Gold mining with small dredges is popular in the rural Northwest. Friday, the 9th circuit court ruled that the Forest Service has to strengthen its regulation of this kind of mining in salmon streams.
The Forest Service has been streamlining permitting for small scale dredge mining. Even on rivers where endangered species like Coho salmon might be harmed.
Roger Flynn is with the Western Mining Action Project. He says on some rivers like the Klamath, dredge mining started to balloon. “What was happening on the Klamath system was hundreds of suction dredge and other mining operations, each claiming to be so small that they didn’t have to comply with the Endangered Species Act.”
The 9th circuit court ruled that the Endangered Species Act does apply. And the Forest Service should consult with fishery agencies before it issues permits. The court’s decision applies to streams from Arizona to Alaska.
But the Forest Service could ask the Supreme Court to hear an appeal.