Gold miner Cliff Tracy wants to dig in again on critical salmon stream in southwest Oregon

Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 5:08 PM     Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 12:28 PM
 By Scott Learn, The Oregonian

Say this for Oregon gold miner Cliff Tracy: He's persistent. 

In 2009, Tracy was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of illegally mining on U.S. Forest Service land next to a critical salmon stream in southwest Oregon. 

Now, he has applied to mine at the same spot again, and the Forest Service says his prior conviction won't factor in to their evaluation of his new proposal. Neither will the $24,000 of taxpayer money spent to reclaim the site, even though Tracy's mining will at least initially undo the work. 

Tracy, 39, has tried since 1996 to mine on the 5-acre site next to Sucker Creek, and says his right to mine on public lands is guaranteed by the law that helped settle the West: the federal General Mining Act of 1872.

With the price of gold at all-time highs, about $1,500 an ounce, Tracy says the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management can get today's miners to restore old-timer mining sites like the ones that line Sucker Creek. If the agencies continue stalling permits, he says, they risk more miners taking matters into their own hands. 

"The cause I'm promoting here is not anarchy," Tracy says. "I have been trying to work with them for 14 years, and I'm still willing to cooperate." 

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