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Southern Oregon Miner Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Unlawful Mining

February 06, 2012

MEDFORD, Ore. - United States District Court Judge Owen M. Panner sentenced Clifford Randall Tracy, 40, of Gold Hill, Oregon, to one year in prison for conducting unlawful mining operations on lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Tracy was also ordered to pay $4,360 restitution for reclamation costs.

In February 2011, Tracy proposed a gold mining operation on BLM lands on Galice Creek in Josephine County, Oregon. BLM informed Tracy that he must submit a plan of operations and post a bond before beginning any mining activity, because his mining proposal affected critical habitat for threatened species. Tracy ignored BLM's procedures and began mining without BLM approval in May 2011, using heavy equipment to clear vegetation, excavate a large holding pond, and process soil, causing significant surface disturbance to land alongside Galice Creek and sediment discharge into the creek. His illegal mining activity was discovered in June 2011 when BLM geologists observed sediment discharge in Galice Creek over a mile downstream from the mining site. A photograph taken at the time is attached to this press release. BLM law enforcement immediately presented Tracy with a cease and desist order, but Tracy ignored their directive and continued to operate.

Tracy was convicted after a two-day jury trial in Medford. This is Tracy's second conviction for unlawful mining on federal public lands. In November 2009, Tracy was convicted for unlawfully conducting mining operations on Forest Service land. In that case, Tracy became frustrated with the Forest Service approval process and began a mining operation along Sucker Creek, also in Josephine County, without any permits. He used heavy equipment to construct a road, excavate a large holding pond, and cut several large trees, resulting in damages totaling $30,695 for rehabilitation costs and lost timber value. He was sentenced to one year probation with no fine, restitution, or imprisonment. In contrast, the one year incarceration imposed in the present case is the maximum sentence that may be imposed under federal law.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Douglas W. Fong.

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