Seems like the feds are – so far – handling this in a reasonable manner. This could easily spiral out of control, but all parties involved seem to be squared away, for the time being. We’re going to continue seeing these types of regional outbursts of resistance.
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) – Some local constitutional activists have gathered in southern Oregon to support gold miners in a dispute with the federal government.
The Grants Pass Daily Courier (here) reported that about a dozen people, some dressed in military gear and carrying guns, were milling about a rural property outside Grants Pass on Tuesday. A sign at the end of the driveway said they were the Josephine County Oath Keepers.
Group spokeswoman Mary Emerick says they also had people at the mining claim, located on federal land outside the community of Galice. She says they are defending constitutional rights.
“Our mission is simply to make sure that the mine owners constitutional, Fifth Amendment rights are in place- the right to due process,” she told the Mail Tribune newspaper in Medford. “If this resolves itself tomorrow, we’re ready to pack up and leave, but we’re prepared (for the long term).”
It was not immediately clear if the action would escalate.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management Medford District spokesman Jim Whittington said a crew looking for abandoned mine tunnels left over from the Gold Rush stumbled on the Suger Pine Mine claim late last year on federal land outside the historical mining community of Galice. Miners had posted a watchman to keep people out, built a cabin, put in a water line and cut down trees and were digging with a backhoe and a bulldozer.
Claim holders George Backes of Grants Pass and Rick Barclay of Applegate were formally notified to cease operations until they filed a plan of operations, required for major excavation, Whittington said. They could tear down the cabin and restore the site, or appeal the finding they are in non-compliance to the BLM state director or the Interior Board of Land Appeals.
Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel said in a statement that a deputy and a BLM ranger served the notice of non-compliance and forms to file an appeal on a claim holder Monday, and the Oath Keepers started providing private security at the claim.
Whittington said the agency was dealing with the dispute administratively and had no plans to send in law enforcement.
“We’re just trying to work through the issues and give people time to figure stuff out and come into compliance,” he told The Associated Press.
He added that the district geologist had heard from a lawyer representing the miners, who indicated they planned to appeal. They have 10 days to appeal.
“What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”
~Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787