The largely backwards Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors have – for some unknown reason – made it a priority to protect suction dredge mining from even basic review (a damaging recreational use of critical endangered salmon and steelhead habitat).
Instead of supporting sustainable (and profitable) salmon and steelhead fisheries in the county, they’ve largely thrown the adult political equivalents of a temper tantrums.
Fortunately, California’s legislature sees the issue a bit differently, and just sent a bill to the Guvernator (Ahhhhnold) that would ban the practice until Fish & Game completes a court-ordered assessment of the practice – a study that was supposed to be completed in 2008.
UPDATE: Due to comments from dredge operators, I’ve embedded a video explaining some of the issues:
The state Legislature has approved a bill to temporarily ban suction dredge mining in the state’s rivers, a largely recreational practice blamed for harming salmon spawning habitat.
The state Senate on Monday voted 28-7 to approve the bill, SB 670 by Sen. Patricial Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa. It was approved by an even wider margin in the Assembly last week.
The bill contains an urgency clause, meaning it becomes law immediately upon signing by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It would ban suction dredge mining until the Department of Fish and Game completes a court-ordered update of regulations governing the practice.
“In addition to being essential to saving salmon and steelhead fisheries,” Wiggins said in a statement, “this bill will save the department an estimated $1 million in costs to administer a program that does not pay for itself.”
It’s unlikely the practice will be banned entirely – salmon advocates just want controls placed on the activity where it intersects salmon habitat and spawning activities.
It’s been a long, long road to this point, and while Ahhnold still has to sign the bill (he vetoed a similar bill, but is expected to sign this one), there’s hope.
Expect another outraged fulmination from the Siskiyou Board of Supervisors, who just sent a “strongly worded” letter regarding Klamath Dam removal.
They’ve been involved in the removal negotiations from the start, but instead of actually contributing, they’ve apparently found it easier to whine, then claim some kind of victim status in the whole deal.
Truly the Underground is tired of them.
See you not Suction Dredge Mining, Tom Chandler.