San Miguel River -- In Stream Placer Mining - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-08-2017   #1
Edd Franz, BLM Montrose
 
Montrose, Colorado
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 89
San Miguel River -- In Stream Placer Mining

There will be a placer mining operation in the San Miguel River for much of the summer. The operation is about one mile downriver from Deep Creek (near the igloo-shaped county road shed) near where Willow Creek comes in (right about the same place where the highway is down to one lane while they rebuild the eastbound lane). The claimant will have a camp along the M59 trail on his claim. He uses a motorized floating suction dredge. He was operating there late season last year after most of the boating was done.

The part of his claim that he intends to work this summer is in the river channel on either side of an island. See attached map. From June 9th to August 5th this summer he plans to work in the channel on the river-right side of the island. Then on August 5th he plans to move his operation to the river-left channel.

He will place buoys (empty milk jugs painted red, anchored to the river bottom) across the entrance to the channel he's working. BLM will have signs at the put-in alerting boaters to the mining operation, as well as one on river-right just above the island where the mining work is occurring. This lowest sign will advise boaters to run left for the period that he will be working the right channel, then it will advise boaters to run right late season when he's working the left channel.

Late season the river may be too low to run right, in which case it will likely be a portage.

The claimant uses a deadman to anchor the dredge in the river, and it is aligned with the flow of the river. While he's underwater in SCUBA gear he has a partner top-side watching for anything coming from upstream (logs, boats, etc.).

This is a legal, valid mining claim, and he has a legal right to work the claim. He is aware and supportive of boater safety around his operation, and has worked with San Miguel County officials and BLM staff try to minimize the disruption to river recreationists while still being able to work his claim.

He intends to begin his operation Friday, June 9, 2017.
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Old 06-08-2017   #2
 
ColoradoDave's Avatar
 
Western Slope, CO, Colorado
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 282
Just to clarify, this will affect the normal run commonly called the ' sawpit ' run where the usual put in is at Bilk Creek and the takeout in Placerville ( Or beyond )
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Old 06-09-2017   #3
Edd Franz, BLM Montrose
 
Montrose, Colorado
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Yes, the mining operation is between Bilk Creek and Saw Pit.
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Old 06-09-2017   #4
 
Telluride, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
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efranz,

Is this your claim?
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Old 06-10-2017   #5
CBrow
 
Norwood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
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Yeah right. Just who is this person or persons that has no problem disrupting summer recreation on a free flowing river and silting the water which is detrimental to fish and other wildlife. Is this a commercial mining
operation? Sorry but this sucks!!! I've seen these Ah&&&s all over Alaska
and they are almost always aggressive jerks who run people off public access and usually carry firearms to prove a point. This is not good news.
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Old 06-10-2017   #6
 
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Western Slope, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
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Posts: 282
I believe the crux of the issue is that rivers in Colorado were not declared navigable waters before the state was formed so were not considered public land at that time and therefore were available for private ownership.

To change that now would require the state to pay fair value to every landowner for the portion of their land that lies below the high water mark of the river.

If that ever did happen, though, then no one would be able to impound the river with makeshift weirs, wires, fences, etc, nor dump or dredge in any area below the high water mark. People would be then be free to not only float, but to land anywhere below the high water mark.
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Old 06-10-2017   #7
 
Ridgway, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 217
IMO, we need to adhere to playground rules here. This guy has his rights to his mining claim and seems to be interested in working with the boating community.
It would be nice if he could understand that the boatable flows on this stretch of the Mig. are only a couple of weeks, and that by 7/1, we're, for the most part, done for the season.
What is far more concerning to me is what broke loose above the Howard's fork the other day. People in Ophir said that it sounded like a freight train. All I know is that the the Mig. was a disturbing shade of chocolate/orange...
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Old 06-10-2017   #8
 
Telluride, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 12
Agreed, rtsideup. Happy to see the claim owner posting on the forum and giving a heads up to the community.

My plight with the operational plan is I have run that section of the Miguel in a 10' raft down to 250cfs. The low water channel is the left run. My final lap on the Miguel was late August/early Sept. The option of portaging in this zone would be problematic for obvious reasons. The "better" option would be to take the right run and drag your boat for a 100 yrds or so.
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Old 06-11-2017   #9
$5 shower
 
Historic Montrose, Colorado
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Just for the record, the claim DOES NOT belong to efranz.

Make no mistake, Edd posted here as a service to the boating community.
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Old 06-11-2017   #10
 
placerville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Apr 2004
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We saw the sign tonight saying go left. We did, thinking there was a hazard of some sort on the right, as we had no idea about the mining. Thanks for getting this info out efranz. Is the entire right channel blocked? We could not see anything over on the right, but did not get out of our boats. I'll go right tomorrow evening and see whats going on. Flows are high now and have been great the last few weeks, and it looks like we will have good flows into july.
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