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Author Topic: NPWS has been reviewing its Fossicking Policy Please comment to them by 6 May  (Read 30534 times)

Jimnyjerry

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Gleened from another forum.

 NPWS has been reviewing its Fossicking Policy following the Government’s response to the 2014 Legislative Council’s Inquiry into Tourism in Local Communities. A new draft policy open for public comment until 5th May, 2016 so comment on it if you can.
 http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/policies/fossicking-policy.htm

 Please comment to them by 6 May

Not sure if it has anything positive or new in it or will be used as a big stick to close the 2 places that are open to fossicking.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 01:17:42 PM by Jimnyjerry »
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.

Lefty

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Re: NPWS has been reviewing its Fossicking Policy
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2016, 09:21:25 PM »
I'd be thinking the big stick option is what they have planned.

MrSydney

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Re: NPWS has been reviewing its Fossicking Policy
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2016, 12:05:55 PM »
Wow - I love the open minded, not at all aggressively single sided opening paragraph!

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

Fossicking is a recreational activity that can involve natural and cultural heritage appreciation. However, it generally involves disturbing soil, rocks and vegetation to find and remove minerals, gemstones and historical objects. It is not confined to existing tracks and trails and often occurs near waterways. Fossicking therefore poses risks to the natural and cultural values of parks.

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

Yeah - I'd say it is not looking good!  I'll make sure I comment.

Jimnyjerry

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Re: NPWS has been reviewing its Fossicking Policy
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2016, 01:14:49 PM »
"Mechanical sluicing: involves the use of mechanical sluices in fluvial locations and the small scale excavation of river banks and beds for the purpose of locating minerals such as gold and gems such as sapphires. Generally a significant amount of material can be processed using a mechanical sluice which means that a significant amount of material can be excavated. This amounts to a greater risk of harm and is therefore prohibited in all NPWS parks."

That is not allowed to fossickers in NSW anyway so what crazy 'greenie' thoght it needed to be mentioned. Neither is blasting.

Wonder if they will apply point 14 to bushwalkers as well one day:

If granted, the consent to fossick will define the areas to which it applies and set conditions. These conditions may include, but are not limited to:
  • restrictions on techniques and equipment
  • restrictions on the number of fossickers in an area
  • specifying appropriate weather or seasonal conditions
  • requiring fossickers to notify NPWS prior to commencing the activity
  • requiring fossickers to ensure that all their equipment is sterilised before entering or exiting a park to prevent the spread of pathogens
  • requiring fossickers to replace any soil, rock or other material that is disturbed
  • additional conditions as deemed necessary.
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.

MrSydney

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Re: NPWS has been reviewing its Fossicking Policy
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2016, 01:21:46 PM »
OK - this is probably larger that would normally be posted but I took the time to write this in as I thought it very important to put my thoughts forward - especially around Torrington!  If we lost Torrington in one hit that is hard to comprehend!  I have limited time so it has been written quickly - so forgive that some things could have been articulated better - I'd rather get it in this way that not comment at all!  Feel free to borrow any points or echo them in your own words!  The more of us who write the better!!

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

To whom it may concern,

I would like to provide my comments on this matter.

The opening paragraph on your website – while strictly accurate – creates an impression that fossicking poses a major impact on the natural and cultural value of parks and is thus likely to provoke a disproportional negative response from anyone concerned about the environment.

As someone who grew up in the country and has enjoyed recreational fossicking from time to time and have visited at least Torrington State Conservation Area I like to feel I have some balanced feedback to provide that should be considered both in general and in particular about Torrington.

My first comment is on the perception that fossickers create any level of even vaguely significant damage in these areas and pollution to waterways. 

Firstly – fossicking tends to occur in relatively, if not very, specific spots.  So within the context of any park area only a VERY small proportion of areas are generally exposed at all to fossicking.  This would be true of Abercrombie.  Torrington is different but I’ll deal with that separately.  Within the fossicking community areas available for fossicking are already so diminished that there is a strong mantra in the community of ensuring any impact is minimal, you always tidy up after yourself, and all thought is given to the environment.

