Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Gold Vs. Salmon

Gold Vs. Salmon

(Nat sound) In the rugged mountain wilderness of Washington
state, a unique group of enthusiasts is carrying on an age-old tradition.
We�re probably going to put the dredge right here.
Right in that area, ok. They�re searching for gold.
Gold has always had an allure for man and man has always chased it.
For modern small scale miners like Ron Larson, the most effective tool is a fairly new invention
known as the hydraulic dredge. Locked and loaded.
A hydraulic dredge is essentially a floating platform with a power plant that supplies
air and power to move water over a riffle box, to sort out the heavy material. Gold
is heavier than any other mineral in the stream and the only way to get the gold is to remove
what is called overburden. To strip away this layer of rock and sediment,
miners are equipped with diving gear � and a high-powered underwater vacuum.
Also known as suction dredging, this method allows miners to go through as much as forty
times more sediment than non-motorized mining. But growing concern over possible environmental
impacts, has caused lawmakers in California, Oregon
and Idaho to take action to restrict it. That leaves Washington as one of just a few
Western states to allow dredging in most of its waterways, setting up a key battle between
small scale gold miners � There�s a dredge right over here.
Oh Yeah. – and the activists looking to shut them down.
Let�s go. In Central Washington, a team of fish enthusiasts
and environmental activists is heading into prime dredging territory.
They�re looking for evidence of how this mining method impacts fish.
Wow Are you kidding?
We�re here and we�re fishermen and we�re concerned.
They�ve altered the channel of the water so they can bring it into their sluice.
Bafundo is the Washington Field Coordinator for Trout Unlimited.
We�ve been seeing waters getting warmer, we�ve been seeing droughts across the west
that have been impacting fish. And right now we have steelhead that are trying to get up
the stream to spawn and they can�t. Farther upstream, Bafundo and restoration
ecologist Crystal Elliott-Perez check for impacts to water quality just below a dredging
operation. When you run sediment through a sluice and
you get a sediment plume coming out the back end, that impacts turbidity or increases turbidity.
Excess sediment makes it difficult for fish to breathe and can cause water temperatures
to rise to harmful levels. Remember what it was back there?
2.7? Yup. It�s 10.2.
Are you kidding? Four times higher than farther downstream.
Not enough to kill fish, but they are more concerned about the overall impacts dredging
could be having � impacts that currently aren�t being measured.
Washington was among the first states to publish rules for small scale mining in 1980.
Current regulations don�t allow dredging during spawning seasons, and place restrictions
on where in the stream miners can operate, how large their motors and hoses can be, and
how close together they can dredge. But permits, which are free, are required
only for projects that don�t fall within these rules.
This means that the state isn�t tracking where or when dredging is taking place.
That�s a problem for Mark Johnson, a fish biologist with the Yakima Nation. He says
suction dredging can have a negative impact on fish spawning habitat.
When you get up in the isolated areas, people tend not to follow those rules.
They will get into areas that are smaller, coarse gravel and that�s typically where
fish like to spawn. They dig their nests or their reds in the ground, lay their eggs and
then they die. The nutrients from these dead fish build the
food web for the next generation. But changing mining laws means grappling with
a deep history that began even before Washington was a state
Thank you all Al, you guys have participated Yay!
The Pacific Northwest Miner�s Rally is held every year near the historic ghost town of
Liberty, site of the state�s first and only gold rush in 1873.
Miners are adamant about preserving this history. They�re also protected by it – through the
Federal Mining Act of 1872. The miner who claims the land has a possessory
right to that land. He actually owns the minerals. This is literally an Act of Congress that
has given us this right to be here and do this.
Do you wanna do it again next year? You bet!
Thank you very much everybody. Miners say that current regulations are restrictive
enough. If you are caught out here you will get fined
and some of them are pretty stiff fines, up to $5000 if you�re not following the provisions.
They contend their activities clear the streams of trash and debris, and have little to no
impact on fish. A great many of the prospectors that I know
are also fishermen and none of us go up here looking to kill fish.
Angler and activist Kim McDonald says it�s time for tighter controls and more oversight.
We�ll be able to see if there�s any impacts from monitoring these guys, from having better
enforcement, we�ll be able to see those impacts fairly quickly. To me this is easy,
this is something we should be doing! Caught in the middle is the state�s Department
of Fish and Wildlife. They�re responsible for enforcing mining rules.
We receive a lot of pressure from both ends of the spectrum on mineral prospecting.
Deputy Director Jeff Davis says that small scale mining is on the rise. But more rules
aren�t necessarily the answer. Part of the ecosystem are humans and their
way of life on the land, and that has to be part of how our agency achieves our mission.
I don�t think you can regulate your way to long term healthy fish and wildlife resources
in every circumstance. McDonald believes the increase in mining in
already threatened fish habitat underscores the need for change.
If you take out a map of Washington state, every stream and river has anadromous fish.
And almost every single one is dealing with fish that are going extinct. And we�ve spent
since the late 1990s talking about what we should do about it. This is something we can
do. Back on the river, miner Ron Larson and his
partner are shutting down for the day. Let�s see if we�re getting any gold. Ooh
yes, I believe it is. Wow!
Maybe a forty or fifty dollar nugget. It doesn�t pay for the gas to get here,
but Larson insists it�s worth it. Gold fever is a very very real thing. It�s,
it�s an adrenaline thing, and it always keeps you coming back.
As long as there�s gold in these rivers, Larson says, he�ll keep fighting for his
right to search for it.

23 comments on “Gold Vs. Salmon

  1. invalid turbidity test when she wades out into the water kicking up sediment. Your arguing about it impacting fish spawning, yet the laws forbid dredging during spawning season. Can you please put an actual scientist weigh in on how it impacts fish?

