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 By lynwood

09/03/2003  7:21PM

The US Forest service works under the Department of Agriculture. Its leader workd under the Executive branch. Current bureaucratic actions with regard to America's precious natural resources appear to weaken the security of Americans. The topic of the meeting I summarize below confirmed the that Smokey the Bear has inhaled too much smoke. Here's my column to the local newspaper.
September 2, 2003
Downieville, California



Chairman of the Sierra County Board of Supervisors, Pat Whitley, spoke from her heart and trust in those attending the regular meeting in Downieville, when she said, “I am very proud of you and the manner conducted here today by you in this audience and speakers.” At issue is the continuance of rural cleansing for the residents of this high mountain county. The latest attack comes from the destruction of their culture by agents of the federal government. Testimony after testimony directed specific facts and evidence against the actions of the district overseers of the Tahoe National Forest, the US Forest Service. The room was packed. In addition to local familiar faces, the audience was stocked with members of the white hair, cue-tip club of summer folks, who were lingering in the county a little longer than their summer vacations of the past.

Federal employees sat amongst the audience in the small wood paneled public chamber. Some wore their customary green and others were un-uniformed. The courthouse entrance was also packed with those who expressed their support by their presence alone. They did not speak, possibly because they could not squeeze inside. They chattered amongst themselves or took turns poking their heads inside for an ear full.

The meeting was a public forum of elected officials, the forest service employees and the public. As a bystander, albeit one with a solid opinion, the facts presented by the government people conflicted with the locals’ presentation. The noon siren broke up the gathering before everyone could complete speaking. An architect named Bill related that the loss of the miners’ way of life being destroyed and plundered in the name of benefiting the publics’ best interest is seriously flawed. He compared it to attitudes in other countries where great appreciation of their cultures is in the publics’ best interest and preserved not destroyed by the government.

When C.K.Smith stood up and spoke, he said that the forest service has been hostile to the residents for eight decades. He noted it was from first hand experience from when he was a boy. He is past eighty and worked at the Sixteen to One mine as a youngster. He lives in Sierra City and has great stories about the mine. Although these were not her exact words, Sandy Bowman expressed concern from the intimidation and the fear of the forces of the United States government exerted by the forest people. The forest people protected themselves with a mantle of policy justification for their actions. Those speaking for the forest service interspersed “the Law” with regulations, standards or policy in their offense of righteousness. Forest service behavior is ultimately ruled by law not internal policies when they conflict. Clearly everyone else speaking was defending the further loss of miners’ heritage or the culture represented by the carnages inflicted by the forest service.

Several noted the Sierra County General Plan as the guiding public document for consideration in Sierra County by the public, including the forest service. Supervisor Brooks Mitchell and Supervisor Arnie Gutman both participated in the formation of Sierra County’s General Plan when they served as planning commissioners. Michael Miller, who shared and chaired the commission during the years the plan was developed in a county wide traveling show, stated that the quality of life was featured as the dominant concern, interest and guiding principle by everyone. Ranching, farming, logging, mining and recreating are specified as the foundation of Sierra County’s definition for the quality of life so highly prized by these rugged Californians. He said that the planners recognized that, “Our culture over the next twenty years is our greatest endangerment. It’s not the trees; they are doing well. It’s not the critters; wildlife abounds throughout the county. We must protect the living evidence so our children know their heritage.”

Donna Hayes, a former county supervisor, was called. She was visibly ready to explode after hearing the misstatements made by forest service personnel. She passed when it was her time to speak and sat down to collect herself. U.S. Congressman John Doolittle sent a representative, who offered to look into any type of conflict the public had with the law. It was pointed out that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is the appropriate branch of government to express concerns because the executive branch oversees the forest service personnel. Congress passes laws and the executive branch under the overall responsibility of President Bush is responsible for their execution.

Planted at the head table with the county supervisors was Steven Eubanks, who introduced himself as the district supervisor over the Tahoe Forest. He was the main spokesman for his six underlings present. He stated his goal is, “to be consistent in how we approach the issues.” He said he moved into this position five years ago. He said, “Word was out to do what you want” in the Tahoe National Forest. It was not clear if he meant just in the local area or throughout the forest.

Charges were made that certain district forest service employees were removing artifacts in violation of the federal Antiquities Act. Trees used to blaze an old miners’ trail through the Eureka Diggings were unnecessarily cut down by the forest service. Eubanks’ employees were carting off other long existing mining artifacts from public land and taking the artifacts home. The main issue to rally the large turnout was the systematic destruction of buildings. Eubanks’ position is, “where occupancy is occurring unauthorized, or in trespass, we are obligated to eliminate inappropriate and exclusive use of public lands.”

Eubanks says that this is not unique to Sierra County. The people here are not singled out or being picked on. Miller, president of the oldest operating American gold mining company, took issue with Eubanks. “What is unique with Sierra County is our great mineral wealth, and the residents of the county have recognized this. When it comes to gold mining, this place is unique.” He said the forest service employees did not use Best Management Practices, which they are lawfully required to do. He recited the purpose of the Multi-Use law was not to exclude one of the few statutory rights that Americans have to use the public lands: the exploration and mining of minerals. Many in the room may have missed what next occurred. Miller presented Eubanks a claim for damages of $512,000 to the U.S. Forest Service for the loss or destruction of property at the Telegraph Mine. He sat down to boisterous and broad applause.
 By Oak

07/25/2003  2:12PM

I am new to the 16 to 1, a stockholder, a reader of this very interesting Forum, and a first time contributor to it. Gold sure brings out the passion in everyone. I have been following the exchange between Gold Master, Mike, Rick, et. al. and there is a lot going on. Passion is what is needed to drive a company or any endeavor, but passion and emotions need to be tempered in making and executing the decisions that run the company. Ten Lb. has some valid points. I personally don't know if Mike is running the company properly or not. My gut says he is - which is not to say he or the Directors can't run it better. There is always room for improvement in any venture or pursuit. I attended that last annual meeting for the first time and was very impressed by the mine and Mike's presentation - so impressed that I invested in stock - I got the fever - so there is my committment to the cause. I have to agree with Ten Lb. though on keeping a low profile with regulators. I work for one of the largest design/build construction companies in California and two of the first rules of construction are; 1. never assume anything, and 2. NEVER piss off the building inspector! It is a fact of life that we all live in a regulatory environment - there is no getting away from it - so get over it and deal with it. The old days of just going out and doing it are over. I can identify with Mike and Rick about wanting to get even for wrongs done - but what is the long term gain and is it good for the mine? Yea, there would be a lot of satisfaction in doing so if you win, but in the process of either winning, or losing, a lot of exposure to the mine will result. A lot of that exposure could be negative - which goes back to pissing off the inspector. Safety codes, procedures, and inspections in mining or construction are a given. The best way to stay off a regulator/inspectors radar screen is to pro-actively comply 100% with the codes. That way when they show up they will have very little to find. And they will find something, no matter what you do - it's their job and mission in life. A little something is ok - it justifies their trip out. What I am suggesting is don't rock the boat - think about the ramifications.

Gold Master, you obviously have mining experience and have brought up a lot of points for all to think about, but what is your ultimate point of doing so?If it's just to get the Forum to wake up then you for sure have done that!

At the annual meeting, Mike mentioned several other income producing ideas such as selling rock to landscapers and bottling the water etc. (actually a damn good idea - it sure would cut the water quality regulators off at the pass if you were selling some of the best in the west - and it came right from the mine). I again agree with Ten Lb. that creativity will go along way in helping to pay the bills.

Mike a suggestion. It would be a very positive step if the News letters were more frequent. You mentioned in one of your last responses several days ago about finding some gold down in the Ballroom which I take is the dig you were doing at the time of the annual meeting. Finding gold is what the 16 to 1 is all about and keeping the stockholders appraised on a regular basis as to how the effor is going sure would relieve a lot anxiety about how our investment is going. Just a suggestion - we ARE interested!

