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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Access (Land Use, RTF, Advocacy, etc)  |  General Land Advocacy  |  Topic: AB 1032 - Mining issues « previous next »
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Author Topic: AB 1032 - Mining issues  (Read 415 times)
Todd Ockert

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« on: May 12, 2007, 11:04:11 pm »

The mining community has come under attack with the following bill on the California Legislature.  Here is some info about this bill.

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
Mark Leno, Chair

AB 1032 (Wolk) - As Amended: April 16, 2007

Policy Committee: Water, Parks & Wildlife
Vote: 10-2

Urgency: No
State Mandated Local Program:
No Reimbursable:

SUMMARY

This bill expands, for six years ending January 1, 2014, the
state's authority to prohibit the use of suction dredging in
rivers, streams, or lakes. Specifically, this bill:

1)Prohibits the use of suction dredging in wild and heritage
trout waters unless the Fish and Game Commission (FGC)
issues a particular permit to do so.

2)Prohibits the FGC from approving such a permit unless the
commission finds that dredging will not be deleterious to wild trout and steelhead stocks or to other native aquatic or amphibian species in the designated waters that are listed as threatened or endangered or are identified as a species of special concern.

3)Expands the Department of Fish and Game's (DFG's)authority to close areas otherwise open to permitted dredging if the department determines closure is necessary to protect fish and wildlife resources.

FISCAL EFFECT

Minor costs, probably less than $50,000 annually starting in
2007-08, to the DFG to provide staff and other resources to the FGC related to the suction dredge permitting process. (Fish and Game Preservation Fund.)

COMMENTS

1)Rationale . The author contends that both the DFG and the FGC
need more authority to close rivers, streams, lakes and other waters to suction dredging when such an activity would pose a danger to the long-term survival of certain classes of aquatic species, especially those species in areas designated as wild and heritage trout waters.

2)Background . Suction dredging of a river, stream or lake
usually involves use of a large hose attached to a vacuum
mounted on board a vessel or on a vehicle at the water's edge.
The hose, either remotely controlled or manually controlled by a diver, sucks up sediment and other small or light pebbles on the bottom. Suction dredging is used to remove sediment from channels boarded by levees, to maintain a river as navigable for larger vessels, and as part of a small-scale gold mining operation. It is the latter use of suction dredging that is the focus of this bill.Several recent studies indicate suction dredging may have deleterious impacts several aquatic species, particularly in regard to spawning, breeding, rearing, and general habitat disruption.

AB 4634 (Farr) - Chapter 1037, Statutes of 1988 increased permit fees for suction dredging and allowed the closure of areas previously open for dredging when unanticipated water level changes endanger fish and wildlife resources.

3)Recent Lawsuit Settlement . In December 2006, the DFG settled with the Karuk Tribe in a case the tribe brought challenging the adequacy of the department's instream mining regulations.
The tribe alleges the regulations do not adequately protect
runs of Coho salmon and other state endangered species on the Klamath, Scott, and Salmon Rivers and their tributaries from suction dredging activities conducted by recreational gold miners. The court ordered, as part of the settlement, the DFG to perform a CEQA review of the impact dredging is having on these waters but the DFG indicates it does not have the fiscal resources to comply with this order. In light of this,the court may impose stricter requirements, including the shutdown of the dredging permitting program.

4)Opposition. Siskiyou County opposes this bill because the county believes gold mining has been and remains an important part of the county's cultural heritage and is an important tourist attraction that contributes to the Siskiyou County economy.

5)Clarifying Amendment. The author agreed, when this bill
passed the Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee, to insert legislative intent language that clarifies this bill applies only to suction dredging activities conducted for gold mining purposes and not for flood control or navigation purposes.


You may wonder what this has to do with OHV.  Most of these people use some form of OHV to get to their favorite mining site.  They do not consider themselves to be OHV'ers in the same sense that most of us do. 

We need to keep an eye on this bill, because they also want to close some rivers and streams to all access, and that could include the OHV users if their trail crosses the creek, or stream.

Todd
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