Opinions on Suction Dredge Mining

Hi guys, it's been a while since I've posted on this site, but a touchy subject has brought me back.

First off, I don't want anything other than a mature conversation, and if this needs to be moved to a different forum, my apologies for posting. I thought about the misc. forum but it appeared to be more site related.

On to the issue. I've recently gotten into gold prospecting, and I noticed how big of a clash there is between the mining community, and the environmental community. My plan is to get a dredge, and spend the summer mining with the hopes of breaking even. The state governments have come down hard on miners, specifically dredgers, and the opportunities to get a permit in multiple states are very slim. I want to know the truth, and it seems I can never get an answer on the environmental impact that looks at the issue from both sides. I'm a prospector, but I'm also a fly fisherman, and I don't want to destroy the rivers.

I've heard that the turbidity suffocates spawning grounds, but I've also heard that the small amount has the same effect as a 10 minute rainstorm.

The tailings could be an issue, specifically that they're not stable spawning gravel, and they will smash the fish eggs, but I read a scientific article that said fish recognize man made tailings and don't spawn there unless there is no other options, the article also said after a year the tailings become stable, and spawning grounds improve overall.

The dredge holes are only around for a year, and they are supposed to create refugees in the summer, and potentially prime lies.

The issue I really see is disturbing macroinvertibrates. Even then, I'm skeptical enough ground is disturbed to impact the population.

Whats your guys' opinion on the subject? I don't want to make anyone angry, I'm not trying to argue from a miners perspective, I want a good neutral discussion.


First things first. Putting a disclaimer in your post that you want a mature discussion doesn't mean you'll get one. Who is the judge of what is mature, you? Putting that into your post leads one to believe you'd like a conversation that will follow a path that is agreeable to you.....?

That is my .02.

On to suction dredge mining. Lousy for the environment. Screwing up the streambed for a bit of gold that you hope to break even with? Sounds like a wonderful idea...

What the hell is a neutral discussion?


Greg Armstrong

All you have to do is go watch the "miners" actively dredging Swauk Cr. and see for yourself the negative impact before your very eyes.

If after that you can say with a straight face that this activity isn't destructive to any stream and it's inhabitants, then you aren't being honest with yourself.

Your posting has a ring to it that you are trying to talk yourself into believing that there's little or no harm in dredging a stream bed, and that you're looking for others here to help you to justify this.

You asked for us to state our opinion and in all due respect, you've just read mine.


Active Member

Sounds like you been dreaming about a glory hole?


Your already a millionaire, you just gotta dig it out of the ground!

Did I mention frick?

Seems like Nome would be a great place to meet friends.

Yeah, that show is BS.



Active Member
I came across a couple groups last year while throwing bugs on the Cispus and skinny water in that area. I talked to some of the guys/gals and they were pleasant. The mess they made was not that bad, however, they were only doing a couple hours of dredging. IMO, if someone was to take it serious and really give it a college try... it would ruin sections of a river, and do more damage that we dont see.

I like to see people out in the woods enjoying life, but this seems to be of a destructive nature. IMO a bad ROI.

If you are allowed to mine, i wish you the best of luck.


dead in the water
I have no scientific evidence, so bear that in mind.

But a rainstorm doesn't do the same thing that a dredge does. So comparing them is somewhat disingenuous.

Dredging fish habitat doesn't pass the sniff test in my opinion. There is so little chance that it can be good for the fish and so many ways it could be bad.

Rich Schager

You should have been here yesterday...
Looks like a self contained trommel operation, with the state required settling pond. Don't see a dredge in the photo? And that isn't the creek. The whole area looks 100% better than it did when I started going there in 1970... which way before all the suctions dereging going on today.

Greg Armstrong

Looks like the state required settling pond. Don't see a dredge in the photo? The whole area looks 100% better than it did when I started going there in 1970... which way before all the suctions dereging going on today.
Trust me... the pool of water you see is Swauk Creek (telephoto lens distorts the foreground in the photo).
There was no settling pond.