Ryan Camp finds a new owner as the Rio Tinto CEO suddenly resigns.
The Death Valley Conservancy met with park staff Jan. 25, 2013, at the Death Valley visitor center in Furnace Creek. The conservancy was represented by Preston Chiaro, Henry Golas and conservancy employee Scott Smith. Among the many items discussed the park related that they were ready to begin contracting the restoration project for Scotty’s fountain at Scotty’s Castle. The conservancy added that they may have another potential donor to help with funding. The park also related that the Navel Springs memorandum of understanding went to the solicitor for review and signage to protect watershed and ongoing research at the spring was also discussed.
The conservancy informed park staff that the land donation agreement with Rio Tinto was imminent and they expected to receive the final documents soon. The conservancy discussed how they had four board members and had been talking to interested parties and hoped to increase the board to seven members in the short term and eventually have nine board members. The conservancy also initiated a partnership with the University of Southern California for architectural restoration and a graduate level field class was to conduct a field session at Ryan Camp.
It was announced by park staff that Kathy Billings was named the new superintendent of Death Valley National Park. Billings would replace superintendent Sarah Craighead who recently became superintendent at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Billings was to start in Death Valley March 17, 2013. Billings had worked for the park service for 29 years and some of her assignments included Big Bend National Park; Joshua Tree National Park; Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Great Basin National Park. She also served as a superintendent at the USS Arizona Memorial and the National Historic Parks in Hawaii.
“SAVE THE DATE!” was the lead line in an email sent Sunday, April 14, 2013, to select recipients from the ryancamp.org domain. This domain was created and registered to the Death Valley Conservancy five years earlier March 9, 2008. The email subject line read “An evening at Historic Ryan Camp – May 3, 2013 – The Next 100 Years.” The email served as an invitation to an evening at the historic Ryan Camp in Death Valley.
The invitation attached to the email announced that Rio Tinto and the Death Valley Conservancy invited the recipient and a guest to an evening celebrating the heritage and future of the historic Ryan Mining Camp in Death Valley which included tours, presentation of its history by filmmaker Ted Faye and period entertainment by Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. Refreshments and a western-style barbecue dinner would be served, catered by the Furnace Creek Resort.
May 6, 2013, five and a half years after Death Valley National Park Superintendent James T. Reynolds sent a letter to Rio Tinto Minerals which started the meetings and work which would have allowed Rio Tinto to donate Ryan Camp to the park service, the Death Valley Conservancy announced the historic transfer of Ryan Camp from Rio Tinto to their conservancy.
The press release from Preston Chiaro, president of the Death Valley Conservancy and a group executive for technology and innovation with Rio Tinto, related that “The Death Valley Conservancy (“DVC”) today announced the transfer of ownership of the historic Ryan Camp from the global mining company, Rio Tinto, to the DVC. In addition to the land and property, Rio Tinto will contribute $750,000 in financial support to the DVC in the first year, with further support scaling up over time to $18 million. The money will be used to address deferred maintenance and provide an endowment to help keep the site protected into the future. Rio Tinto’s financial support will allow the DVC to preserve and restore Ryan Camp, as well as promote research and education centered on historic preservation and archaeology. As a very large owner of property in the United States, Rio Tinto’s focus on land stewardship and respect for historic legacies is exemplified by the Ryan Camp transfer.”
Chiaro went on to thank Rio Tinto for their generosity and recognized the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher for their support and legal advice. Xiaoling Liu, who was then the president and CEO of Rio Minerals, said that “This transfer ensures that Ryan Camp, a jewel of our mining history, can be preserved for generations to come.”
The land quit claim deed between U.S. Borax Inc. and the Death Valley Conservancy was signed March 27, 2013, by Xiaoling Liu on behalf of U.S. Borax, the grantor, and Henry Golas on behalf of the Death Valley Conservancy, the grantee. The deed was recorded by the Inyo County Recorder April 16, 2013.
The deed included a grant agreement that U.S. Borax Inc. would provide certain funding and the Death Valley Conservancy would create certain mechanisms to provide for the long term funding by the conservancy for the maintenance, operation, restoration and repair of the land and improvements. The land was also subject to certain reserved rights and interests which favored U.S. Borax Inc. and protected U.S. Borax Inc.’s. continued interests in certain lands owned or controlled by U.S. Borax, located in Inyo County. U.S. Borax did exclude all water and water rights for land listed as “Parcel 1.”
