Just in time for the weekend comes some lazy-by-river reading (in case that spring-like weather returns): the California Department of Fish and Game's new proposed regulations for suction dredging!
Well, if you're an avid goldbug who's getting a little tired of the panning life, who misses the motorized dredge days, you might indeed find this required if not riveting reading -- the same goes for those of you who've long decried the potential for suction dredges to stir up fragile fish eggs and push the likes of green sturgeon and various salmon closer to the goodbye-forever brink.
(Read about the impacts of this long, bitter suction dredge battle on some indy, small-time dredgers on the Salmon River here.)
As you might recall, Senate and Assembly bills set a moratorium on suction dredge mining -- popular on the Klamath and Salmon rivers and myriad other rivers throughout the state -- from August 2009 to June 2016, during which period the state had to update its regulations for dredging and institute a fee structure to pay the costs of administering the dredge program, among other things. The last time they were updated was 1994, and a few species have been listed as threatened or endangered since then.
The state published proposed updated regulations last February. Today it released a new, revised version of those updated regs. Among the highlights: Last February the state proposed issuing 4,000 permits annually. The new regs say the state will issue 1,500 permits.
If you want to know if suction dredging is going to be allowed on your particular favorite waterhole, fire up the DFG's website. If you want to read copies of the regs in person, you can go to a DFG office in -- oh, what's this. Redding, Rancho Cordova and lots of other places far from Humboldt County.
The public comment period closes at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 5, 2012.