Suction Dredging…Sucks

By Bob Ferris
My access point to my career in the conservation field came originally from fish.  I caught my first trout on the Eel River in northern California while my family was on their way to visit the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle.  As we were on our way north, my mother grudgingly allowed me to fish for 15 minutes—no more.  And on my premier cast with my older sister’s telescoping metal pole and an ancient JC Higgins reel, I felt that first electronic jolt that changed my life.  (Yes, this was a salmon egg catch, but I did not know any better at the time.)
That memory is golden to me and the thought of anyone taking any action that would rob someone of a similar moment rankles me no end.  That’s why the notion of some yahoo sticking a 4”-6” inch motor-driven suction hose into the hard bottom or gravel of a trout or salmon bearing stream and muddying the water literally makes me just a little angry.  And that ire only rises a little higher when I learn that these “modern 49ers” seeking flakes of gold in the silt they are spraying around are being egged on and legislatively supported by some modern day equivalent of snake oil salesmen hitting the KA-CHING button with each $8900 suction dredge they sell.  
It’s an old game where the “pick and pan” salespeople make the real money preying on the suggestible and greedy.  And part of the pitch seems to be that mucking up rivers flowing through public lands is an honest-to-goodness, Don’t-Trend-On-Me, All-American right.  Poppycock!  Suction dredging sucks and the sooner we all gravitate to that point of view, the better for all concerned.  (Okay so the dredge dealers will not be happy, but I can live with that quite comfortably, Thank You.)
Doing the “gold fever” math: Proven placer claims yield in the vicinity of 0.025 ounces per yard of material processed or roughly $45 per yard.  Recreational suction dredgers can move up to 25 cubic yards per year before being classified as commercial operations.  So if they are lucky and gold prices hold they can gross $1125 annually in Oregon.  When the cost of the machine and gear as well as other costs such as permitting, trailer registration, gas, and maintenance are factored in it becomes crystal clear that the “gold strike” here is for the equipment sellers rather than these hopefully prospectors.   
Suction dredging is not a “right” nor is mucking up the water for the rest of us—particularly in streams and rivers that run though public lands or hold imperiled species such as Coho and Chinook salmon or bull trout.  We and many others who have worked hard to clean up and protect waterways throughout Cascadia see only one solution to this issue:  An all-out ban on suction dredging in the salmon-bearing water systems of Cascadia.  The practice is banned in California and restricted in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho.  We think it is high time that all of us who would like to see the return of vibrant salmon and steelhead speak up on this issue with one voice.  
Please check out our suction dredging and high banking page, sign our petition to the governors of Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho, and pass this all along to others 

263 thoughts on “Suction Dredging…Sucks

  1. Al says:

    I wish you guys would stop lying about suction dredging…Facts have been presented to California and were ignored. Your feeling over facts seem to win…Facts or feelings? Let the public decide not politicians.
     I can't believe you think we are dangerous to fish…we feed them, make spawnign groind for them…they surround my dredge whie minign because they LOVE dredging! 
    Here's a fact for you – Who kills fish? THE FISHERMEN! If fisherman kill 2 fish each, thats several million dead! 
    Dredgers fish killed – 0
    Fisherman fish killed – Millions!
    Leftish idiots promoting Aganda 21

  2. bob says:

    Dear Al,

    I am sure these are the facts as you see them and as they have been told to you by the folks selling you mining equipment, however, these claims are not borne out by science or experience.  Suction dredging destroys habitat and disturbs food chains at critical times.  Suction dredging does not create spawning habitat, in point of fact, studies indicate when given a choice between dredge spoils and unaltered gravel beds the fish elect to use the undisturbed areas.  And this has absolutely nothing to do with Agenda 21 as most it deals with lands that are already public and managed for the public good rather than for a handful of suction dredge prospectors.  Your "facts" were "ignored" in California because they were not defensible facts and they did not agree with the findings of scientists such as Dr. Peter Moyle who is one of the leading ichthyologists in the world.  

    Bob Ferris

  3. Wanda Glaspey says:

    Well, I am glad that I am following in my father and grandfathers footsteps by making prospecting my life. I was a longtime resident of Oregon, now residing in California. I think that yes, we should not dredge in salmon/trout grounds. My main bitch is, why shut down the whole state? I have yet to see a salmon or for that matter, a trout where I prospect in So. Cal. I also have a full blown prospecting store and yes, I sell dredges to people in other states, countries. I also sell the education, history and what truely made the west coast…..GOLD! I speak to thousands of people a month and I ask them 1 question, " What do you think of when you think of California? Now, you can only have 2 words" The number 1 answer, hands down, is SUNSHINE and GOLD!!
    I am a very avid hunter, fisherman (woman) and I believe that this has just gone to hell in a hand basket, ban it all then. Hunting, fishing, mushroom picking, cedar bough collecting, all of it, shut down the forest TO ALL!! This BS on how dredgers are killing the fish, but, the lead sinkers, car batteries, full oil containers, oh, let's not forget the meth labs that have been used and left is not killing fish is ridiculous. Let's not blame one entity, blame ALL entities. It is not one given group destroying it for the rest. IT IS ALL OF US DESTROYING IT FOR THE FUTURE!!!

  4. Al says:

    Bob, your statement of "these claims are not borne out by science or experience" is total bunk…as I have over 5000 hours underwater mining. I think that is enough experience to see what is ACTUALLY going on under there. I fire my dredge up and suddenly become surrounded by fish…they love dredges and none get killed, they get FED.
    All the work that is done underwater is covered and filled in EVERY YEAR when the snow melts and increase water flow. Have you ever seen even a small rain shower make the rivers turn brown with turbidity? Dredges don't even do .001% of that…just LIES you spill. We will never agree because you like your Liberal Agenda and I like my Conservative approach.
    You are Agenda 21, you are the ones destroying America from the inside, you are the ones who killed timber jobs, you are the ones who destroyed a 100 million dollar mining business in California. You want people on Gov assistance instead of real work.
    You will win most likely because people like you don't like facts, you like your feelings…..I don't like that so I will try to make laws against it. I don't feel good about fish swimming around dredges, but I feel ok about fishermen killing millions of fish which cause the fish a large amount of pain…you know, like DEATH.
    Fishermen Kill Fish…Indians with gill nets kill fish…
    Suction dredge miners do not.

  5. bob says:

    As part of a multi-generational California family I will say that there was a time when gold was a factor in California, but that point has passed.  In fact, the less than $10 million  it provides in California's current $2 trillon gross domestic product likely doesn't qualify as a footnote–and most of that production comes from two mines and not suction dredging.  That said, it is sad when anyone's mode of work disappears into the sunset.

    As to salmon and trout in Southern California, there are many places on the coast and in the mountains that currently or formerly supported robust trout and steelhead populations.  The two that come instantly to mind are Mission Creek in Santa Barbara and the Sespe River farther south in Ventura County.  And active restoration programs are working to restore those that still have promise but are lacking fish.

    As you suggest, there are a myriad of issues facing fish and many of us are working to correct all these impacts.  Their presence, however, is not an excuse to delay solving this issue raised by suction dredging.  

    As to the assertion that this is an attempt to close down uses in the forest, I would also strongly disagree.  The vast majority of forest vistors–and primarily those who visit forest waterways–go there for something that approaches a wilderness experience away from the trappings of civilization.  Their expectation does not include and is in fact compromised by small scale industrial activities such as suction dredge mining.  Where they might see someone panning for gold on the side of the river as quaint, the same feeling is not illicited by a chugging dredge motor, an array of suction hoses, and a bunch of men in wetsuits mucking up the river.  This last part is extremely important to many.