The conservancy also agreed to accept the property with the understanding that Rio Tinto or its affiliates have the right to conduct mining, extraction, processing and other operations on, under or near the Ryan Plateau which was located adjacent to or near the land given to the conservancy. It was also listed that such operations may result in increased use of right of way, accessways and easements reserved by Rio Tinto as well as increased noise, dust, vibration and activity in the vicinity. The conservancy agreed that it would not unreasonably impede or interfere with the use of these reserved interests by Rio Tinto.
U.S Borax also retained land and claims which included the Played-Out Placer Claim, Grandview Borate Mine Placer Claim, Dawn Mining Claim, Evening Mine Lode Claim, Played out Extension No. 1 Lode Claim and the Ryan Lode Claim.
The events unfolding in Death Valley involving the U.S. Borax and Rio Tinto historic private mining camp of Ryan, the ongoing donation talks involving the National Park Service and the newly formed Death Valley Conservancy, started to garner much attention among individuals and other organizations. Members of the public discussed the events in forums that catered to Death Valley and other desert related topics, some individuals formed a group to observe activities and even an environmental organization took notice.
These events and stories are best described in an article titled “History’s guardian debated in Death Valley” by Tom Knudson, the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and a 2004 award for global environmental reporting. Knudson wrote the article for the Sacramento Bee in California and the article can be viewed on the link above.
Rio Tinto published a Legacy Management case study June 6, 2013, titled “Ryan mining camp, Death Valley, California, US.” The report told of the purpose and history of the camp and that in the early days how Pacific Coast Borax promoted their products by bringing tourists to the area. Pacific Coast Borax also sponsored the long running television series called Death Valley Days. Ryan Camp was featured in some of the Death Valley Days episodes and scenes from the movie Spartacus and a Twilight Zone episode “I shot an Arrow into the Air” were filmed in Ryan Camp. The report also reiterated how Pacific Coast Borax led the way ensuring that Death Valley was designated as a National Monument in 1933.
The transformation plans for Ryan Camp was to preserve it and make it safe. The camp included 14 buildings in various conditions. Those buildings included 2 dormitories, 4 houses, a lobby, dining room and kitchen facility, a school, a church and recreation hall, hospital, warehouse and powerhouse. The report also mentioned the incredibly rich and intact 20th century mining archaeological assets surrounding the camp that are found on both company and public lands.
The report concluded by saying that the delay in donating Ryan Camp to the Death Valley Conservancy was due to an unfavorable economic climate and changes in the metal markets. The development of the legal transfer documents that met all the expectations of both parties were also difficult.
July 22, 2013, U.S. Borax on behalf of parent company Rio Tinto Minerals, filed the notice of intent to hold mining claims and mill sites for the assessment year beginning Sept. 1, 2013, in Inyo County, California. A maintenance fee of $140 was paid on each of the 232 claims and sites. The notice was signed by Rio Tinto/U.S. Borax Inc. Land Manager Nathan Francis. Besides his work with Rio Tinto, Francis was also serving as a director with the Death Valley Natural History Association.
Six months after the Death Valley Conservancy announced the transfer of Ryan Camp from Rio Tinto to their organization a public tour opportunity was announced on the Ryan Camp Facebook page Oct. 31, 2013. The tour was scheduled for Nov. 6, 2013, and was limited to 15 persons. Tour participants were provided with information which included rules and requests, a safety acknowledgment form, map and a summary of the history of the camp.
The Death Valley Conservancy’s 2012 Internal Revenue Service Form 990 for the return of organizations exempt from income tax, was signed by Golas Nov. 7, 2013. The conservancy reported a fund balance of $12,227 and total program service expenses of $169,317. The conservancy provided $8,273 to Death Valley National Park to study and protect the endangered Devils Hole pup fish and educate the public as to the importance of the endangered species. The park also received $19,617 to support the Death Valley ROCKS (Recreation Outdoors Campaign for Kids through Study) program which brings inner city students to the park for three days of camping and field science experience.
Costs for the Ryan Camp preservation and upkeep and to restore it for an educational and research facility for members of the public following the donation of the camp by Rio Tinto were $141,247.
The conservancy reported receiving a noncash contribution of $15,469 for 450 Coleman signature series sleeping bags and cash donations in the amounts of $45,000 and $25,000. Tax records for The Offield Family Foundation, EIN 36-6066240, in 2011 show a contribution from their organization to the Death Valley Conservancy for $25,000.
Tax records for the Elisha-Bolton Foundation, EIN 34-1500135, in 2012 show a contribution to the Death Valley Conservancy for $1,500.
Persons listed as officers, directors, trustees and key employees were Chiaro, president, Kari Krusmark, vice president and Golas as secretary and treasurer. Sandra Moore was now listed as a director and Scott Smith was listed as the superintendent of Ryan Camp with a reportable compensation in the amount of $90,000 and health benefits, contributions to employee benefit plans and deferred compensation in the amount of $30,723.
Nov. 14, 2013, the National Park Service released the environmental assessment analyzing a proposal from Rio Tinto to perform maintenance, repairs and improvements to its water system in the park. This project was first discussed in the Jan. 20, 2012, meeting between the park and the Death Valley Conservancy. Rio Tinto’s proposal did not expand the historic footprint of the water system, allowed for legal access to the water rights to their pre-1914 water rights claim and served to protect park resources.
In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Council on Environmental Quality regulations the environmental assessment considered two alternatives. The two options were that no action would be taken or the proposed action by Rio Tinto would be completed. The environmental assessment was prepared by Jessica Smith, Ph.D., under the direction of the National Park Service. Dr. Smith was the wife of Death Valley Conservancy employee Scott Smith and the Smiths lived in Ryan Camp with their children.
The proposal from Rio Tinto was to clean the water collection adit and place a concrete framed steel door at the portal. A collapsing adit would be stabilized with pervious cellular concrete. A new pipeline would be installed from the edge of the spring canyon down the centerline of the existing access road to a water storage tank, 0.8 miles away. The old pipeline would be removed.
The badly corroded 10,800-gallon storage tank would be removed and replaced with a 33,788-gallon tank. This was consistent with the size of the historic tank and historic cultural landscape. The larger water storage tank was justified to be essential to the adequate fire protection, preservation and restoration activities and current projected visitor usage at Ryan Camp. To minimize visual impacts the tank would be low profile and painted a color to blend in with the surrounding natural and cultural landscape.
The assessment also mentioned how Ryan has no incipient source for water. In the early years before the Death Valley Railroad was constructed Navel Spring provided the water for Ryan Camp. With the building of the railroad connecting Death Valley Junction to Ryan water needs were supplied by way of the railroad. Bringing water in by rail was likely because the spring’s low discharge rate was not sufficient for full-scale mining.
When the Death Valley Railroad was discontinued the rail source for Ryan’s water stopped. From the 1930s on Ryan became dependent on the water from Navel Springs.
Death Valley National Park Superintendent Kathy Billings attended her first meeting with the Death Valley Conservancy and park staff Jan. 16, 2014. Representing the conservancy was Preston Chiaro, Henry Golas and conservancy employee Scott Smith. Of the many items discussed Golas reported that additional funds were donated by the Offield Foundation that could help with a pup fish project. It was also noted that Mary Liddecoat’s cousin Walter donated $2,000 for the Scotty’s Castle fountain project.
The conservancy discussed that they have a project to replicate the original 20 Mule Team wagons. They wanted to have the wagons so more appearances could be made including an entry in the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade in celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.
The conservancy reiterated their goal of having Ryan Camp be a campus for research and restoration. Besides the University of Southern California historic preservation workshop the conservancy was also in touch with the University of Utah. They hoped to offer more and desired to work with other universities.
Almost two years after Death Valley National Park solicited comments regarding the proposed project to upgrade the Navel Spring water collection system for use with Ryan Camp, the National Park Service issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and approved the project Jan. 28, 2014. Based on the environmental impact analysis reported in the Navel Springs Water System Repair and Maintenance Environmental Assessment, and considering public comments, the park selected Alternative B for the proposed repair and maintenance for implementation with no modifications to Alternative B.
The Death Valley Conservancy met with park staff July 22, 2014, at the Death Valley visitor center in Furnace Creek. The meeting was led by Death Valley National Park Superintendent Kathy Billings and the conservancy was represented by Preston Chiaro, Henry Golas and conservancy employee Scott Smith. The park related that the staffing was still low, but some positions were being filled. There was also a possibility for no appreciable increase in funding for the park in the coming fiscal year.
The wishing well project at Scotty’s Castle had been placed on hold as more research was needed to see if the water flow was feasible. Golas suggested that an annual maintenance fee could be built into the project if it was needed. The conservancy had provided funding to the park for the project and the funds were specifically given for the wishing well and the conservancy could provide additional funding if needed. The conservancy was anxious to see the wishing well project advanced.
The conservancy explained how they were conceptualizing larger projects at Ryan Camp and would be conducting engineering planning. Smith had conducted two public tours with outreach being done on the Facebook website. The conservancy was also conducting outreach to the University of Southern California for historic preservation and started work on the National Historic Register Nomination for Ryan Camp. The conservancy offered to fund a rock art project and had $5,000 remaining from Coleman that could be used for student transportation funds.
The conservancy discussed the twenty-mule team wagon replication and how authentic and historically accurate they would be. The conservancy was also talking to different wagon vendors for the construction of the wagons and had submitted requests to participate in the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.
The new Navel Springs water tank had been installed and work on the tunnel and water line would be done in the fall. The park requested to have a monitor at the spring while the work was being completed and again when the old pipeline was removed. The conservancy also asked the park if they could use the buildings at the Billie Mine for storage. They offered to install a generator and water and they felt their increased presence could help with trespassing and vandalism problems at the mine.
July 24, 2014, U.S. Borax on behalf of parent company Rio Tinto Minerals, filed the notice of intent to hold mining claims and mill sites for the assessment year beginning Sept. 1, 2014, in Inyo County, California. A maintenance fee of $155 was paid on each of the 231 claims and sites. The discrepancy in the prior year notice from 232 claims and sites was due to the Jack Placer Claim being dropped from the list in 2013 but the total number of claims and sites was not corrected to 231 until the 2014 filing. The Jack Placer was a 160-acre claim located northeast of Shoshone, California. Bureau of Land Management records show the claim closed and case action notes of forfeit.
The notice of intent to hold mining claims was signed by Rio Tinto/U.S. Borax Inc. Land Manager Nathan Francis. Besides his work with Rio Tinto, Francis, who last year had been serving as a director with the Death Valley Natural History Association, was now holding the position of treasurer for the association.
The Death Valley Conservancy’s 2013 Internal Revenue Service Form 990 for the return of organizations exempt from income tax, was signed by
Henry Golas Nov. 11, 2014. The conservancy reported a fund balance of $23,559,830 and total program service expenses of $364,553. The conservancy provided $3,646 to Death Valley National Park to study and protect the endangered Devils Hole pup fish and educate the public as to the importance of the endangered species. The park also received $3,646 to support the Death Valley ROCKS program which brings inner city students to the park for three days of camping and field science experience.
Costs for the Ryan Camp preservation and upkeep and to restore it for an educational and research facility for members of the public following the donation of the camp by Rio Tinto had more than doubled from $141,247 in 2012 to $357,261 for this reporting period.
The conservancy reported receiving noncash contributions of $3,670,000 and $612,812. This would have covered the donation of the land, buildings and equipment at Ryan Camp from Rio Tinto. There was also a contribution of $19,550,000 and this would have covered the endowment from Rio Tinto to the Death Valley Conservancy for the preservation, maintenance and operation of Ryan Camp.
There were also two individual personal contributions in the amounts of $10,000 and $21,000. Two additional individual personal contributions were made in the amounts of $5,000 and $20,000. Tax records for the Elisha-Bolton Foundation, EIN 34-1500135, in 2013 show a contribution to the Death Valley Conservancy for $5,000 and the tax records for The Offield Family Foundation, EIN 36-6066240, in 2013 show a contribution from their organization to the Death Valley Conservancy for $20,000.
Persons listed as officers, directors, trustees and key employees remained as Preston Chiaro, president, Kari Krusmark, vice president, Henry Golas as secretary and treasurer and Sandra Moore, director. Scott Smith was not listed on this section of the 2013 form as he was on the 2012 form. Henry Golas was now showing reportable compensation from the conservancy in the amount of $35,711 and an estimated amount of other compensation in the amount of $16,908.
Less than two years after Kathy Billings became superintendent of Death Valley National Park she retired Dec. 31, 2014, ending her 31 years of service.
Going back to early 2013 as the Death Valley Conservancy was preparing to take possession of Ryan Camp from Rio Tinto and the conservancy planned and held a catered celebration with tours and entertainment in Ryan Camp to mark the historic transfer, there were many somber reasons for Rio Tinto not to be too celebratory during this time.
