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State lawmakers OK temporary dredging ban targeting salmon habitat

The state Legislature has approved a bill to temporarily ban suction dredge mining in the state's rivers, a largely recreational practice blamed for harming salmon spawning habitat.

The state Senate on Monday voted 28-7 to approve the bill, SB 670 by Sen. Patricial Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa. It was approved by an even wider margin in the Assembly last week.

The bill contains an urgency clause, meaning it becomes law immediately upon signing by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It would ban suction dredge mining until the Department of Fish and Game completes a court-ordered update of regulations governing the practice.

"In addition to being essential to saving salmon and steelhead fisheries," Wiggins said in a statement, "this bill will save the department an estimated $1 million in costs to administer a program that does not pay for itself."

The regulatory review was supposed to be finished by July 2008, but Wiggins said the department has yet to begin. As a result, a new court order last week prevents the department from using general fund money to operate the dredge permitting program.

Supporters say the bill includes language negotiated with the Schwarzenegger administration, so they expect him to sign it. Those negotiations followed a February confirmation hearing for Fish and Game Director Don Koch, during which the administration's handling of suction dredge mining came under attack.

Call The Bee's Matt Weiser, (916) 321-1264.

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Comments: 22     Showing:

  • soundstyle wrote on 07/14/2009 06:30:36 PM:

    Where were these politicians during the gold rush? lol

    Had they been around, there wouldn't have been a gold rush.

  • mooreport wrote on 07/14/2009 03:37:29 PM:

    Wiggins and her Democrat buddies doing what they do best, taking away another freedom. You guys might as well sell your dredges, you're never going to be able to use them again.

  • ccmc wrote on 07/14/2009 03:29:09 PM:

    I'll bet Wiggens wouldn't know a dredge if one bit her. This is not about dredging being bad for the fish, it is about the Indians and what they want. If you really look at what is going on, you would see that the more populated the state gets the more water is diverted for household use as well as farming. If the water is too shallow the fish can NOT swim upstream to spawn. Dredging is done in a controlled time frame. Not allowed during any spawning season. Dredging cleans the water of (mercury,glass,bottle caps cans ect.) Dredging stirs up the natural feed for the fish and creates deep pools where they can stay in cooler water when the hot weather hits. Some of these claims about dredging are about areas that dredging is never allowed. This has been studied before. I hope every person that has paid for a dredging lisence for the 2009 season will demand their money back if the Governor signs this. The Bee even printed an article in January of 2009 The Fed Draft Report.

  • greenneck wrote on 07/14/2009 01:15:40 PM:


  • ANTI_PARTISAN wrote on 07/14/2009 01:14:13 PM:

    It sucks to be a scapegoat for an agenda doesn't it?

    I have done a little dredging, and I would guess that most opposed to it do not know much about it, other than the scare stories they have heard that it "tears up the streambed". I hope they don't ban panning and sluicing also.

  • dewater wrote on 07/14/2009 01:02:23 PM:

    I didn't finish my final thought so here goes. I have no problem with reasonable regulations on dredging, like banning it where the salmon spawn or wild trout are present, or yellow legged frogs are in jeopardy, but when I look at the river I grew up on and see nothing but a slimy, green, algae ridden, fishless waterway that was destroyed by corporate america in the name of "progress" I see RED!! I AM NOT THE PROBLEM!!!

  • dewater wrote on 07/14/2009 12:54:42 PM:

    I think it's time we ban any kind of outdoor recreation. Keep the people where they belong in their concrete jungles like LA, Sac, SF etc...To blame the dredgers for the decline of salmon populations is absurd! We've dammed every river in Calif (except the Smith), diverted the dammed water through our man made plumbing systems USUALLY BYPASSING THE NATURAL STREAMBED. Do you realize that up to 80% of the Feather River flows THROUGH TUNNELS from one dam to the next in PG&E's "stairstep of power"?And the claim that dredging is responsible for the problem of legacy mercury... Have you seen or better yet heard the bottom of a river moving during high water? Yeah it's all the dredgers fault!! Just like it's the farmers fault, the commercial fishermans fault, the loggers fault, the ATVer's fault, the hunters fault......TOO MANY PEOPLE!!! This bill takes away the last bit of pleasure "recreation" that I truly enjoy on my private property (a patented mining claim; so yes I'm biased too)

  • dbignews wrote on 07/14/2009 12:45:12 PM:

    The next statement will be that removing pollutant control devices on factories (those that are actually left in this country) is good for the environment. Think of the LA basin back in the 60s (for those old enough to remember). The State imposed tough pollutant standards. If not, the LA basin today would resemble China’s choking skies. Don’t tell me that dredging in pristine rivers in Northern California, or anywhere is good for the fisheries. That’s a bunch of crock. Dredging tears up precious breeding beds for fish, pollutes the environment, and is also a noise pollutant.It also puts stress on the environment by adding additional footprints on delicate plants. Not to mention all the litter left behind from people not caring about their environment. You pack it in, you take it out just doesn’t work for some people. It makes me sick to see it when I go hiking or fishing in pristine areas where some careless person or person's were too lazy to pick up their own garbage.

  • jsl55 wrote on 07/14/2009 12:37:51 PM:

    Maybe you should do some research on the subject. Dredging actually improves fish habitat and increases fish population if it not done during spawning season. The dams are what stops salmon from going upstream to spawn. This is just another attack on citizens who want to use their publicly owned lands. If the fishermen are banned from fishing, and dredgers banned from dredging, we should also ban the rafters from the rivers.

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