Controversial Dredge Mining Ban Advances in Oregon Senate

Apr 18, 2013

A bill that restricts motorized mining in salmon and trout streams advanced in the Oregon Senate Wednesday evening. Amelia Templeton from our EarthFix team reports.


A couple uses a dredge mine to search for gold on the Illinois River in Southern Oregon.
Credit Amelia Templeton / EarthFix

  Senate Bill 838 would temporarily ban the practice of sucking up river gravels with a floating dredge to look for precious metals. The moratorium would last for five years.

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee approved the bill on a party line vote, with only Democrats voting to pass it. The bill now goes to a budget committee for review before it can be sent to the floor for a vote.

Miners who violate the moratorium could face a fine and jail time.

Last year, more than 2 thousand miners received permits to dredge for gold in Oregon’s streams. Their numbers may be increasing thanks to the high price of gold and a ban on dredge mining in California.

There’s little published science on the effects of recreational mining.

Miners say they disrupt the riverbed less than an average winter storm. Environmental groups say the practice increases sediment and reduces salmon survival rates. Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio