Two Oregon miners expose the repressive and criminal activity of employees of the United States Forest Service.
Southern Oregon Miner Fights
For His Rights
Applegate, OR – At his “Twin Cedars” mining claim on the Sturgis Fork of Carberry Creek near the Josephine-Jackson County border, gold miner David Everist has been actively fighting the United States Forest Service for the last three years.
Everist's trouble with the United States Forest Service began in late 2009 when he was among a group of seven independent Oregon gold miners who were targeted for living on their placer mining claims, a right he says, that was granted to them by Congress in 1872, but is rarely practiced by most miners today due to ever increasing pressure by environmentalists and federal agencies.
In August of 2010, Everist was convicted by U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman for “unlawful occupancy” under a statute that Everist says he was exempt from, but that had also been repealed. At the time, he faced the possibility of serving six months in prison and $5000 in fines. Ultimately, Mosmon sentenced Everist to probation and ordered him to stay off his mining claim for one year. Everist states that during his trial, Mosmon refused to acknowledge The General Mining Act of 1872 or current federal statutes that derive from the same act of Congress. He is currently awaiting the results on his appeal on Mosmon's decision.
Everist says that he performed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to find out how much of the public's tax money had been spent to prosecute him for exercising his right to live on his mining claim. “They won't tell me,” he says in a video released by the Jefferson Mining District about he and his mining associate Marcus Davis's most recent run-in with USFS. “Instead, they give me these long files and tell me to do all these calculations for it. So I did. On the seven miners that were charged and tried, they spent $11 million dollars.” Everist notes that this figure does not include the fees of his court appointed attorney, Steven Sherlag of Portland, nor the financial damages that he believes will eventually be awarded to him for the violation of his rights.
Over the last two years, Everist has bantered back and forth with USFS and other parties who were involved in throwing him off his property, resulting in him issuing a thick stack of legal notices against several employees of USFS, as well as against Judge Michael Mosmon.
After fulfilling the requirements of the order of Judge Mosman, Everist returned to Twin Cedars in October of 2011 with his companion, a large friendly Black Lab type dog who is known to happily greet his visitors.
On February 9th, 2012, Everist's long fight with the Forest Service reached an even higher level when he and Davis were confronted by five employees of USFS, three of which were armed and wearing ballistic vests. Everist pointed out a “No Trespassing” sign he had posted near his camp and asked if they had a warrant to enter upon his mining property, which the State of Oregon recognizes as real estate. Everist was told that their agency did not need a warrant.
Everist was then presented with a cease and desist order signed by District Ranger Donna Mickley stating that due to his letters to the Forest Service and other agencies demanding co-ordination meetings with them over a number of issues, that it appeared clear that he did not intend to leave his claim. The notice then instructed Everist to remove his possessions from what the Forest Service asserts is their property and to vacate the site within ten days. According to Everist, one of the armed employees, identified as Donald J. Ross, threatened him with arrest if he did not leave by February 19th, adding that his possessions at the location, which includes a camp trailer, mining tools and personal items, would also be sold at auction or destroyed. A similar cease and desist order was also issued to Davis.
Everist remarked that the notice is “retaliation against me for the legal actions that I've taken against them for co-ordination of my rights”.
This is not the first time that the Forest Service has threatened to destroy Everist's personal property. In fact, in 2009, without a court order, USFS employee Donald J. Ross burned a small building that Everist owned. Davis too, who has prospected for gold in the vicinity for several years, also accuses Ross of seizing and destroying his property without a warrant or legal notice.
“They stole my car, my sluice box, my gold, everything I had at my camp,” Davis recalls.
“I was afraid that they were going to shoot my dog and kidnap me,” Everist said of the unwanted visit by armed government employees.
“It was scary,” Davis added, as he recounted the story.
Yet despite the threat of arrest and the destruction of his personal possessions, Everist says that he will not leave his property, adding that he has purposefully removed all of the firearms from the property that are kept to protect him and his dog from bears and other wild animals.
“I'm not going to give them an excuse to shoot me,” he said, "But they will have to arrest me to get me to leave."
“The State of Oregon recognizes that I have real estate,” he said. “As a miner, I'm not denied the same rights as anyone else.”
Everist is requesting that miners, as well as non-miners, come to his claim on the 19th, requesting that they bring video cameras to document his confrontation with the Forest Service.
Dave Everist talks about
USFS's agression on the Bill Meyer Show
Webmaster Note: Those
interested in supporting Dave's fight, be they miners or non-miners, are
invited to attend the Friday February 17th, 2012 meeting of the Jefferson
Mining District. JMD meetings are typically closed to the public, but in
light of the situation, we would like to invite everyone who is interested
in private property rights to attend this meeting. For details on how to
get our meetings, visit this
Rights (dot) org is copyright 2010 by the South West Oregon Mining