    Bob Ferris

  6. bob says:


    With all due respect to your 5000 hours, I will suggest that you might lack the basic understanding of migratory fish biology and life cycle requirements necessary to properly interpret what you are seeing and why.  Moreover, I think that you confuse short term phenomenon with the long term impacts.  Certainly fish will school around and eat foods immediately dislodged by your dredging activities—much like gulls follow farmers disking fields.  Yes, a few resident fish get a free meal but aquatic fauna lifecycles are disrupted, gravel beds for migratory fish are destroyed or degraded, legacy pollutants like mercury are released, and a number of other long-term impacts to the migratory fish stocks which are the ones in question.  The facts are that suction dredgers, while not immediately killing current fish, do kill future fish and the reproductive potential of these waterways.
    Also, please defend your $100 million industry claim.  In California total gold production in 2007 was somewhat south of $10 million and that came mainly from 2 commercial hard rock mines—not suction dredging.  Where did you get that figure?  
    As to your real work comment, please.  In Oregon, if someone hit good areas they would get about $45 per yard moved and be able to do a total of 25 yard a year before having to move from recreational to commercial options.  I doubt that $1100 per year gross qualifies as real work or employment particularly when the costs of the machines, permitting, etc. are factored in.  That is just simple math.
    Bob Ferris
  7. Rick says:

    Hi Bob- glad to see you left the comments open for response. I have a few comments: You state that you gained your respect of fish was by fishing for them. Fishing is a "taking" sport, in other words, your enjoyment is derived from- at a minimum level torturing fish (catch and release) or killing them (catch and keep). I am not one to cast stones, as each to their own vices. What I have issue with is your stance as a fisherman who kills fish and wants to see conservation strikes me as somewhat an oxymoron. Apparently fish killing is sanctioned by the powers at be, yet suction dredging (which there is not ONE instance of a fish ever killed via this industry) is bad for the environment. The Karuk Indian tribe also shares your belief system as they gill-net millons of fish a year (that must be a pretty pleasnt way to die) yet they shut down dredging, because "dredging harms salmon". Really?
    To believe this drivel means you have been reading too many environmental websites, who's intent is to shut down small scale dredging (read small mom and pop businesses) and replace them with taxpayer funded boondoggles which accomplish the same thing the dredgers do, but the difference being the citizenry of the State of California is on the hook to pay for the grants issued to allow this to happen.
    Don't you find it odd that the Sierra Fund, based in Nevada City was on the forefront of shutting down the small scale dredging industry via their lobbying about mercury released from small scale gold dredges. The must have lost the fact that the only difference between a gold dredge and a reclaimation dredge (cleans marinas, shipping channels, waterways) is the intent of the operator. Apparently the environment isn't affected by non-gold searching dredges. I run my 4 inch dredge and create a plume 50' long and I get a ticket for it, yet the local water utility dredges an upstream dam and turns 50 miles of river sheet white, and there are no issues.
    Curiously, the California suction dredging regulations were passed because the DFG neglected to utilize over 60 years of government studies (BLM, Fish & Wildlife, DFG, Army Corps of Engineers, etc) which ALL STATE that small scale suction dredging has NO EFFECT to the environment. The DFG opted to use only 2 studies prepared by the staff scientists of the Sierra Fund (non- peer reviewed and faulty in many aspects) to base the conclusion to shut down ALL of the dredging in CA.
    Look up the Sierra Fund's Combie Lake dredging project (a little bit of conflict of interest if you ask me) where they applied for a $9M grant to "clean mercury" from a local lake, using a dredge which was at a minimum 15% less efficient at mercury recovery than a small scale suction dredge. They are all over themselves patting themselves on the back for the recovery of Mercury from the resevoir for $10,000 an oz of Mercury cost. Hey, its ok, the taxpayers are on the hook, they make their $9M, and they get to keep the gold (if you are finding mercury, you are finding gold).
    I am afraid this whole "run the small miners off the rivers" has more to do with non-profits showing up to do taxpayer funded remediation work, while throwing off the small business owners off the rivers. It is a 21st century version of Claimjumping. Make the claims worthless via government regulation and then come on in and do some remediation, paid for by the taxpayers.
    All the small miners I work with are about keeping a clean camp, hauling out the garbage found in the rivers and trying to do as little damage as possible. The regulators gone amuck has got to stop. I am surprised that there were no efforts put forth to suggest mitigations for the small miners: I would love to see some sort of muffler system that made the engine noise go away- it may bother your fishermen friends, but it also bothers those who are working along side of them too. If sediment is a problem, silt curtains can be employed- yet no effort was extended to try to work with the small miners- the effort was to throw them off the rivers.
    Your comment about gold is a bit misguided. The gold found in California made the US the strongest country in the World. Only after 101 years of a debt based monetary system is our country now one of the biggest debtor nations in the world. Everyone who works to be paid by a debt based dollar will soon find themselves in the poor house (I'd go into detail, but I don't want to write a novel here). Soon gold may be worth over $10k an oz and then you may eat your words. Gold is MONEY, everything else is debt. With QE3 (actually QE4, but someone isn't telling the truth) on the way, you will soon find that the "debt based money" in your pocket will be worth less and less (and the value of gold continues to climb). I find it quite odd that the State of California is in financial straights, most of the citizens are unemployed and the state has taken it upon itself to shut down one of the few non-destructive and well paying home businesses in the state. Sometimes you got to wonder what the priorities are.
    As an aside- the miners, in most cases are working paid for mining claims. They pay yearly fees and taxes on such claims and thus the claims are "private property" in lieu of their mineral content. If you are walking through my private property and I disturb your "fishing experience", I would expect that you find your own private property to go to, so no one will bother you.

  8. bob says:

    Dear Rick,
    I keep the section open because I believe in an open, fact-based discussion.  To your points:   The argument that suction dredging has not killed a single fish is crafty but totally disingenuous as the arguments against suction dredging deal not with mature fish but rather eggs and young, benthic fauna (bottom dwelling food resources and larval forms of future food), spawning bed disruption, and the re-release of legacy pollution into the water column—all well documented in-peer reviewed literature.  These necessary elements of the life cycle of anadromous fish such as salmon and steelhead reduce their chances of future success.  To argue that because you kill no fish, you do no harm is specious.  
    In terms of what I read to draw my conclusions, my early academic training was as an ichthyologist so I tend to look at primary literature with the critical eye of a former researcher.  I have looked at the 2009 report compiled by California Department of Fish and Game entitled Suction Dredge Permitting Program Literature Review.  The report is comprehensive and the literature full, representative, and persuasive.  I have also look at much of the source material cited.
    I will ignore the claim jumping rhetoric as “sour grapes.”  But in terms of mitigation, there does not seem to be a satisfactory path as the action however dampened is still mechanically intrusive.  And on some level there really does not seem to be a persuasive public need served by that demands compromise in terms of mitigation. 
    I find your economic arguments odd.  The Mother Lode produced some 13.3 million troy ounces of gold during its first 110 years.  That is on today’s market about $28 billion which is less than 2% of California’s annual gross domestic product.  The US holds some 261 million troy ounces, so the Mother Lode produced about 10% of that.  Hardly the financial “Atlas” you portray.  And you cannot eat gold but you can eat fish.
    Bob Ferris

  9. Rick says:

    Bob- And what about the 3 million fishermen tromping up and down the streams of the state? There are 3000 dredgers in California, and probably working at any one time, the number could be less than 300. I have a mining claim and I have 6 friends who have dredge permits and we go on weekends, so that takes care of 7 permits which work one or two days a week. When we are working, we don't move more than 10 cubic yards a season. How far do you walk up the creek when you fish? When I am diving, I see all the aquatic wildlife and I will move away from any wildlife because I don't feel the need to kill anything. Dredgers don't dredge during spawining season- I don't recall any law denying fishermen from fishing during that time? As 6 million feet are walking up riverbeds up and down the state, how many redds and benthic fauna are trampled? I bet a few more than the 300 dredgers working on any one day within the whole state.
    I challenge you to show me ONE peer reviewed literature which documents any serious amount of mercury released from any gold dredge- in any quantity large enough to cause any concern to any species. The mercury poisioning issue should have been an issue 150 years ago, when millions of pounds of mercury was actively dumped in the waterways. I have been dredging for over 7 years and the amount of mercury I have found with my 98% recovery rate would fit on the head of a pin. The largest mercury issue is the mercury which is now trapped in anerobic sediments in all the dams – that is where the potential problem is. Not in the cold mountain streams. You are reading too much fantasy put out by the CBD.
    I am glad we agree upon the fact that no effort was attempted to mitigate to anyone's benefit. I would like to see a list of the speciifc documents which you state prove your point. I would like to read them. I have read a lot of material and have yet to find anything that states that suction dredging has any long lasting negative effect. Enlighten me.
    Re: Claimjumping – do you not find it odd that the ban was only on "gold" dredging? Does the environment recognize that reclaimation dredging without the search for gold is more beneficial? Gold dredges are 98% efficient in capturing gold- in any other industry, when is a 98% recovery rate a bad thing? Is it better to leave 100% of the mercury we find than it is to remove 98%? Or perhaps is the remediation best left to taxpayer funded grants by well-deserving environmental non-profits? Do you see the irony? The dredge the Sierra Fund used (and supported) only had a 85% recovery rate (and both the small miners and the SF recovered gold). Why are we being penalized for searching for gold?

