U.S. Forest Service (USFS) intimidating, and lying to prospectors - Non-Responsive to Citizens’

U.S. Forest Service employees continually harass prospectors in our National Forests by intimidation, lying and misstating Laws and Regulations. When confronted by facts in writing, they either site additional untruths or simply refuse to respond.
By: Gary Goldberg, Director - PLP Public Relations
Oct. 26, 2011 - PRLog -- A long trail of discussions between Mr. Gary Goldberg of Rancho Cucamonga,Ca and the U.S. Forest Service has been going on since June 20, 2011. Mr. Goldberg is a Gold Prospector living near the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California. He has been prospecting for gold since 1987 in the local areas as well as in the gold-rich “Mother Lode” area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Mr. Goldberg is a 61 year old U.S. Navy - Disabled Veteran,who owned his own business before becoming “economically unemployed”.As the spot price of gold has increased to unseen levels of more than $1,600 per oz. in recent months,Mr. Goldberg wanted to resume his prospecting in the Angeles National Forest’s East Fork of the San Gabriel River.While he has prospected there in years past,the U.S. Forest Service has lately been intimidating prospectors who try their luck in the area.

In addition to falsely telling prospectors that prospecting is illegal in the San Gabriel District of the Angeles National Forest,they have begun ticketing prospectors’ cars for not obtaining an Adventure Pass for the area.The Forest Service has several parking passes available to the public for recreational purposes.

They also have what is called an Administrative Pass,which is to be issued to people who “may visit their public lands for purposes other than recreation.”The USFS web site goes on to explain, that Administrative Passes “are also issued to…persons conducting mining and prospecting activities.”(ref: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/ap/questions-and-an...)

On June 20th,Mr. Goldberg sent a letter to the San Gabriel River Ranger O’Dell Tucker,requesting an Administrative Pass for the East Fork of the San Gabriel River,for the purpose of Prospecting.Not receiving a response,he escalated the matter to Ranger Tucker’s supervisor–Forest Supervisor Tom Contreras,calling his office repeatedly,without reply.

Finally getting a message forwarded to Contreras, Mr. Goldberg received a “panic” call from Ranger Tucker demanding that they have a “face-to-face meeting” immediately at Ranger O’Dell’s office.(Note that this was Friday,July 8th at 3 P.M. Mr. Goldberg said that there was no way he would meet with the Ranger on at that time  without and previous notice.An agreement was reached that the meeting would take place on Tuesday,July 12th at 10 A.M. when Ranger Tucker could have two of his “experts” at the meeting with him.

Mr. Goldberg was concerned that this was going to be a three against one meeting,so he chose to invite Mr. Jerry Hobbs–President of Public Lands for the People(PLP)organization and Mr. Paul Coambs–a retired law enforcement investigator and Board Member of PLP.

At the meeting,with much discussion and no resolution,Ranger Tucker was asked to reply to Mr. Goldberg’s June 20th letter in writing.Again several weeks without response,Mr. Goldberg again escalated the issue to Contreras.After a brief, evasive response,Mr. Goldberg was assured that he would be receiving a letter response very soon.
On August 8th, Mr. Goldberg receive a letter from Ranger Tucker stating that his request for the Administrative Pass had been denied and was referred to Forest Service’s Surface Use Regulations found in 36 CFR 228, Subpart A.

On August 22nd, Mr. Goldberg wrote a lengthy,certified letter to Contreras stating the letter from Ranger O’Dell was “allusive as well as incorrect, in that 36 CFR 228, Subpart A has NOTHING to do with Administrative Passes.” Additionally,Mr. Goldberg’s letter correctly stated the text from Title 36:Parks, Forests,and Public Property,Part 228, Subpart A – Locatable Minerals,paragraphs 228.1,228.2,and 228.4.It also cited 16 USC Chapter 87 – Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement, Sec. 6802 – Recreation Fee Authority dated January 7, 2011, which strictly prohibits the charging of fees “Solely for parking,undesignated parking,or picnicking along roads or trailsides.”