Most fossicking by amateurs involves ‘specking’ – whereby you generally just walk around an area hoping to spot something eg a quartz crystal.  In certain designated spots which has been identified as a location you may find something eg quartz crystals, sapphires, then some digging may occur.  But again in generally such an area is generally at best a few hundred square metres – so in terms of the context of the whole park it is ridiculously insignificant.  Modern fossickers are always encouraged to fill in any small holes etc they do make.  However I do note that in some known areas fossicking may have been occurring for 40 – 50 years and people have not always shown that thought and it is looking at this that it is easy to form a negative opinion and the perception it has a big impact (ignoring that it is to a miniscule area compared to that of the park as a whole).

In area’s where Sapphires occur fossickers may use a sieve and do some digging.  As per above this may impact a particular area slightly.  It may also lead to some small additional amount of silt in a nearby waterway but compared to normal runoff in these area in general it would not offer any statistically significant increase. 

In some of the areas of sapphires I am aware of stories of larger damage to waterways caused by people going in with dredges etc at night.  This needs to be separated out from this argument re general fossicking because dredging and use of machinery is not allowed under basic fossicking laws in national parks anyway.  People who go in with commercial / near commercial machines that cause extensive damage are motivated by greed and are not interested in respecting the law.  The knowledge of gem material in any given spot will mean that incidences like this will occur.  It is important to separate incidences such as these from information when considering the impact of your basic fossicker.

In the context of the above as any damage is extremely localised to small areas I would put it to you that the following have a bigger impact than any of the above:

1.   Bushwalking and camping facilities / amenities in general
2.   Feral animals
3.   In terms of siltation – increased soil runoff from walking tracks, roads, firetrails etc in general.

As the areas of fossicking are in general so tiny it would be fair to say that the actual tracks for bushwalkers, access roads, camping facilities etc would do more damage with foot traffic, people going off track etc to a park as a whole than the disturbances to a small area done by fossickers.

Feral animals – I know in all the parks feral rabbits, foxes, pigs, deer, cats, and dogs do exponentially more damage and should be far more concern than the tiny impact of fossicking.

Siltation – IF fossickers do some digging in a small area it could add to siltation – but again it would be ridiculously insignificant compared to runoff from even a single firetrail or walking track.

Torrington State Conservation area

When considering fossicking in Torrington you really need to keep the geography and history of the area in context.  Torrington was a major mining area for over 150 years.  There are literally mines and diggings almost every few hundred metres anywhere you go in the park.  It would be the No.1 reason why people visit the area by a LONG way.

In this regard to suggest that ‘fossicking’ is in some way impacting the ‘natural’ state of the country is borderline absurd.  It has been turned over in so many places in so many ways it is hard to comprehend.  The country itself is granite, dry, elevated, and harsh, tough vegetation.  Fossickers in general do minimal digging.  The majority of fossicking is via ‘specking’ the surface around the old mines and dirt heaps for crystals etc.  In a few areas you may use a sieve – to go through the huge piles of dirt that were mined out.  In terms of waterways there are minimal – and the few there are tend to be dry the vast majority of the time or not hold anything of interest.  The one that does get a little bit of water, Blatherarm creek, is reknown for being mined and turned over multiple times across the last 150 years.  A little bit of amateur fossicking, which is minimal in the context of the waterway as it is fairly well known to be largely mined out, would not have any discernible impact on the creek.

In my time hear in January 2016 nearly everybody I encountered in this park was here to explore the old mining sites to ‘speck’ for what they can find while experiencing the mining history and tough terrain.  However the area itself is harsh and not of huge appeal – the vast majority of people would not bother visiting this area except for its rich mineral history.  It is also so remote and as most people are just ‘specking’ they would just visit the park and walk around doing it anyway.  However we, and most visitors, would always be happy to make a contribution towards the upkeep of the area and, of greater damage, control of feral animals in the area (known for wild horses, deer, pigs etc).

