SACRAMENTO, Calif.— A coalition  including environmental organizations, fishermen and the Karuk tribe filed a lawsuit Monday to block newly approved regulations for controversial suction dredge mining. The program would increase river mining and pollution in California’s waterways once a current moratorium on the practice expires in 2016; coalition members are concerned about the health of California rivers and commercially valuable salmon fisheries.

“Until the moratorium was passed, gold miners were still allowed to destroy our rivers, our fisheries and our culture,” said Leaf Hillman of the Karuk tribe. “Fish and Game will let them resume the destruction in 2016 unless the new regulations are dramatically improved.”

Suction dredge mining uses machines to vacuum up gravel and sand from streams and river bottoms in search of gold. The Department of Fish and Game’s March 16 decision would allow suction dredge mining throughout California in areas that are sensitive habitat for important and imperiled wildlife, including salmon and steelhead trout, California red-legged frogs and sensitive migratory songbirds.

Suction dredge mining is a net loser for the state of California: It pollutes our waterways, hurts endangered fish and wildlife, damages cultural resources and wastes taxpayer money,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The agency’s new regulations avoid addressing significant water-quality, wildlife and cultural impacts of mining. The Environmental Protection Agency and State Water Resources Control Board urged a complete ban on suction dredge mining because of the significant impacts to water quality and wildlife from mercury pollution; the California Native American Heritage Commission has also condemned suction dredge mining’s impacts on priceless tribal and archeological resources.  

“These regulations will give recreational suction dredgers a license to pollute some of the most scenic and ecologically sensitive rivers in California,” said Steve Evans of Friends of the River.

The issue has implications for the economy as well as the environment. “For our members, this is about protecting jobs and family-owned businesses which rely on healthy salmon fisheries,” said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the West Coast’s largest trade association of commercial fishing families, which is a plaintiff in the case. “Under these new regulations, suction dredge mining will continue to harm fisheries, continue to stir up toxic mercury which is a human health hazard and continue degrading California’s rivers at taxpayer expense.  This makes no sense.”

Adding insult to injury, a legislative analysis found that the suction dredge mining program has cost the state more money than it earns; it lost close to $1 million in 2009 alone — all to benefit a few thousand hobbyist gold miners.

The case was filed today in Alameda County Superior Court under the California Environmental Quality Act and Fish and Game Code. The coalition filing suit includes the Karuk tribe, Center for Biological Diversity, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Friends of the River, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Foothills Anglers Association, North Fork American River Alliance, Upper American River Foundation and Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center. The coalition is represented by attorneys from the Environmental Law Foundation, Center for Biological Diversity, Pacific Federation of Fisherman’s Associations and Friends of the River.

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  • people this is bad news but how many of us attend these meeting? do you voice your concerns  do you have facts  or do you just sit by and let it happen????? and this just doesn't apply to dredging....  hunting, gun laws. fishing any sport or hobby someone else don't like or understand will be attacked. I said it before and I'll say it now... get involved write or call your congress person get up a petition stand up and be herd and counted ..

    • sorry joe,i knew that,shoulda shot ya a pm and said so.and didnt mean to blow up your thread.have been read only 5 or six au forums 2 years now,because  i cant seem to control my temper towards the media misinformation campaign.not just about dredging,all things related to our heritage as americans are headed down the drain.have been saying for years,dredging legally will soon be the least of our worries.ask 10 people on the street about this countries future,6 think all will be well in a few reality,its mathematically impossible to fix what has been done.perhaps 3 of remaining 4 asked hope to just get by.the one remaining is storing up beans and bullets.and medical supplies,etc.this is way over opti,  

      mistic on my part.homeland security just bought 450 million rounds of .40 and 150 mil. .223.thats enough .40 fer everyone in the us.and enough 223 for the quickies,who got hell out of 40 i sound paranoid? well,i might be. 

  • good post joe,and not to correct you,but reffering to hillman et al as a tribe would give them status they  neither deserve or qualify for.let me point out now that this is not a racial slur ,  (im a wagon burner my ownself).its simply a plain old you may know,the krooks(sorry,broke my spellchecker while cutting wood) are too small a group to qualify as a tribe.which is why there is no krook reservation.hmmm,lets delve in a bit further.without tribal status,no rez,the krooks cannot build a casino.ask me,this one fact lies near the bottom of this ungodly mess.think of it as being similar to a short man complex.naturally the hatred can be traced back 200 years or whatever,but in case of hillman et al,i believe it is noreznocasino complex.ironically,it was the financial weight of calis combined tribal casinos that tipped the scales against us.arnold had been veto-ing every anti 1872 related bill coming to his july or august 09,his stance suddenly reversed.this coincided with a very large amount of cash,provided by a syndicate of casino owning indian other words,arny sold out to the bs that calis court systems allow these anti american suits to always be venued in alameda(read berkely)am sad to tell you,our rights upon federal public lands can not be restored by court action within this state.the taking of these rights,by these same courts,arny,dfg.etc etc was constiitutionally illegal in the first such, these cases in alameda,the bills in sacratomato,the angry krooks under their slimy rocks mean nothing to i have not been a recreational miner for 20 years.but have been a miner for 30,and only recognise the american constitution,bill of rights,and the mining law of 1872. over which they have no power,unless i afford it to them by following their illegal anti-american rules/laws whatever.the new dredging regs are not worth defending or upholding,as they were enacted illegaly in the first place.the true battle will be in federal court as their the jurisdiction over federal  public lands properly rests.but on the personal level,if i am peacably pursuing my livelyhood upon my properly located and recorded claims (thats the key 1872) and while conducting ops which cause minimal surface haha disturbance,am accosted,attacked,or even interfered with in any way,my battle will be right an american fighting against non american aggressors.would rather die on my feet than live on my and all,you cannot excersice 1872 mining rights as a recreational miner.if approached by an official,id yourself as an american upon public lands.seeking or extractingf valuable the newby/hobbyists in cali,and soon everywhere, wish it was different,but somebody forget ta sterilize the liberals.good luck

    • These are not my words. This is just the text from the attachment posted here.

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