Emergency Rulemaking Approved for Suction Dredge Mining

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) today approved an emergency rulemaking to amend an existing regulation defining suction dredge mining. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife proposed this action earlier this month to close an apparent loophole that may have allowed activity that goes against the spirit of the legislative moratorium prohibiting the use of any vacuum or suction dredge equipment for instream mining.

The new regulation as approved by OAL and filed with the Secretary of State defines suction dredging as the “use of a suction system to vacuum material from the bottom of a river, stream or lake for the extraction of minerals.”

Under current state law in effect since 2009, the use of any vacuum or suction dredge equipment for instream mining purposes is prohibited.

Importantly, nonmotorized recreational mining activities, including panning for gold, are not prohibited or restricted under the new regulation or the statutory moratorium that currently prohibits suction dredging in California.

For specific regulatory language of the new rule, or additional information about the moratorium and suction dredge mining in California, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge.

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Emergency Rulemaking Proposed for Suction Dredge Mining

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is proposing an emergency rulemaking to amend an existing regulation defining suction dredge mining. CDFW is taking this action to close an apparent loophole that may allow activity that goes against the spirit of the legislative moratorium prohibiting the use of any vacuum or suction dredge equipment for instream mining.

CDFW provided notice of the proposed emergency action earlier today. Consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, CDFW will submit the related rulemaking package to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) no sooner than Monday, June 17.  After OAL posts notice on its webpage, the public will have five calendar days to submit comments. Interested members of the public may want to begin monitoring OAL’s webpage (www.oal.ca.gov) beginning June 17.

For specific regulatory language of CDFW’s proposed emergency action, or additional information about the moratorium and suction dredge mining in California, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge.

If you have any questions regarding this proposed emergency action, please contact Craig Martz, CDFW Regulations Unit Manager, at (916) 653-4681. Related comments or questions to CDFW can also be submitted to suctiondredge@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contact: Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
Public Contact: Craig Martz, CDFW Regulations Unit, (916) 653-4681

Proposed Suction Dredge Regulations Revised, Now Open to Public Comment

Media Contacts:
Mark Stopher, DFG Executive Office, (530) 225-2275
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988 

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has revised its proposed regulations governing suction dredge mining in California under the Fish and Game Code. The revised version is now available for review at www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge, and DFG will be accepting public comment on the new draft through 5 p.m. on Monday, March 5, 2012.

Written comments can be submitted by e-mail to dfgsuctiondredge@dfg.ca.gov, or by regular mail to:

Mark Stopher, Senior Policy Advisor
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust Street
Redding, CA 96001

DFG regulates suction dredge mining throughout California pursuant to Fish and Game Code, section 5653, et seq. Existing law prohibits DFG from issuing suction dredge permits, and suction dredging is currently prohibited until June 30, 2016.

On Feb. 28, 2011, DFG released proposed regulations and a related Environmental Impact Report for public review. The original public review period ran from February 2011 through May 10, 2011, and DFG has worked ever since to review comments and related information submitted by the public. DFG subsequently determined that revisions to the earlier proposed regulations were appropriate.

Compared to the previously proposed regulations, the revised regulations provide for more efficient permit management and account for further evaluation of species distributions and life histories. They also include further actions to ensure that authorized suction dredging is not deleterious to fish.

Printed copies of the revised regulations are also available for public review at the following DFG offices:

  • 601 Locust Street, Redding
  • 1701 Nimbus Road, Suite A, Rancho Cordova
  • 1807 13th Street, Suite 104, Office of Communications, Sacramento
  • 7329 Silverado Trail, Napa
  • 1234 E. Shaw Avenue, Fresno
  • 3883 Ruffin Road, San Diego
  • 4665 Lampson Avenue, Suite J, Los Alamitos
  • 3602 Inland Empire Blvd., Suite C-220, Ontario
  • 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey

The original version of the proposed regulations is still available on the DFG website, along with the revised version now under public review.

DFG to Hold Final Public Meeting on Suction Dredge Permitting Program

Media Contacts:
Mark Stopher, Environmental Program Manager, (530)225-2275
Jordan Traverso, Deputy Director, Communications, Education and Outreach, (916) 654-9937

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has scheduled a sixth and final meeting to take public comment on the state’s proposed Suction Dredge Permitting Program. Following the release of a Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for the proposed program on February 28, five public meetings were held throughout the state. 

