Suction Dredge Mining Reform Legislation Introduced in Washington State
Suction dredge mining is a largely recreational use of rivers and creeks, practiced by a small number of enthusiasts throughout the West. The impacts of this activity on fish such as steelhead and salmon, however, can be significant. That’s why Trout Unlimited and Wild Steelheaders United have been working to ensure that in all states where suction dredge mining is allowed there be strong regulations and permitting requirements to protect native fish and cold water habitat.
Today, we are one step closer to achieving this goal in the State of Washington. This week, two bills were introduced into the Washington House of Representatives that will bring much needed reforms to the state’s regulation of suction dredge mining and other forms of motorized mineral prospecting.
Current regulations in Washington allow suction dredge mining without oversight, tracking, or accountability – no required permits, fees, or monitoring. This is unacceptable given the imperiled status of many of our wild steelhead and salmon runs and native trout populations. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on fish habitat restoration efforts throughout Washington over the past 20+ years. These investments are literally being washed downstream by unregulated suction dredge mining.
HB 1077 will remove suction dredging and other forms of motorized mineral prospecting from programmatic coverage under the Gold and Fish Pamphlet, and require the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to begin tracking and monitoring all suction dredging operations individually.
HB 1106 will require individual permits for suction dredge mining through the Washington State Department of Ecology and compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Show your support for suction dredge mining reform by joining us at the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearing for HB 1077 and 1106 on Tuesday, January 17th at 10am in Hearing Room B, John L O’Brien Building at the Capitol.
Stay tuned for information on legislative hearings for these bills and opportunities to show your support for this important issue.
JOIN US and learn more about suction dredge mining and why it is imperative we reform Washington State’s regulations now: http://www.tu.org/tu-projects/suction-dredge-mining-reform-in-washington-state