In 2009 a group of environmental non-profits and a few of the Karuk tribal leaders in Northern California got legislation passed that mandated the DFG to review the current dredging restrictions because they had "new and sound evidence that suction dredging was deleterious to fish". I guess the fishermen non-profits got on board because they believed the environmental non-profits when they stated that gold dredging polluted the waters (there is no proof of this). Nevertheless, a court order mandated another review of the facts and mandated a California Department Fish & Game EIR - while effectively shutting down gold dredging instantly.
The DFG set up a collaborative atmosphere where both sides of the issue got together and discussed their respective points of view. Then Horizon Environmental was tasked to determine in the subsequent EIR what had changed since the original EIR and to mitigate the damages. The problem was that Horizon didn't use any of the 1994 EIR background to come up with conclusions for the new EIR. As a matter of fact, they ignored the original data from the 1994 EIR and ended up filling the new EIR up with "Modal Verbs" describing the damages they perceived. Do you know what a modal verb is? If you read the new EIR (all 800 pages of it) the "proof of environmental damages" are always preceeded with words like (presumably, generally, maybe, could be, would be, can, should, may) and there are no references to any studies which support the modal verbs. It is like an 800 page document of someone's opinion- and you know everyone has an opinion. Unfortunately the current form of the EIR is crafted by people who don't want dredgers in the water.
One of the main contentions of the anti-dredgers is that the dredgers disturb mercury in the rivers. That is the position that most of the naysayers reference. Well, there is a very well intentioned dredger who happens to enjoy crunching numbers and he reviewed the Fleck studies (the studies that the whole flouring of mercury depends upon) and crunched the numbers. He found out that whoever originally crunched the numbers apparently wasn't very good at math (or had an ulterior motive). The numbers which supported the anti-dredgers conclusions, were in fact several orders of magnitude off. In order for the amount of mercury to be captured off the back end of a single dredge (which collects 98% of the mercury that runs through it) there would instead have to be 14,000 dredges dredging at the mouth of Humbug creek (a literal superfund site for mercury) for over a month to recover the quantity of mercury that supposedly one dredge generates in a day.
I can appreciate getting the numbers wrong as I tend to be dyslexic with numbers too.
So as soon as this information came out, the NEXT DAY a budget rider bill was slipped into the budget legislation by an unknown person. A very well connected unknown person and the rider dictates that suction dredging be shut down for 5 years and the DFG stop its work on the EIR.
Now why would the anti dredgers who mandated the EIR all of the sudden want to shut it down? Inquiring minds want to know. I think I know the answer and those in the know don't want the REAL SCIENTIFIC facts to see the light of day.
Another thing, the enviros aren't really anti dredging. The fully support a government sponsored dredging operation at lake combie, in Nevada County. That operation costs the taxpayers $3M, has less efficiency than that of the small suction dredgers- and the most curious part of it- if the enviro-sponsored dredge is collecting mercury, then that means the dredge is also collecting gold too (probably lots of gold). Since the taxpayers are paying for the operation, how come no one tells us what our (the taxpayers) return on our investment is? Or is that just a perk that goes to the guys running the dredge (or perhaps the Enviro groups for their support). Sounds like a cool gig- get paid to clean up the lake and keep the gold too. Sign me up.
FYI just to let you know how the environmental movement is stripping California of a potential $23M industry in order to get the dredgers off the river. I encourage you to read the EIR, and you too will see the dredgers are being railroaded off the rivers.