The Telegraph in London reported Jan. 17, 2013 that Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese suddenly resigned as chief executive of the mining giant over a $14 billion write-down of its assets following bad deals, stating that “accountability” for the hit rested with him.
The problems that led up to Albanese resigning from Rio Tinto began two years prior and the fallout and outcome would remain with Rio Tinto for years to come. The details of what transpired were released by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission Oct. 17, 2017, and played out during the time that the transfer of Ryan Camp was being planned. In a complaint filed in the United States District Court Southern District of New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that the following occurred.
The Securities and Exchange Commission case alleges concerns that a course of deceptive conduct, a fraud, by Rio Tinto, chief executive officer Tom Albanese and chief financial officer Guy Elliott to conceal the rapid and dramatic decline in value of a coal business in Mozambique, Africa that Rio Tinto acquired for $3.7 billion April 2011. This high-profile transaction was Rio Tinto’s second large scale acquisition under Albanese’s leadership and Rio Tinto had already experienced dramatic setbacks with Albanese’s first large scale acquisition, Alcan Inc. The Mozambique acquisition was expected to restore the market’s confidence in Albanese’s deal making judgement but on the ground realities in Mozambique quickly undermined that narrative.
Rio Tinto purchased the Mozambican coal business on the central assumption that it could profitably mine, transport, and sell more than 40 million tons of coal per year by barging most of the coal product down the Zambezi River to a port on the Indian Ocean. After the acquisition, the business, now called Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique (“RTCM”), began to suffer one setback after another. By November 2011, Rio Tinto had determined that its barging assumptions were unrealistic. In December 2011, the Government of Mozambique rejected Rio Tinto’s proposal to barge coal down the Zambezi River. Rio Tinto also learned that existing railway capacity was severely limited. As a result, by the end of 2011, Rio Tinto knew that it could transport and sell only about 5 percent of the amount of coal it had originally assumed. Rio Tinto also learned that there was significantly less and lower quality coal than it had assumed at acquisition.
The complaint goes on to allege that Rio Tinto, Albanese and Elliott concealed the nature and extent of these adverse developments from Rio Tinto’s board of directors, Audit Committee, independent auditors and the market. If disclosed, the developments would have triggered an impairment analysis of RTCM. An impairment is required when an asset is worth less than its carrying value, which is the amount reflected on the company’s public financial statements. By the time problems with RTCM emerged, Rio Tinto had already impaired Alcan twice. Albanese and Elliott knew that impairing RTCM or publicly disclosing its rapidly declining value would call into question Albanese’s and Elliott’s ability to pursue the core of Rio Tinto’s business model of identifying and developing long-term, low-cost and highly-profitable mining assets. Rio Tinto would have had two failed transactions with multibillion-dollar impairments and no successful large-scale acquisitions under Albanese’s and Elliott’s leadership.
Albanese and Elliott were aware that setbacks at RTCM had significantly eroded RTCM’s economic value. Indeed, after spending months quantifying the effect of various adverse developments, RTCM executives advised Albanese and Elliott that RTCM’s valuation under the best configuration was negative $680 million in May 2012. Yet Rio Tinto continued to carry RTCM on its books at a value of more than $3 billion while Albanese and Elliott continued to promote RTCM’s prospects to the market.
Considering the recent experience with the Alcan impairments, Albanese and Elliott were familiar with Rio Tinto’s impairment review process and the governing accounting standards and corporate policies. But neither took steps to ensure that Rio Tinto disclosed the nature of the adverse developments at RTCM or initiated an impairment process to determine its correct carrying value. Instead, Elliott reviewed and failed to correct materially misleading documents prepared for and submitted to the company’s Audit Committee and independent auditors, knowing that the Audit Committee and independent auditors would rely on the misleading information concerning RTCM. And over the course of a year, Albanese and Elliott concealed and glossed over the adverse developments by, among other things, misleading the company’s board of directors, Audit Committee, independent auditors, and the market regarding the immediate, measurable, and devastating effect that issues with transportation infrastructure and coal quantity and quality had on RTCM’s commercial value.
The complaint goes further to allege that the misconduct paid off. Rio Tinto raised a total of $5.5 billion in U.S. debt offerings that incorporated materially misleading statements and omissions concerning RTCM’s valuation. Of that amount, Rio Tinto raised approximately $3 billion in an offering initiated soon after Albanese and Elliott learned of RTCM’s negative $680 million valuation. Each of the debt offerings took place only days after Rio Tinto released misleading financial information to the market. Publicly, Rio Tinto continued to value RTCM at more than $3 billion for the relevant period. Privately, Albanese and Elliott knew RTCM had little or no commercial value. Nevertheless, Albanese and Elliott undermined the impairment process required under International Accounting Standards and Rio Tinto’s accounting policies.
