Summer 2018: Time to make new Rules for suction dredge mining in Washington

In Oregon by Jenny Weis

Washington’s salmon, steelhead, and other native fish are critical to our state’s economy, way of life, and identity. Many of our most prized fish populations are struggling, with some on the brink of extinction, and we are spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on recovery efforts to try to save them.

Suction Dredge Mining is a problem on Washington’s waterways.

Washington’s current regulations allow suction dredge mining in virtually all waterways and Pacific coastal beaches, including those designated as Critical Habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), without requiring permits or monitoring. This is simply unacceptable given what’s at stake.

Effective and commonsense rules limiting suction dredging in our neighboring states of Oregon, California, and Idaho have displaced miners that have now moved into Washington State, creating an even greater pressure on our streams.

Suction dredge miners in Washington State enjoy what essentially amounts to a blank check: there are no fees; no permits required; and no tracking and accountability. When the rest of the regulated community is subject to strict permitting and monitoring requirements for work in and around our waterways (including fish habitat restoration projects), it simply doesn’t make sense that suction dredge mining isn’t held to the same standards.

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) will be undertaking a public rulemaking process this summer to update state laws on suction dredge mining.

We need your help to ensure anglers’ voices are heard in the process!


Suction dredge miners should have to play by the same rules as the rest of the regulated community doing work in and around Washington’s waterways – this user group should not receive special treatment, especially when many of them are coming from out of state to avoid the strict regulatory requirements now imposed in neighboring states.

Please weigh in!

WDFW needs to hear our concerns related to suction dredge mining in Washington. Without citizens raising impacts issues, our concerns will be drowned out by a vocal opposition group and Washington’s waterways will continue to be threatened.

Your participation can make a major impact on better protecting our waterways. There are two key ways to help:

  1. PRIORITY! Attend & testify at a meeting: dates and locations are listed below.
    1. Information on preparing your testimony is here.
    2. Please know: We are here to help! Send us an email using the contact form, or ask us a question on Facebook.
  2. If you cannot attend a meeting: please submit a written comment using this pre-written letter (which you may edit).

Hearing dates and locations: 

  • July 16 – Wenatchee: Port of Chelan County Confluence Technology Center, Methow and Teanaway Rooms. 285 Technology Center 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • July 17 – Spokane Valley: Center Place Regional Event Center Auditorium, 2426 North Discovery Place. 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • July 19 – Olympia: Natural Resources Building, Room 172. 1111 Washington Street Southeast. 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • July 25 – Everett: Everett Community College, Jackson Conference Room. 2000 Tower Street. 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM