Utne Blogs > Environment

Suction Dredge Gold Miners Hoppin’ Mad Over Ban

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Environment, wilderness and wildlife, water, rivers, mining, salmon,

Suction dredgeCalifornia has drawn a line in the sediment and outlawed suction dredge gold mining, a practice in which frame-mounted, vacuumlike machines suck up the riverbed of mineral-laden mountain streams and spew it out into the water in hopes of capturing a few flecks of gold. The ban is part of a plan to help reverse declining salmon runs on several rivers—but to a bunch of hobbyist gold miners, it’s an affront to personal rights, according to the July 30 Sacramento News and Review.

“The scientific evidence against suction dredging doesn’t pass the laugh test,” James Buchal, attorney for a mining advocacy group called the New 49’ers, tells the newspaper. “This bill will put hundreds of people out of work and destroy the vacation plans of thousands of people for no purpose whatsoever.”

Despite the gold-tinged vacation dreams of the New 49’ers, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the ban into law Aug. 6. Writes the Associated Press: “Small-scale miners still drawn to California to chase dreams of striking it rich will have to find their gold nuggets the old-fashioned way for awhile, with shovels and pans.”

Over at the Nugget Shooter Forum, an amateur prospecting website, compliance with the suction dredge ban doesn’t look promising. And it appears that miners still favor the speech stylings and hotheaded temperament of Yosemite Sam.

 “We are now in a lock and load catch me if'n ya can MF state a siege,” writes a poster calling himself “John Hoser Oates.” “Never been caught before and ain’t a givn’ up now either.”

 “I say screw them,” writes “Matt.” “I will be dredging the remainder of the summer until the end of the season. I will dredge next summer also. If I get into it with an enforcing agency and my equipment gets confiscated, well, it ain’t worth shit anymore anyways.”

“I know nothing about no stinking new law till I receive a letter saying my dredge permit is revoked,” writes “creekhunter.” “My dredge will be back in the water very soon and my sluice will be full of gold.”

Violators will face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Source: Sacramento News & Review

Image by K Koski, NOAA Auk Bay Lab, licensed under Creative Commons.

nuggetshooter
5/11/2012 3:56:27 PM

Well now what do ya know about that... Didn't portray us in a very good light did they just posting the more controversial comments they did! Typical of the media... Don't these media and anti dredging fools know that to many folks this is a living and that many folks at NuggetShooter forums are not "Amateur miners" but very experienced professionals that rely on dredging for income!


van schoonhoven
1/23/2011 10:26:25 AM

I'm returning to CA to go dredging...in the ocean if I have to. There's always more than one way to get down in the creek...legally. Anyone who wants to give up, call me and hand over your 5-6" dredge, I'm not quittin'. I can be reached at (480) 231-1110 and I could pay some as well. I'm not kidding.


east_bay_dredger
9/30/2009 1:24:07 PM

The numbers of local salmon coming back to our creeks have been decreasing over the years, each year the runs get smaller and smaller. There used to be a day when there would be 30 or more of us shoulder to shoulder gathered around Walnut Creek and we would each go home with a nice big salmon. Sadly, today you would be lucky to even see one. However, this creek has NEVER been dredged, EVER! I think the problem is much bigger than that and they have banned dredging for nothing. What a bunch of mis-informed yahoos! Get a grip Sacramento, you have been hoodwinked by a bunch of revenge seeking indians. And what about all the other states? Are they presently dredging and killing their own salmon? I think not. What a crock.


gremlin
9/1/2009 5:13:08 PM

destroy the vacation plans well that has happen. spend months planing a vacation only to have the Governator blow every plan right out of the water. you can bet i will not be buying a hotel room in California, will not be buying food, gas. spare parts, replacing lost tools. why you ask because my vacation is now illegal. i know the taxes there are higher than home but now the state is going to lose that extra taxable cash i was going to bring in to the state. it is a good thing i heard about the bill be for sending in my paper work and fees for the dredge. because the state is not giving out refunds. every one that had all ready paid there fees be for the law will not get a refund. its like buying a airplane ticket getting all the way to the gate and some one making flying illegal and keeping the cash. really it is too bad i did not send in my dredge fees, my state would of had a field day with it. taking cash over the mail for a license then not even letting me use that license in the state. that would of been mail fraud and racketeering.