Allegedly, Albanese and Elliott publicly misrepresented and inflated RTCM’s value until December 2012 when a Rio Tinto employee outside the normal financial control function, later learned to be Preston Chiaro, discovered that the true nature and effect of adverse RTCM developments was being hidden from the board of directors and that RTCM was being carried at an inflated value on Rio Tinto’s financial statements. The employee bypassed Albanese and Elliott and went directly to the Chairman of the Board to report the true nature and effect of problems with transportation infrastructure and coal quantity and quality at RTCM. This triggered an internal review and impairment process for RTCM that ultimately revealed the longstanding problems with RTCM’s valuation.
Within weeks, Rio Tinto’s Chairman asked the Board to dismiss Albanese as the company’s CEO. By mid-January 2013, Rio Tinto announced it was impairing RTCM’s carrying value by more than $3 billion and, at the same time, Rio Tinto informed the market that Albanese had stepped down as CEO “by mutual agreement with the Rio Tinto Board.” Elliott stepped down as the company’s chief financial officer in April 2013.
Rio Tinto replaced Albanese with Sam Walsh Jan. 17, 2013, as its chief executive officer. Walsh joined Rio Tinto in 1991 had previously served as Rio Tinto’s iron ore executive.
Three months later, the largest non-volcanic landslide in the history of North America occurred April 10, 2013, at the open pit mine at Bingham Canyon, Utah, the largest mine in the United States. The Utah Geological Survey described landslides at the Kennecott Utah Copper mine, owned by Rio Tinto, as the largest mining-induced landslides in history. Two slides occurring 11 minutes apart carried 145 million tons of waste rock into the bottom of the open pit at Bingham Canyon. The second slide caused a shallow 2.5 magnitude earthquake, induced by the rapid shifting weight of the slides.
Fortunately, Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Utah Copper was prepared and had a sophisticated network of geotechnical monitors in place at the mine. Many precautions were taken, and the slides resulted in no injuries or deaths, but they significantly changed the face of the mine and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to the operation. Over the next several months several hundred workers were laid off or accepted early retirement packages. Kennecott executives were also cut and reassigned. Preston Chiaro served as vice president of technical services at the mine from 1991 to 1995 and Tom Albanese served as vice president of engineering and technical services at the mine from 1998 to 2000.
Dec. 9, 2013, Rio Tinto announced senior management changes. Rio Tinto had appointed Greg Lilleyman as the new group executive of technology and innovation following the retirement of Preston Chiaro at the end of March 2014. Lilleyman’s appointment was effective Jan. 1, 2014.
After 23 years with Rio Tinto, Chiaro retired March 31,2014. Chiaro had joined the Westminster College board of trustees in 2011. Westminster is a private, comprehensive liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Aug. 1, 2014, Chiaro was the Interim Dean of the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business at Westminster College.
July 30, 2014, the Financial Times reported that Rio Tinto closed a dire chapter with the $50 million Mozambique sale. The sale for $50 million was less than 2 percent of the original $3.7 billion acquisition price.
There were other events that occurred during this time that in most instances could be overlooked. But in telling the early story of Ryan Camp in Death Valley and the accounts of people like William T. Coleman, Francis Marion “Borax” Smith and John Ryan, and the importance that these men played, it is equally important to report on the accounts of the modern custodians of Ryan Camp.
Records from the Santa Barbara County Clerk Recorder show that Henry Golas and Patricia Berns were married in Furnace Creek, California April 27, 1985. Court records from the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara, case No. 1415232, show that Patricia Berns and Henry Golas separated Aug. 9, 2011.
In another court record, Rio Tinto Minerals, the Death Valley Conservancy and Ryan Camp, appear to play an important part in the case.
