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Suction Dredge Gold Miners Hoppin’ Mad Over Ban

Update from Dave McCracken on 10/17/2014

Mining industry wins big in California!

I sent out a notice to everyone as soon as we found out that the Third Appellate in California issued a landmark Decision in support of small-scale mining. Then, after you guys directed an avalanche of letters to the Court, they further decided to formally publish their Decision. The Decision is full of legal reasoning which supports our arguments that the State does not have the authority to materially interfere with the commercial viability of mining on the public lands.

Our industry has been held down by unreasonable over-regulation for so long, it is going to take some time to absorb how far-reaching the implications are by this published Decision. As promised, I have explained some of my own reasoning in our October newsletter why the published Decision has completely turned our situation around. I have also dropped the "500-pound bomb," suggesting that the Third Appellate has inferred that dredgers do not need a permit from the State to operate a suction dredge if the State is refusing to issue them!

You can find it all right here:


Suction Dredge Gold Miners Hoppin’ Mad Over Ban

8/25/2009 2:44:27 PM by Keith Goetzman

re:Suction dredge Ban

California has drawn a line in the sediment and outlawed suction dredge gold mining, a practice in which frame-mounted, vacuum like 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 http://www.utne.com/Environment/Suction-Dredge-Gold-Miners-Hoppin-Mad-Over-Ban-5188.aspx

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


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