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Save the Cima Cinder Mine

(The following is the text of a letter that was sent to Senator Feinstein.)

August 23,1999

J. Lorene Caffee
P.O. Box 19025
Jean, NV 89019

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator
525 Market St. # 3670
San Francisco, CA 94105

Dear Senator Feinstein,

The purpose of this letter is to request your assistance to immediately reopen the operation of the Cima Cinder Mine located in the Mojave National Preserve (MNP). On August 10, 1999, the National Park Service (NPS) served us with notice of trespass and an order to cease and desist operations of the Cima Cinder Mine.

We pride ourselves on being a self-reliant family, however in light of this situation we feel very victimized by the inadequacies of the NPS. The closure of this mine is causing unreasonable economic hardship and burden (refer to provisions of 36 CFR Part 9, Subpart A at 9.10g) to us as it has been 78-90% of our income as well as seriously affecting the income of my elderly mother who is now 79 years old. Aside from our income, our faithful customers are being seriously affected by this unwarranted and in our view, unlawful action by the NPS.

In your support of the passing of the California Desert Protection Act (CDPA) you clearly stated that mining and grazing in the Mojave National Preserve would not be adversely affected.

This action against us is being initiated by a group known as the Western Mining Action Project that has threatened to sue the National Park Service (NPS) for violations of the Endangered Species Act and other laws. Included in their allegations: allowing us to continue operating without a permanent Plan of Operations (PO), an Environmental Assessment (EA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) being completed and approved by the NPS. In a letter dated August 2, 1999 to the Regional Director of the NPS, John Reynolds, the Western Mining Action Project has outlined the conditions that are necessary for them not to initiate litigation against the NPS. The primary condition of the Western Mining Action Project to forestall litigation against the NPS was for the NPS to issue a cease and desist order against us, the operators of the Cima Cinder Mine (see copy attached). In our opinion, this is a blatant act of extortion!

In a letter dated November 6, 1998 from the Washington DC office of Robert Stanton, Director, NPS, addressed to National Parks and Conservation Association President, Mr. Kiernan, Mr. Stanton specifically states, "The park will formally extend the temporary approval to continue the existing mining operations until the NPS either acts on the proposed plan of operations or purchases the mineral rights" (see attached letter). With this kind of statement why was the NPS allowed to close the Cima Cinder Mine in the first place?

The Cima Cinder mining claims were located in 1948 by my father and mother, Emerson A. Ray and Fay R. Ray. They are now in the name of the Emerson A. Ray and Fay R. Ray 1990 Trust. I, Jessie Lorene Caffee, am one of the Trustees for the Trust. My husband, Terrence J. Caffee, and I have been operating the mine for the Trust since 1990. The mine has been operating almost continuously, either by lessees or family since it was located. It has been under application for Mineral Patent since 1991. We received First Half of Final Certificate on March 7, 1992.

Prior to the passing of the CDPA in 1994, we had submitted a Plan of Operation (PO) to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Needles Resource office. The PO was accepted as complete on February 18, 1993, however, the BLM refused to sign it, ostensibly because they were waiting to see the outcome of the CDPA. The BLM Desert District Office (DDO) in Riverside requested several times that the Needles Resource Office sign the PO. The Caffee's and the BLM (DDO) were told by various staff members of the Needles Resource Office that it would be signed, but it never was. Why this unreasonable delay? The BLM also completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) in the same time frame. We want it to be noted that when the EA was performed by the BLM, there were neither signs nor indications that the desert tortoise represented a problem at or near the mine site.

At the request of the NPS, we submitted another PO to the NPS, which was postmarked prior to December 31,1995. Because of the shut down of the Federal Government, the NPS Office acknowledged official receipt of the PO as January 8, 1996. At that time, the NPS also informed us that they must do a second EA, which after over 3 years they have not yet done. Why not? This time frame is inexcusable!

Mary Martin, Supervisor of the MNP, has acknowledged that the NPS has not fulfilled their obligation to approve our PO, complete an EA, and NEPA in a timely manner. There have been many excuses given for their failure to do so, including lack of funding, staff, and time. There has indeed been substantial time, staffing and funding appropriate for that use!

The last requests for additional information for the PO was on March 11, 1996. It then became obvious to us that their intention is to not complete their obligation to get the Cima Cinder Mine in compliance. Other than our correspondence regarding the Reclamation Bond, any additional correspondence or verbal contact with Mary Martin and/or NPS staff members has been in reference to our selling the Cima Cinder Mine to the NPS and/or others, not in completing the PO, the EA, or the NEPA process. Isn't it interesting that the only correspondence or verbal contact that we have had from the NPS is to do an appraisal for a mineral purchase? We received a call from Mary Martin 10 days after the mine was shut down inquiring as to if we had decided on an appraisal.

Since we have made every effort to be in compliance with all requests made by the NPS (and we question whether or not it is truly required of us since we have grandfathered and valid existing rights since 1948) our right to have a permanent PO in place has not been accomplished. Why not? Please remember your assurances given before the Desert Bill passed almost 5 years ago. The United States Constitution does not allow the kind of treatment we have received as citizens in this matter.

We would appreciate any swift assistance you can give us in this matter. I am enclosing various documents for your information. Upon request, I will be glad to supply you with any further information.

Fax: 714-899-5556 (fax and email be forwarded by my daughter)

I am thanking you in advance for your assistance,

J. Lorene Caffee, Trustee/Operator
Cima Cinder Mine

Copies of this document sent to the following: Representative Jerry Lewis
Senator Frank Murkowski
Rep. Richard Pambo
Senator Richard Bryan
Senator Harry Reid
Rep. Jim Gibbons
Rep. William Thomas
Rep. Don Young
Rep. James V. Hansen
Rep. Chris Cannon
Rep. Elton Gallegly
Rep. George Radanovich
Rep. James M. Talent
Rep. Mary Bono
Senator Elizabeth Megginson
Investigative/Legislative Staff Kurt Christensen
Barbara Cubin
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Larry Craig
Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth
Rep. Ken Calvert
(Muchas dankes to Robin, et al.)

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