which events fit into your calendar.
Usually one can find the listed events by going to the GPAA website, click on the STORE icon, scroll down to EVENTS. I'm seeing 2020's list of events, not 2021....though I know it exists. I'll keep looking and forward it to you when I find it.

Another great resource for current information would be:

Dominic Ricci
Executive Director of Operations
Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association
888 – GOLD (4653) - 717
dricci@lostdutchmans.com

Good luck and I hope to meet you at one of the coming events,

Art
ARTHUR WAUGH
Advanced Member
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Posts:967



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09 May 2021 01:08 PM
Listed in the magazine.
Sergio Ramirez
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Posts:61



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29 May 2021 12:30 AM
Hi Art,
Looks like i will not be able to make the gold dig up there next week, was hoping to, I really want to make it, but I just got swamped with a lot of work.
Hopefully I can make the next one, I need a nice vacation, hoping to make it to my camping area next week for some fishing & mining for a few days at least, which is closer to me, if I can get my work done. To go up to the Klamath I would have to take more days off. Hope to meet you at another outing, good luck next week, let me know how you did,
Take care,
Serg
Art Anders
Greenhorn
Greenhorn
Posts:9



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07 Jun 2021 10:42 AM
Sergio, Unfortunately, as it turned out I had to cancel the trip at the last moment. I would of had to turn around right after the dig party and bring my motorhome home due to a memorial next week for a good friend who recently passed. I'm still signed up for the metal detecting event in October. I'll probably head up sometime in July, stay until the detecting event is over, then head to either Nevada or Arizona for some fall prospecting in the desert. Hopefully somewhere along the way we can do some prospecting. Good luck and take care...keep in touch.
Sergio Ramirez
New Member
New Member
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09 Jun 2021 03:22 PM
Hi Art,
I'm so sorry for your loss of your friend, my condolences to you & your friends family.
Sorry you couldn't make the dig party, I wish i could of made it, I spoke with Karen, very friendly & informative,
I will try to make the metal detecting one, even though i do not have one.
I did go to my spot on the so. fork of the Stanislaus river & when I went to my spot from last year a big tree had
fallen over my spot so i couldn't work it & had to find a new spot. I told myself I was going to do some crevicing bedrock,
I have been watching Gary "two-toes vids & learned a lot from him, what to look for & which crevice could be good, seemed to work.
the first crevice I picked i found 4 nice flood flakes & every pan after that had gold, most small flakes but one good size flake & I think I
found a very small silver nugget, I say nugget because through my eye loupe it looks like a very small nugget, pretty cool, in the sunlight it had quite a shine. I really like crevicing now, you come across a lot of lead & metals that you take away from the river & clean up the environment, i also picked up a lot of litter to keep the river clean, also caught a lot of trout, 8 went in my cooler & i caught & released 7, lost 4 (one big one). It was quite a nice trip.
Until we meet, Take care,
Serg
Sergio Ramirez
New Member
New Member
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12 Jul 2021 11:44 AM
Hi Art,
just checking to see how things are going? I see there are a few fires up northern Cal. hope they are not interfering with your gold mining.
I went back to my spot & did some more crevicing and this time I brought my small shop vacuum, & it worked great, was able to get most of the dirt from the crevices, got about 30 small flakes from same 3 crevices on this one piece of bedrock, I must admit though I was a bit nervous using it, with the sound of the river near me & the vac going, kept thinking I was hearing voices yelling at me, but it was just my imagination, so it worked great most of the day until the battery went dead, had spare bat. but left it back at camp, my pack was pretty heavy.
I spoke with the BLM & they told me if it's on their property, they don't care if we use small shop vacs like mine, but the DFG might think different,
anyway hope you are well,
Thx
Serg
William Hall
Buzzard
Buzzard
Posts:648



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12 Jul 2021 08:03 PM
From the BLM mouth "they dont care"

I get the same response in the field, "hey how ya doing ? " see ya later
Show respect,, dont trash the place, carry on

Bill
BRIAN WILLIAMS
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New Member
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26 Aug 2021 01:07 PM
Ditto Bill…🤝! I used my shop vacuum and lightweight WEN generator with pride on my claim, that is, before the Dixie Fire had something to say about it 🙁. It worked great but I had to periodically blow out the filter. Tried running without the filter,…don’t do that 🤓, unless you want to clog up your vacuum. I blew it out, reinstalled the filter, and kept going. I managed to recover gold that would have likely been left behind. The lightweight WEN generator is great by the way, and is half the price of the Honda ( which is outstanding as well). FYI, I never installed the high altitude carburetor jet (as recommended) and it ran fine at 5100 feet.
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