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Virginia Creeks and Rivers

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Virginia Creeks and Rivers

Postby duckman1074 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 2:21 pm

Hello all,
I am a net researcher (hobby level).
I have done a bit of research I wanted to share with everyone.
I asked a simple question and received a reply that you should know.
The outcome as I understand it, you should use caution when looking for gold in a creek or river.
You could be breaking some laws somewhere, but it's not against the law until you get caught.

Also, if a club grants use on a creek or river without getting the required permits from the corps, they may also be breaking the law. This should be reviewed from a legal standpoint. Paying a land use fee may not be the only thing that is required. A land use fee would only grant permission to dig on the landowner's property and not cover a creek.

For those whom say it is legal and considered recreational prospecting, read this http://www.au-prospecting.com/gold/viewtopic.php?p=762&sid=f104b49d18efec8832ae9121c2db25da

No other information or location has been provided to the corps.

-------------------------------------

To: Corps of Engineer's -
Question:

Greetings,
I would like to inquire about creeks and rivers in Virginia.
(a) Does the Corps of Engineers oversee and manage the creeks and rivers?
(b) Are there any regulations related to metal detecting or gold panning in a creek or river?
(c) Who really owns a creek or river?

Thank you,
----------------------------------------------------

Answer -

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulates certain work in creeks and rivers
under our authority contained in Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The Norfolk District is one of 38 Corps
operating districts in the United States, and our borders for regulatory
purposes encompass all of Virginia. You can find an overview of our
Regulatory Program at http://www.usace.army.mil/cw/cecwo/reg/oceover.htm.

Under Section 10, we regulate many kinds of work (structures,
dredging/excavation, filling) in navigable waters of the United States. By
definition, "navigable waters of the United States" includes all tidal waters
(up to their mean high water shorelines), as well as many traditionally
navigable rivers (up to their ordinary high water shorelines). You will find
a list of "navigable waters of the United States" found in Virginia at
http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/technical%20services/Regulatory%20branch/Guidance/section_10_determinations.pdf.

Under Section 404, we regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into
waters of the United States. "Waters of the United States" is a broader term
than "navigable waters of the United States" and the former incorporates all
of the latter, as well as most wetlands and smaller creeks and streams.

When I use the term "regulate" I mean that we require that a permit be issued
before work may legally begin. We issue close to 4000 permits a year within
Virginia. We also have enforcement power under both of these laws.

Simply moving a metal detector over or through the water requires no permit
from the Corps. Moving a metal detector through the sediment on the bottom
of a waterbody may require a permit from us, depending on the amount of
sediment being moved (which could constitute dredging/excavation and/or a
discharge of dredged material). Removal of any found metals may also
constitute dredging or excavation and may also require authorization. You
should also be aware that any proposed disturbance or removal of historical
artifacts and/or military materiel would trigger a more detailed review and
may not be allowed. Gold panning typically involves removing sediment from a
waterbody and (often) dumping it back into the waterbody again. This work
usually requires a permit from us.

You can find a copy of our joint permit application at
http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/technical%20services/Regulatory%20branch/JPA.asp.

In Virginia, the bottoms of natural waterbodies are typically owned by the
Commonwealth. This means Virginia usually owns bottoms channelward of the
mean low water shoreline in tidal waters, and lands that are submerged by
ordinary high water in nontidal rivers, creeks, and streams. Use of these
bottoms is administered by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, located
in Newport News. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality also
regulates some kinds of work that might be accomplished by metal detecting
and gold panning, depending on the equipment used and the amount of sediment
and water being affected. In addition, many Virginia localities have local
wetlands boards as well as boards with regulatory authority pursuant to the
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. The VMRC, DEQ, and local wetlands boards
all use the same joint permit application form, so you would only need to
fill out one application form to satisfy all of these agencies' needs.

In order to give you a definitive answer as to whether the work you're
thinking about pursuing requires a permit, we would need to have a better
description of the kind of equipment you propose to use, how much
sediment/water you plan to move, whether you would place the waste material
back into the water or wetlands, and where you propose to conduct these
operations. You could either accomplish this by writing or calling each of
these agencies with the specifics of your project, or else by filling out and
submitting the joint permit application. If you choose the latter route,
agencies that do not require permits for your work would respond with a
letter indicating that no permit is required.

Bob Hume
Chief, Regulatory Office
Norfolk District Army Corps of Engineers
757-201-7657
-------------------- Issued by Duckman1074 ------------------------
Last edited by duckman1074 on Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby woodchuck » Mon Feb 11, 2008 2:40 pm

Duckman, it is legal to dredge in VA. with a 4" dredge or less. Unless historical or protected areas. It is considered recreational prospecting. panning and sluicing is also permitted. I am sure others can give you a more detailed explanation of VA. prospecting laws. 8)
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My Point

Postby duckman1074 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:45 pm

Here is a reply to non-commerical prospecting from Marine Resources Commission -
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You don’t need a state permit for small-scale, non-commercial gold panhandling. You don’t need a mineral lease either. “Non-commercial” is the key word. Don’t sell what you find or the mines, minerals and energy folks will be displeased.

You do need to have the permission of the property owner who has the riparian rights of the waterway in question. Otherwise, it could be considered trespassing and/or theft.

You would need permission from us here at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission if you disturb the water bottom in any significant way. Moving a few small rocks or pebbles here and there is not a problem, but digging up or dredging the bottom is most definitely a serious problem with us.

Here is the section of the Code of Virginia that permits recreational gold panhandling under certain conditions:

7. Recreational gold mining, provided that (i) a man-portable suction dredge no larger than four inches in diameter is used, (ii) rights of riparian property owners are not affected, (iii) the activity is conducted without adverse impacts to instream beneficial uses as defined in § 62.1-10, (iv) the activity is conducted without adverse impacts to underwater historic properties and related objects as defined in § 10.1-2214, and (v) the activity is not defined as mining in § 45.1-180.

Violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The same basic rules apply for metal detecting. There is no state permit required, but private property rights are taken seriously. Needless to say, digging on public ground requires approval from the appropriate state or federal authority. Apply with us at the Marine Resources Commission if it would be on water bottoms.

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Postby Tinpan » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:23 pm

This has been hashed to death.

According to the Constitution of the State of Virginia:

Section VII
Activities in non-tidal areas
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission, as the custodian of Virginia's submerged lands, has
the proprietary authority and responsibility to issue permits for activities that take place over, under,
through and on all submerged lands throughout the Commonwealth. This authority is based on
the Commonwealth's ownership of submerged lands and was clarified through an opinion by
Gerald L. Baliles, Attorney General, on May 3, 1982. This opinion stated, in part, that "(t)he
Commission should assume that all streams above some administratively determined minimum
size...." are subject to its jurisdiction.
The Commission has defined the minimum size of non-tidal waterways as those perennial streams
with a drainage area of 5 square miles or with a mean annual instream flow of 5 cubic feet per
second. Activities within waterways with characteristics below these threshold attributes do not
require authorization from this agency.
The Commission has determined the extent of jurisdiction within non-tidal waterways to extend no
further landward than the ordinary high water mark. While the State of Virginia has not adopted a
legal definition of ordinary high water, the Federal definition represents an informative explanation
of the term. The Army Corps of Engineers defines ordinary high water in 33 CFR Part 329
"Definition of Navigable Waters of the US" Section 329.11a.1. This regulation states that the
"ordinary high water mark" on non-tidal rivers is the line on the shore established by the
fluctuations of water and indicated by the physical characteristics such as a clear, natural line
impressed on the bank, shelving; changes in the character of soil; destruction of terrestrial
vegetation; the presence of litter and debris; or other appropriate means that consider the
characteristics of the surrounding area."
When evaluating project proposals that fall within the jurisdiction of this agency, Commission staff
will normally consult with the Department of Game and Island Fisheries, the Department of
Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Environmental Quality, and local government
officials before granting permits for any encroachments into State-owned submerged lands.



VA House Bill 1720 :

Exempts Recreational gold mining, provided that (i) a man-portable suction dredge no larger than four inches in diameter is used, (ii) rights of riparian property owners are not affected, [ and ] (iii) the activity is conducted without adverse impacts to instream beneficial uses as defined in § 62.1-10 [ , (iv) the activity is conducted without adverse impacts to underwater historic properties and related objects as defined in § 10.1-2214, and (v) the activity is not defined as missing in § 45.1-180 ] .

