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