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SB 670 JULY 13 ( 22:51:10 MonJul 13 2009 )

Legislature Passes Wiggins Bill to Halt Suction Dredge Mining
Monday, July 13, 2009
Contact: David W. Miller (916) 651-1897

Sacramento – The California Senate voted 28-7 today to approve Senate Bill 670, legislation by North Coast State Senator Patricia Wiggins (D – Santa Rosa) to enact a temporary ban on suction dredge mining, which can pollute rivers and streams and threaten vulnerable fish populations.

As a result, the measure next heads to the desk of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature or veto. The Wiggins bill contains an urgency clause, meaning it would become law immediately should the Governor signs it.

SB 670 would place a temporary ban on motorized suction dredge mining in California streams until the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) finishes its court-ordered overhaul of regulations governing this practice, which is highly destructive to spawning grounds for fish. Suction dredge mining involves powerful machines on boats sucking up sediment from rivers or streams and spitting it out again.

Wiggins says her measure is needed to help address the alarming decline of salmon and steelhead populations. She noted that “the salmon numbers are so low that the National Marine Fisheries Service has placed a ban on all salmon fishing along the coast of California and Oregon.

“This ban affects the livelihoods of thousands of commercial fishermen, fish processors, and charter boat operators. The ban has eliminated hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic activity – especially in rural areas.

“Yet while fishermen are being told to stop fishing, a recreational activity called ‘suction dredge mining’ is allowed to continue,” she added. “SB 670 is about equity. We simply cannot ask an entire fishing industry to stop their work, while a small group of hobbyists are allowed to continue.”

The DFG was ordered by the courts to overhaul regulations governing suction dredge mining on streams as a result of a 2005 lawsuit by the Karuk Tribe. Pushed by suction dredge miners, the courts ordered the department to complete a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review before it acted. That review was supposed to take 18 months and be completed by July 2008, but DFG has yet to begin.

As a result of the delay, Last Thursday, the Alameda District court issued a preliminary injunction in the case, ordering DFG to immediately cease using general fund money to operate the suction dredge permitting program because it is being operated in violation of CEQA.

Wiggins noted the need for SB 670’s safeguards remain urgent, because the preliminary injunction would only last until the case is final, or if appealed, not necessarily until new regulations are in place. In addition, DFG could continue issuing permits using non-general fund monies.

SB 670 would ban motorized suction dredge mining on all California rivers and lakes until DFG finishes its court-ordered overhaul of regulations.

“In addition to this being essential to saving salmon and steelhead fisheries, this bill will save the department an estimated $1 million in costs, to administer a program that does not pay for itself,” Wiggins said.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D – San Rafael) is principal co-author of the bill. Senator Lois Wolk (D – Davis) is also a co-author, as are Assemblymembers Noreen Evans (D – Santa Rosa) and Dave Jones (D – Sacramento).

[1 edits; Last edit by colo_nuggets at 01:04:12 Tue Jul 14 2009]

453 posts
Re: SB 670 JULY 13 ( 01:06:46 TueJul 14 2009 )

In addition, DFG could continue issuing permits using non-general fund monies.

Thats the part that is interesting.
[1 edits; Last edit by colo_nuggets at 01:07:53 Tue Jul 14 2009]

334 posts
Re: SB 670 JULY 13 ( 12:25:00 TueJul 14 2009 )

If there is a requirement that all departments pay for themselves , then the majority of government should shut down .


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