And in the words of CCR - "Keep on Chogglin'"
 By gfxgold

07/15/2003  5:04AM

Man, oh man!!! A guy goes to the mine for a week to see how his crew is doing and all hell breaks loose! Dead bodies on the Forum is just not acceptable. Play nice! Everyone has their opinions and insights. All are welcome. Disagreements are allowed but, if the topic gets to hot, start another one. Sometimes, I get the feeling that some of you are mistaking Forum participants as being connected to the 16 to 1 management. The only one that I know of is Mike Miller and he rarely participates in the discusions. However, He does read the Forum entries. I'm sure he enjoys the numbers and percentages you guys throw around. It's a bit too much for me to understand. It felt like I was at a masquerade ball at midnight when Gold Master and Rick took off their masks and revealed a little more about themselves (Topic-Big Whopper;No Problem). I guess I could do a little of that... I am not connected with the 16 to 1. I do not own stock in the 16 to 1. I do not own any kind of stock. My investments are mainly Real Estate, Timber and Mining. I own several gold mines in Alleghany. I've known Mike Miller for almost 25 years. If I didn't have my own mines to invest in, I would seriously think about the 16 to 1. Speaking of stocks, there is another large operation underway in Grass Valley, CA. Emgold is opening the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Reading their mining plan reminds me of an earlier operator of the 16 to 1 mine. He thought that bigger was better. Mill more ore, get more gold. It worked on paper but... The 16 to 1 is stuck with that oversized milling equipment. Emgold is looking for $45 million to make their plan work. So far, the Canadian mining companies who have come to the Sierra's have not had the best long term track record. I wish them luck. As for the 16 to 1, the talk around the mining industry is that the 16 to 1 has been setting the example for standing up and not rolling over whenever an agency levels a fine. More mining companies around the country are starting to fight back instead of just paying the fine and not making waves. I think if Mike can personaly afford to take the CDAA to court and win, then the 16 to 1 would have an open path to pursue the same venue at a later date. As for the "X" factor, to me, "X" marks the spot. Finding a good sized pocket of gold is what needs to happen right now. The miners that are working underground know it's there, somewhere. They are making the least amount of money in their careers in search of it. It's not easy on them or their families. They have faith in the 16 to 1.
 By auriferous

06/30/2003  7:32PM

I do not contribute often to the ongoing discussions on this forum, but I read with great interest the various opinions and ideas set forth in the many topics. It seems that some topics invite more profound reaction than others. A common reaction as of late has seemed to be one of nostalgic romanticism regarding the potential of the Sixteen-to-One and the many struggles which it has faced. I felt the need to contribute a little something from a book that I picked up not too long ago titled “Mining Engineers and the American West”, published in 1970 and focusing on the active roles played by mining engineers, managers, superintendents, financiers, speculators, and investors in the growth and maturation of the mining industry during the period of 1849-1933. I think it fits quite well with the latest discussions, as many folks are interested in seeing the mine persist just as it has since 1896. I think it is important to note that most of the “radical” ideas proposed for expanding the mine and allowing it to survive as a focal point of gold production in California are based on old philosophies and proven practices, albeit clothed in modern technology and jargon. Anyone who becomes motivated to invest money into the mine to realize a return on their investment would be wise to consider the technical methods behind the visionary ideas.

The following is an excerpt from the above-mentioned book. I think it illustrates the point that operating a mine is not child’s play. It is a complex, expensive, and dangerous business. If it is done correctly, it is a rewarding endeavor and a solid connection to our collective history. If it is taken lightly, it can become deadly in a short matter of time.

The work of the mine manager was many-sided. Basically, his task was to take charge of a property, direct exploration and development, and make provision for the extracting, processing, and even sale of its ore. In seeking out ore and following its course, he had to have some knowledge of geology, mineralogy, and surveying. In extracting it, he had to know something of tunneling, drifting, shafting, and other underground work. In addition, he had to be enough of a mechanical engineer to plan for the use of hoisting, ventilation, or draining equipment, and some means of underground transportation. He must be able to weigh the virtues of steam power versus electric or air drills versus electric drills. In order to supervise treatment of ore, he had to be something of a chemist and metallurgist, with an understanding of milling or perhaps smelting machinery. Frequently, he assumed the role of a civil engineer and built roads, tramways, or flumes. At the same time, he was a business manager, constantly concerned with costs, purchasing, accounting, ore sales contracts, or perhaps leases. He was the supervisor of a large labor force and concurrently responsible to his own corporate or individual employer, whose rights, both property and legal, he was expected to protect. On top of all this, he also served a public relations function and was expected to “live an exemplary life so as to command the confidence and respect of the camp and the company.”

That last phrase in quotes was taken from the Northwest Mining Journal of June 1907. I believe it still holds true today – even in the age of metal detectors, MSHA, and the EPA. What other means do we have as supporters of the mining industry to show we are serious about our positions as respectable citizens and protectors of our history.