An important point
One thing to understand in whether allowing fossicking to continue is that you need to understand that for the majority of recreational fossickers it is just an excuse to get out and experience and enjoy nature.  So while we may go visit an area to, at some point, do a little bit of fossicking you then tend to explore the area as a whole. 

For example – our family trip to Torrington State Conservation area was wonderful for all of us – and particularly my 7 & 5 year old daughters who are growing up in Sydney.  We spent 2 days exploring different spots in Torrington.  We only were ‘specking’ – looking for little crystals or whatever we could find.  But just being in the park and walking around meant they experienced rough bush like they would never see otherwise.  There were the myriad little plants, bugs, birds in trees etc.  We actually didn’t find that many crystals but when we did it was exciting (funnily enough the main spot we found them was where water had eroded away the dirt on fire trails!).

If you visit the 2 main fossicking forums you will generally see constant comments on the need to be responsible and show thought for the environment, outrage when some mug does the wrong thing, and constant comments on beautiful spots to visit (not for fossicking).

Final Summary
So I do understand the need to review policy but I do want it to be considered in the context of its relative impact on these parks versus the benefit that it draws a lot of people out to experience and explore them.  It often draws people to less ‘classically’ beautiful parks in more remote areas and to explore areas more fully well beyond a small particular ‘fossicking’ spot.  Considered appropriately this could be used for revenue for these parks and definitely provides increased revenue to local communities.

So while I understand the need to consider the impact on fossicking I think it needs to be kept in context of relative impact on any total park area (especially compared to other activities and problems), the benefit it does in drawing more families to experience those areas as a whole, and – in the case of Torrington – that it has been heavily mined for over 150 years across the park as a whole and fossicking in this location has absolute minimal impact on the ‘natural’ areas in this park, or even the areas that have been mined due to the nature of the fossicking in this area.

I hope you take the time to consider my thoughts.

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

Lefty

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"requiring fossickers to ensure that all their equipment is sterilised before entering or exiting a park to prevent the spread of pathogens"

Yet I can drive in there with potential pathogen-containg soli in the tread of my tyres without having to drive through a chemical sterilizing bath.

Lefty

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"Firstly – fossicking tends to occur in relatively, if not very, specific spots.  So within the context of any park area only a VERY small proportion of areas are generally exposed at all to fossicking"

Yep. If you don't know where to look for the topaz diggings in Mount Gibson designated fossicking area, you could wander for days without ever finding any sign of human intervention in the landscape. They are restricted to two tiny spots only hundreds of metres square where pegamites breach the surface - out of that whole area, I've never seen the stuff anywhere else.

Gemster

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Very well said MrSydney..... I also wonder if the Mining Museum at Emmaville knows of this 'Plan' and the effect it will have on their little Gem....


   Gemster..... beers
I swing a 12-pound hammer,smash gibbers by the ton
I used to think it convict work,but now i think it's FUN

Aussie Sapphire

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In some of the areas of sapphires I am aware of stories of larger damage to waterways caused by people going in with dredges etc at night.  This needs to be separated out from this argument re general fossicking because dredging and use of machinery is not allowed under basic fossicking laws in national parks anyway.  People who go in with commercial / near commercial machines that cause extensive damage are motivated by greed and are not interested in respecting the law.  The knowledge of gem material in any given spot will mean that incidences like this will occur.  It is important to separate incidences such as these from information when considering the impact of your basic fossicker.
--------------

All good stuff.

One point I would make in regard to your paragraph above dealing with those who refuse to play by the rules is that encouraging a responsible fossicking community who appreciates continued access to areas leads to a group of people who can actively HELP protect those areas.

When you build a constructive relationship with a community of people who love visiting the area, then they are likely to do more to look after the area including reporting those who do the wrong thing, keeping an eye out for problems (unofficial "rangers" if you will), picking up rubbish left by others, etc.  So continuing to allow access can also result in positive outcomes for the area because you have people who are keen to protect it.

