For Immediate Release, March 24, 2020

Contact:

Sophia Ressler, (206) 399-4004, sressler@biologicaldiversity.org

Washington Enacts Law to Protect Rivers, Endangered Salmon From Suction Dredge Mining

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a bill prohibiting suction dredge mining in rivers and streams that provide important habitat for endangered salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

The bipartisan law, which the governor signed on March 18, allows Washington to join other West Coast states in restricting the harmful recreational mining practice. It also requires all suction dredge miners to obtain a water quality permit.

“This is a huge victory for Washington’s water quality and our endangered salmon,” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Our state leaders wisely decided it was time to stop a handful of recreational suction dredge miners from trashing some of our most precious rivers and streams.”

Suction dredge mining is a recreational mining practice that vacuums up stream bottoms and riverbeds in search of gold, destroying vital wildlife habitat, increasing sedimentation and suspending toxic mercury in waterways.

Washington’s new law follows in the footsteps of California, Idaho and Oregon, as well as other western states, in putting reasonable measures in place to protect fish and water quality from the damaging form of mining.

Washington has spent nearly $1 billion to restore salmon habitat in the state. But until today the state did not have measures in place to track and prevent suction dredge mining’s well-documented harm to salmonids and their habitat.

“This is a proud and crucial moment for Washington’s salmon and waterways, which are at the heart of what makes our state so special,” said Ressler. “As we all join the fight to end the global extinction crisis, every step to lessen threats to our stressed rivers and wildlife is an important one.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.