  10. bob says:

    Below is from the CFG report–

    Conclusion: Scientific evidence suggests that suction dredging may have potential to release Hg into the environment, increase methlyation by enhancing oxidation of Hg0 to Hg (II), and result in long]range transport (via fine sediment transport, floured liquid Hg, and dissolved and colloid]bound Hg).

    The mercury issue is a complicated one with MeHg, Hg (II) and flouring all issues to deal with.  Yes the dredges are designed to recover heavy metals but there is also slop and uncertainty in the system.  When we are dealing with toxins like mercury I am very inclined to be cautious.  And I see no compelling reason for us to take this risk and every reason for us not to–particularly when we are dealing with compromised species.

    Bob Ferris

  11. Rick says:

    Let me clarify my request to you: find a single example of peer reviewed scientific studies and not just a conclusion based upon rumor and inuendo. The document you chose to make your stand on was over 2000 pages long and had over 1500 instances of examples of conditional verbs in it: could have, should have, maybe, may have, suggests, presumably, etc and not a single example of the phrase "has been proven". The SDEIR is currently being fought in court as the miners feel that the State of California did not follow its own CEQA guidelines for creating its SDEIR- to wit, they ignored over 60 years of hard science which proved beyond a reasonable doubt that suction dredging has NO long lasting effect on the environment, but rather the authors of that document, instead chose to cherry pick the studies to come to a pre-determined conclusion which painted small scale gold dredging in a negative light. If the miners get a fair judge, in a county which has mining claims and a competent water law judge, it will be a slam dunk for the miners. So humor me and find me that actual studies which come to the undeniable conclusion that suction dredging "sucks" for any species, rather than it just being your own biased opinion. Not that I entirely blame you, as there are a lot of environmental non-profit websites that spout the same non-fact based opinions.
    Mercury in California Sierra mountain streams is a non-starter. With the small miner's dredges capturing 98% of the mercury encountered- if you want to stop the mercury in the water- find a way to stop the atmospheric mercury from drifting over here from China. Another contributing factor to lack of any effect of mercury in our rivers is the fact that the Sierra Nevadas are high in Selenium. Apparently Selenium binds to mercury and cancels the conversion into MeHg. There are many 80 year old miners in the Sierra Foothills who have been eating fish out of the rivers for years, and my question is where is the damage that the environmental groups expouse? Up until 2003, the CDFG felt that mercury was an important part of the gold recovery process and recommended that the miners use it to recover the gold. What changed in 2003? Twelve environmental groups petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment to force a mass media campaign of warnings about the potential dangers of mercury in the watersheds. Found on the California Office of Environmental Health Website: NO CASE OF MERCURY POISONING HAS EVER BEEN RECORDED FROM EATING CALIFORNIA SPORT FISH. An interesting aspect of this is of special interest since  no medical cases of methylmercury poisoning have ever been reported from consumption of fish where the source of methylmercury was the natural biomethylation process. In 2009, a researcher by the name of Peterson (an EPA scientist) collected 468 fish from 40 species of fish from over 120 sites across 12 western states. His experimentation showed that 97.5% fo the freshwater fish had sufficient Selenium to protect them and their consumers against mercury toxicity. 100% of the fish from CA had sufficient Selenium. So I ask, why the mercury scare?
    Dredgers are the garbagemen of the rivers. No one pays us, but we clean the rivers on a daily basis. Guess what the most common form of metallic pollution we find in the rivers? Give up? Fishing weights! Some of the 3 million fisher-friends of yours have a nasty habit of losing their lead weights and apparently aren't interested in recovering them. I wonder if there have been any studies on the benefits of elemental lead in the waterways? With 3 million fishermen using lead, my guess is there is an over abundance of excess lead in our waterways. Maybe some of the conservation efforts should be focused upon recovery of some of the tons of lead in our waterways.
    Bob, I appreciate you allowing me to give my side of the story. Thank you for the opportunity.

  12. bob says:


    First, clearly you do not have a deep or long understanding of the way scientists express themselves—it is always done conditionally.  You might check out alpha and beta errors and that might help you to understand why issues are couched the way they are.  You should not read these as rumor or innuendo. 
    Your CEQA science argument is weak for two reasons.  First, the state is required to use the “best available science” that is the standard rather than use all science ever done which you are arguing that they do.  There are few 40-60 year old studies that are still used because analytical methodologies, statistical approaches, and computers have given us a sharper lens and the ability to tease out impacts that would not show otherwise.  
    I have looked at the studies that are cited on a few of the pro-mining sites and they are generally not hard science per se and do not strongly rule out impacts.  I also noticed that there were several instances where older studies were re-examined and those conclusions questioned particularly as they applied to siltation and the persistence or significance of impacts.  You also need to check out case law and you will find through cases like the classic Chevron decision that technical deference is always given to the state’s experts.
    In terms of studies of mortality, I thought that study that looked at eyed and un-eyed egg mortality (Griffith and Andrews 1981) were pretty compelling as well as the entire discussion about the potential impacts to fish under 4 inches in length.  There are some conclusions drawn in the discussion but there is a huge body of literature that deals with related concepts such as post-capture or handling mortality in animals that points to and reinforces the conclusions drawn.  
    The selenium and MeHg interaction is complicated and not always as straight-forward as you have characterized it (see  Yes there seem to be some antagonist effects, but there also seem to be some synergistic effects as well as age factors and life cycle effects.  But more research needs to be done in this arena.  As to Hg from Asia, I agree that we need to curb it and that is part of why the petition before the suction dredging is about coal export.  And please give me evidence that CDFG recommended mercury use prior to 2003.
     FYI–I am a biologist rather than a toxicologists so the lion's share of my objections are biologically and ecologically based.
    Bob Ferris
  13. Rick M says:

    First I own a prospecting shop and do go mining.
    I can recall a small boy with his grandfather wandering the hills and having a great time. Wow a nugget was found and the kid was hooked.
    Similar experience different perspective. While your first trout is a wonderful memory, why do you work to defeat someone elses unique experience.
    America is a land of opportunity and UNIQUE in the world. Made of many different people with many different ideas.
    Unintended consequences are never thought of ahead of time