gremlin
9/1/2009 5:12:49 PM

destroy the vacation plans well that has happen. spend months planing a vacation only to have the Governator blow every plan right out of the water. you can bet i will not be buying a hotel room in California, will not be buying food, gas. spare parts, replacing lost tools. why you ask because my vacation is now illegal. i know the taxes there are higher than home but now the state is going to lose that extra taxable cash i was going to bring in to the state. it is a good thing i heard about the bill be for sending in my paper work and fees for the dredge. because the state is not giving out refunds. every one that had all ready paid there fees be for the law will not get a refund. its like buying a airplane ticket getting all the way to the gate and some one making flying illegal and keeping the cash. really it is too bad i did not send in my dredge fees, my state would of had a field day with it. taking cash over the mail for a license then not even letting me use that license in the state. that would of been mail fraud and racketeering.


larry broman
9/1/2009 7:39:01 AM

75% of the smolts never make it out of the esturary because of bird and seal predation but because these are warm and fuzzy i guess "they"(enviro whackos)must think this loss is ok. next is the Karuk tribe(read crook) gillnetters stringing nets from bank to bank and they arent even a recognized tribe and cannot legally fish. on the salmons trek to maturity they course into the western pacific and are scooped up by foreign trawlers.lastly calif. sells kill tickets to over 2.2 million fisherman ok who's the problem now???


larry broman
9/1/2009 7:36:52 AM

75% of the smolts never make it out of the estuarary because of bird and seal predation but because these are warm and fuzzy i guess "they"(enviro whackos)must think this loss is ok. next is the Karuk (read crook) gillnetters stringing nets from bank to bank and they arent even a recognized tribe. on the salmons trek to maturity they course into the western pacific and are scooped up by foreign trawlers.lastly calif.sells kill tickets to over 2.2 million fisherman ok who's the problem now???


tom bergstrand
8/31/2009 9:17:11 PM

The Indians want a casino . CA wants to give it to them . Why ? Because they will pay money to the state . The state can then in turn waste this money and fall even deeper in debt . CA is $26 BILLION in debt . That's %500 million a WEEK . Shouldn't somebody have seen this coming ? Enviro groups are bankrolling the tribe in this deal . If they prevail the enviros get a win and the Indians get a casino . The only problem is FEDERAL law . Governator and his little lackeys are fixin' to get spanked BIG TIME . Then the lawsuits will start . Civil Rights , Due Process violations , theft and the list is as endless as CA's disregard for anything that doesn't have LIBERAL spray painted all over it . Let's hope that CA doesn't try to pay the judgemants with their worthless IOU's . PARATROOPER said all that .


russ pearce
8/31/2009 8:00:58 PM

you would think that the socalled 'representatives would have asked their own California Attorney General advise on this move! and especialy their Govenor,after all the comments sent to him to tell him of the 1872 federal law giving the prospectors a federal right to mine without being undully restricted or harrassed.now California goes and pulls this stunt because they were pushed/advised by some enviromental groups to do so! you wonder who actually runs this state/Country! all over a gambeling hall!


russ pearce
8/31/2009 7:02:31 PM

Californias socalled "representatives" will have to learn the hard way in federal court! they have violated federal law and will get spanked for it! they will be licky if these peoples federaly mandated rights dont sue each one of them knuckelheads for their stupidity!


el dorado
8/31/2009 5:30:12 PM

The picture is no suction dredge that I have ever seen. Mining in the rivers is one of the great heritages of the Golden State. Politics should not be allowed to remove a right granted under the current mining laws. The California Dredge permit issued by the California Department of Fish and Game was conceived using a scientific approach and a Valid EIR. Each watercourse in the State has it's own season, size of equipment allowed and strict regulations on how that equipment is used. Only 3000 dredge permits were issued last year and most if not all miners operating under that permit could not have caused any harm to fish. Dredgers do not kill fish, fisherman do!