Friday, March 23, 2012

Can I Do Some Small Scale Mining In Your Backyard?

During a casual conversation with the President of a local GPAA gold prospecting club, I used the term "Recreational Prospecting" and was instantly admonished and told that the "correct" term we should be using (according to him) is "small-scale mining" or "small-scale prospecting" because (according to him) using the term "recreational" puts us (recreational prospectors) at the mercy of local governments and regulating committees without any power to fight for our right to pursue our passion.
Those of us involved in the formation of Gold Unlimited believe the exact opposite is true and that by relying on mining laws (small scale or otherwise) which do absolutely nothing for recreational prospectors, those who advocate the term "small-scale mining" are contributing to the continued loss of public lands available to pursue our hobby.
Mining laws do nothing to protect your ability to prospect "recreationally" in public parks and along public trails or other developed public lands. If prospectors are left to ONLY prospect on a claim or potential claim, then prospecting as we know it is dead and 99% of the places to prospect, pan, sluice and highbank are gone and off limits. Here in Colorado we are seeing the continued shrinking of available public places to prospect before our eyes. We have seen gold panning banned in Wheat Ridge, Boulder and even Breckenridge without even a whimper from national and local prospecting clubs. There is a park in Wheat Ridge named "Prospect Park" where any form of prospecting is illegal. Ironic?
We believe that the real power to preserve the future of recreational gold prospecting lies in the fact that it is "recreational" and not commercial. For example do sport fishermen consider themselves "small-scale fishing operations"? Of course not.
Consider it from the perspective of a land owner or claim owner that you are approaching to prospect on his (or her) land...
You have two choices here for the question to ask the land owner.
Question #1- "Would you mind if I went down to the creek behind your house (or business) there and do some "small-scale gold mining"?
Question #2- "Would you mind if I went down to the creek behind your house (or business) to do some "recreational gold prospecting"?
If YOU were the land (or claim) owner, which question might be more likely to get a "yes" answer from you?
If you are a city, county or other government agency, which question is more likely to get a "yes" response?
If we are to retain our ability to have access to public land for the purpose of our hobby then we need to educate the public on what we are doing instead of confusing them with incorrect terminology.
We are NOT small-scale gold miners unless we are out there on open blm land prospecting for the sole purpose of filing a claim. If you are on land that is un-claimable like city, county, parks, etc. then there is no reason for you to be there prospecting as a small scale miner since you cannot file a claim there.
Dakota Fred and the Hoffman boys are "small-scale miners". Jesse Peterson owner of Vic's is also a small scale miner.
We are Recreational gold Prospectors. It is a hobby, a sport, a recreation and NOT a commercial endeavor and therefore should NOT be regulated in the same fashion as small-scale miners and should not be limited to the same guidelines and rules as commercial small scale mining operations.
Recreational prospectors have the power in our number should we band together as one force like fishermen, kayakers and other recreational groups have done. There are millions of recreational prospectors across the US and maybe a few thousand small scale miners at most, yet millions are spent proctecting the rights of the miners and virtually zero is spent protecting the rights of the recreational prospectors.
We will be speaking at local GPAA clubs on this very subject and welcome any debate or input as we seek to protect the rights of recreational prospectors just as other groups have fought and won for access to steams for other recreational purposes which were far less historically significant as gold prospecting.
Denver Colorado was literally built over 100 years ago with the gold that was panned out of the S Platte River, Clear Creek and it's tributaries and we believe that people 200 years from now should have the right to experience that same thrill as those early frontiersmen did.
We invite all prospectors (recreational and otherwise) to join us as we change the perception of what gold prospecting is all about and protect future generations rights to experience this great recreational activity.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gold Unlimited Teams Up With State Aquatics and Riparian Biologists

