California high court upholds ban on dredges to extract gold

California’s ban on the use of suction dredges to extract gold from rivers is legal and not overridden by a 19th century federal law that allows mining on federal land, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court’s unanimous decision was a victory for environmentalists and a blow to miners, who argued that the ban essentially stopped gold mining because doing it by hand is labor intensive and makes the enterprise unprofitable.

Environmentalists say suction dredge mining risks killing fish and stirring up toxic mercury.

The high court’s ruling came in an appeal of a criminal case in which miner Brandon Rinehart was convicted of a misdemeanor for suction dredge mining without a permit in 2012 and sentenced to three years of probation.

Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar, writing for the court, said the federal Mining Law of 1872 did not guarantee a right to mine free from regulation.

Instead, its goal was to protect miners’ property rights involving the federal land to which they laid claim, she said.

“The mining laws were neither a guarantee that mining would prove feasible nor a grant of immunity against local regulation, but simply an assurance that the ultimate original landowner, the United States, would not interfere by asserting its own property rights,” she wrote.

Rinehart’s attorney, James Buchal, said the high court showed a “casual disregard” for federal law.

He said Rinehart would likely ask the court to review its ruling or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Suction dredges are powerful underwater vacuums that suck up rocks, gravel and sand from riverbeds to filter out gold.

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Great American River Clean Up – Saturday, September 17th 2016

Great American River Clean Up – Saturday, September 17th 2016 from 9am-12pm

Great American River Clean Up Sep 20, 2014 2015 RESULTS:

25 sites cleaned.
1,550 volunteers participated.
20,000 lbs. of trash removed.

Come join us for our annual Great American River Clean Up! Bring your coworkers, neighbors, friends and family. Help us reach our goal of 2,000 volunteers!

There are 20+ Clean Up locations spanning the Parkway.
Click here for a map of Clean Up locations.
Click here for driving directions.

Click HERE to Register!

For more information please do not hesitate to contact the ARPF office at (916) 486-2773, or send email to volunteer@arpf.org.

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Machete Stabbing On American River Parkway Has Sacramento Cyclists Concerned


Police say a three men and two women stabbed a cyclist with a machete on the popular American River Parkway Thursday night, and the hunt continues for the suspect.

The victim was surrounded just before 10 p.m., on Northgate Boulevard near the Arden-Garden connector.

It’s the second incident along the trail in a week a half. Last week, police found a man’s body about a quarter mile from where the stabbing happened.

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Natomas Levee Project Ready To Begin

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the go-ahead to begin a nine-part levee-improvement project for the Natomas Basin in Sacramento.

The final documents required for the project have been signed and the Army Corps will put the first section of levee repair out to bid this fall. The levees are part of a system that diverts watershed runoff into the American River.

John Hogue is the project manager for the corps. He says each of the nine repair projects is called a “reach” and includes construction of a cutoff wall to prevent seepage. He says each reach project will present its own set of obstacles.

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Mellow participants at alcohol-free ‘Raftopia’ event on American River

Hundreds gathered Saturday morning on the banks of the American River in Rancho Cordova for “Raftopia,” a nonpermitted event that prompted a one-day alcohol ban.

Sgt. A.J. Bennett, a Sacramento County Regional Parks ranger, said the Rancho Cordova Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, volunteer mounted officers and California Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel assisted rangers Saturday to ensure participants had a safe day on the river.

“The water will wear a swimmer out in a hurry,” Bennett said.

Park ranger Greg Stelzner said the Saturday crowd was mellow.

“We have a good crowd. … A couple of church groups came through,” Stelzner said. Rafters were cooperative, either throwing beer away or taking it back to their parked vehicles.

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Man drowns while swimming in Lake Natoma

A 21-year-old UC Merced student drowned in Lake Natoma just after 1 p.m. Saturday.

Tu Nghiem, 21, of Sacramento was swimming with a relative between Nimbus Flat and the Sacramento State Aquatic Center, said Sgt. Eric Dales of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. They were not wearing life jackets and were not strong swimmers, Dales said.

Lifeguards saw them struggling in the water and jumped in to rescue the men. They managed to save one man, but Nghiem had already gone under the water when they returned for him, Dales said.

The Drowning Accident Rescue Team was called, but Nghiem’s body was recovered before it could begin a search.

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Non-permitted ‘Raftopia’ prompts alcohol ban on American River

A alcohol restriction has been issued for the American River on Saturday from Hazel to Watt avenues in preparation for the non-permitted “Raftopia” event taking place that day.

Michael Doane, chief ranger for Sacramento County Regional Parks, said the main concern is public safety.

“(Raftopia) is formerly known as Rafting Gone Wild,” Doane said.

Six arrests were made at the July Rafting Gone Wild event, during which Sammy Diaz, the event organizer, escaped law enforcement officials by jumping off of a bridge and swimming away. Later that month, Diaz was arrested on two outstanding warrants: a misdemeanor charge of resisting or obstructing a peace officer and a misdemeanor charge of illegally jumping from a bridge at another unpermitted rafting event on the American River.

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Low lake level prompts reduced speed limit on Folsom Lake

There’s plenty of summer left, but the season for boating at Folsom Lake is getting cut short because of low lake levels.

Starting Monday, the maximum speed limit for boaters and other watercraft will be reduced to 5 miles per hour [mph].

“It’s very early, and it’s sad,” boater Darrell Perry said. “It feels unfair because it’s our water here. We’re getting penalized for it.”

According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the speed limit is necessary because the low water level has brought rocks and debris in the lake closer to the surface, and boats are in danger of being scratched, or worse, in shallow areas.

Many experienced boaters aren’t happy about their season being cut short. Jeff Kirsten has been water skiing at Folsom Lake for 20 years. As a water skier, Kirsten said the best time for him to practice his sport is during the later month, but the reduced speed limit would keep him from doing so.

“Trying to ski, it gets very hard when you’re in the peak season and lots of boats are cutting up the water,” Kirsten explained. “I like September, even October. Much better opportunity to water ski and not just pull inner tubers around.”

He decided to write an email to the Department of Parks and Recreation questioning the need for the reduced speed limit. Kirsten believes boaters should boat at their own risk.

“If I hit something, that’s between me and the lake and my boat. I wouldn’t expect an agency to be responsible for it,” Kirsten said.

On Saturday, he was out at Folsom Lake to talk to other boaters and hear their thoughts.

Boaters who agreed with Kirsten said boats have depth finders that will tell you if the water is too shallow, and experienced boaters know to approach with caution.

Despite the reduced speed, some boaters are choosing to see the lake half full.

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Grass fire burns 6 acres on river parkway near Gold River

The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District reports that crews have halted the progress of fire burning along the American River Parkway near the Gold River access.

The fire was reported at 4:27 p.m., on the south side of the American River west of the Natomas Fish Hatchery. Capt. Michelle Eidam, fire district spokeswoman, said the fire was burning in heavy vegetation, with trees torching. She said county park rangers closed the bike trail in that area due to the firefighting activity.

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Possible explosive device disabled near Cal Expo

Sacramento police report that a potentially explosive device located in the American River Parkway southeast of Cal Expo has been disabled.

Officers were dispatched to the area of the parkway near the 500 block of Ethan Way at 12:03 p.m. Monday regarding a report of a suspicious device, said Officer Matthew McPhail, police spokesman. Officers confirmed that what appeared to be a homemade destructive device was in the parkway near the bike trail.

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