P R E S S R E L E A S E
Karuk Tribe · Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations · Institute for Fisheries Resources · Center For Biological Diversity · Friends of the River The Sierra Fund · Upper American River Foundation · Environmental Law Foundation · California Sportfishing Protection Alliance · Foothills Anglers Coalition · North Fork American River Alliance ·Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center· Klamath Riverkeeper
For Immediate Release, October 9, 2015
Craig Tucker, Karuk Tribe, (916) 207-8294
Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, The Sierra Fund, (530) 913-1844
Glen Spain, PCFFA, (541) 689-2000
Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 598-1466
John Buckley, CSERC, cell (209) 918-2485; office (209) 586-7440
Bill Jennings, CSPA, (209) 464-5067
California Gov. Brown Signs New Law to Protect Rivers, Fisheries From Gold Mining
S.B. 637 Requires Clean Water Act Permits for Motorized Hobby Gold Miners
Sacramento, Calif.— California Gov. Jerry Brown today signed into law Senate Bill 637 to protect California’s water supplies, wildlife and cultural resources from the damaging effects of destructive hobby gold mining. The new law requires that all small-scale miners using motorized suction pumps obtain a Clean Water Act Permit from the State Water Resources Control Board before mining in California waterways.
“This is a great victory for all of us concerned about clean water and healthy fisheries,” said Elizabeth Martin of the Sierra Fund.
“We are very pleased that our tribal fisheries and sacred sites will receive additional protections from the ravages of gold-mining clubs who have been damaging our resources for decades,” said Josh Saxon, council member of the Karuk Tribe.
The legislation affects suction dredge mining, high banking and any other form of mining that relies on motorized suction pumps to process materials from the banks or beds of rivers and streams. Suction dredges are powered by gas or diesel engines that are mounted on floating pontoons in the river; attached to their engines is a powerful vacuum hose, which the dredger uses to suction up the gravel, sand and mud from the bottom of the river. The suctioned material is sifted in search of gold. Similarly, high banking suctions water to process material excavated from riverbanks, causing erosion and sediment problems as well as affecting cultural sites.
Dredging and high banking alters fish habitat by changing the river bottom and often reintroduces mercury, left over from historic mining operations, to the waterways threatening communities and fisheries. These machines can turn a clear-running mountain stream into a murky watercourse unfit for swimming or fishing.