Monday, September 24, 2012

Suction Dredging on Oregon Rivers

This video was made by the Karuk Tribe. The Karuk's sued the U.S. Forest Service June 2012 to put a halt on suction dredging in the Klamath Basin, the lawsuit is still pending.

A Brief History:
California created a moratorium on suction dredging in July of 2009, this moratorium has increased the number of suction dredging permits in Oregon. In 2010 there was approximately 1,100 miners suction dredging in Oregon, last year 1600 permits were issued.  The rivers most impacted are in Southern Oregon such as the South Umpqua, The Rogue River, and the Illinois to name a few. This increase in dredging on Oregon rivers is causing habitat alteration, and has a negative impact on fish which could ultimately reduce salmon and steelhead runs.

Suction dredgers operate during the open water work window, this window is roughly between July 15th to September 30th, however there are reports of individuals working outside that time because of the limited enforcement. An individual can obtain a permit from DEQ for literally nothing and there is no limit to the number of permits issued. This has to stop, the regulations need to change. sign the petition. 

Problem: Impact on rivers/wildlife habitat due to suction dredging :

The basic configuration of a suction dredge is a floating system, or sluice box, attached to a suction hose that sucks up the river bottom. The stream sediments are run through the sluice box, gold is filtered out and the sediments are discharged back into the stream. The size and power of a dredge can vary, with motors typically ranging from 2 to 50 horsepower and the vacuum nozzle ranging from 2 to 10 inches. As with all in-stream mining, suction dredging impacts streams, fish and aquatic life. Here is a brief description of some impacts.

The River (hydrology and geomorphology): Suction dredging of any scale or magnitude instigates some degree of erosion, transport and deposition of sediment, along with potential modification of the channel form and stream flow hydraulic conditions. These impacts can include the physical mobilization of alluvial sediments (material deposited from running water) and the removal of such sediment from bars or riffles that are used as habitat for aquatic species. Miners also move and re-locate cobbles and small boulders to access finer sediments and thereby alter the channel bed and aquatic habitat.

See more about it on the Rogue River Keepers site.

Cascadia Wildlands has created a petition, sign the petition to the governors of Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho, and pass this all along to others.