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Dredge mining threatens salmon and other fish

An editorial appeared in the Fresno Bee today highlighting the dangers of dredge mining in California’s rivers and the environmental harm it causes along with harm to jobs and the economy.

Dredge mining in rivers does several harmful things: 1) It mixes up and returns potentially toxic material to the river flow. (Many rivers in California have mercury from gold mining in the 1800’s that have been embedded deeper into the sediment.) 2) The murky sediment returned to the rivers from the dredging makes swimming hazardous and unhealthy. 3) The disturbance of the river bottom also disturbs fish laying eggs. In particular salmon which lays eggs in the gravel bottom and young lamprey that can reside in gravel for up to seven years before maturing.

When you weigh these negative environmental effects in conjunction with the harm to fishing jobs and the economy - the benefits to halting dredging vastly outweigh the benefits to a small number of miners. The Department of Fish and Game only issues an average of 3,000 dredging suction permits every year. Whereas millions of anglers in California contribute $2.4 billion to California’s economy each year. Sportfishing also supports 43,000 jobs and 1.3 billion in wages. Commercial salmon fishing contributes $255 million and 2,263 jobs to California’s economy every year.

The Karuk Tribe, California Trout, and Friends of the North Fork sued the Department of Fish and Game to stop dredge mining. The court ruled that DFG has to go through the CEQA process, but DFG is six months past due and state funding threatens their ability to complete the review.

Fresno Bee Editorial:

Update 1/21/09

Suction dredging permit from the CA Department of Fish and Game?


A DFG permit for a college student collecting scientific data?


Restoring salmon to a river?


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