You touch on this further down in your submission but I think it is worth emphasising as it is something that I think these govt departments find difficult to understand.

People who want to break the law will keep doing so - cannot stop these ratbags - but if you also have people accessing the area who want to protect their access, then they can actually HELP the department responsible for looking after it.  Cutting off all access wont do much to stop the wrong-doers but it does significantly cut down on the ability of responsible fossickers to assist.

cheers
Leah
Aussie Sapphire - The Lapidary Warehouse

Gemster

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  Well I just phoned the Mining Museum at Emmaville.... As suspected They know Nothing of this.... but now that they do, The Museum will make a Strong Submission to keep Fossicking Allowed at Torrington.... Time has come to fight back before we loose everything..
 Torrington is a treasure trove of Goodies that needs to remain open for Fossicking and enjoyment for All and not locked up.....

You can Shoot at Torrington so why cant we continue to Fossick?
 

   Gemster..... beers
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 02:21:33 PM by Gemster »
I swing a 12-pound hammer,smash gibbers by the ton
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MrSydney

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Thanks all!

All good points.  They should be included in YOUR submission.  The more along these lines the more they will give it credence / take note!

 ;D ;D ;D ;D


Lord_Thunda

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As most of you know, I call a spade a spade.  :-[  I wrote my submission before seeing this so missed quite a lot but the general gist is in the following para's. I did forget to mention about "sterilising equipment" I guess they want people to wear disposable paper suits when going into National Parks??  ::)  & do they want us to replace exactly every single speck of soil in the correct sequence? What are these idiots smoking ?  :o  BTW well said Phill  beers  & Leah  beers


Dear Sir / Madam,

For the past 9 years I have been actively involved in fossicking mainly in the New England region of NSW. I have seen many changes with attitudes & ages of those participating. For example, I was on the Minerama Committee researching sites for field trips. What this involves is going out to private areas & making sure those visiting the area return each year by doing small sample searches for local gems, etc.  The tourists we get, range in age from young children (5 years +) to older generations in their 80's & 90's. To see someone find their first gems is what keeps me helping where I can. The excitement, friendships & comradeship is so lacking these days in general life that it truly is a breath of fresh air to all involved.

To be able to wear a gemstone that you had found & had cut is priceless. We are probably more aware of the natural environment than people living in inner city apartments who rule over areas where they have never even ventured due to their political persuasions. This angers me immensely!

Most fossickers look after the areas they go to tho, as in cities, some spoil it for others. Only by educating the younger generations will attitudes change by encouraging people to go out into these areas using local people who understand how to look after these important sites. We NEVER pollute our areas as we depend on them. To have younger generations seeing the natural beauty & getting out of their glass boxes away from electronic devices can only be beneficial to their own health. 

It is imperative that more places are opened to the general public. There has been recent changes that destroy old mining sites by leveling old mine dumps where fossickers used to find discarded gems. In areas where I live, the tourist dollar helps our towns survive. By destroying these areas will stop tourists & increase dependence on city infrastructure as more & more people give up the land & move to the cities.

The major differences in recent laws has been to confuse fossickers with large mining companies. To assume fossickers destroy the environment shows how out of touch those law makers truly are & proves they dont go fossicking themselves. If they did, then they would understand how passionate we are about the wanton destruction. e.g. The Torrington Emerald Mine was recently leveled destroying the mine dump where many small pieces of beryl could be found. They say they are concerned with the mining heritage of these areas but by leveling them surely that destroys the history.

As I have stated earlier, it is imperative that our small towns encourage tourists to keep our towns alive & want more areas opened to the public not closed. Also, the Mining Regulation 2010 Part 2Clause 12 (f)  the removal of more than the prescribed amount of material from any land during any single period of 48 hours, must be amended. To restrict fossickers from taking minuscule amounts especially when finding a gold nugget or gemstones for example means large nuggets or gems cannot "legally" be found as they exceed the "daily limits".