  2. if the fish are going extinct, why does the state continue to issue fish permit to take fish, if lead is a toxic why do fisherman get a pass for for polluting the river losing lead

  3. The hole on the creek was on a gravel bar. It was not diverted. Kim took turbidity reading right at her feet while standing in the creek. That was idiotic and not a representative sample. I would be embarrassed to have them represent any group that I was in.

  4. That's tough to watch (them)… you guys are spot on with your comments about the technical stuff.
    Bafundo said; "… and right now we have Steelhead trying to get upstream to spawn, and they can't! I mean I'm looking at this and I see some pretty good blockages, one of the reasons they can't is there's dams, there's holes that are trapping the fish."
    This portion was filmed on August 7, 2015 and as stated in the video shortly after those statements, "…current regulations don't allow dredging during spawning seasons…" (3:24) It was Dredge Season!
    The reason the Steelhead can't get there "right now" and spawn is because the spawning season there is roughly March thru May, water temperature dependant!
    I expect better than that from a Trout Unlimited representative! Either he doesn't know or it's misinformation intentionally!
    Either way it's bad.
    All in all I feel it was produced in a manner that was fair and balanced 😉
    I enjoyed being part of it.
    Ron Larson

  5. Regarding wanting to do something for the environment, suction dredging is low hanging fruit compared to the host of environmental impacts that "do" threaten streams. Going after a relatively harmless activity (much literature supports this contention) might feel good, but you are not directing your energy toward something that matters. I was amused as the young scientist stood in horror at the temperature readings on her meter; if I were your graduate adviser I would have a long philosophical discussion about the danger of confirmation bias. Regarding turbidity, come back to the same stream after a 2 inch rain an you will find much higher readings for a longer period of time than when measured several meters from the end of a dredge. I study animal behavior and have observed fish near a dredge (not my specialty but interesting hypotheses nonetheless). It is a fact that fish aggregate downstream from a dredge. What they are doing is picking off aquatic insects that are sucked from the sediment—- a near frenzy of feeding activity. Why don't you study that. As a behaviorist, I would test whether fist learn to associate dredges with food; now that is an interesting question. You also fail to take into account how fish might behaviorally avoid small, short duration zones of high turbidity by simply moving a few feet away. There are so many interesting questions that you could ask if you pursued an objective research program. The questions I pose are hard; easier is to take some simple physical measures and pretend you are learning something about this issue.

  6. Nice bit of propaganda you made there. No science at all. I have a problem with the fact that you would outright lie to people, because in reality the studies have already been done. Some of the best fishing spots in Oregon are on rivers where gold mining has taken place for over a century. In the process of dredging, classification takes place and creates more spawning ground and deeper cooler pools of water. Read some real science here:

  7. So it ok to catch a fish kill it them eat it What you think a hooks fill good let me hook your mouth and see how you like it

  8. how does the Fish survive at the spring? when the snow start melting and carry the dirty water, and the river make New ways to flow???

  9. Typical LEFT WING TREE HUGGERS!!! And what happens in the spring when mudder nature floods from the spring thaw,, well everything that was moved, is put back and more is moved into the place where other stuff was removed

  10. if ya make a hole fill it in…same pack it in..pack it out…if your a bad miner by not repeoclaiming the land after mining..quit…running it for us because of these Tree huggers…spawning season.. never…

  11. Nobody spends all that money on a suction bridge to get $50 for the goal obviously hes lying to you so that people don't get motivated to compete for the gold. Typically an operation like that can pull and out to 2 oz A-day .

  12. What these tunnel visioned activists and ecologists don't realise is that the minor localised impact that dredging has on a stream or river system is nothing compared to mother nature when the heavens open up and flood waters stir up the entire river/stream system.

  13. TRUMP. LOVES. $$$$$$$$$$$ GOLD. MORE. THAN. FISHERMAN. !!!!!!!!!!!SAVE. RED. SALMON. ALASKA. #1. canyonlocalfilmscom.

  14. They are showing you a very small stream during the dry season when the water is at its lowest. Fish do not run up the streams during this time. Fish run when the water is flowing at a peak during spring and fall. We can't dredge until after the fish have hatched and left and gone out to the lake or the ocean. The fish and thier fry are not in any danger. This video is cherry picking the info to lie to you. I am a trout fisherman too and I make sure I don't do anything to stop or harm my favorite fish. I am also a dredger. The miners comments are especially edited a lot of the information that the miners gave was edited out this makes it sure that you will think negatively about the miners activities without knowing that we do not dredge while fish are in the string spawning hatching or why little ones are leaving. The holes and the sediment that we leave behind actually create a ladder effect on the bottom making it easier for fish to go Upstream and set in the pocket to lay their eggs so that even more fish will be present next year from the abundance eggs that get laid this year. The comment that in every stream in Washington fish are going extinct is pure lie there is no truth to this. The fish are definitely not going extinct.

  15. It's amazing how easy it is to use these neurotic liberals to gain power for the state. Science is long gone. It's just feels now. Stop protecting beavers if dams are so bad. Turbulence increases watery oxygen levels. It's already illegal in spawning season.

  16. Lets see you were inthe middle of a drought no water, you would have the same things if no dregreging was being done. And the gravel is moved from one place to another so there is no real impact, just taking more and more rights from people

  17. These people just think what they want is the way things should be. Their opening their pieholes and showing just how stupid and selfish they are. Look at California all the studies they’ve performed. Do those idiots actually think they would open dredging again ( in 2019 by the way ) if anything detrimental had been found? Before u open your mouths u should at least know what the hell u are talking about. Leave us the hell alone

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