Author Topic: Richard's State Director's Update 2/11/2015  (Read 1419 times)

Rich Robinson

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Richard's State Director's Update 2/11/2015
« on: February 12, 2015, 09:20:06 AM »
Hello Coker Creek Members,
I have been relatively quiet for a while, but I have been very busy working for our prospecting community. I will have a lot to cover at the February meeting so be prepared for a lot of information that is coming there. I have been working on three big issues at the same time that all have similar deadlines but I think you will all be happy with the progress. I am going to address each issue in the order of their priority for me... Please know that my first priority is to get us back in the water with Class 2 equipment... So the Individual ARAP is the fastest way to accomplish that...

1. The GPAA Individual ARAP - The IP is progressing well and we are now in the public notice period... I posted the Public notice signs in Monroe and Polk Counties almost 2 weeks ago. There are 4 signs; 1 at the kiosk entering the Cherohala Skyway near the Tellico Ranger Station, 1 beside the Welcome Center at Coker Creek, 1 at our Rooster Ridge GPAA property and 1 at the T where you can go to Coker Creek Falls or Lower Coker Creek. The Public Notice ran in one of the newspapers in Monroe County on Monday of this week.  The TDEC public notice was posted on their website on Tuesday the February 10th. So, starting February 10th, the 30 day public notice period started... So if all goes well we will be back in the water in Mid-March in the Tellico Ranger District and Lower Coker Creek....

2. New General ARAP Rules - I am sure that all of you were unaware of this fact, as was I, and I will take responsibility for the oversight, but TDEC conducted a public hearing on the new General ARAP on January 13th. They issued the public notice for this hearing in November... We were not expecting this hearing to take place in April but it was moved up. Now before you get upset, TDEC contacted me directly on the 14th to let me know they needed my comments. I got the comments in within 3 days, in plenty of times to have Legal Standing. I have been working with them on a regular basis as they work on the new rules. There should be come good changes coming that will make the process of obtaining the permit easier, the rules more prospector friendly, and the cost of the permit much more realistic...

3. I have also be working for the past few months with members of the Tennessee General Assembly on legislation that will set reasonable guidelines for "Small Scale Non-Commercial Prospecting in Tennessee". The Legislation has been drafted and bills have been filed in the House and Senate. On February 11th I presented to the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and I will be presenting to the House of Representatives Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the next 2 weeks. Senator Frank Nicely is our Senate Sponsor on the Senate Bill. Deputy Speaker of the House Steve McDaniel is the Sponsor of the House Bill. Soon I will be asking all of you to contact your legislators to help rally support for the legislation, but it is not time for that yet... Both bills will come up for their first readings before their respective chambers within weeks. Make no mistake though, this can and will likely be a lengthy process. The bills have 3 readings before their respective chambers before that can be sent to the Governor for signature. Also there will be changes and amendments to the bill as it moves through the process.

 I am spending a lot of time meeting with stakeholders while all of this is happening, meeting with legislators, TWRA, and other organizations who we share the waterways with, using meetings to educate them about our hobby and looking for ways that we can work together for mutual benefits. We can partner with other interest groups and help each other.

TDEC has come to the table with and offered to work with us to make the general ARAP better. So far it is looking a lot better... After my presentation to the Senate, Jonathon Burr Addressed the Committee and he stated that TDEC had not gotten the permit right and told the Senators on the Committee that TDEC is committed to working with us to get this permit right. He was very complimentary of the GPAA and those of us who have been working with TDEC on getting this permit issued. I believe we are very close to getting something we can live with everyone.  Before the hearing yesterday, I met with 2 Attorney's from TDEC, Jonathon Burr and Senator Nicely, and another meeting with Deputy Speaker of the House, Representative Steve McDaniel and we worked through some of the biggest issues. How to regulate Dredges is the hardest to get through, but I think we are close on how to deal with it in a way that will work for all of us... as well as other stake holders. (others who we share the waterways with)

Please feel free to PM me on the forum if you have any questions for me. I want to ask all of you to be patient. Please do not use the forum to slam those who are making efforts to work with us. I will always promote the idea of partnering with the agencies and organizations who we share the waterways with. We all enjoy the waterways differently so we need to be respectful of others and conscious of others rights to enjoy the waterways we share.

I look forward to your questions and I look forward to sharing more with you at the February meeting...


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Re: Richard's State Director's Update 2/11/2015
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2015, 09:57:50 AM »
Thanks for the Update Richard.
Coker Creek Chapter President 2015-2017