Thanking you,
Sincerely,





Aussie Sapphire

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Also, the Mining Regulation 2010 Part 2Clause 12 (f)  the removal of more than the prescribed amount of material from any land during any single period of 48 hours, must be amended. To restrict fossickers from taking minuscule amounts especially when finding a gold nugget or gemstones for example means large nuggets or gems cannot "legally" be found as they exceed the "daily limits".

How much do you want to take out in a trip though?

The current limits are 500 carats (100 grams) of sapphire, diamond, ruby or opal or 5kg of minerals (lets say quartz or similar) in a 48 hour period.

This is supposed to be fossicking - not mining.  If you are taking out more than 500 carats of sapphire in 2 days or less, then maybe you are not leaving enough for the next guy??  just my opinion but do you want a nice day out fossicking or are you actually semi-commercially mining?  I just dont think the ones that are taking that much out on a routine basis are being fair on the rest of the community.

The gold limit is 50 grams or 5 nuggets of 10 grams or greater.  If you find 50 grams of gold, that is worth over $2500 - I kind of think that is pretty good result for 2 days work for what is supposed to be a hobby or recreation - NOT a commercial activity.

I am all for protecting the access of recreational fossickers but some are just greedy and these are the ones that are contributing to the situation we now find where access in increasingly being closed off.

I think bringing this kind of issue up when they are asking for submissions just makes it look like all fossickers are out to shift as much dirt as they can to find as much as they can.  I am not sure that is going to fly well with those that are making the decisions on this.

cheers
Leah

Aussie Sapphire - The Lapidary Warehouse

Lord_Thunda

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The point I was making was that IF you found a huge haul of sapphires of over 500 cts then technically it would be "illegal" to take them. Same with large gold nuggets. It would not be unreasonable to find a pocket of over 50 grams of gold but in their wording it'd be illegal to remove also.


http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/some-of-australias-biggest-gold-nuggets/story-fncynkc6-1226556327119

Gemster

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Well said Lord-Thunda.. How about someone draught a generic Protest Letter that We All can sign and pass around to our Fossicking Friends to sign?....... . Leah do you have a Submission to make to them as well?
Nothing wrong with Bob's Letter just another View of the matter at hand.. The more submissions the better.....
What if I got 2500ct out of a trailer load of wash from a Fossicking Park am I 'Breaking the Law'?   of course I am. Did I stay 48hrs so I complied with the Law? No I didn't... Did I know the wash was so Rich? No I didn't....The Whole Fossicking/Mining act is so out of touch with reality its incredible...
Have a look at Lefty's Situation as an example..
States Differ in their Laws but they are singing the same 'Tune' led by the same Conductor....     >:(
 4WD, Hunting, Fishing, Fossicking, Prospecting, Camping, Bushwalking are ALL going to be lost due to some STUPID PEOPLE..... Time to Fight for our Rites Again >:(

I have been reading Gold, Gem and Treasure mag for years now...
 Has anyone  ever read about a large nugget found in the last 25yrs in NSW? answer is No... Why? there is gold in NSW so why not.. cause the stupid Mining/Fossicking act states you are only 'allowed to take 'X' amount in a 48hr period ... now if I found a nugget that is say 50oz and declared that I found it at Hill End it won't take too long before I had Mines/Federal Cops knocking at my door demanding the nugget cause it was mined illegally... Stupid laws made by STUPID PEOPLE.. Who don't Fossick or prospect...
 Different in Victoria, they realise that Gold comes in Small and VERY Large Nuggets so they allow for it in their act....
We Must Protect what we have left Now or it will be Too Late.. For Others.....


     Gemster..... beers
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 06:21:12 PM by Gemster »
I swing a 12-pound hammer,smash gibbers by the ton
I used to think it convict work,but now i think it's FUN

 

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