(BOISE) On Tuesday, July 9, Chief Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush will hear arguments in Boise federal court on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit the Idaho Conservation League filed against a California suction dredge miner.
Last August, ICL sued miner Shannon Poe for violating clean water laws. For years, Poe and his organization, the American Mining Rights Association (AMRA) have encouraged miners to ignore federal rules on the South Fork of the Clearwater River, which provides habitat for several threatened, endangered and sensitive fish, including steelhead, salmon, bull trout and pacific lamprey. AMRA announced another Idaho dredge-mining event July 15 to August 15.
ICL’s Director of External Relations Jonathan Oppenheimer said, “Idahoans know we all have a responsibility to protect clean water. Anglers, farmers, miners, loggers and boaters all have to follow the rules to keep our rivers healthy and clean. Unfortunately, a small group of mostly out-of-state dredge miners are refusing to play by the rules.”
ICL monitors suction dredge mining and has placed several miners on notice to ensure they follow requirements and avoid polluting Idaho’s rivers and public lands. In Idaho, these miners must apply for permits to comply with state and federal rules to protect endangered species, water quality and other public resources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all miners to obtain a Clean Water Act permit. The EPA also limits suction dredge mining in Idaho rivers that provide critical habitat for fish or have too much sediment.
“Just because you don’t agree with the rules, doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow them,” added Oppenheimer. “No one is above the law.”
Dredge mining can wreak havoc on fish, wildlife habitat, riverbanks, waterways and riverbeds. A high-powered vacuum sucks up gravel and sediment at the bottom of a stream, dumps the material into a sluice box to capture gold, if any, and then spews the gravel and sediment back into the water. Video/B-roll footage available from ”Dirty Gold,” presented by Friends of the Clearwater.