Thank you,
Jason Burke
 By auriferous

01/01/2003  8:27PM

Without being an expert on global economies and the establishment of central banks, I would like to add a few cents' worth of my thoughts on the issue.

First off, I think that the world is full of power-hungry, rich, ruthless people. These folks are in the minority. Do they hold real power? Do they influence the daily lives of the "masses"? Do they hold sway over the courses of nations and entire populations? Probably. But as one of the "masses" myself, let me say this: my own personal economy (i.e., I go to work and get paid, with which money I am then able to purchase the things that my family and I need or want) doesn't rely directly on whether Alan Greenspan is wearing a polka-dot tie or whether the central bankers in London are having a good day or not. Sure, my job depends on the world prices of platinum and palladium to remain at a level at which the mining method that has been chosen for a tiny geological anomaly in Montana remains profitable. But you know what? If they don't and the mine closes forever, then I can go get another job. Will it be a hardship? Will the economy of the town, the state, and the country be affected? Will the miners be left with nothing? Most likely not, or at least for a relatively short time. What does it mean to say that the rich central bankers acquire that which will appreciate in value while they distribute that which does not or will not? Does it mean they are constantly investing in beachfront property and Las Vegas casinos while I am doomed to buy a new GM vehicle every year? Not in the least.

My economic situation includes, for example, a 401(k) plan. A modest way of deferring not only taxes, but also personal use of my own income. What? Am I letting some rich central banker decide the best way to invest my money? Yup. Am I concerned? Nope. "Why?", you ask. Because, frankly, that's what he does best. I would not trust him to survey my property or draft a set of civil engineering plans and I expect that he would not use me as his financial advisor. Does that make us unequal in status? Well, we're both professionals. His services are valued a little higher than mine, however. Are we both ethical people? I should hope so. But how far do ethics get you in the investment world? At best, I am asking him to predict what economic sectors will have a good year and which ones will not. How is he supposed to know for sure? He doesn't, really.

There is much to be said about whether the price of gold is being "manipulated" and to what extent. But we acknowledge that the very same valuation method is used for things like oil. That is a commodity whose price we, and most of the world, have little or no control over. Is gold different because it is a world currency and the basis for many governments' money? I would venture to say that the American economy is more dependent on price fluctuations of light, sweet crude than on gold. Anyway, what if the price of gold were "deregulated"? What if it rose back up to, say, $600/oz (assuming that a free market would even value it above about $300 anyway)? Would many of the mines in Nevada reopen? You bet. Would the Sixteen-to-One be debt free and loose of all the bonds of political strife and regulatory mire that afflict it now? No. Right now, the mine is troubled not by rich central bankers whose will becomes the guiding light of nations. No, it is troubled by a handful of lawyers and government staff who collectively couldn't agree on a place to eat lunch, let alone regulate a global economy. It wouldn't matter a whit to those people if the Whopper was sold today for a half-million dollars. They would just be pleased as punch to get their share and then stick it to the mine again tomorrow. Because they are evil-doers who would like to destroy the last remaining corporation operating a hardrock gold mine in California? No. Because that's their job, they don't have anyting better to do, that's what the governor wants, that's what 51% percent of the voting population will support, etc., etc., and because, sometimes, democracy stinks when you're in the minority.

The Sixteen-to-One has been and will be a symbol of the [revisionist] history of California and the Gold Rush. But so is the Empire/North Star complex in Grass Valley. Even the State thought so when it bought it and made it a state park. Now, publicly funded, it can demonstrate and educate for a few dollars a day. Michael Miller is getting an education from the State, too. The State is teaching him something that he doesn't want to learn. It is teaching him that most people just simply don't care anymore what exactly brought them or their ancestors to California in the first place. They don't care if the mine remains open or not. They don't care whether Mike goes to jail. They don't care whether the price of gold is $300 or $500 or $1000. Frankly, they probably don't care whether the arsenic level in Kanaka creek is above or below standard. It's the same way that they don't care where their roads, cars, computers, shoes, airplanes, forks, houses, lawn mowers, toothpaste, keys, bridges, light bulbs, space shuttles, aircraft carriers, or nickels come from. Just as long as they have them . . .

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