  14. Rick says:

    Please humor me and itemize and show me the studies which refute the studies which say there is no damage caused by suction dredging. You state they exist and you have read them, so please share them with your audience. I beleve in following the latest and greatest in science, and from the research I have done (as a layperson- and I have read a lot of studies), I have yet to find a single peer-reviewed study which makes any such conclusion. The CDFG document refers heavily to the Alpers study, but there were many flaws in its preparation and it received its "peer review" 2 years following the completion of the study- which as I am sure you are aware, is a bit odd as peer reviews usually are completed prior to publishing the study. And the fact that Dr Alpers is the staff scientist for the Sierra Fund who is the biggest antagonist to the small scale dredgers apparently doesn't raise any red flags of conflicts of interest is curious to me. 
    I revert back to my original logic- how can you say a handful of small scale dredgers cause more damage to the river than 3 million fishermen in a single season? Have you ever considered the quantity of  lead weights which are lost in our rivers each year? CDFG studies state that each fisherman in the State of California fishes for an average of 11 days a year. Let's look at the 3M fishing licenses sold each year- so that equates to 33M fishing use days  per season in the State of California (or 66M footsteps walking up and down the rivers of the state), if we assume that each fisherman loses an oz of lead each day during their 11 days of fishing, that equates to 33M oz of lead lost in the rivers of CA per year by fishing (or 2M pounds of lead). So compare the situation: 300 small scale gold dredgers using their 98% efficient mercury recovery machines are extracting 98% of the mercury which they recover each day, working in a 10'x10' area working at  dredging vs 3 million fishermen with their 66M of steps walking up and down rivers breaking down river banks, stepping on redds and benethic insects and slinging over 2 million pounds of lead into the river- oh and I forgot, they kill fish for sport. Which user group has the most negative effect upon the rivers? What kind of an effect on the bird populations on the State does introducing that quantity of lead into the environment cause?  The suction dredgers use their dredges as filtration devices, extracting all the lead, mercury, trash and other heavy metals in the course of working each day and according to the media, that is a bad thing- yet the fishermen (who kill fish) and trample miles of the riverbanks and in and out of the streams and leave their lead waste in the rivers- are the good guys. So in effect the dredgers are the garbage men of the rivers and are the only FREE mitigation tool available to clean the rivers (and I am sure there is some environmental non-profit writing a grant right now looking for funding to dredge the rivers to clean them – at the taxpayers expense) And to boot, once a year all the river users who have spent the year trashing the rivers, spend a single day (doing what the dredgers do daily) cleaning up the rivers and it is a big media event. Tell me this is a twilight zone tv show and not some sort of twisted reality?
    Check out this site to see an example of the trash recovered by a single dredger in a single season: and once again tell me why the dredgers are hurting the environment.
    My guess the big beef with the fishermen like yourself is you want to have the "a river runs through it" experience when fishing. Not that I blame you- as both dredgers and other outdoor users want the same thing- to experience the great outdoors. Personally, I think that since there has been zero effort to derive some sort of mitigation which will improve EVERYONE's experience, THAT has been the over-riding issue. You state you hate the sound of the motors- so do I. Unfortunately, no one manufactures a motor which is quiet other than automotive motors- if I could find a motor which was quiet, I would use it tomorrow. Some people are concerned about turbitidy, although most small dredges the turbidity plume is isolated and short lived (less than 50 feet) so the argument of damage is greatly overstated. But there are ways that the small miner can be a "good neighbor" by employing some form of a turbidity curtain or filter sock. It doesn't cost that much, it filters out the majority of the sediment and makes everyone's outdoor experience enjoyable.
    Mining is a right offered by the 1872 mining law, and fishing is a sport which many enjoy. There is common ground shared by both groups and we need to work to find a way that all user groups can co-exist in the outdoors, and yet recognize that mining is the highest order of land use and yet allow the miners to modify their use of the land in such a way that it doesn't affect what they are doing and at the same time allows others to experience the outdoors unimpeded by the mining activity.

  15. bob says:

    Yes and my father used to take me skeet shooting in an area that is now filled with houses.  I recognize that things change and that all activities are not appropriate in all places.  Suction dredging is not appropriate in salmon bearing streams…

    Bob Ferris

  16. bob says:

    I have provided a full document full of references, that should be enough.  The mitigation measures you mention do not ameliorate the damage done to the river or stream bed.  As I said before this is a mechanical issue and cannot be mitigated.  Turbidity is less an issue that siltation, tubidity clears but siltation clogs as it fills in areas and then you still have the spoils piles.

    Bob Ferris

  17. Rick says:

    Bob- where can I find your document full of references? I must have missed that- please re:post for my enjoyment. Probably a much bigger issue at stake is something like this: – which is an article which explains how water treatment plants don't filter out pharmaceutical drugs and household toxins which go down the drain to the treatment plants. I would think that would be a much bigger issue than a handful of dredgers on any one river in anyone's state.
    I am confused how you can ignore the damage caused by fishermen walking up and down the rivers and the banks over miles of river, while the damage caused by a single dredger is contained in less than 100 square feet per tens of miles of river. You act as if a single dredger is destroying the whole watershed, the area worked by each dredger is such a small portion of any river, it is white noise. I'd like to see your response about the damages caused by fishermen walking up and down the river banks and in the water stepping on redds and benethic insects. Is there no damage caused by the fishermen? And lets not forget the fishing line tangled up on branches near the water- how many species do you suppose get tangled up in the discarded fishing line and die? On an order of scale, 3 million fishermen vs 3000 dredgers (who are working the same 10×10 area in a season), who really causes the most damage? I am not quite so sure why the fishermen feel they get a pass on this issue. Everyone who enjoys the outdoor experience is a user, fishermen, dredgers, hunters, hikers, campers, moutain bikers, swimmers- all these people go to the outdoors to seek some form of enjoyment- and unfortunately not everyone is concerned about the garbage that is left behind. The one single user in this group (and the one singled out for extermination) is the only user which mitigates the damages to the river from all the other users. As a dredger, I always leave my claim carrying garbage out from stuff I have uncovered in the river- who else does this on a daily basis?
    As far as your comment about siltation, Dr Henry Ward did a study on the Rogue River in the 1930's while actual hydraulic mining was being conducted at some of the mines within that watershed. What he concluded was that organic siltation (dirt from within the watershed) had zero effect upon the aquatic wildlife within the stream. Only when outside siltation was introduced (industrial contaminants etc) did the siltation affect the aquatic species. And he wasn't taking about a little sediment plume from a small dredge, he was talking about literally feet of silt and sedimentation being deposited within the downstream river corridor from the hydraulic mines. Apparently the aquatic species have evolved to the point that naturally occuring sedimentation doesn't affect them- especially if it is short term and sporatic.
    As far as the spoils piles, I suggest you come back next summer and the pile will be gone and in most cases a nice pristine pool will be situated just upstream from said pile.

  18. bob says:

    Hey Rick,

    Why don't we set a rule and only discuss publications or articles written by scientists born after the end of the Civil War?  


  19. Rick says:

    Bob- references? Where do I find your list of references?  I would assume that until someone's study is found to be scientifically proven to be deficient, the study still stands. Your logic would assume that Tesla was a piker.

  20. bob says:

    See the CDFG literature review I cited above.  Tesla's work is seminal in nature and some of it stands the test of time.  The same is not true of the Ward document.  It is weak and suffers leaps of faith that are unsupported by baseline measurements, trends, or any form of data analysis.  It is really unclear from reading it what his central question is and what hypotheses he is trying to test.  It is really very sloppy work–judged by modern standards–in terms of providing a platform for a decision.  And it really has very limited applicability to what we are discussing because the activities are fundamentally different as are the scale and even if they were what could you gain from observations in two seasons?  It is historically interesting I suppose but no scientist would cite this document for any other reason than historic context.


  21. bob says:


    Because I was curious about this piece I checked to see if this piece was widely cited in other scientific articles which is a measure of the relative scientific strength of a publication.  This one was cited 7 times which is not that many in 74 years and it has only been cited once in the last 48 years where it was used because it had numbers relating to fishing harvests in a particular year.  In contrast his book on Freshwater Biology written in 1926 was cited 371 times.  He was 73 when he wrote it.

  22. Rick says:

    Bob- I scanned the whole tread of comments and I cannot find any full page of literature references. Do you mind reposting? I truly want to see the damning scientific studies, but so far they have eluded me.

  23. bob says:

    Here is what I said above:

    In terms of what I read to draw my conclusions, my early academic training was as an ichthyologist so I tend to look at primary literature with the critical eye of a former researcher.  I have looked at the 2009 report compiled by California Department of Fish and Game entitled Suction Dredge Permitting Program Literature Review.  The report is comprehensive and the literature full, representative, and persuasive.  I have also looked at much of the source material cited.

