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Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for suction dredging in California has been released

February 28, 2011

The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for suction dredging has been released by the California Department of Fish & Game.

DFG is recommending a "Reduced Intensity Alternative" that would severely reduce the number of permits allowed to 1,500 and limit those with permits to a maximum of 14 days of dredging. Obviously this is not acceptable. (Note: DFG has issued an average of 3,650 permits per year.) No provision is made for compensating miners for the proposed "taking."

Here's what the report says:

Reduced Intensity Alternative

The Reduced Density Alternative is similar to the Proposed Program but would incorporate a combination of additional restrictions on the total number of permits issued and general methods of operation to reduce the intensity of environmental effects in the Program area.

Under this alternative, a maximum of 1,500 permits would be issued annually by CDFG instead of a maximum of 4,000 under the Proposed Program. This would translate to a 59% decrease in dredging operations permitted annually compared to the recent historic average. As described in Chapter 3, the total number of permits issued by CDFG over the last 15 years has fluctuated; though on average approximately 3,650 permits have been issued each year.

Additional operational requirements would include density limitations, additional equipment restrictions, and restrictions on the duration of daily dredging and total number of days each individual could dredge. Dredging densities would be regulated by establishing a minimum spacing requirement of 500 feet between dredges. The maximum permissible diameter for nozzle sizes on dredging equipment would be set at 4 inches, with no exceptions. Equipment usage would also be limited to the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a total of 14 days per year for each permit holder.


Here is the complete press release, along with related links, which DFG released today, February 28, 2001:

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 (2nd 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 California Fish and Game Commission.

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.

Please thoroughly review the documents and submit your comments to DFG by April 29, 2011!

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