Every letter that I have seen written to the ACOE Norfolk District office ahs been referred to the VMRC. The VMRC is not requiring permits.

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Postby jackgold » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:28 pm

Just about everyone I know that prospects is a small scale miner. Recreational. The ones that have been doing ths for a while know that unless you are extremely lucky,you won't get rich. I have yet to see any creek that I have prospected in be changed. The natural water flow changes the creeks and rivers more than we ever will.
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Postby jackgold » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:29 pm

Rock N Roll Tinpan!
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Reply

Postby duckman1074 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:21 pm

As I see it, if I go on a creek that crosses a state road, then I need permission from the state, if I go beyond the state property then I need permission from a land owner, unless I alter the creek in a major way, then I need permission from both, unless the item I recover is not a coin, but older than 100 years, then I need permission to recover history and if I sell any item, then I am considered commerical and not recreational and in violation.

Screwed up system, I just want to know whom I need to talk too for a fun weekend outing and try my best to stay out of trouble doing it.
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Postby Tinpan » Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:42 pm

Generally speaking, if you are in the creek below the high water mark, you don't need to ask anyone.

If you go above the highwater mark you need permission from the land owner.

If you are metal detecting in a historical area, you will probably not get permission and receive all kinds of dirty looks, untill they can build a parking lot over it. Let me re-phrase that, if you ask to MD in a historical area, you will get dirty looks, if you go anyway, you will probably end up in jail and be featured in local newspapers like the Free Lance Star. Emily Battle loves writing about those scenarios.

Even though below the waterline belongs to the Commonwealth of VA, I get permission from the adjoining land owner.

The bottom line is you are not going to get e blanket permission slip from the VMRC, DMME or ACOE so you can go anywhere you want. They will always tell you to get permission from the local landowner if you are going to enter their land, even if you are walking across it to get to the creek.

If you put in at a public boat ramp and stay in the river you are good to go, as long as you use a 4" or smaller dredge or hand tools, unless you cross a King's Grant waterway or venture into a historical area....or endangered species waterway.

Does that help?

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Postby adawg » Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:52 pm

This is all more complicated than it needs to be ..If it's private property,get permission.Don't use anything bigger than a 4 inch dredge,pick up the trash,haul out the gold,and have fun ..It's OK .. :D
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Thanks

Postby duckman1074 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:58 pm

Thanks, that clears up a lot.
I have been reading all kinds of stuff saying it is ok and some saying it is not.

What a world we live in......
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Postby ProspectorAl » Mon Feb 11, 2008 6:12 pm

To add to the confusion, all states are different. All National forests are different. Even district offices within the same National forest can be different. Different agencies control waterways, mineral rights, streambeds, etc. It is so mind boggling that my head is hurting just talking (typing) about it. :cry:

So far the easiest people to deal with are the individual property owners. Who would have guessed!
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Follow up

Postby duckman1074 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:02 pm

It is nice to think the landowner is the only one you need permission from, but as it looks, there are agencies that also need to be informed where you would be prospecting.
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Postby spankster13 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:21 pm

Here is a link to a summary and short explanation of Virginias water right of ways laws and the kings grants properties water rights :

http://www.americanwhitewater.org/conte ... /access:va

I also have a full lenght PDF copy of Virginia Tec's case study of " Plublic water rights to Virginias waterways " if someone would host it. Its to large to post here.


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Postby ProspectorAl » Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:34 pm

I hope that I didn't make it sound as if I was was saying that the land owners are the only ones that you have to deal with. Definitely not. I only said that they were the easiest to deal with. It is not pick and choose, you must cover all bases.

At least here in Tennessee 80% of the gold bearing land is National Forest. This is easy because you only have one agency governing the land. I have only found appreciable gold in 2 waterways outside of the NF here. These are not as easy to figure out, bit that is another story.
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Postby buccaneer » Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:34 pm

Duckman, wecome to the politics of the world, the US, VA and mostly, the politics of the va-gold forum were every one has an opinion and will make sure you know it.


Mine is, (KEEP MY HEAD IN THE SAND)

black sand that is.
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