  24. Mark says:

    I suggest you read the study, " 1999 EPA Suction Dredge Study on the Fourty Mile River, Resurection Creek, and Chatinika River, Alaska".
    After you read that study that has passed peer review and is an honest study performed using proper scientific methodology and was performed by biologists who had no political or personal agenda against mining.
    I personally have been involved in studies done involving dredging and mercury and in the most recent study done to date by the USGS for the BLM they ran a three inch dredge in the most mercury contaminated portion of the Yuba River and in the samples taken from the turbidity plume in all but one sample the amount of mercury in that turbud water was below the detection threshold limit, and in the one sample it was detected, it was at the smallest amount detected.  The equipment used to detect this mercury is the finest state of the art scientific equipment available.  Get off your soap box because you like the corrupt USGSA officials who publicized this study fail to accept this SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN fact.  Suction dredges do not mobilize mercury, they catch mercury.  Nature mobilizes mercury every time there is a flood event.  Period, end of story.  QUOTE ME PROOF THAT PROOVES ME WRONG!
    The 1999 EPA study proved that dredging does not cause lasting harm to the critters and organizms that live on the bottom of the river, and if you read that study, there are many instances where the year after dreging occurred, there were actually more macro, and micro organisms and the biota increased.
    I have been dredging for over 25 years.  I have never sucked a single fish up my suction nozzle, nor have I ever disturbed a red.  I dredge for a living.  I dredged for years before there were regulations restricting when we could operate suction dredges, and did so when there were fry and reds in the rivers.   I never hurt one single fry or red and you can not prove otherwise.
    Your quoted quanity of gold in streambed material is a prime example  of just how misleading your whole article is.   Any person who understands placer mineral deposits knows that minerals deposit according to specific gravity and waterflow and high pressure and low pressure areas.  There is no such thing as an "average"  value of gold in one river, let alone for all rivers. The value of gold can change in less than a foot.   Please open your mind up and see the truth here.
    One last point I would like to make about turbidity.  If turbid water was harmful to fish as you say, they would all die when the river flows like chocolate milk during every natural high water event.  During the mid 1800's, the Klamath river ran muddy for years during the hydraulic mining era.  The salmon survived year after year of this turbid water.  The facts and truth of the matter is that these fish like turbid water because it allows them to hide from there natural enemies and from there unatural enemies like you, fishermen.
    I have personally witnessed thousand of hours of fish behavior in the water.  Do you want to know what really scares them?  Moving shadows from above from natural preditors, bears and birds.  You know what else scares them and causes them to flee???? Shadows from fishing boats and river rafters.
    I personally have removed hundreds of pound of the lead you false prophet enviromental zealots leave in the water causing untold reproductive harm to fish, birds and all other plants and animals every time you loose a lead fishing weight.
    You do not know what you are talking about when it comes to dredging and the environmental impact it causes.  You are quoting a bunch of unproven emotioally and politically directed lies that environmental zealots believe to be true.  You are furthering the destruction of our great nation by spreading false inuendo and that is the truth.

  25. bob says:


    Let's start with your opening statement about this being a peer-reviewed document.  This is not a peer-reviewed document but rather a consultant's report.  Big difference.  That is not to say that I am in any way critical of this report.  Moreover, I think you read what you wanted out of this and moved on without understanding.  These operations–both commercial and recreational impacted invertebrate population–for a period after dredging was ended and it took a while for it to recover.  Thirty plus days during a short season in Alaska could mean a lot to critters that feed on those food sources.  I think you missed looking at the error bars and also their caveats about needing to do more studies to be comfortable drawing conclusions about suction dredging.  And I wish folks would quit fgetting turbidity confused with siltation.  Yes young and adult fish can deal with turbidity–absolutely.  But developing fish eggs don't do well with siltation which happens when the turbity settles.

  26. Joe Greene says:

    Hi Bob,
    Ichthyology!  Wow I haven’t thought about that word for many years.  That was also the field of my earliest university studies. 
    I have been reading your responses to individuals submitting comments and would like to participate.  I am rather pressed for time so I am going to take a few comments at a time.  But before I begin I should introduce myself.  My name is Joe Greene.  I am a retired U.S. EPA Research Biologist/Ecotoxicologist.  I was also an invited scientist that participated on the California Public Advisory Committee for Small-scale Gold Suction Dredging.  I am familiar with the list of references you mention and small=scale gold suction dredging in general.
    You replied to a comment from Al: Your "facts" were "ignored" in California because they were not defensible facts and they did not agree with the findings of scientists such as Dr. Peter Moyle who is one of the leading ichthyologists in the world.  
    Your position here is dead wrong.  Peter Moyle did not present findings because he had no data to support his anti-mining position.
    In his court declaration Dr. Peter Moyle stated, “It should be assumed there is harm, unless it can be proven otherwise, One reason for my taking this conservative position is that we simply do not know the effects of dredging on many species” (page 8, lines 13-15).  Since when does assumption override justice in this country? Obviously assumption is not science.  And he admits that is the case where he goes on to say, “Even for salmonids, information on the effects of dredging, with the exception of a few studies such as that of Harvey (1998), is largely anecdotal or in non-peer reviewed reports” (page 8, lines 20-23).
    In science, anecdotal evidence has been defined as:

      "information that is not based on facts or careful study";
    "non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts";
    "reports or observations of usually unscientific observers";

      "casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis“; and,
    "information passed along by word-of-mouth but not documented scientifically“.

    Researchers may use anecdotal evidence for suggesting new hypotheses, but never as supporting evidence.
    So, Moyle stated for science he was relying on data published by his former grad student Bret Harvey.  Great move.  So what did Harvey learn from his study?  He stated in his published peer reviewed report that, “Effects of dredging commonly appear to be minor and local, but natural resource professionals should expect effects to vary widely among stream systems and reaches within systems.”  The comments in the latter part of his sentence are rhetorical. And by his own science, supports the minor effects of small=scale gold suction dredging,
    He went on to say, “… Given the current level of uncertainty about the effects of dredging, where threatened or endangered aquatic species inhabit dredged areas, fisheries managers would be prudent to suspect that dredging is harmful to aquatic resources.“
    There is just nothing damning to small scale gold suction gold dredging in these data.  And Harvey’s comments are based upon his peer reviewed data. Rather I read frustration into the comments of both Moyle and Harvey that have found nothing to support the anti-mining position you advocate.
    Declaration of Peter B. Moyle, Ph.d., In Support of Entry of Stipulated Agreement, Karuk vs CA Dept. Fish and Game, Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, Hayward Division, Case No: RG 05 211597. Jan. 06, 2006.
    HARVEY AND LISLE, 1998, Effects of Suction Dredging on Streams, A Review and Evaluation Strategy
    Joe Greene

  27. Claudia Wise says:

    You are having an interesting discussion I would like to join if you don't mind. I have some information from an interesting study to share.
    I checked into turbidity effects on fish from the Mt. Saint Helens eruption to give you a comparison of effects from real life natural turbidity events so you can see how insignificant the effects from suction dredging on salmonids and other fish are.  Wow!  The effect of scale is so important to keep in mind. The difference between natural events including spring thaw each year and small scale mining effects are enormous and fish still have survived it.
     I found a report gleaning information from many researchers who came in right after the Mt. Saint Helens blast (May 1980) to contribute various studies regarding this occurrence.  Here are some of the quotes from this compilation:
    Describing the mud flows as billions of cubic yards of material with approximately 15-36 percent of it as silt and clay.
    Many researchers agreed that :
    “The downstream reaches of the Toutle and of the lower Cowlitz below its confluence with the Toutle
    River were devastated by massive flooding and mudflows.”
    “Mudflows commonly resemble masses of wet concrete or mortar, and indeed, these terms were used
    by several observers to characterize the mudflows in the Toutle River system.”
    “[The Washington State Game Department officials who made surveys in the Green River drainage, a tributary of the North Fork Toutle River,]***encountered significant numbers of steelhead that could only have originated from Columbia River waters in the intervening period. This is especially significant because turbidity levels were still in the neighborhood of many thousand JTU's and up until this time, those levels had been reported as fatal to anadromous fish species.”
    and another snippet of information I found
    “The initial high temperatures caused in the Toutle and Lower Cowlitz Rivers by the eruption of 18 May, immediately resulted in the killing of essentially all fisheries resources in those portions of the Toutle and Cowlitz Rivers impacted. Temperature readings of above 32.2°C were recorded the day after the eruption in the Lower Toutle River and
    near that figure in the Lower Cowlitz River. Although those temperatures subsided rapidly in following days, damage had already been done and fishery resources were essentially eliminated. [However, late] in the summer and early fall of 1980, the fall and coho run from the ocean up the Columbia River also proved to be near record proportions and the runs entered the Cowlitz and moved upstream to the Toutle River in large numbers.*** The apparent lack of impacts on the anadromous fish species in the Toutle and Cowlitz Rivers was a pleasant surprise for nearly all concerned. It demonstrated that those species generally could cope with the high suspended-sediment and turbidity levels and the large number of dredging plants working in the stream.”
    Bob, It's time to get over it we don't have time to coddle you attempting to educate you. I will give it to you that you have been respectful and I appreciate that but your arrogance shines through. Problem is you aren't listening back and learning from the miner's many excellent comments I have seen on this site.
    One very important aspect you need to grip is that suction dredging is a commercial effort not a recreational time out in the outdoors like your fishing trip you are crying over. Many folks make a living or at least are able to supplement their incomes from mining. I saw your numbers and they are laughable. I am not the best miner and I make multiples better than you are suggesting. Guess I should just stick with research.
    Another thing Don't talk down to the miners you only know what you have read and that is biased at best. They are the professionals in the business and they know their stuff.
    I have been researching effects of suction dredging for the last 14 years studying not only turbidity but effects of mercury, I am a physical scientist/Toxicologist and worked at USEPA studying fish, terrestrial effects and climate change for over 30 years. There maybe improvements possible in the future that could add to the best management practices of suction dredging such as better muffler systems to keep folks like you happy but for now it is keeping folks working and independent of government assistant programs.
    With the vast number of fish in this state maybe you could move to another hole. By the way mercury can do no harm if it isn't bioavailable. There is over sixty years of research showing Seleniums antagonism of mercury and vise versa creating an irreversible bond. The areas suction dredgers work are not the areas that typically cause methylation because of the high oxygenation and lack of sulfur reducing bacteria to begin with as noted by lack of methylation and reactive mercury (Hg II) that was found behind the 3 inch dredge used in the USGS Fleck paper notably highlighted in the California department of Fish and Game Environmental Impact Report.
    Suction dredging is improving and adding wealth to our economy, like it or not, it is a beneficial use of our waters of the state and magnitudes larger than your enjoyment of killing fish. Time for you to suck it up!
    Claudia Wise
    USEPA retired
    Physical Scientist/Toxicologist


