[env-trinity] Sacramento Bee July 29 2009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Jul 29 15:51:31 PDT 2009


Moratorium on gold dredging permits in California

Sacramento Bee - 7/29/09

By Jeff Barnard

The California Department of Fish and Game has stopped issuing permits for
gold miners to use suction dredges in rivers until it develops new rules to
protect salmon.

The moratorium announced Tuesday stems from an injunction out of Alameda
County Superior Court barring the department from spending state general
funds to issue the permits after it missed a June 2008 deadline to develop
new rules protecting threatened and endangered salmon.

Department spokeswoman Kirsten Macintyre said that rulemaking process has
now begun. 

Meanwhile, a bill that would go even farther and stop suction dredge mining
until a scientific review is conducted is awaiting the governor's signature.

The injunction stems from continuing efforts by the Karuk Tribe, salmon
fishermen and conservationists to force Fish and Game to enforce regulations
barring suction dredge mining where it harms fish.

"It is morally reprehensible and illegal for California Fish and Game to
continue to use tax dollars to subsidize the destruction of our salmon
fisheries, especially so in the midst of a budget crisis," said Glen Spain
of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, which
represents California salmon fishermen and was a plaintiff in the latest
lawsuit.

Since 1994, state regulations have barred suction dredge mining unless it
can be shown it does not harm fish. About 3,500 permits are issued each
year.

A 2005 lawsuit from the Karuk tribe argued that the department was violating
that regulation, and a judge ordered Fish and Game to conduct an
environmental review and write new rules, if necessary, to protect fish
listed as threatened or endangered by June 20, 2008. But it was not done.

Arguing there was no line item in their budget concerning the mining
permits, the department did not stop issuing them after the injunction was
originally issued July 10. The moratorium was imposed after Judge Frank
Roesch told the department that the injunction covered any expenditure of
state funds, including turning on the office lights, in conjunction with the
permits.

Telephone calls and an e-mail to the New 49'ers gold mining club in Happy
Camp, Calif., and a telephone call to their attorney in Portland, Ore., were
not immediately returned.

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

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(secondary)

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