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March 23, 2011: Vol. 1, #3

River News & Events


New In-River Mining Regs Suck

Dredge MiningNew regulations proposed for suction dredge gold mining in California will threaten fish, frogs, water quality and people. This form of mining uses a powerful motor and pump, attached to a hose that is used to suction up gravel from the stream bottom. Gold is then sorted out from the gravel and the remaining sediment filled water is flushed back into the stream. The adverse impacts of this type of mining are well documented by scientists. Suction dredging can harm habitat for sensitive, threatened, and endangered fish and frogs, as well as release toxic mercury left over from the Gold Rush into the stream.

The new regulations proposed by California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG)  are a hodge-podge of mostly weak and non-existent restrictions and fail to protect endangered steelhead, salmon, frogs and other species. The new regulations fail to ensure that mining does not harm water quality and human health with sediment and mercury. Special areas like Wild & Scenic Rivers and Wild Trout Streams are not protected in the regulations either. The regulations even permit suction dredge mining in Yosemite Valley and other National Parks! In addition, the regulations will depend on active enforcement from CDFG, which like other state agencies, is suffering from severe budget cuts.

Friends of the River is working to amend the regulations to:

  • Prohibit suction dredge mining in all rivers and streams that provide critical habitat and future recovery areas for threatened and endangered fish and wildlife.
  • Close all mercury-impaired rivers and streams to suction dredge mining to protect water quality, human health, fish and wildlife.
  • Ensure that the extraordinary and outstanding values of state and federal Wild & Scenic Rivers are protected.
  • Make sure that the fishery values of state Wild Trout Streams are fully protected in the new regulations.
  • Rivers and streams should also be closed to mining if budget cuts result in insufficient wardens in the field to enforce the new regulations.

Now you have the opportunity to speak out for the protection of rivers, fish and wildlife, water quality, and public health! Attend the public hearing nearest you. Speak out! Support closing rivers and stream to suction dredge mining that:

  • Provide critical habitat and recovery areas for threatened and endangered fish and wildlife.
  • Are mercury-impaired, to protect water quality, public health, fish, and wildlife.
  • Are federal or state designated Wild & Scenic Rivers and/or Wild Trout Streams, or are located in National Parks.
  • Could be harmed if there are insufficient wardens in the field to enforce the new regulations.

Here are the public hearings:

  • Santa Clarita: TODAY - Wednesday, March 23, at 5 p.m., at the Residence Inn by Marriott, 25320 The Old Road.
  • Fresno: Thursday, March 24, at 5 p.m., at the CA Retired Teachers Association, 3930 E. Saginaw Way.
  • Sacramento: Tuesday, March 29, at 5 p.m., at CalEPA Headquarters Building, Byron Sher Room, 1001 I Street.
  • Yreka: Wednesday, March 30, at 5 p.m., at the Yreka Community Center, 810 N. Oregon Street.
  • Redding: Thursday, March 31, at 5 p.m., at the Shasta Senior Nutrition Program, 100 Mercy Oaks Drive.

Please write a letter TODAY and plan to attend a public hearing near you.

Written comments are due by April 29, 2011. See FOR's website for a sample letter by clicking here.

[object Object]Just a few examples of the more egregious aspects of the new regulations include:

North Fork American River (Placer County) – This truly wild river was formerly off limits to suction dredging. The new regulations allow year round suction dredging upstream of Big Valley Canyon, which would be harmful to sensitive foothill yellow-legged frog and wild trout. Adding insult to injury, the proposed regulations also allow the use of larger suction nozzles on the North Fork. This stream is both a federally designated Wild River and a state-designated Wild Trout Stream, neither of which seems to have been considered by CDFG in the development of the new regulations. Mining will harm the river’s exceptional water quality and clarity, as well as its extraordinary scenic, recreation, fishery values.

South Yuba River (Nevada County) – One of the most popular swimming rivers in the Sierra Nevada, the South Yuba under the new regulations will be open to suction dredge mining from Jul. 1 to Jan. 31. Unfortunately, the river gravels are impregnated with mercury, which was used to process gold during the Gold Rush. Dredging will release this toxic material into the water, potentially threatening the health of people and wildlife alike. In addition, mining will be allowed in a segment of the South Yuba that provides critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog. Mining will also conflict with the extraordinary scenic and recreational values of this state-designated Wild & Scenic River.

Klamath River (Siskiyou County) – The Klamath formerly supported the third largest salmon population on the west coast. This fishery has dwindled to virtually nothing. The Klamath was also one of the most heavily dredged rivers in the state prior to the moratorium. Unfortunately, the new regulations allow suction dredging on the river downstream of Iron Gate Dam from Jul. 1 to Sep. 30. A state and federally designated Wild & Scenic River, continued mining on the Klamath will harm its extraordinary salmon fishery. Dillon Creek, a key Klamath tributary that supports the best remaining population of summer steelhead in the state, was formerly closed but is now open to suction dredging as well. 

San Gabriel River (Los Angeles County) – Portions of the San Gabriel Streamupper San Gabriel River in the San Gabriel Mountains are closed to dredging in the new regulations. But a segment of the East Fork, which is critical habitat for the endangered Santa Ana sucker, is open to dredging from Sep. 1 to Jan. 31. Before the moratorium, the East Fork suffered from some of the most unregulated mining on public lands in this state. Dredgers were lined up next to each other, turning over the entire streambed in their search for gold, often diverting the stream into other channels, and discouraging other visitors from even enjoying the river. The new regulations reinstate the East Fork as a mining sacrifice area, regardless of the adverse impacts on endangered fish or other recreation visitors.

For more information, contact Steve Evans at Friends of the River, phone (916) 442-3155 x221, email:


Information & Advocacy TablesFOR Outreach Events

Help share the word about wild rivers!

 May 19 - Capital River Awards 
 May 20-22 - Auburn River Festival 
 June 11 & 12 - American River Confluence Festival 
 July 16 & 17 - FOR BBQ & SFA Trip (information pending)
 Aug 20 & 21 - FOR BBQ & SFA Trip (information pending)
 Sept 10 & 11- Gear Swap & American River Paddle Festival 
 Sept 16-18 - American River Music Festival

To volunteer to table with FOR or to find out how to volunteer email us at:


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River Tips & Features


South Fork MercedRiver in the Spotlight
The Merced River

From the crest of the High Sierra, the Merced River flows westward through Yosemite National Park, the Sierra National Forest and the Sierra foothills, into the San Joaquin Valley and to its confluence with the San Joaquin River. This beautiful river and the magnificent Nevada and Vernal Falls are perhaps some of the best-known features of Yosemite Valley. Generations have marveled at the falls and granite cliffs, and camped along, hiked, fished, and floated the river in Yosemite Valley. The Merced River is rich in historical value and Native American culture. Yosemite was first “discovered” by Europeans when the Mariposa Battalion chased Chief Tenaya and his band of Ahwhanee Indians (part of the Mono Paiute Tribe) into the glacially carved valley. The river was home to both the Mono Paiute and the Southern Sierra Miwok Tribes. Bedrock grinding holes are common along the river as are historical mining sites.

To visit FOR's Merced River page click here.


"Here is what we are going to do..."FOR Volunteer Calendar

Our April issue will have links to the event organizers...

April 9 - Rusty Guide Training
April 23 - River Conservation Workshop at ETC
May 22 - East Fork Carson River Outing
June 11, 12, 18-26 - Basic Guide Training (tentative)
Sept 10,11 - Gear Swap

To find out about volunteer events email us at:


mulch.jpgRiver Saving Tip
Mulch Madness

Mulch serves a wide variety of purposes in your garden and flowerbeds. In addition to keeping down weeds, supplying nutrients and adding decoration, mulch can dramatically cut water use too. Mulch reduces the evaporation of water into the air - cutting the amount you have to water. Mulch also helps to keep soil from becoming compacted allowing the soil to soak up the water you do use. And if that was not enough, mulch reduces soil erosion and helps keep our rivers clean! There are many different kinds of mulch (both organic and inorganic). Ask your garden store about the uses and impacts of any product before you buy!



live-forever-150.jpgVisit Your River

Spring Flowers along the Hite Cove Trail, Merced River

Spring is here and so to are the wildflowers in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The Merced River offers many wonderful opportunities for wildflower hikes in beautiful settings. One such hike is the Hite Cove Trail, which begins at Highway 144 and follows the South Fork Merced River. This 4.5 mile-long there-and-back trail is considered one of the best wildflower walks in California. The Hite Cove Trailhead is located on Highway 144 just east of Mariposa where the highway crosses the river near Savage’s Trading Post.

To visit Yosemitehikes.Com for excellent information on this hike - just click here.

   To Visit FOR's River Action Center - click below.

Take Action Link


Save a River

Build FOR's American River pages and online presence!

FOR needs help building content and gathering photos for our American River pages on our website. We are looking for pictures of people enjoying the American as well as great nature shots. On the content side, we are looking for more details such as suggested hikes, fishing spots, etcetera… On the presence side - we need volunteers to claim and build social networking pages for FOR. To volunteer contact Johnnie at


PHOTO: Fly fishing the Upper Sacramento River,
Vivian Parker, photographer.


Got a photo to share? We need your help to get the word out about rivers...we want local photos, writers, and news items. To submit stories, photos, river outings, or river saving tips for the River Advocate email us at:

The River Advocate is published on a monthly basis by Friends of the River.



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