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They can't have it both ways
Pioneer Press January 21, 2009, Letter To the Editor by John Robinson, Seiad Valley

I want to comment on the article on the front page of the Pioneer Press Wednesday, January 14, 2009 titled "Karuk slam Gold Suction Dredging."

They say, with no proof that "suction dredging is polluting sections of North State rivers, making it tough for salmon and other critters to survive and thrive."  They do not say how dredging is doing this. Dredging is not putting anything into the river and only taking away heavy metals that are already in the rivers. How is this polluting anything? How is this causing other "critters not to survive and thrive?" I've been dredging for over 25 years and have never killed a critter or fish in all that time.  Can a fisherman or Karuk say that?
A dredge actually benefits fish by turning the gravel of the river bottom over,  releasing food caught or hiding in the gravel and release it so the fish can feed behind the dredge. I have seen hundreds of fish feeding behind my dredge, can a fisherman or Karuk make this claim? I have left clean gravel and deep pools for salmon to spawn in, can fisherman and the Karuk make this claim? All I hear from the Karuks is whining and complaints while they sell smoked salmon at Big Foot Days in Happy Camp.

Paragraph three says:  "They even argue that the toxic sediment spit back out has high levels of mercury - mercury that finds its way back into the food chain and that can lead to mental retardation and birth defects." It's obvious they know nothing about dredging and have not bothered to take the time to find out (or they have eaten too much mercury and are retarded). Mercury is a heavy metal and settles on bedrock with the gold. It is sucked up with our suction dredges and stays in our sluice boxes, it never leaves our sluice box! We, in point of fact, clean the river bottoms of mercury, lead, and iron! All heavy metals, stay in our sluice boxes! That is a fact of physics. Now speaking of toxic waste:  Why in the name of our Creator would they demand the removal of the dams on the Klamath River if there is all this toxic waste waiting to be washed down the river!!  What will happen to the fish (and other recreation) when thousands of tons of toxic waste comes rolling down the river?  If these dams are removed it will be an ecological disaster! This according to their own words. They can't have it both ways.

Paragraph four:  "The reality is that there have not been many extensive studies on the effects of mining," admitted Karuk spokesperson Craig Tucker. "What is available concludes that dredging is harmful to fish and that is certainly the conclusion of our biologists." These statements are out-and-out lies. There have been numerous studies on dredging that have all come to the same conclusion: Dredging does not harm the environment.  I will select one only:  The USGS science for a changing world report.  "Studies of Suction Dredge Gold-Placer Mining Operations Along the Forty Mile River, Eastern Alaska. The USGS website: http://www.usgs.gov  fact sheet FS-155-97 and fact sheet 154-97  For more information contact U.S. Geological Survey, M.S. 973, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Co. 80225.

Paragraph seven:  "Depending on size, location and density of these machines they can turn clear-running mountain streams into a murky watercourse unfit for swimming," Tucker said.  I have no idea what Tucker means by the "density of the machines". Never heard of that before. I know all of you that live along the river have driven to town now and then and passed dredges working on the river. Have you ever seen anything described like what Tucker says?  Yes, the water be murky for a short distance behind some dredges but it will settle in a relatively short space. River water always does, just like spring run off always settles. It's the same material.

Paragraph eight: "In addition, dredging reintroduces toxic mercury into the environment."  This is another out-and-out lie. No one uses mercury anymore. We dredge mercury up from bedrock and it stays in our sluice box. We remove it at clean-up and save all we can since mercury found on the bottom of the river will contain gold. It is then sent through a retort to remove the gold and collected in jars to be sold.  Again, the Karuks have never bothered to learn the truth or if they have,  they are lying to further their own agenda.

Paragraph nine:  "Dredging reintroduces mercury to the stream creating a toxic hazard for fish and people." I have already addressed this lie so I will go no further on this but I will say that humans are not entirely responsible for the mercury in the rivers. There is natural mercury that is placed in the rivers by mother nature herself. The Karuks never address this problem, it doesn't fit their agenda.

Paragraph ten: "The petitioners argue that the measures are needed immediately." This is a typical scare tactic to get what they want. "If we don't act now, all is lost!"  I'll tell you the truth:  if you DO act quickly, all WILL be lost! Dredging brings revenue into our poor county and helps boost local business. It does in fact create deep pools to keep predator birds away from feeding on fry. Dredging provides clean gravel in which the salmon spawn and food for hungry fry in lean summer months. I have personally heard Hillman say he would not rest until every white man was out of Happy Camp and off the river. Their agenda is control of the environment and control of the natural resources of a mineral-rich county.  I read of an incident that took place at Thompson Creek when the first settlers moved into the area: The Karuks warmly welcomed them with a wonderful feast, except the food was deliberately poisoned and many settlers died. They are still trying to poison us today...  only in a different way. Its slow but certain. We need to fight back.

John Robinson,
Seiad Valley
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