Anglers, outfitters, boaters, irrigators and others who use our rivers all work within rules and regulations to keep our rivers clean and healthy. That’s our responsibility as citizens.

Unfortunately, a handful of suction-dredge miners in Idaho, along with dozens of out-of-state miners, are refusing to follow the rules. They’ve staged protests during which they’ve openly violated the Clean Water Act, and they have already announced their intention to return to Idaho to protest rules that have been put in place to protect Idaho’s clean water.

While they disagree with the rules put in place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, all along they’ve said that they were willing to purchase a $10 permit ($30 for out-of-state dredgers) and follow state rules and regulation.

Now, a bill proposed by Rep. Paul Shepherd (R-Riggins) and introduced on behalf of dredge miners, would eliminate all state oversight and open tens of thousands of miles of streams for any suction dredges with less than an 8-inch hose.

That bill would exempt virtually all dredges in Idaho from state oversight and regulation.

If approved, the bill would open some of Idaho’s most iconic rivers and streams to unrestricted dredge mines, each of which could discharge the equivalent of four commercial-sized dump truckloads of sediment a day each!

Streams that would be immediately opened by the bill include the  Salmon River, Priest River, North Fork Clearwater River, South Fork Snake River, portions of the Boise River, Blackfoot River, Kelly Creek, Johns Creek  and thousands of others.

The House Resources and Conservation Committee is scheduled to hear the bill in the coming days. It’s important that they hear from you.  Take a moment now and let committee members know that clean water is more precious than gold.