  28. Rick says:

    So, Bob, are you turning off your comment column? A couple of friends posted their comments to your site, and you didn't post them. Just wondering why? Could it be that they were EPA scientists who defended the miners with accurate information? I must admit, I am not a scientist, just an small businessman who is trying to eek out a living doing some mining on the side.

  29. Wes says:

      If you had been a dredger in California for the past 20 years you would know that there was a season for dredging that did not allow us to be in the rivers dredging when the Salmon run or the spawning were taking place.  So much for the fish eggs and siltation theary.

  30. Rick says:

    One of my friends, Joe Greene (who is a retired US EPA Biologist/ Ecotoxicologist) states " You replied to a comment from Al: Your "facts" were "ignored" in California because they were not defensible facts and they did not agree with the findings of scientists such as Dr. Peter Moyle who is one of the leading ichthyologists in the world. Joe states " Your position is dead wrong. Peter Moyle did not present findings because he had no data to support his anti-mining position". Joe states "In his court declaration, Dr Peter Moyle stated "it should be ASSUMED there is harm, unless it can be proven otherwise. One reason for my taking this conserative position is that we simply do not know the effects of dredging on many species" (page 8, lines 13-15). Since when does "assumption" override justice in this country? Obviously assumption is not science (unless you assume all the assumptions noted in the CA DFG conditional- verb-filled document are science). And Dr Moyle admits that is the case when he goes on and says "Even for salmonids, information on the effects of dredging, with the exception of a few studies such as that of Harvey (1998), is LARGELY ANCEDOTAL or in non-peer reviewed reports" (page 8, lines 20-23)….. Joe goes on to state:  Researchers may use ancedotal evidence for suggesting new hypotheses, but never as supporting evidence.
    Joe further states: "So Moyle stated for science he was relying on data published by his former grad student, Bret Harvey. Great move. So what did Harvey learn from this study? Harvey stated in his published peer reviewed report that "Effects of dredging commonly appear to be minor and local, but natural resource professionals should expect effects to vary widely among stream systems and reaches within streams". The comments in the  latter part of his sentence are rhetorical. And by his own science, supports the minor effects of small scale suction dredging. Harvey went on to say " Given the current level or uncertainty about the effects of dredging, where threatened or endangered aquatic species inhabit dredged areas, fisheries managers would be prudent to SUSPECT that dredging is harmful to aquatic resources".
    Joe comments: "There is nothing damning to small scale dredging in these data. And Harvey's comments are based upon his peer reviewed data. Rather I read frustration into the comments of both Moyle and Harvey that they have found NOTHING to support the anti-mining position you advocate." You can read these exact comments here:
    Declaration of Peter B Moyle, Ph.d, in support of entry of Stipulated Agreement, Karuk vs CA Dept of Fish & Game, Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, Hayward Division, Case No: RG 05 211597. Jan 06 2006 and HARVEY AND LISLE, 1998, Effects on Suction Dredging on Streams, A Review and Evaluation Strategy.
    Another friend of mine, Claudia Wise (who is a physical scientist/toxicologist who worked for the EPA for over 30 years) sent in a response which was also not published by you, which states: She checked into the turbidity effects on fish from the Mt St Helens eruption to give you a comparison of effects from real life natural turbidity events. The effects of scales is so important to keep in mind. The difference between natural events including spring thaw each year and small scale mining effects are enormous and yet the fish still survive (and thrive). The Mt St Helens blast released billions of cubic yards of material with approximately 15-36% of it as silt and clay. Many researchers agreed that:
    "the mudflows commonly resemble masses of wet concrete or mortar, and indeed, these terms were used by several observers to characterize the mudflows in the Toutle River System. The initial high temperatures caused in the Toutle and Lower Cowlitz Rivers by the eruption of 18 May, killed essentially all of the fisheries resources in those portions of those rivers, however in the late summer and early fall 1980, the fall run of coho up from the Columbia river proved to be near record porportions and proved that those species generally could cope with the high suspended-sediment and turbidity levels and the large number of dredging plants working in the stream (to clear them).
    Claudia also states that mercury cannot do any harm if is isn't bioavaiable. "there is over 60 years of research showing Seleniums antagonism of mercury and visa versa creating an irreversible bond. The areas suction dredgers work are not the areas that typically cause methylaton because of the high oxygenation and reactive mercury (Hg II) that was found behind the 3 inch dredge used in the Fleck paper notibly highlighted in the CA DFG EIR (that dredge was also working what could also be classified as a superfund site, yet found no measurable amounts of mercury exiting the dredge).
    Claudia points out that suction dredging is a commercial effort and not a recreational time out in the outdoors like your fishing hobby. Many folks make a living or at least make an attempt to make a living from it. Suction dredging is improving and adding wealth to our economy and it is a beneficial use of our waters of the state and provides magnitudes of more benefit than 3 million fishermen killing orders of magnitudes more fish.

  31. Frank says:

    good job Rick
    Bob, please take the blinders off
    you say ( But developing eggs don't do well with sitation which happens when turbity settles )
    so explian to me the affects when the winter runoff stir up the silt.
    you seem to prefere activity's that introduce toxins to our waterways, rather then one that removes toxins
    Why would Diane Fienstien ask for tax payers monies to dredge for a toxin? if as you say dredging is harmfull, sorry to say but thier (fienstien) pilot program showed less recovery of a toxin then with miners dredging
    since Salmon , Steelies, Trout, are non-native and have adverse affect on the enviornment (Center for biologicail diversty) dredging and fishing would be a good thing
    In 2009, 3800 dredge permits were issued, dredging for the most part is Static ( pretty much stays in one spot,) unlike the 10s of thousands or should i say millions rafting, kayaking, Oiled up body's taken a dip, fisherman, All wading in and out of the banks where ever they please.

  32. Nick says:

    We are not talking about killing fish, we are talking about interfering with reproductive capabilities.

  33. Rick M says:

    There are no Salmon in any streams I used to dredge and yet it is still the justification.
    Two guys dredged an area on one of our claims which is locked between dams. They recovered over 150 ounces in two months and created wealth for themselves and their family. Now since there is no future in mining in Calif  they are both leaving the state.
    Iron ore for your car is not mined with a hand shovel or hands and pans.
    Rick M

  34. chuck says:

    and just how does this occur??

  35. chuck says:

    Please provide me with the research of  Dr. Peter moyle.

