The State of Oregon recently issued a general permit under the Clean Water Act to authorize suction dredge placer mining operations in streams throughout Oregon.
Suction dredges are high‑pressure water pumps that draw streambed material up through a hose and pass it over a sluice to separate out gold then discharge the mined material back into the stream. The excavations can reach down to bedrock. Dredging impacts salmon spawning sites and water quality which, in turn, impair the ability of salmon to feed and spawn.
We recently assisted in a case in state trial court in Oregon challenging certain provisions of the general permit.
Victory! Through a settlement reached in 2012, the state agreed to evaluate certain new regulatory provisions to prevent harm from suction dredging in wild salmon habitat.
(WELC project #324)