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Bill Banning Suction Dredge Mining Breezes Through State Senate
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday May 26th, 2009 2:02 PM
The California Senate today approved a bill banning suction dredge gold mining on certain California rivers by a vote of 31 to 8.

Photo: A suction dredge miner has dammed and rerouted part of the East Fork San Gabriel River in southern California. Dozens of miners are working a few miles of this river, which provides critical habitat for endangered native fish and drinking water for much of Los Angeles. Courtesy of Steve Evans, Friends of the River.
Bill Banning Suction Dredge Mining Breezes Through State Senate

by Dan Bacher

(Sacramento) The California Senate Tuesday approved a bill requiring the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to temporarily halt issuing all suction dredge mining permits by a vote of 31 to 8, including bi-partisan support from Democrats and Republicans throughout the state.

SB 670, sponsored by Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), easily garnered the 2/3 aye votes needed to be adopted as an urgency measure, meaning it will take effect immediately upon the Governor's signature. Representatives of California Indian Tribes, recreational fishing organizations, commercial fishing groups and environmental organizations consider the vote to be a big victory for fish and the environment, while mining advocacy organizations and the Regional Council of Rural Counties view the legislation as unnecessary and a violation of private property rights.

The Governor vetoed previous legislation restricting suction dredge mining sponsored by then Assemblywoman Lois Wolk in October 2007, but suction dredging opponents are hoping that the strong bi-partisan support for this bill, as well as the urgency of the current salmon fishery crisis, will spur Schwarzenegger to sign the bill this time.

Senate Bill 670 prohibits the use of suction dredge mining equipment in rivers and streams that provide critical habitat to spawning salmon and steelhead until the DFG completes its court-ordered overhaul of regulations governing the controversial recreational activity. Suction dredge mining, a recreational mining activity that disturbs streambeds, is heavily regulated in other states including Oregon. However, California suffers from surprisingly slack regulation.

Suction dredge gold mining involves sucking up sediment from rivers or streams and spitting it out again. “Current California regulations permit monster-sized dredges capable of moving thousands of yards of river bottom in a summer season,” Wiggins said. “This kills fish eggs, immature eels and churns up long-buried mercury left over from the gold mining era. In short, it’s harmful to fish at a time when they need our help the most.”

Wiggins said the DFG has been ordered by the courts to overhaul regulations governing suction dredge mining on streams. In 2005, the Karuk Tribe sued DFG to force the department to overhaul its suction dredging rules. Pushed by suction dredge miners, the courts ordered the department to complete a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review before it acted. That review was supposed to take 18 months and be completed by July 2008, but DFG has yet to begin.

That led the Karuk Tribe, California Trout, Friends of the North Fork and the Sierra Fund to petition DFG to issue emergency regulations to limit dredging on Klamath tributaries and five other streams in the Sierra Nevada while it completes its EIR. DFG officials refused to issue regulations, arguing that they cannot do so under current law, stated Wiggins.

Last year, all salmon fishing was banned along the Pacific coast of California and Oregon, due to the unprecedented collapse of Central Valley fall Chinook salmon, the driver of West Coast salmon fisheries. In 2006, commercial salmon fishing was severely restricted because of low numbers of salmon returning to the Klamath River.

“The crisis is so dire that the ban has been placed again this year,” Wiggins said. “This is affecting the livelihoods of thousands of commercial fishermen, fish processors and charter boat operators, and eliminating hundred of thousands of dollars in economic activity.”

She noted that at a minimum, it will take DFG two more years of study before the CEQA review is completed and rules can be updated to protect fish – and two more years of status quo dredging while endangered salmon populations continue to dwindle.

“This is a classic instance why we must use the precautionary principle to guide decisions,” Wiggins said. “We must err on the side of the fish, because their survival is at stake. It simply doesn’t make sense to jeopardize an entire fishery, and to ask commercial fishermen to halt all fishing while allowing status quo for a recreational hobby.”

Representatives of the Karuk Tribe, fishing groups and environmental organizations praised the bill's passage by the Senate.

“We are very pleased with today’s vote,” commented Bob Goodwin, Karuk Self Governance Coordinator and Tribal member. “We have had to suffer through 150 years of watching gold miners rip apart our river; today we begin the slow process of putting it back together.”

Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund, added, “We are so pleased with the bipartisan support that this bill has earned, reflecting the clear consensus on the importance of protecting fish and water quality. The Sierra Fund thanks Senator Wiggins as well as the Senators that spoke on behalf of the bill including Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg, and Senators Ducheny, Wolk, and Oropeza.”

"SB 670 is a step forward for better protection for salmon in their rivers than they have today," said Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "There's no excuse to allow practices that destroy salmon habitat while we are all desperately trying to increase devastated runs and put fishermen back to work."

“It’s good to see California stop spending taxpayer money on a mining program that puts a few flakes of gold in 3,000 hobby miners’ pockets while harming fisheries and those who depend upon clean, healthy rivers," agreed Scott Harding, Executive Director of Klamath Riverkeeper.

Senator Sam Aanestad (R- Grass Valley) argued against the bill, suggesting that it amounted to a "taking of property rights." In response, Senator Wiggins pointed out that SB 670 takes no one’s property and miners can still mine using other mining techniques that are less environmentally destructive.

The bill will next move to the State Assembly, which will likely assign the bill to the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee chaired by Assemblymember Jared Huffman. Mr. Huffman is a co-author of the bill, along with Assemblymembers Evans and Jones.

If SB 670 passes, the moratorium on issuing permits would last until DFG completes its court-ordered environmental review and resulting overhaul of regulations governing the practice. "It is estimated that this will save the Department nearly $1 million in costs to administer a program that does not pay for itself, and allow it to dedicate saved funding toward paying for the EIR necessary to complete regulatory review," said Izzy Martin.

The bill is supported by a broad coalition of Indian Tribes, fishing groups and environmental groups. Supporters include the California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Tribal Business Alliance, California Trout, Clean Water Action, Friends of the River, Karuk Tribe, Klamath Riverkeeper, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Planning and Conservation League, Ramona Band of Cahuila, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Sierra Club California, Sierra Fund, Sierra Nevada Alliance and Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

The bill's opponents include the County of Siskiyou, New 49'ers and Regional Council of Rural Counties. Earlier this year the New 49'ers, a mining advocacy group, and other mining organizations filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to ban the Karuk Tribe from dip net fishing for salmon on the Klamath, but the petition was rejected.

The New 49'ers argue that no scientific information points to suction dredging as a cause in the collapse of salmon, that the collapse is due to ocean conditions and an over-reliance on hatchery fish. They claim that a moratorium would violate the private property rights of those who have federal mining claims and create "takings" liability on the part of the state

The Regional Council of Rural Counties argues that the existing regulations are sufficiently restrictive and protective and allow individuals to legally mine their claims of precious minerals. It points to parts of rural California where mining remains an important port of the culture, history, and economy of some local communities. Siskiyou County separately asserted these same concerns.

"The scientific evidence against suction dredging doesn't pass the laugh test," said James Buchal, attorney for the New 49'ers. "If passed through the Legislature, this bill will put hundreds of people out of work and destroy the vacation plans of thousands of people for no purpose whatsoever."

However, Steve Evans, conservation director of Friends of the River, notes that this legislation will not impact recreational gold panning or non-motorized mining, "just motorized suction dredge mining that disturbs salmon spawning beds, fish and frog habitat, and pollutes the water with sediment and mercury."

The Karuk Tribe, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Klamath Riverkeeper and other environmental and fishing groups recently filed a lawsuit against the DFG's use of General Fund money to support suction dredge mining. The suit is asking for an injunction until California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review is completed and other mitigations take place.

