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New Law: No More Than 850 Gold-Mining Dredges Allowed in Oregon’s Rivers

By Amelia Templeton
Oregon Public Broadcasting

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

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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 have become crowded with gold miners using vacuum-like dredges, called suction dredges, as a result of rising gold prices and new restrictions on the practice in neighboring states. California banned suction dredge mining in 2009, and this year the EPA began requiring Idaho miners to get permits before dredging.

The new law caps the number of dredging permits each year at 850. It also directs the Governor’s office to send new suction dredge mining regulations to the legislature by 2015.

Forrest English, with Rogue Riverkeeper, says the limit on permits is a good first step to protect habitat for species like salmon, trout, and lamprey. “The big change is, starting next year we’ll see two thirds less dredges on Oregon’s rivers and streams,” English says.

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