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Commission Denies Miners' Call to Close Karuk Ceremonial Salmon Fishery
by Dan Bacher
Friday Apr 10th, 2009 1:13 PM
Lodi, CA – Yesterday the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to deny a petition forwarded by a coalition of recreational gold mining groups to stop the Karuk Tribe from exercising its aboriginal right to dip net fish at Ishi Pishi Falls on the Klamath River.
Karuk Tribe

P R E S S R E L E A S E

For Immediate Release: April 10, 2009

For more information:
Craig Tucker, Spokesperson Karuk Tribe cell 916-207-8294


California Fish and Game Commission Denies Miners' Call to Close Karuk Ceremonial Salmon Fishery

Commissioners Vote Unanimously to Deny Miners’ Anti-Indian Petition



Lodi, CA – Yesterday the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to deny a petition forwarded by a coalition of recreational gold mining groups to stop the Karuk Tribe from exercising its aboriginal right to dip net fish at Ishi Pishi Falls on the Klamath River.

The vote is the latest in the ongoing battle between the Karuk Tribe and recreational mining clubs over where and when the practice of suction dredge mining can take place on the Klamath River.

“The miners’ petition was clearly an attempt by mining clubs to seek revenge for steps the Tribe has taken to limit mining in order to protect struggling salmon runs. Out of 120 village sites and associated fisheries, only one fishing site remains accessible to the Tribe. After taking so much from the Karuk in the past 150 years, the miners wanted to take this too,” said Craig Tucker, a spokesman for the Tribe.

Suction dredges are powered by gas or diesel engines that are mounted on floating pontoons in the river. Attached to the engine is a powerful vacuum hose which the dredger uses to suction up the gravel and sand (sediment) from the bottom of the river. The material passes through a sluice box where heavier gold particles can settle into a series of riffles. The rest of the gravel and potentially toxic sediment is simply dumped back into the river. Depending on size, location and density of these machines they can turn a clear running mountain stream into a murky watercourse unfit for swimming.

Biologists argue that dredges imperil fish and other species by sucking them through the machines, rearranging the river channel, and releasing plumes of sediment. The dredgers also reintroduce mercury buried in the sediment since first gold rush into the water column posing a risk to communities downstream.

Earlier this year, the Karuk Tribe petitioned the Department of Fish and Game to stop issuing dredge mining permits until studies on the effects on fish populations could be completed and rules governing the practice could be revised as directed by a 2006 court order. The Department rejected the Tribe’s petition as well.

“The Fish and Game commission stood up for Tribal rights by rejecting the miners’ petition. We urge them to continue in this positive direction by putting strict limits on dredge mining,” said Tucker.

Recently State Senator Pat Wiggins introduced SB 670 which would put a moratorium on the issuance of suction dredge mining permits until a scientific review is completed and mining rules amended as necessary.

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Editor’s note: for a picture of a suction dredge in action or of Karuk Dip net fishing, email request to ctucker [at] karuk.us


S. Craig Tucker, Ph.D.
Klamath Coordinator
Karuk Tribe
916-207-8294

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conservationistredrumFriday Apr 24th, 2009 7:32 PM