To download The Sierra Fund's groundbreaking report "Mining's Toxic Legacy," go to For more information about suction dredge mining, please visit, or

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by D Beisel
(turboballer [at] Tuesday May 26th, 2009 5:52 PM
You tree huggers are just hilarious. I know for a fact that when I take my family to our claim in northern CA we do more to protect the enviroment then we do hurt it. I cant tell you how much mercury I have pulled out of those streams. And no I do not use mercury to reclaim the gold fines I come across. It is stored in a hazordous materials locker and when accumalated sent to a certified smelter for reclaiming. How is this degrading the enviroment? We are cleaning up from years past of little or non-existent regulations. Yet this is the basis or the moratorium? IF thats the case then every single person in this state that uses sun screen should also be banned from entering any body of water due to the high toxicity of the chemicals (and nano particles now used) in them. Sunscreen alone has killed more fish then any small scale suction dredge miner. The fisheries have collapsed from overfishing and illegal poching not mining on the small scale. I would bet my life that we have done more to RE-establish said fisheries then destroy them. Pull your heads out of your arses and find something better to do with this money that is wasted on killing the livelyhoods and vacations of thousands upon thousands of californians. Hey maybe you can go after the indians that started all this for the fact that they REFUSE to recognize state and federal laws protecting the salmon habitat and continue to this day to fish federally protected fish species without so much as taking a count of there harvest and of what species because they say that is their soverign right. Well what about my rights I am a native californian and even 1/4 indian. Thanks for ruining bonding experiances with my sons and wife and family. Idiots, I tell you.
by Dave A
Thursday May 28th, 2009 2:13 PM
Pathetic, absolutely pathetic. The dredging will be stopped and the fish populations will continue to drop and everyone will scratch their heads wondering what went wrong? Gee...the real issue is larger than dredging...much larger. Something major is amiss and its not that silly little gold mining hobby stuff people are all puffed up about. Go hike a canyon and look for yourself. You'll have a hard time locating an operating placer mine and when you do you will notice what a tiny little spec of river it operates/effects. Folks there are bigger problems here.....what a waste of time and money. Dave Fisherman, Backpacker, Environmentalist, Prospecter
by Rick Solinsky
Friday May 29th, 2009 1:27 PM
It's interesting that there is such an uproar about suction dredging, but whenever there is an article posted about the topic, 90% of the responses are for suction dredging and there are rarely any posts supporting the dredging bill. Could it be that the anti-suction dredging movement is not so much a grass roots movement it purports to be? My guess is that on its face, the whole premise for the bill is ludicrous.

I confess, I am a suction dredger. I started doing this part time 3 years ago ( I also have a real job), and although I would have made better money being a burger flipper at McDonalds, I cannot adequately convey to my friends the sense of adventure, exploration, physical exertion, and overall community-mindedness found within the whole of the dredging community. All in all, just about everyone I have met involved in this occupation (it is NOT a hobby) are wonderful, hard working people, who aren't afraid of a little sweat and for the most part - they themselves consider themselves part of the solution, not part of the problem.

My guess is those who are trying to shut down this occupation find themselves locked in their little cubicles in their high-rise offices- thinking that they are saving the fish populations or preventing mercury contamination. Let's get to the brass tacks here:

1. Salmon- there is concern that the salmon populations are declining. What is the greatest threat to salmon? Well, thinking that I am a reasonably intelligent person, my first on the list would be Salmon Fishermen! Hello? What do salmon fishermen do? (hint: they kill salmon!) Don't get me wrong, I love salmon steaks, and someone has to kill them for me to eat them. But the point is, if there were some sort of moratorium on salmon fishing and licenses, that would probably help bring back the populations. But there are probably other causes of their demise, including industrial pollution, commercial fishing etc.

Joseph Greene is a retired EPA Biologist who wrote a study tracking suction dredging:

He cites the Oregon Siskiyou National Forest Dredge Study which states that suction dredging affects .2% of the watershed. I find it rather difficult to suppose that suction dredging on 0.2% of a watershed is responsible for the die off of the salmon.

2. Mercury Contamination- There is mercury contamination found in all lakes and waterways in the state. True, the waterways involved with gold mining in the past tend to have higher concentrations, but it was also found that lakes and waterways that were not subject to gold mining debris also showed elevated levels of mercury contamination (CA State Resources - Mercury Contamination in Fish From Northern California Lakes & Reservoirs, June 2007) suggesting that there also other sources of mercury contamination besides gold mining activity.

The point here is does anyone think that dredgers working on .2% of any watershed would have any effect upon anything noticeable in any survey? This percentage is way below what would be considered white noise of any study. If the fish have mercury poisoning in them, it could be by a variety of reasons, but hardly because 0.2% of the watershed is being mined by suction dredgers.

Let's take a good look what the suction dredgers actually do to improve the environment (at no cost to anyone but themselves):

1. Access- in order to allow easy access for equipment to their claims, many dredgers maintain and improve hiking trails to ensure ease of travel.

2. Garbage Collection- When dredging the river, everyone I know extracts all sorts of garbage out of the river and packs it out for proper disposal. This includes just about any possible kind of garbage you can imagine: tin cans, fishing lures, weights, bullets, paper garbage and old metal garbage.

3. Creating deep pools- In a typical season, a typical dredger may "work" an area as big a 30 feet by 30 feet and depending upon the depth of the bedrock, they may displace enough gravel to create deep pools for the fish to weather out the heat of the day.

4. Mercury Extraction- Not all creeks and rivers contain noticeable amounts of mercury. The creek where my claim is located, I have yet to find any evidence of mercury in my sluice box. But I have talked to other dredgers in other areas who are actually extracting and retaining the mercury from their sluice boxes. Now, the State of California has no formal way for the miners to get rid of the mercury, so most of them just keep it in flasks in their garages. But if the state of California got smart, they would "employ" the miners to extricate what mercury they find in their sluice boxes in order to begin some sort of remediation process (since there currently is no remediation process active)

My guess is that the genesis of this lawsuit (involving the Karuks) has to do with issues that some tribal members have with a certain gold mining club businessman on the Kalamath River. I have no direct experience with this person, but I have heard a lot of stories about him and he is apparently leaving quite a legacy. The point I am making is the data used to implicate the suction dredgers is conflicted at best- there are many conflicting opinions regarding the effects on the river. With no apparent (read obvious) direct connection between what is being stated as direct results of suction dredging- why not let the Department of Fish and Game finish its environmental review before everyone starts jumping to incomplete conclusions? In every other industry isn't there a substantiated cause and effect before the tightened regulations are imposed?

The suction dredgers are a hard working group of people who would be more than willing to do their fair share to help clean up the rivers of the mercury they find. Let's get the State of California involved (like Oregon did) and offer collection days where dredgers can turn in the mercury they find as a contribution to cleaning up the rivers that we all share and enjoy.
by hmmm
Friday May 29th, 2009 1:41 PM
maybe instead of your hypothesis, suckers all have their google alerts set so that they can pounce on any anti- posts out there and protect their own self interests by shooting down any attempts to regulate

remember, comments are not a scientific survey of popularity or support

by Dave A
Friday May 29th, 2009 2:40 PM
Rick, very well said.

Its interesting that many members of congress so quickly gave their approval to this bill. I would think an unbiased group of intelligent individuals would notice the lack of substantial evidence...of any kind. And also note that there are regulations in place to control the exact issues listed by the Indian tribe. The scientific process seems to have been overrun by emotions run a muck. So allow me to state that I believe that this is purely moving forward on emotional energy. Uneducated individuals (or shall we say emotionally driven rather than sensible) who wish to protect the environment all ban together quickly over specific topics...mining is always on this list. And rightfully so I will admit. Mining has screwed up a huge portions of our environment...but suction dredging is not part of this type of industry. I think suction dredging is just an easy target and it all comes down to this particular Indian tribe having issue with the dredgers on what they believe should be "their" river. And that is another topic altogether. I hope that the assembly and the Governor can see through this ruse to what is actually driving this bill.
Like I stated before....kill the dredging...and the fish population will not be affected. Stop the taking of fish and...well gee that's kind of obvious is it not? Someone made a comment about protecting ones self interest (dredgers) gee who's self interests are this bill going to protect? The ones wishing to kill the fish for their personal interests. Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?

And just to add a comment about the environment...last week I hauled a half full 40 gallon garbage back up a 1500 foot rope (35 degree slope) out of my claim full of plastic trash and beer cans that was not ours. We do this probably twice a year. And yes, I've pulled out quite a bit of mercury from the stream bed and taken it home to retort.
Californian's...your picking on the wrong group...
by Rick
Friday May 29th, 2009 6:13 PM
Hey... I am a big fan of friendly discourse..... tell me, what is your angle on this discussion? Are you a fisherman? A Karuk? Or just someone who wants to do the right thing? I'd like to hear your argument on why you think the bill is valid. In all the forums I have seen discussing this topic, I have not seen a lot of pro bill arguments.