Here are a few pictures from one of our days on the stream with state of Colorado aquatics and riparian biologists Dave Winters with the National Forest Service, Paul Winkle with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Parks, Jay Thompson from the BLM, Deb Grieco from the National Forest Service and Bill Janowsky also from the National Forest Service!
A little snow didn't dampen the spirit of these folks, they were "on the gold" and having fun!
This team of state biologists will be helping Gold Unlimited start off on solid ground in terms of what gold prospectors are doing in the streams and to the streams and also with education of the general public about prospecting and educating prospectors about implementing proper methods of creating fish habitat and restoring creek banks and shorelines.
Special Thanks to "Red" Wilcox, Kevin Singel, "Yukon Jim" Blankenship and Johnnie Walker for helping make this day a reality!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Group Seeking to Create Permanent Historic Gold Panning Park

How many gold prospecting clubs and organizations have marine biologists working with them?
One of the first things to come out of our recent activities with a group of aquatic and riparian biologists from the National Forest Service, BLM and Colorado Dept of Parks and Wildlife was that one of the sections of Clear Creek that we took them too known as Arapahoe City/Arapahoe bar, should be "set aside forever by the State of Colorado for the specific recreational purpose of gold panning and recreational prospecting".
Yes, you read that correctly my friends.
With the Republic of Wheat Ridge perched like a vulture waiting for the land near this location to sell so they can quickly annex it for the tax revenue, we are facing a certain loss of accessibility here if something isn't done and done quickly.
According to these 5 top experts in their field (aquatic and riparian biology), nothing that recreational gold prospectors are doing in this section of the creek has any measurable or permanent or long term impact on the creek or the water quality regarding fish, wildlife and vegetation yet the perception by passers by on the bike trail is just the opposite.
Last weekend prospectors were approached by a woman who vowed to get whatever they were doing in that creek outlawed and banned as she claimed they were killing fish and scaring the ducks away. Panning is already against the law less than a few hundred feet from this location in the City of Wheat Ridge.
Arapahoe City itself is perhaps one of the most important gold panning locations in Colorado history. From John Hamilton Gregory to George Andrew Jackson, even Tom Golden and the Estes Party and Lewis Ralston.... all of these men lived at Arapahoe city where they could pan enough gold during the harsh winters to survive until spring year after year until the more famous mother lode gold strikes were made near Central City and Idaho Springs.
You might even say that Arapahoe City, the gold and the men who lived there built Denver.
If ever a site deserved to be set aside as a permanent tribute to the men and women who panned those waters 150 years ago, it is Arapahoe City where you can still find the best gold around to this very day and according to the School of Mines.... forever. Future generations should be able to come here and pan the same water and find gold just like John Hamilton Gregory and Lewis Ralston did back in the early 1850's and those of us charter members of Gold Unlimited are going to try and make that happen.
Please join us as we undertake this monumental task... it will take the teamwork of virtually every recreational gold prospector in Colorado, (along with our group of most generous and helpful state marine biologists, a couple of historians, native Americans and Gold Unlimited org) so we invite GPAA clubs and individuals alike to help.
email us at for info on how you can help make the Arapahoe City Gold Panning Park a reality!
Images from the Arvada Gardner Society.

Gold Etiquette 101

Of course just about everyone knows that you should never walk directly upstream of someone else's sluice box but...
What is it about gold prospectors that makes them pass up a quarter mile of good digging spots where no one is digging that day to come down and set-up right on top of the first prospectors they come across?
It reminds me of the novice or casual fishermen that move in right on top of you to the point of throwing their line right across yours ending up in a tangled mess.
I don't know about you, but when we go out to the river or creek, it's as much to enjoy the beauty of being somewhere on a creek semi-alone without feeling like you might as well be at the mall, elbow to elbow with shoppers fighting for a sale item.
We were at the Arapahoe bar today conducting one of our guided gold adventures and letting our customers enjoy the beautiful day on the creek and had intentionally picked a spot away from our usual locations... with a quarter mile of river in either direction open and available and with good gold, two different prospectors came down and set up within a few feet of our setup.... in fact their sluice was in between our sluice and where we were digging so now we have to go around them to get to the hole we were working.
So please, as we teach prospectors on our guided adventures... give other people some space and pick a place far enough from others so as not to impact their day and in the process it will make your day a little better too.
Goldstrike Adventures