New Law Caps Gold Mining Dredges in Oregon’s Rivers at 850

Aug 16, 2013

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has signed a bill into law that will limit the number of small gold-mining dredges in Oregon's waterways.

Environmental groups pushed for the law. They say rivers in Oregon became crowded with gold miners using vacuum-like dredges after California banned the practice in 2009. The new law caps the number of dredging permits each year at 850, and directs the state to overhaul its regulations. Forrest English, with the group Rogue Riverkeeper, says it will help protect salmon habitat.

English: “The big changes is, starting next year we’ll see two thirds less dredges on Oregon’s Rivers and Streams.”

Miners say their dredges are safe for fish and can help create spawning gravels. Theo Stanley is with the Jefferson Mining District.

Stanley: “I just feel the miners are being picked on. They’re being treated unfairly”

Stanley says the new law interferes with miner’s property rights, and several southern Oregon mining associations plan to challenge it in court.

Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting