SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California State Senator has introduced legislation that would ban suction dredge mining on California's Klamath River and other waterways.
SB 670 would end the practice of suction dredge mining within riverbeds, lakes, and streams without an environmental impact study.
Senator Patricia Wiggins (D) says the California Department of Fish and Game is not doing enough to protect fish in the Klamath. She says the agency is caving into political pressure by the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors. Wiggins argues that dredge mining kills fish. She has the support of the Karuk tribe, who want it stopped until its environmental affects are fully understood.
"What we're asking for is a moratorium on suction dredge mining until the appropriate scientific reviews have been done to determine what are the impacts to fish," says Karuk Tribe Spokesperson Craig Tucker.
Hobby miners, meanwhile, say they welcome additional studies. They say dredge mining doesn't harm fish or habitat. They say the CDFG regulates all mining in the state, and that miners are not in the river during critical times.
Miners also say they pump money into the rural Siskiyou County economy. However, Wiggins, tribes, and environmentalists say that is a drop in the bucket compared to the revenue that could be generated by sport or commercial fishing opportunities that a healthier river would provide.
The bill heads to committee April 28th.