I might add- have you ever tried suction dredging? Maybe if you actually went down to someone's claim to see the process, maybe it may take a little fire out of your bonnet. If you tried it, you may like it -everyone I have brought down to try it was instantly enamored with the process. It's not so bad and ugly as it is presented and if it totally destroyed the environment as alluded to, my guess is that less people would be so interested in doing it.

by John Gurney
Wednesday Jun 24th, 2009 11:59 PM
I am from the state of Maine where there is no dredging but we have a no salmon fishing policy because of the lack of salmon. It sounds like the people trying to ban this have no idea of what dredging is. If you sit behind a dredge you will see hundreds of fish eating the creatures that have been turned up. It is a feeding frenzy. The tailings make a nice gravel bed for fish to spawn in. It is not like the bucket dredgers of the early part of the century. Any hole that is made is filled during the next heavy rain. These people make dredging sound like a weekend activity where a bunch of people suck up all of the river beds for a piece of gold. In fact most dredgers count on the season for their income. In a time of high unemployment why would anyone want to put more people out of work. California was made famous for the gold and for the people who came here to find it. Why would you take a part of working history away? The fish have been over fished for years. Look at the trout limit in the sierras, 10 trout per day. Limit that to 4 or 5 and you don't have to stock as many fish, also the people who go out and then throw the fish away will not be wasting a natural resource. Pople are taking this environmental stuff too far. Everyone jumps on the band wagon without thinking about all of the issues. Some fish species just die out, did we kill the wooly manmouth or the saber tooth tiger? No! Maybe the fisher men should stop killing the fish enmass and that would help the population. Teach them to dredge and they might be able to keep their bills paid. Dredging is not killing the fish, its over fishing and obstructing the natural flow of water by diverting it to parts of California with limited water supply. Heres a thought, If there is source of water on the land you are thinking about building on, don't build there and that will let the rivers and the samon do what they are suppose to do. Next time you are out in a heavy rain, walk to a river and watch how much silt and dirt gets turned up. One storm does what would take an army of dredgers years to match.
-Miner John
Wednesday Aug 19th, 2009 1:14 AM
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Attorney General’s Office
California Department of Justice
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

Bill Lockyer
ATTN: Vicki Archer
State Treasurer's Office
915 Capitol Mall, Suite 110
Sacramento, CA 95814

August 15, 2009

RE: Compensable “taking” caused by S.B. 670 for which the State is now liable

Dear Sirs:

I, and my extended family own unpatented placer gold mining claims situated within the State of California. Combined, we have an investment in those mining properties, suction dredges, and associated placer mining equipment in excess of $250,000.

In these trying economic times, some family members have become unemployed. To make ends meet though this stark recession, several turned to suction dredging full time. From which they derived enough income to support their families, without drawing unemployment, welfare or food stamps.

The only economically practical means to profitably recover placer gold from our properties is by “suction dredging”. Accordingly, suction dredging is the “Highest & Best Use” of the properties. As a matter of fact, it is only viable use, as no other mining method is practical, or profitable.

I was mortified to find Governor Schwarzenegger signed S.B. 670 into law August 6th 2009. Which arbitrarily halts all placer gold suction dredging for an extended unspecified period of time throughout the State of California.

It is absolutely established that a valid unpatented placer mining claim is in fact a Federal grant of “private property” (see trailing addendum). Which is taxed by the State of California, (State of California v. Moore (1858), 12 Cal. 56; Property Tax Rule 28e)

When the only profitable use of that private property is by suction dredging, arbitrarily prohibiting that use (even temporarily) constitutes a complete “taking” of all economic benefit the owner could derive from it, for the duration of the taking.

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, made applicable to state and local governments by the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits the government from taking private property for public use without just compensation.

The California Constitution provides, "Private property may be taken or damaged for public use only when just compensation ... has first been paid to, or into court for, the owner." (Cal. Const., art. I, § 19.)

