Center for Biological Diversity

Protect California Rivers From Harmful Mining

Suction dredge mining is a scourge on California waterways, but with your help we can stop this harmful practice until it complies with the law.

Now on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk is a bill that would ban all suction dredge mining in California until a full review and overhaul of the dredge-mining program is completed. Suction dredge mining is a net loser for the state of California: It destroys our waterways, harms endangered fish and wildlife, violates the law, and wastes taxpayer money.

Suction dredge mining, which mines for gold using machines that vacuum up gravel and sand from river bottoms, often pollutes rivers by reintroducing mercury from historic mining. It can turn a clear-running mountain stream into a murky watercourse unfit for fish to live in. In fact, suction dredge mining has been taking place in supposedly safeguarded habitat for the federally protected Coho salmon, Pacific lamprey, and green sturgeon. And the California Department of Fish and Game has been using taxpayer money to subsidize it.

California courts have repeatedly confirmed the suction dredge mining program violates the law and poses threats to wildlife. Unfortunately, the California Department of Fish and Game has continued to permit the mining program in contempt of the court order.

In a time of economic crisis this bill is even more urgently needed. The state of California spends more money processing new suction dredge mining permits than it receives in revenue, wasting valuable taxpayer money on a destructive program. If you are a California resident, please use the form below to send a message to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger telling him to sign SB 670 to suspend the suction dredge mining program and protect endangered fish and wildlife.

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Please take action by August 15, 2009.

Klamath River photo by Blake Tupper Ansel, USFWS.