  36. bob says:

    Joe please see  Also, I must say that I am surprised at your participation here.  I am a member of several professional groups and all of them have ethical codes that would stop me from commenting in a professional capacity on an issue where I have a personal interest.  Your long time participation in suction dredging seriously brings into question your participation in this discussion and the quality and motivation of your comments.

    Bob Ferris

  37. bob says:


    Please see my comments to Joe above because they apply to you as well.

    Bob Ferris

  38. bob says:

    No, I was simply out of town for a couple of days.


  39. bob says:

    Please see and also my comments to Joe and Claudia above.

    Bob Ferris

  40. bob says:

    Just to understand this I did some calculations.  If we are dealing with normal gold yields per yard, these two dredgers would have had to move some 5666 cublic yards of material to gather that much gold.  That is 1.7 times the volume of a standard Olympic-sized swimming pool.  This is not recreational mining by any stretch of the imagination. but two standard dredges operating at full capacity for more than 9 hours a day for two months.  That is a huge hole in a waterway and inappropriate.  Not sorry they are no longer in my native state.  I just hope they do not think about coming north and doing the same thing…

    –Bob Ferris

  41. Frank says:

    Bob thanks for the open disccusion
    Muddy water no fish danger
    Written by Alexander MacLean, The Union DemocratAugust 22, 2012 08:14 am

    Rivers running through the Stanislaus National Forest may appear unusually murky this summer, but biologists say native aquatic species have adapted to withstand it.
    Muddy conditions seen in many of the forest’s rivers can likely be attributed to a combination of a dry winter and recent monsoonal activity in the High Sierra, according to meteorologists and U.S. Forest Service officials.
    A high-pressure ridge that lingered over the Great Basin earlier this month brought consistently hot temperatures to the Central Valley and allowed moist monsoonal weather systems into the higher elevations, said Tom Dang, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
    “We had a good stretch there for several weeks,” he said. “Frequently hot temperatures and monsoonal moisture can come hand-in-hand.”
    He said the high-pressure ridge pushed systems that typically stay in Arizona northward, dumping loads of rain in areas that typically experience mostly dry thunder and lightning storms this time of year.
    The exact amount of moisture received over the past several weeks and how it compares to other years won’t be known until a monthly report is completed in early September, Dang noted.
    Forest Service spokesman Jerry Snyder said the soil in the high elevation areas is drier than normal due to the winter’s low snowpack. The rain is causing dirt and sediment erosion into streams and rivers, he explained.
    “Those soils break up and are easily moved by moisture coming down,” Snyder said. “As rain comes down swiftly, it will move the surface dirt right into the waterways.”
    That excess dirt and sediment in the water won’t bother the native aquatic creatures such as rainbow trout and various species of frogs and toads, according to Forest Service biologist Crispin Holland.
    “Our natives species are adapted to these kinds of natural disturbances,” he said. “It’s not unusual for us in the Sierra Nevada to have thunderstorms, downpours and sometimes even hail storms during this time of year.”
    Fish like the German brown trout and brook trout that are bred in fisheries and introduced to the rivers could be affected, Holland said.
    There may be “a little more erosion” than a normal year due to the recent monsoonal moisture, but according to Holland, the sediment runoff from the rain helps maintain the balance of coarse and fine material in the rivers and streams that certain species depend on.
    “There’s a proper balance that’s needed, and that includes these late summer thunderstorms,” he said.
    Contact Alex MacLean at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 588-4530.


  42. bob says:

    I am not sure what you think this demonstrates. Late summer thunder showers in the Sierra’s are not unnatural or all that uncommon. The native species are adapted to that regime and most if not all younger fish are past the most serious vulnerability. And if you look at this website you will see that the trap for juvenile Chinook is removed on late July. This proves nothing one way or the other except that the Chinook know when to leave.

    Bob Ferris

  43. Frank says:

    Chinook Fry are the only speices in that water?
    invertabrates, suckers Etc. migrate to the sea? don't think so
    So siltation kinda goes out the window
    Cherry picking will not change facts

  44. bob says:

    Your purpose for posting this was to say–Look turbidity is not a problem because we have it in this river system and we also have a biologist saying it is not a problem–therefore the siltation caused by suction dredging is not a problem. Your logic is completely flawed, because our arguments have to do with timing and the collision of your activities with sensitive periods in the life cycles of declining species. That has not changed and pointing to irrelevant news stories does not address these issues it acts to demonstrate that you do not truly understand the core elements of the debate.

    Bob Ferris

  45. Josh saksa says:

    This is an issue that has long evolved into a fiasco. Many believe that utilizing stream beds has a significant impact on fish and wildlife.  I am here to say that is not true.  Ive been prospecting for over 11 years thats about two times the average lifespan of a trout.  In these many years I have mined in about every way possible, and can say that it has not affected mother nature to an extent that wildlife is depreciated.  I have worked many water bodies and can most certainly vouge that dredging is actually helpful to fish habitat and invertibrae habitat.  How well lets look.  All species on earth can die from heavy metals intake.  Most all of the invertibrae species and fish spend alot of time ont he bottoms of the waterways and constantly collect the heavy metals inside them.  This will eventually lead to death.  Now if mr fisherman comes by and decides to eat mr infected trout….well he just ingested the heavymetals such as mercury and arsnic.  Dredgeing helps remove these toxins fromt he waterways.  That must be a bad thing eating clean fish right? If dredging was so destructive how come we havent seen a major ecological change, a backdraft and recoil on species in the wild…why because it does not play a major effect on waterways…Here we have some dip that reads a few things the forest service says and has no background into his studies…id love to see what the idiot has to say about wolves that are highly over populated and are killing our game herds…people like th guy who created this website are a joke and should consider a job at mcdonalds where at least he will be treated equally…

  46. CHUCK says:


  47. CHUCK says:


  48. bob says:

    They may provide a place for eggs but that is a problem because they are less stable and the eggs survival decreases in higher flows.


  49. bob says:

    So Chuck, in your very special world where do you think all the material you moved out of that hole went?  Because the studies that I have read basically say it goes down stream and fills up existing holes that we working fine and displaces the fish there.

    Are you seriously trying to argue that fishing is better in Oregon than California because suction dredges are allowed in Oregon?  Really?  Couldn't be something like amount of public land or density of people?


  50. CHUCK says:


  51. CHUCK says:

    You fail to figure in the amount that miners spend at local businesses in the small towns ..this money is re circulated in the local economies ..i have spent 2-3 thousand a summer dredging..not counting my initial investment..
    If dredging is so bad ,why does  Oregon HAVE SUCH GOOD FISHING??

  52. CHUCK says:


  53. CHUCK says:


  54. CHUCK says:


  55. CHUCK says:


  56. CHUCK says:


  57. bob says:

    Chuck, you realize that claiming you can move 16 cubic yards an hour does not help your case?


  58. CHUCK says:


  59. Frank says:

    your right! Timing is everything
    lets look into this a little more. Please read the 1994 suction dredging rule and regs
    as you say! (timing) Frogs lay there eggs on the banks of rivers at the same time of the season Rafters, Kyyakers and fisherman walk the banks, breaking away the clutch of eggs.
    like i said before dredging is static, fishing and rafting activity is not 
    what native speices are you taking about Bob?Salmon, steelies are not native introduced in the late 1800s
    so if asyou say timing is everything then we should outlaw fishing, rafting. Right? thats your logic

  60. bob says:


    In response to your comment above on timing.  There are native steelhead runs–some of them gone and some of them endangered.  Also rainbows were introduced in some areas as well.  In terms of pointing the finger at rafters and kayakers, certainly some damage here but they are more likely to be found in swiftly moving water (i.e., not where frog eggs are).  And I have never seen rafters or even groups of rafters do anything that moves 16 cubic yards of material in an hour.


