Our next door neighbor is fighting for the rights to continue to dredge for gold in the State of California. As soon as I heard the news, I started noticing propaganda in many of Oregon’s liberal publications stating that suction gold dredging has ill effects on Oregon’s waterways. As a prospector and a fisherman, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to weigh in the benefits of suction gold dredging, since I know where the gold is found in this State and where the good fishing is.
One of the areas really overworked in the state, is the Quartzville Recreational Mining Corridor near Sweet Home in Linn County. Year after year, people flock to the area for the free roadside camping, and some gold prospecting. Year after year, the dredges are loaded into the water, and the same river gravel gets moved around that was moved the year before. You get the point. How is the fishing in the area? Pretty good actually. There are many nice trout to be caught in the sparkling clear water. Down stream, Quartzville Creek runs into Green Peter Lake and in to the Santiam River.
The Santiam River has some of the best salmon and steelhead fishing in the state and also has some good gold. Something is either wrong with either what I see and what I know or there is propaganda that is being strategically placed to forward the ideas of a very few left-wing wacko’s. I love the environment, and I believe that it must be protected, but this is one instance where I have to turn my back on the green movement, mainly because they do not have a leg to stand on nor any solid evidence to back it up.
The Santiam river system has natural formations of mercury pouring directly into the river. One of the main points that certain groups have against suction dredging is the claim that mercury already in the river gets stirred up and re-contaminates the river and waterways connected to it. Surely, if that were the case… would not this river system be adversely affected if not a little, at least… in some calculate-able manner?
Here are some benefits of Suction Gold Dredging:
1. Suction Gold Dredging keeps rivers clean of trash and debris. Nuts, bolts, nails, and anything metal is captured by the sluice box and removed from the waterway. This includes harmful mercury.
2. Suction Dredging Season is coordinated as to not interfere with fish spawning and hatching times.
3. Suction dredging releases food trapped under the gravel into the waterway to feed small fish and fry.
4. The redistribution of classified gravels creates more spawning area for heavily populated fish spawning grounds. According to the Department of Fish & Game – “Dredging riverbeds frequently improves the habitat for spawning.”
According to the literature I have been reading as of late, there may be a time when California’s fight may become our fight for every prospector and miner in the State of Oregon. I really hope it does not come down to that.