As most of you know, a bill has been introduced in Washington by the radical, extreme environmental groups working with the Democrats which would effectively halt all suction dredging under the guise that more studies need to be done, more money needs to be spent and that dredging kills fish. Yes, it is the same narrative which has been touted for years without a shred of science to back it up. Study after study have been completed by accredited and formal scientific researchers, biologists and agencies and the conclusions are still the same, suction dredging is not deleterious to anadramous fish (salmon and steelhead). Dredging is not allowed when the fish are spawning.
This has never been about the fish folks, it is the excuse they believe will further their agenda.
We had a few AMRA members attend the public meeting in Seattle and wanted to give you his assessment of how the meeting went. This is a prime example of why we are forming and starting these state meetings with all small miners to unite. The meetings are being kicked off in California first (March 14th in Sacramento), then Washington will be next, then Idaho, Montana and so on. We have to get organized and united, I think we can all agree on this.
From our member:
In Olympia, Rep Tarleton gave her speech about just moving in from the East Coast and wanting to keep fishing alive in WA state for her husband and that all miners are bad… and I saw (2) people that gave testimony from an Environmental Group (they basically just said that they spend a lot of money to restore fish habitat and they hate miners being in their streams…) and 3 people that gave testimony from Trout Unlimited (their VP, a Lawyer, and a self-proclaimed scientist)… and about 60-70 people representing the mining community… of which about 15 of those 60 miners gave testimony against the bill.
The primary justification given to kill the bill in Committee was that the $1 million in new testing/analysis/research proposed in the new bill had already just been completed (2010-2013) by the WA House Agriculture & Natural Resource Committee over the past 3 years to update the WA Gold and Fish Regulations booklet. And that the new bill was just an attempt by Trout Unlimited to have suction dredging excluded from enforcement by guidelines in the new Gold/Fish book and banned for several years in Washington State… while another $1 million was wasted on additional testing/analysis/research. It was actually quite an insult to the Committee that had worked so hard to update the Gold and Fish Guidelines booklet over the past several years (before Rep Tarleton was even in Washington State).
Rep. Tarleton BEGGED the members of the House Agriculture & Natural Resource Committee to just let the new bill go through to the House for a full vote… knowing that a majority in the House would be sensitive to the environmentalists (more re-election votes there). There was one member of the Committee, however, that challenged Rep. Tarleton on several points during her testimony.
The Self-proclaimed Scientist for Trout Unlimited gave his testimony and made a big stink about how dredges are used to remove large tree stumps from river beds that make up some of the most important spawning beds. The same guy on the Committee that challenged R. Tarleton also immediately pointed out that it clearly states already in the Gold and Fish Regulations that dredgers/miners will not remove large tree stumps from stream beds… and the scientist just shrugged his shoulders.
I’ll try to find out who the guy was on the committee that was the only one providing resistance to Rep. Tarleton and Trout Unlimited.
As you might expect… the testimony provided by most of the Miners was pretty disorganized and just personal opinions, etc., but, there were a few guys from Washington Prospectors Mining Association (WPMA) that had their act together and gave solid testimony against the Bill. I’m also a member of WPMA.