The Jefferson County Open Space now owns all property on both sides of Clear Creek from approxomately Tunnel #1, just west of Golden, to where Highway 6 and 119 meet. (If you are westbound on Highway 6, at the wye the left road goes to Idaho Springs and the right goes to Black Hawk.) One of the rules of Open Space is that nothing can be removed from Open Space property . . . except fish. So, the question of prospecting was raised and a representative of Open Space attended a meeting of the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies (GPR) and explained that no formal rules had been written pertaining to this area.
For several months, I had been in communication with Ms Colleen Gadd, Visitor and Resource Protection Supervisor for Jefferson County Open Space. She had indicated that she would like to have information about the Front Range clubs and what our hobby entails. A suggestion was made that several club members could meet her on Clear Creek and demonstrate whatever prospecting equipment about which she would like information.
About mid-June, Ms Gadd and I set a date, time, and location for a demonstration of prospecting equipment. Approximately 35 members from two clubs, the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies (GPR) of Denver and the Rocky Mountain Prospectors and Treasure Hunters (RMPTH) of Fort Collins, had signed up to help with this activity. With such short notice, however, not everyone could attend the weekday demonstration.
On June 27th at 9:00 AM, I met with 15 gold prospectors who represented the GPR, RMPTH, GPAA (Gold Prospectors Association of America), LDMA (Lost Dutchman's Mining Association), and the GPOC (Gold Prospectors of Colorado), the latter club from Colorado Springs. We met just a little downstream from Mile Marker 261. A quick cleanup of the area netted five bags of trash. By 9:45 AM, everyone had picked a spot on the stream and had their mining equipment in operation.
At 10:00 AM, Ms Gadd arrived, followed shortly by several people from her office and several other governmental offices. There were representatives from Jefferson County Open Space; District Manager, Division of Wildlife; Hiwan Homestead Museum; Jefferson County Planning; Open Space Trails; and Manager, Park Services. In all, eleven people joined the outing to see what this prospecting hobby of ours was all about.
At about noon, an Open Space vehicle drove up and two Open Space officers delivered a cooler full of sodas and many boxes of sandwiches. Ms Gadd's office had supplied lunch for everyone! After lunch, several of the representatives donned waders and continued the tour.
After all had observed and asked questions, Ms Gadd told me how much she appreciated the effort and willingness of the prospectors to gather on such short notice and demonstrate and explain the equipment involved in placer mining. Before this outing, when someone mentioned "dredging" to her, a mental picture of mounds of rock (as in the Fairplay area) came to her mind. Another observer was pleased to know that we do not do hydraulic washing of the mountainside. Other items that met with favor were the fact that we have our own "rules" about fueling gas tanks away from the stream, filling prospect holes, removing not only our own trash but that that others have left behind, and giving back to the community by way of school and organization panning demonstrations.
It is difficult to summarize nearly four hours of involvement with 26 people; there were too many questions, answers, and observations to comment on here. I would like to share with all of you, however, my personal observation: all persons involved with this outing, whether mining or Open Space official, acted in a very professional and courteous manner. Questions were relevant and to the issue at hand. Answers were correct and in the detail needed to answer the questions. I found this to be an excellent way to spend a few hours . . . in the presence of people who respect and enjoy the great Colorado outdoors, and each other.
Ms Gadd made the day complete by advising me that she did not see any reason to stop our mining activities at this point. She gave her approval to continue our small-scale mining activities on Clear Creek as it traverses the Open Space portion of Clear Creek Canyon. I will be asking for written confirmation on this approval and will have it published in the newsletter. Ms Gadd said there would be a rule-making process for this Open Space Park. She will advise me when this process begins and has suggested that we have some input during the process.
I firmly believe that it was the positive, professional attitude of those prospectors involved that contributed to the approval Ms Gadd gave us. Without their help, we may well have lost this beautiful, historic area to live out our fascination with the past and that wonderful elusive metal . . . GOLD!
Okay, passing this article off as a "training" article was stretching it a bit,
although I could have but it up as an "outing" article too, but much of what was
shown for the Open Space folks is what our training sessions are all about!