We recognize that miners are just as entitled to practice their interests out of doors as boaters, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, fishermen, hunters and others. But unlike those other activities, suction dredge mining is a destructive activity that damages fish and fisheries. From our point of view, the solution is to require miners to play by the same rules as other outdoor interests and that the state agencies charged with regulating mining play a much more active role. To start with, we:
Require the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to live up to its mission “To preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems.” Commercial or recreational interests do not trump the interests of fish or federal law. Monitor compliance with the existing rules in Gold and Fish.
Support legislation that will eliminate hobby mining on all streams, rivers, and their tributaries that are listed as critical habitat by Federal agencies. If streams are too sensitive to allow fishing, they're too sensitive to allow mining.
Require hobby miners to file for permits, pay licensing fees, and enforce the requirements to notify Federal agencies prior to commencement of mining.
Encourage Washington state agencies to collect and analyze data on the impacts of suction dredge mining to fish and aquatic habitats. More research will lead to a better understanding of the real-life impacts and consequences of mining activity.
Require State agencies to begin enforcement efforts on miners who violate rules and ensure miners restore their work site to the condition it was in before they mined.
Promote an “Eyes in the Woods” program to report violators and conflicts with miners over other recreational uses of our forests.
In just the past several years, there has been a groundswell of action in neighbor states to understand the impacts of suction dredge mining and regulate its conduct where impacts aren't clearly understood. The following documents are well worth reading to develop an understanding how and why restrictions on mining were imposed in our neighboring states.
Fly Rod and Reel - A magazine article on suction dredge mining by Ted WIlliams
American Mining Rights Association - An explanation of the miner's perspective