An additional public hearing to receive comments on the Draft SEIR has been scheduled for the last day of the public comment period, Tuesday, May 10, from 9 a.m. to noon. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of the Natural Resources Building, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento, 95814. 

The Draft SEIR addresses the potential environmental effects that could result from the implementation of the proposed program. The proposal addresses the issuance of permits and suction dredge activities conducted in compliance with these permits, consistent with DFG’s proposed amendments to the existing regulations governing suction dredge mining in California.

The Draft SEIR and supporting documents are available on the DFG website at www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge. Written comments must be postmarked by May 10, and may be submitted either by e-mail to dfgsuctiondredge@dfg.ca.gov or by regular mail to:

Mark Stopher
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust St.
Redding, CA  96001

If you require reasonable meeting accommodation for a disability or require this notice or the Draft SEIR in an alternate format, please contact the Suction Dredge Permitting Program at (530) 225-2275, or the California Relay (Telephone) Service for the deaf or hearing-impaired from TDD phones at 1-800-735-2929 or 711.

For more information about the Suction Dredge Permitting Program, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge/.

DFG to Hold Public Meetings on Suction Dredge Permitting Program

Media Contacts:
Mark Stopher, Environmental Program Manager, (530) 225-2275
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has completed the first round of environmental review documents related to California’s currently suspended Suction Dredge Permitting Program. The Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) is now available for public review and comment.

The Draft SEIR addresses the potential environmental effects of the permitting program, which was suspended in 2009 pending completion of this review, and proposes amendments to the regulations that existed prior to the current moratorium.

In addition to proposing the revised program, the document also evaluates the potential impacts of four alternatives: a No Program Alternative (continuation of the existing moratorium), a 1994 Regulations Alternative (continuation of previous regulations in effect prior to the 2008 moratorium), a Water Quality Alternative (which would include additional program restrictions for water bodies listed as impaired for sediment and mercury pursuant to the Clean Water Act, section 303(d)), and a Reduced Intensity Alternative (which would include greater restrictions on permit issuance and methods of operation to reduce the intensity of environmental effects).

The Draft SEIR and supporting documents are now available on the DFG website at www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge, and can be provided upon request by calling (530) 225-2275. Copies of the Draft SEIR are also available for review at DFG regional offices including:

Region 1 601 Locust St., Redding
Region 2 1701 Nimbus Road, Suite A, Rancho Cordova
Region 3 7329 Silverado Trail, Napa
Region 4 1234 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno
Region 5 4949 Viewridge Ave., San Diego
Region 6 3602 Inland Empire Blvd., Suite C-220, Ontario
Region 6 4665 Lampson Avenue, Suite J, Los Alamitos (second location)
Region 7  20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey
HQ          1807 13th St., Suite 104, Sacramento

Five public meetings will be held in late March. All interested persons are encouraged to attend to present written and/or verbal comments. The meetings will be held at the following locations and times:

Santa Clarita:
Wednesday, March 23 at 5 p.m.
Residence Inn by Marriott
25320 The Old Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91381

Fresno:
Thursday, March 24 at 5 p.m.
California Retired Teachers Association
3930 East Saginaw Way
Fresno, CA 93726

Sacramento:
Tuesday, March 29 at 5 p.m.
Cal EPA Headquarters Building
Byron Sher Auditorium
1001 I St.
Sacramento

Yreka:
Wednesday, March 30 at 5 p.m.
Yreka Community Center
810 N. Oregon St.
Yreka, CA 96097

Redding:
Thursday, March 31 at 5 p.m.
Shasta Senior Nutrition Program
100 Mercy Oaks Drive
Redding, CA 96003

Written comments will also be accepted from Feb. 28 through April 29, 2011 at 5 p.m. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to dfgsuctiondredge@dfg.ca.gov or by regular mail to:

Mark Stopher
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust St.
Redding, CA 96001

Comments received by the due date will be included in the final SEIR that will be prepared for the Director of DFG.

For more information about the public meetings or the suction dredge program, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge/. If you require reasonable accommodation to attend a meeting or require this notice or the Draft SEIR in an alternate format, please contact the Suction Dredge Program at (530) 225-2275, or the California Relay (Telephone) Service for the deaf or hearing-impaired from TDD phones at 1-800-735-2929 or 711.

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