Suction Dredging Halted in California: Bad News for All

A Moratorium on Suction Dredging

Read them and weep my friends.

Recently the California State Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of Senate Bill 670 (Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa). The passage of this bill creates a moratorium on all suction dredging for gold in California streams.

Sooner or Later...

Bill 670 passed 59 to 7, five votes over the 2/3 majority required for passage. And guess what? Not one California politician had the balls to rise up to speak in opposition to the bill during its passage.

Whether you live in California or not, the passage of this bill does not bode well for any gold miner. Sooner or later the special interests that managed to pull off this low blow in California will show up in your mining neighborhood too. And guess what? When they do you'll be screwed, blued, and tattooed as well....

Not This Time

I've always tried my best to keep my personal views, political or social, out of this blog to the extent I could. But not this time. The following rant is mine and mine alone, and is part of an exchange between myself and my friend and fellow gold miner, Steve Hagar.

Here goes:

(Steve's Comments)

"Well it is a sad thing that they have closed down the dredging in California for now. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around their reasoning."

"Public lands have always been multiple use and now the extremists seem to be having a field day. The poor mining shop owners (some of whom I know personally) are having a hard time of it. Frank Sullivan of Pioneer Mining in Auburn, California thinks he might just have to close up shop. If I get there soon enough maybe I can make a couple of purchases and do my part."

"I guess all the dredgers that were already dredging with their paid season permits are just up the creek without a paddle? Hopefully a voice of reason will be able to sort this whole dredging issue out and let the miners enjoy the same multiple use rights that others do."

(My Rant)

"Yes, sad about California's anti-dredging legislation but I am not surprised. Even when you and I were working the Motherlode back in the 1980s the Sierra Club and other environmental groups were trying to shut down suction dredging by claiming it harmed fish habitat and the overall balance of river ecology. Totally false of course."

"We were able to prevent them (i.e., the radical 'pie-in-the-sky' environmentalists and their various leftist cohorts, not to mention the spineless politicians who bend whichever way the winds blows their votes...) from accomplishing their special interest agenda(s) back then, but not this time."

"So, no suction dredging in California until this moratorium is done. Then what? Perhaps full closure of dredging along all California gold-bearing streams once and for all?"

"You know what? I am essentially apolitical and have been ever since I returned from Vietnam many, many years ago. I do not belong to any political party no do I subscribe to or promulgate their agendas. To me, the far left and the far right are one and the same, just at different ends of the political spectrum. "

"Don't know exactly what I am politically speaking, but if anything I hold views that may be libertarian or a bit right of center. Hell, I really don't know. What I do know is that the American West was essentially opened by the miners of the past, by their willingness to brave the elements and the hazards, to sacrifice and endure, and to identify and develop the natural wealth that existed here."

"Sheesh...Without the 49ers there wouldn't even be a California as we know it today (or once knew it). I am a native-born Californian myself and was raised not far from Yosemite and the Southern Motherlode Mines. But you know what? I don't even recognize my home state any longer. They have ruined it (let your imagination run wild in terms of who 'they' are)."

"I've pretty much had it with the Sierra Club, Forest Guardians, the Sierra Fund, Earth First and every other nutcase environmentalist and leftist wannabe group that wants us all to march 'lock step' with them or else. Not me, my friend. They can all go kiss my royal red and I mean that with absolute sincerity."

"I've seen it here in New Mexico as well. The perennial 'do-gooder,' hippy-dippy, New Age, ecologically and socially responsible types with their 'Save Tibet,' 'Earth First,' and 'Obamanos!' bumper stickers, each priding himself or herself on being such individuals while they all look alike, think alike, drive the same type of cars (Toyota Priuses, Subaru 'love' wagons, and for the rich hippies...Range Rovers) and espouse the same radical viewpoints when it comes to politics, society, and the world at large."

"In all truth, I find them to be such hypocrites. They want to be seen as ever-so accommodating and liberally progressive individualists, when what they really want is to dictate to the rest of us how we should live our own lives. And guess what? Allowing mining, recreational or otherwise, ain't part of their agenda."

"I've seen them take one of few open areas of the historic Old Placers District here just outside of Santa Fe and turn it into a botanical garden where nature walks can be taken 'by appointment only.' And just who will take those nature walks? Only they and their elitist friends, of course. Sad but true."

So there you have it in a nutshell folks. Enjoy your freedoms while you still have them, especially when it comes to gold mining.

May saner minds prevail in the end...

Gold Pans

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "12 Stepping Stones to Mining Success (Part 2)"

(c) J.R. 2009

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. iv always pulled the 49ers murcury out of the rivers.and im posative i have never put any in.we all know what this is about.the state is now doing a "study"by removeing the murcury that has setteld behind a dam on the yuba river,(ya)"study"/mineing op.your right,thats for shure.

  2. I did the same when I worked the N. Yuba back in the 1980s. Never used mercury to amalgamate fines, but found many pieces of placer gold covered with mercury from the old days. So are we to be held accountable for what was done in the 1800s? Thanks for commenting. J.R.

  3. if i cant find a job to provide for my family , but i have the skill and equiptment to provide decently through dredging , i own mining claims , and i am respectful to nature , then i cant say that i can let anyone stop me , so i guess ill pay a fine and go to hell. but at least my family is warm and fed. oh by the way if you want to save fish. ahh!! maybe you should quit fishing. thanks for listening..... call me crazy.

  4. You're not's the radical environmentalists, the spineless politicians, and the other "special interests" that are crazy (among other things...). I hear your voice loud and clear. Too bad they don't. J.R.


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