The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comments on proposed rules that would require people to obtain a standard state hydraulics permit to use a suction dredge to prospect for gold or other minerals in or near state waters.
A suction dredge works by sucking up water, gravel, gold, and other minerals through a narrow hose and ejecting this material into a sluice box, which expels the gravel and retains the gold and other minerals.
Under the proposed rules, suction dredgers would be required to obtain a standard individual Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permit and submit an annual report on their activities.
The department drafted the new rules at the direction of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which called on WDFW last April to develop new regulations that provide greater accountability for suction dredging throughout the state.
The commission, a nine-member panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed rules during a meeting scheduled April 5-6 in Olympia, WA.