Court records from the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara, case No. 1415232, Patricia Berns and Henry Golas, hearing date Aug. 30, 2013, a tentative ruling by Judge Donna Geck, proceedings motion to quash, the following information is listed:
“This is a dissolution of marriage action. Petitioner Patricia Berns and respondent Henry Golas were married for 28 years. During the marriage, Golas helped found the Death Valley Conservancy (“DVC”), a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that was established to help preserve and protect Death Valley’s natural and historic resources. Golas is a board member of DVC and serves as its secretary and treasurer. Golas receives a salary from DVC, as well as other benefits. The amount of the salary and benefits is in dispute. Golas also receives income from Rio Tinto Minerals, lnc., a global mining company that recently donated real property it owns in Death Valley to DVC. Rio Tinto Minerals is also providing financial support to DVC. The amount of income Golas receives from Rio Tinto Minerals is in dispute, but Berns claims that Golas receives in excess of $18,000 per month as a result of the ongoing relationship between Golas, DVC, and Rio Tinto Minerals. Golas says that his income is no more than $3,333 per month. At the child support and attorney’s fees hearing May 31,2013, this court found that Golas’s stated income was questionable. In its Order after Hearing, the court stated: “Historically, [Golas] has been the primary breadwinner in the family. He is living in the marital residence and has control over most, if not all, of the community’s assets. He claims to have had a recent decline in income which has not been explained to the Court’s satisfaction.” Following the hearing, Berns served a deposition subpoena for personal appearance and production of documents on DVC. …”
“DVC now moves to quash, limit, or modify the subpoena on the grounds that production of the information sought is unduly burdensome and the information requested is irrelevant, privileged, and/or protected by the constitutional right to privacy. …”
“Berns argues in her opposition that Golas’s “relationship with DVC is far more complicated than a run-of-the-mill W-2 employee relationship” (Opp. , p. 2:19-20), but just because Golas is a member of DVC’s board of directors and currently serves as its secretary and treasurer does not mean that Berns is entitled to discover all of DVC’s business and financial records for the past three years. DVC is a separate and distinct legal entity, with separate and distinct business and financial interests that are not properly discoverable by Berns in her dispute with Golas over child and spousal support. Again, what is discoverable is Golas’s employment relationship with DVC and the salary and other payments he has received from DVC. However, DVC’s “communications with the press” and any “documents reflecting donations of any kind received by [DVC]” are plainly outside the scope of allowable discovery. Notwithstanding the above, the court agrees with Berns that she is entitled to take the deposition of DVC’s “person most qualified.” …”
“Based on the foregoing, the court will grant DVC’s motion for order limiting the deposition subpoena for personal appearance and production of documents issued by Berns. With respect to the documents listed in Attachment 3 to the subpoena, DVC shall produce in verified form, if it has not already done so, all documents responsive to Request Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 20. With respect to the deposition topics listed in Attachment 4 to the subpoena, DVC shall designate the “person most qualified” to testify on Topic Nos. 3, 7, 8, 9, and 10. DVC shall be relieved of any further obligation to respond to the subpoena as the court finds that the remaining documents and topics have no relevance to Berns’s support motion.”
“Tentative Ruling: Non-party DVC’s motion to limit or modify the deposition subpoena for personal appearance and production of documents is granted. DVC is relieved of any further obligation to respond to the deposition subpoena issued by Patricia Berns other than it shall produce in verified form all documents responsive to Document Request Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 20 and it shall produce the “person most qualified” to testify regarding Deposition Topic Nos. 3, 7, 8, 9, and 10.”
(The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara, NOTE: Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the documents placed on the website, but the court is not responsible for delays, errors or omissions in these web pages. The official court documents are those filed with the case record, and any questions should be directed to the department where the hearing was set.)
And in the end of this event, court records from the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara, case No. 1415232, for the marriage of Patricia Berns and Henry Golas, the judgement of dissolution was filed April 9, 2014.
This period in the history of Ryan Camp, 2013 through 2014, saw the start of new beginnings and the close of old chapters. The events ranged from exciting, fulfilling and successful to distracting, exhausting and disappointing. Things would hopefully get better in the years to come.
(Please notify author on the website contact page for errors, omissions or suggestions.)
Information Sources and Credits:
- Copies of reports, documents and electronic media provided by the National Park Service.
- Copies of emails, reports, documents and electronic media obtained from the National Park Service under Freedom of Information Act requests.
- Reference document directory
- Australian Financial Review (www.afr.com)
- California Office of the Attorney General
- California Secretary of State
- Equilar Board Edge
- Internal Revenue Service
- Inyo County Clerk-Recorder Office
- Linked In
- Rio Tinto
- Santa Barbara County Clerk Recorder
- Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara
- The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia (www.smh.com.au)
- The Telegraph, London, England (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- Utah Geological Survey
- Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah