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Letter by Jim Foley to Governor Schwarzenegger opposing AB 1032 Suction Dredge mining, comparison between mining and Trinity River Restoration Project

September 29, 2007

Following is a copy of a letter sent to Governor Schwarzenegger in opposition to Assembly Bill AB1032, which would close California rivers to suction dredge mining simply because suction dredging mining by individuals affects rivers in the same way this Trinity River Restoration Project does, but on a much smaller scale.
A typical suction dredge miner moves a few yards of river gravel per day. But CDFG says in the lawsuit brought by the Karuk Tribe that these suction dredge miners harm the river. Now this same CDFG says that this restoration project is beneficial. This is a direct contradiction of the testimony they gave in court.
If a suction dredge harms fish, as they claim, then what would be the impact of a project of this size that dwarfs all suction dredge activities taken as a whole?
The following photos will show a comparison of how suction dredges impact a river and this restoration project impacts a river.

Letter to Governor Schwarzenegger from Jim Foley,

The California Department of Fish and Game is involved in a Salmon restoration project on the Trinity river in northern California, which is a tributary of the Klamath river. In this project, they are depositing over 130,000 tons of bank run gravel into the Trinity rivers main stream banks, driving huge heavy equipment into the river, and stockpiling piles of silt to be allowed to wash into the river, hoping it will wash out during high water flows during the winter and spring.

There is a major problem with the whole concept that the California Department of Fish and Game feels that this is an acceptable way to recover this rivers “natural state”, and yet they have attacked gold dredgers as harmful.
As per our dredging permit regulations, we are not allowed to operate any motor vehicle in a waterway, and we are not allowed to introduce any bank run material into the waterway, yet on the Trinity river, CD F&G is doing just that. CD F&G is sorting out the bank run gravel, looking for classified rock between 3/8“ to 4” in size, leaving the oversized material on the bank, placing the sorted 3/8“ to 4” gravel into the waterway using huge front end loaders and dump trucks and driving them in the river, and piling the silt bank run material to be washed downstream during high water flows.
Dredging sorts material this same way, yet does not add anything to the river that is not already there. A dredge leaves the oversize material on the bottom of the river, moves the material 5“ and smaller on top of the oversized material, and adds no silt that is not already in the river bottom.

If the eminent expert fishery biologists like Dr. Peter Moyle of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Walt Duffy of Humboldt State University, that the author of this bill states that in their expert opinions that the problem with dredging is the “loose dredge tailings that may be washed downstream could POSSIBLY cover and suffocate salmon nesting beds (reds)“, then there is a MAJOR problem with this bill or a MAJOR problem with this restoration project on the Trinity.
How can the small amount of material we are talking about with dredging compare to the hundreds of thousands of tons of BANK RUN MATERIAL that CD F&G is now placing into an endangered salmon bearing stream to be “washed downstream during high water”?

This doesn't even begin to address another MAJOR issue with this restoration project. If the material that CD F&G is using to sort is from the hydraulic mines and huge bucket line dredges from past mining, when huge amounts of mercury were legally used in those mining activities, then all this bank run material that is being added to the Trinity river is contaminated with mercury, which is a known highly poisonous toxin, and is being taken from the bank and placed into the active water way. This is in DIRECT VIOLATION OF FEDERAL EPA LAW AND CALIFORNIA LAW!

Governor Schwarzenegger, please veto AB1032. It will cost jobs, it will adversely effect tourism, it will cause the failure of existing businesses, and it will bring forth lawsuits that will result in large settlements because the truth of the matter is this simple, AB1032 is based on nothing more than possibilities and maybes. There has been no proof of any damage, and in light of this restoration project on the Trinity river, AB1032 and the philosophy used to create it is in direct conflict with ongoing restoration projects that CD F&G is currently involved with and the philosophy used to justify those projects.
Thank you for your time,


James Foley
Hamburg California

James Foley
Property Rights Advocate 
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