It is well established that just compensation… is the full value of the property taken at the time of the taking, plus interest from the date of taking. United States v. Blankinship, 9 Cir., 1976, 543 F.2d 1272, 1275.

Litigation expenses pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1250.410 can be recovered. People ex rel. Department of Transportation v. Woodson (4th Dist., Div. 3, November 14, 2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 954 [113 Cal.Rptr.2d 559].

Plainly, ownership of a valid unpatented placer mining claim grants only the exclusive right to extract the valuable mineral therein, and suction dredging in the majority of cases is the only economically viable means to do that. A prohibition (even temporary) of suction dredging “takes” all economic use of the property for the duration of the prohibition.

Given these facts, without doubt, S.B. 670 capriciously deprives thousands of families of their legitimate livelihood, and caused an immediate gross compensatory “taking” of private property rights of considerable magnitude for which the Treasury of the State of California will ultimately be held liable to pay.

To whom should we, the 3,200 other California suction dredge permit holders, and approximately 16,000 other similarly situated owners of unpatented placer mining claims in California now prohibited from suction dredging send a bill to?



"Under the mining laws a person has a statutory right, consistent with Departmental regulations, to go upon the open (unappropriated and unreserved) Federal lands for the purpose of mineral prospecting, exploration, development, extraction and other uses reasonably incident thereto." (See 30 U.S.C. § 21-54, 43 C.F.R. § 3809.3-3, 0-6).

16 U.S.C. § 481, Use of Waters: All waters within boundaries of national forests may be used for domestic, mining, milling, or irrigation purposes under the laws of the state wherein such national forests are situated or under the laws of the United States and the rules and regulations established thereunder.

Federal mining claims are "private property" Freese v. United States, 639 F.2d 754, 757, 226 Ct.Cl. 252 cert. denied, 454 U.S. 827, 102 S.Ct. 119, 70 L.Ed.2d 103 (1981); Oil Shale Corp. v. Morton, 370 F.Supp. 108, 124 (D.Colo. 1973).

This possessory interest entitles the claimant to "the right to extract all minerals from the claim without paying royalties to the United States." Swanson v. Babbitt, 3 F.3d 1348, 1350 (9th Cir. 1993).

"Uncompensated divestment" of a valid unpatented mining claim would violate the Constitution. Freese v. United States, 639 F.2d 754, 757, 226 Ct.Cl. 252, cert. denied, 454 U.S. 827, 102 S.Ct. 119, 70 L.Ed. 2d 103 (1981).

Even though title to the fee estate remains in the United States, these unpatented mining claims are themselves property protected by the Fifth Amendment against uncompensated takings. See Best v. Humboldt Placer Mining Co., 371 U.S. 334 (1963); cf. Forbes v. Gracey, 94 U.S. 762, 766 (1876); U.S.C.A.Const. Amend. 5; North American Transportation & Trading Co. v. U.S., 1918, 53 Ct.Cl. 424, affirmed 40 S.Ct. 518, 253 U.S. 330; United States v. Locke, 471 U.S. 84, 107, 105 S.Ct. 1785, 1799, 85 L.Ed. 2d 64 (1985); Freese v. United States, 639 F.2d 754, 757, 226 Ct.Cl. 252, cert. denied, 454 U.S. 827, 102 S.Ct. 119, 70 L.Ed. 2d 103 (1981); Rybachek v. United States, 23 Cl.Ct. 222 (1991).

A valid location, though unpatented, is a grant in the nature of an estate in fee and if such an estate is taken by the United States, just compensation must be made. See U.S.C.A. Const. Amend. 5, North American Transportation & Trading Co. v. U.S., 1918, 53 Ct.Cl. 424, affirmed 40 S.Ct. 518, 253 U.S. 330

Such an interest may be asserted against the United States as well as against third parties (see Best v. Humboldt Placer Mining Co., 371 U.S. 334, 336 (1963); Gwillim v. Donnellan, 115 U.S. 45, 50 (1885)) and may not be taken from the claimant by the United States without due compensation. See United States v. North American Transportation & Trading Co., 253 U.S. 330 (1920); cf. Best v. Humboldt Placer Mining Co.