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Washington Wild Sends Letter in Support of Strong Regulations for new Motorized Suction Dredge Mining Law

Posted on Jan 29, 2021 in Conservation News, River Management, WA Wild Blog

Chinook Salmon. Credit: Michael Humling/USFWS.

Washington Wild and 66 undersigned organizations sent a letter to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) in support of strong regulations for the recently passed ESHB 1261, which restricts motorized suction dredge mining in river reaches designated as critical habitat for salmon and endangered fish species.

Passage of this legislation was the result of a decade-long hard-fought win for salmon recovery, orca whales, and clean water. The law bans the practice of motorized suction dredge mining in Washington rivers and streams that have been designated as critical salmon habitat to protect the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in salmon habitat restoration efforts by federal, state, and municipal governments, conservation organizations, and Tribes.

Today’s letter was a follow-up to a letter sent to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Directors on April 1, 2020 urging the adoption of strong regulations that match the intent of the law. Overall, the proposed rules for the implementation address outlined concerns.

As the Department of Ecology continues to refine which waters motorized mining may be permitted, requiring reporting is necessary and precludes future revisions back to a reporting mechanism if more waters are opened to motorized mining.

It’s important, too, that WDFW continue collaborative enforcement with the Department of Ecology. WDFW’s Habitat and Enforcement staff are extremely familiar with not only mining claims and sites, but also the mining community itself. Visits by WDFW staff and engaging with miners on-site can be extremely helpful in further educating the mining community about the new law, regulations, and enforcement.