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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Following is my letter to the Editor of the Ellensburg Daily Record concerning the suction dredge mining reform needed in Washington State. Please contact Tom Dent at (360) 786-7932 and voice your support to protect our already endangered species.

On January 17th, I presented testimony in Olympia in support of HB 1077 and 1106, speaking to the regulatory processes for anglers and suction dredge miners. Examples of fees, enforcement, and impacts to our headwaters streams and rivers in Kittitas County and across the State of Washington were issues I spoke to.

There is a big difference between getting a fishing license and a suction dredge-mining permit. When an angler in Washington State purchases a fishing license, they must provide personal information and pay for a daily, multi-day, or yearly license; Address, Social Security Number, Weight, Height, Vehicle License Plate.

When a suction dredge miner applies to mine in our streams and rivers, they simply click a web link, download/print the Gold and Fish pamphlet, and they are able to mine. That's a stark difference when there's so much at risk - our wild fish, the wildlife that depend on the food cycle, and our communities that rely on angler and hunter visits that bring year-round and seasonal revenue; money that small business, families, and our state depend on.

That is also important tax revenue that is slipping out of the hands of WDFW and the State of Washington because miners don't pay for licenses, enforcement, repair to damaged natural resources, and they don't have to pay any taxes on the value of the gold they are pulling from the streambeds. Most importantly, we (the Citizens of Washington State) do not have any information on where they live, their SSN, how much they weigh, how tall, or what vehicle(s) they are using. So, who is responsible when suction dredge mining disrupts our natural resources, our financial coffers, and the precious public lands here in Washington State?

All of us, except suction dredge miners because we rarely know whom they are, where they are mining, what they are doing to our streambeds and endangered wild fish populations, and the gold they are taking back home with them to California, Oregon, Arizona, and across the United States.

Please contact Rep. Tom Dent at (360) 786-7932 and voice your support for House Bills 1077 and 1106, and ask to impose a moratorium on all suction dredge mining in Washington State until more scientific data and approach to managing this activity, further protecting our natural resources and restoring our native, wild salmon, steelhead, and trout populations, can be instituted.

Derek Young
President, Yakima River Headwaters Trout Unlimited
 

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Well done Derek. One thing has stuck with me since visiting that creek where all the mining was taking place. There was a completely lifeless stream bed. All the rocks and gravel were shiny clean with no aquatic vegetation, sediment, etc. Being that this particular creek is a critical spawning area for ESA listed steelhead, I was concerned about two very important things: 1- How could anyone tell where a steelhead redd was located if the entire streambed is a clean bottom? 2- What do juvenile steelhead eat when there is no apparent aquatic life present?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Matt. I agree, and testimony from suction dredge miners frequently calls upon the interactions between fish and dredge hoses, going as far as remarking that they are "feeding the hungry fish." This is in direct violation of the Gold and Fish pamphlet which requires a complete stop of activities and notifying authorities. Something we have both anecdotal and observed proof of that the regulations and enforcement need to be improved.
 

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Of all the "silly things" that our government bans, do to irresponsible people, this by far and away is a no brainier.

I watched a show on PBS that talked about this, and showed both sides of view. Again, whether you love nature or not, this is just flat out ridiculous. The destruction is a joke. Entire streams are practically rerouted/changed after these people get done with it. For what? A whopping $1000...maybe? It's more like a few hundred dollars. :mad:
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Dent was on-board with legislation during the last session and backed out at the last minute, so he's the closest to making the shift as the Assistant Ranking Minority Member. Here's the complete list -

http://leg.wa.gov/House/Committees/AGNR/Pages/MembersStaff.aspx

Yes, contacting them all is important but the junior members on the Committee appear to have very little working knowledge on the issue and didn't show much interest. Mostly due to the attitudes of the ranking members, unfortunately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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Close to 30 people on Wednesday night attended the Town Hall, including Councilman Jewell. Was hoping for a few mining proponents, to hear additional comments and responses to the lawsuit, but that didn't happen. Will a Judge be able to convince WDFW to start managing mining activity to comply with ESA and Clean Water Act? Do they have the budget? That is one of the goals of the two House Bills; to fund enforcement and monitoring, the other to legislate compliance, but both take funding and their budget has been slashed.

This may be the year that WA finally does catch up to CA, OR, and ID when it comes to this issue, one way or the other.

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Great article, meanwhile Seattle is filling puget sound with sewage via the West Point wastewater treatment plant overflow
 
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