California Dredging Moratorium
Important Note: On July 26, 2011 Governor Brown of California signed Assembly Bill 120, the Natural Resources Trailer bill to the 2011 budget. While Governor Brown has allowed the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to continue in their efforts to finish the court-ordered environmental impact report (EIR) that was due to be finished November 2011, AB 120 has placed additional requirements upon the process which has postponed completion.
Specifically, AB 120 placed a moratorium on suction dredge mining for five years unless the DFW can mitigate every significant environmental impact that results from suction dredging. This requirement greatly surpasses the normal requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and there is no direction on how DFW is supposed to achieve this goal. It also forces a new fee structure to cover all costs of the program, something that only the legislature can decide at some later time.
Just in case you didn’t know, this new law only stops suction dredging within California’s active waterways. It does not have anything to do with the other types of prospecting or mining that is done in California. Unaffected prospecting activities include panning, sniping, sluicing, electronic prospecting and other types of prospecting that do not use a suction nozzle or motorized equipment near an active stream, river or creek. There are no seasons imposed upon these other types of mining activity. In other words, you can do them at any time of the year.