The Idaho Land Board signed off Tuesday on a lease that would allow a gold miner along the Salmon River to exclusively mine for gold.
Mike Conklin of Grangeville wants to do what’s called suction dredge mining along a half mile stretch of the Salmon River near Riggins. It’s a process where a miner sucks up the the river bottom in search of particle sized gold.
Miners like Conklin need two things from a state level - a mining permit by the Department of Water Resources and a 5-year Land Lease from the Department of Lands. He has both.
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden visited the site. He told the other commissioners on the Land Board why he supports Conklin’s request to have exclusive rights to mine gold.
Wasden: “The question that we now have to decide that's before the board right now is whether we should provide some level of exclusivity to Mr. Conklin which in my view limits greater the amount of activity that can occur in this river stretch.”
Right now there is more than two dozen miners who practice suction dredge mining on the Salmon River. Jonathan Oppenheimer with the Idaho Conservation League is concerned that there’s a lack of regulation when it comes to a miner restoring the riverbed to it’s original state.
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio