Ore. considers gold dredge ban on salmon streams

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Associated Press

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 12:21 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The Gold Rush of the 1850s helped settle Oregon, enticing sailors to jump ship and farmers to take a detour from the Oregon Trail.

More than a century later, some state lawmakers want to clamp down on modern gold-mining gear known as suction dredges in salmon streams, particularly in southwestern Oregon, where the Gold Rush first struck.

Sen. Alan Bates, a Medford Democrat, says the idea has been rattling around the Legislature for some years, but he became concerned when the number of dredge permits started to approach 2,000.

Just what form the limitations would take is under discussion. Bates says an expansion of rivers protected under the Oregon Scenic Waterway Act is a likely way to do it.

Gold miners are outraged, and rallied at the Capitol last week.

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