Mr. Goldberg’s opinion was that the USFS was charging ILLEGAL Fees in the San Gabriel River District and again requested an Administrative Pass. Again, the letter went unanswered by Contreras, so the matter was escalated to Regional Forester Randy Moore on Sept. 7th. All relating documents were forwarded to Mr. Moore via e-mail, requesting a telephone conversation on the following day. This too went unanswered; so on the evening of Sept. 8th, Mr. Goldberg sent an e-mail to Associate Chief Mary Wagner of the USFS in Washington, D.C. with a complete record of all correspondence relating to the matter.

On Sept. 9th, Mr. Goldberg called to speak with Associate Chief Wagner but was told she was in a meeting.He was then referred to her Chief of Staff, Tim DeCoster. After a short conversation,Mr. DeCoster agreed that the Ranger Tucker letter and Supervisor Contreras’ non-response was not sufficient to resolve the issue, and promised that he would discuss the matter with Randy Moore. Mr. DeCoster indicated that Mr. Moore would be "personally responding"  to him shortly.

Forester Moore never responded to Mr. Goldberg, but instead, directed Mr. Contreras to reply by return certified letter to Mr. Goldberg.On Sept. 13th, Mr. Contreras’ letter misleadingly stated that the East Fork of the San Gabriel River was a “withdrawn area” and “All Mining operations under the1872 Mining Law are prohibited on the East Fork.  Mining operations include location of mining claims, prospecting, mining, including panning,sluicing,dredging,high-banking,etc.” The letter then goes on to incorrectly state that Public Law 578,the 1928 Watershed Withdrawal Act, withdrew The East Fork from entry and location under the mining laws…Therefore, National Forest System lands within the East Fork of the San Gabriel River are not open to prospecting or any other mining operations.”

After careful research, Mr. Goldberg found a document produced by John D. Wagner, M.A. Assistant Public Affairs Officer,Angeles National Forest which touted the exact words plagiarized by Supervisor Contreras in his Sept.13th letter to Mr. Goldberg.  In addition, Mr. Goldberg’s research found the following statements and sent them in a certified letter to Chief of Staff–Tim DeCoster in Washington, D.C.:

“Lands in Angeles National Forest were withdrawn from mineral entry in 1928…to conserve water resources and to encourage reforestation of the watershed(Public Law No. 578, Sec. 4135 – 70th Congress); withdrawn lands within the wilderness study area, mainly on the west side,…”  “The law does not prohibit prospecting and allows entry to proven ore deposits but effectively discourages complex exploration methods.” [From Geological Survey Bulletin 1506-E “Economic Appraisal, Cucamonga, Wilderness”, by Nicholas T. Zilka and Steven W. Schmauch, U.S. Bureau of Mines, page 87.]

As of this date,NO RESPONSE HAS BEEN RECEIVED, AGAIN! Consequently, Mr. Goldberg sent another e-mail to Associate Chief Mary Wagner, advising her that more than 30 days had passed since his letter of Sept. 20th was sent to Mr. DeCoster and received by his office on Sept. 27th and he requested that she contact him via telephone no later than Oct. 26th or the matter would be further escalated to USFS Chief,Tom Tidwell and further to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, if necessary.

This clearly indicates that the USFS is NON-RESPONSIVE, Misleading, and a Buck-passing group of Bureaucrats, similar to MOST Government Agencies these days.They legislate laws,rules,and regulations and then twist and bend them by their own self-serving interpretations,to mislead the American Public.

Mr. Goldberg has stated, “It is a travesty what is going on in this country, with politicians lying, cheating, and misrepresenting laws and truths.This little issue of an Administrative Pass pales by comparison to other more significant issues being perverted by our government, but clearly shows how they are irrefutably lying to the American Public.”

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Plp's mission statement: "to represent and assist outdoor user groups and individuals interested in keeping public and private lands open to prospecting, mining,and outdoor recreation through public education, scientific data, and legal means."
Source:Gary Goldberg, Director - PLP Public Relations
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Tags:U.s. Forest Service, Usfs, East Fork, San Gabriel River, Gold, Prospecting, Goverment lies, Intimidation, Illegal Fees
Location:Rancho Cucamonga - California - United States
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