    Bob Ferris

  61. Joe Greeneg says:

    Hi Bob,
    I am sincerely disappointed that I incorrectly assumed that you and your cohorts were people of class and honesty.  I was saddened to see that my clarification of your misrepresentation of the comments of Moyle and Harvey were met with a personal attack on me rather adherence to the subject matter. 
    On the other hand, you made me laugh with your personal attack when you described me as one of “a handful of slide-rule era-educated, contrarian scientists who pull themselves up from the depths of retirement to confuse the issue.” You personal attack on me as a “self-proclaimed maven that generally have some credentials, but not applicable ones raises a great point in this conversation and it is time to then look at your credentials as well (since you raised the issue).  Why don’t you share credentials with us.  I am sure you just couldn’t be “a “self- proclaimed maven that generally have some credentials, but not applicable ones.”  When I shared your comments in a meeting last night several folks spoke up, almost simultaneously, that you should take a look in the mirror.
    So let us get past all this crap and get back to the science of the issue. Well, one more thing first.  I suppose I should give your readers some background material on me and answer your comments regarding your concern for my professionalism.
    Even as an employee of the United States Environmental Protection Agency I retained my constitutional rights to free speech.  Logically, if I was working in a subject area I could not participate where I have an outside personal interest.  And I could not participate if my personal interest was contrary to any EPA policy.  EPA does not support a position of abolishing all suction-dredgingmining for gold.  Furthermore, to suggest that I should not use my education and professional knowledge to defend small-scale gold suction dredge miners against your lies, deceit and professional incompetence, and total misdirection of the subject at hand  is ridiculous.

  62. Scott says:

    The only dredges that move 16 cubic yards per hour are the large (still) legal reclamation dredges to move silt and mud out of the way for boats and ships in the marinas and delta. You have a misconception of how someone dredges. If I work fast, which is unsafe by the way, I could move a yard in one day with my 4 inch dredge. You want to know why, because the gravels are compacted in almost all the places I have found good gold. And it takes a prybar to work the rocks loose, and there are a lot of rocks that won't go up the nozzel and have to be manually picked up and moved aside. Almost all of the places I have dredged, the goal is to use the dredge to move the 2 to 3 ft of overburden, slowly bacause its imapacted gravel with large boulders (and some gold), and get down to where the real gold is, wedged in the bedrock crevises. My goal is to always get down to bedrock and work the crevises, and never to process gravel for gold, because the places I mine, there's not enough gold in the gravel to make a profit. The profit is in and on the bedrock at the bottom. However, I know there are big rivers and there is a lot of good gold in the gravels, but I am just a small scale miner and leave the big river gold to the people willing to move giant boulders to get to the good gold. 

  63. Joe Greeneg says:

    Now I will explain how I became involved in this issue.  It all began sometime in early 2000.  I was hearing charges from the environmental community that suction dredging was harming fish and the environment.  I had been an environmentalist for years. And, I was very concerned about what I might be doing that was harmful.  (By-the-way, at this time I was a member of the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, National Parks Association and many other environmental organizations).  As a research scientist I was in the enviable position of having knowledge and resources to investigate these claims.  To my surprise, and relief, I found these claims against small-scale gold suction dredging to be false by misrepresentation of the data.  Just as you are doing on your site today. 
    I believed that there was a misunderstanding of the data in the environmental community.  I felt if I could sit down and discuss the data with the proclaimed environmentalists we could come do a reasonable understanding.  It actually took me years to accept the fact that the attack on suction dredging had nothing to do with science, protecting the environment, or saving the salmon.  This attack is all about removing a segment of society from the environment that certain individuals have chosen to attack.
    So what about my credentials.  My association with problems of mining and surface water contamination began as early as 1974 in the Coeur d’ Alene mining district relative to the Kellogg, ID Sunshine silver mine and Bunker Hill smelter.  This study encompasses th South Fork Coeur d’ Alene River and the Spokane River all the way to the Columbia River above Grand Coulee Dam.
    I am also very familiar with small-scale gold suction dredge mining and other forms of gold mining. I have, over the past 15 years or more, observed and participated in suction dredge mining operations. My exposure to mining techniques have occurred on the Umpqua River, Calapooia River, Quartzville Creek, Stratton Creek and Carberry Creeks in Oregon, the Klamath River and Stanislaus Rivers in California, and Humbug Creek, San Domingo Wash, and others in Arizona.
    Some 25 of my 30 years of government service have related to biological research. A lifetime of biological testing on toxicity and nutrient pollution in the aquatic environment provides a sound basis for appreciating the magnitude of impacts associated with the asserted environmental contaminants, and gives a quantitative perspective generally lacking in general biologists, which leaves them less able to ascertain which environmental effects are significant and which aren’t.
    The few years in government service that were not spent in the biological sciences field were spent in the U.S. Air Force where I was a member of the Strategic Air Command associated with the B-47 Stratofortress bomber and the B-52 bomber.

  64. bob says:

    Then you need to check in with Chuck who is bragging about his dredge as well as the gentleman with a VW-engine powered dredge. My sense is that 5 cubic yards an hour is probably right for a larger dredge running full out.


  65. Frank says:

    Steelhead is not Native to California Bob
    frogs do lay there eggs in fast water i beleive its the Yellow legged frog or red not sure which
    Thank you for allowing me to Post
    but ur prejudice is overwhelming

  66. CHUCK says:


  67. CHUCK says:


  68. CHUCK says:


  69. Scott says:

    Chuck must be referring to an uncommonly larger suction dredge and a lot of loose gravel on a big river. I've watched 8 inch dredges many times and have friends that own some, and they don't move 5 cubic yards per hour, you want to know why, because the gravels are compacted and you have to lossen them up with a prybar and take time to move the larger boulders, it takes time. At least on all places I've witnessed. of course I suppose there are exceptions out there. But like I said I'm a small scale miner working to make a profit from my small business. And yes I pay income taxes on the gold I find.

  70. bob says:

    And I was referring to his comment.

  71. bob says:

    Chuck here is my reply to Joe:

    Dear Joe,

    Since I did not mention you by name in my blog, I can hardly see how my post was a personal attack. It becomes a personal attack only because you see yourself in those comments. But since you have opened the door here, let’s play.

    Former EPA scientist Joe Greene, an avid gold prospector who has been suction dredging since the 1960s, is less than impressed with the EPA’s propaganda and Tomten’s claim that dredging is illegal under the CWA (see

    In the first place, certainly I agree with free speech. I have defended that right my entire life. But that is separate from the concept of professional ethics. You have been involved in dredging for nearly 50 years, so you—as a scientist offering scientific opinions—have a huge conflict of interest. Your access point to this debate is as a suction dredging advocate. You have crossed a professional line with your comments and attacks on scientist with actual credentials in this field. But in addition to the concept of professional ethics there is also a question of the extent of your credentials in this specific arena and the quality and thrust of your commentary.

    Having worked as an ecological consultant in 1980s—sometimes on fisheries matters—I was often asked to synthesize masses of studies that dealt either directly or indirectly with the species or habitat in question and draw my best conclusions based on the body of work available and those studies that were most applicable. Where there were conflicts and confusion I had to dig deeper until I felt comfortable with my ultimate conclusion about that element. A lot enters into this including examining experimental design and dealing with changing evaluation methodologies and scientific standards. This was the same careful and considered process that was conducted by Dr. Moyle. His logic was sound and his use of the literature, cautionary remarks, and conclusions were all appropriate.

    On the flip side we have you. I found it interesting that in your initial comments that you made derisive remarks about Dr. Moyle using the work of his former graduate student (i.e., “So, Moyle stated for science he was relying on data published by his former grad student Bret Harvey. Great move.”) Using Dr. Harvey’s work in the context of what Dr. Moyle was asked to do was totally appropriate and you should know that. What was inappropriate was your comment. It was both disrespectful and incorrect.

    So let’s deal with the thrust and quality of your work as exemplified by your travelling power point presentation and advocacy (please see Words fail me when I look at this. It is hard to find a single slide in this presentation that is not purposely misleading or dangerously paranoid. Working for the EPA you should be well aware that there is a difference between sequestered toxics and those re-suspended in the water column—shame on you. You also know fully well that the arguments about “very little” becomes a big deal when talking about suspended materials and chemicals that are often measured in parts per million. And your quoting of water chemistry conclusions from a nearly 75-year old study is pretty much laughable—what professional scientist would do that? Taken in sum, your presentation is deceptive, unprofessional in nature, and politically and personally motivated. I could do a slide by slide critique but after about slide 40, it makes me sad that you have slipped so low.

    So Joe, I can absolutely live with disappointment from you. I might actually wear it as a badge. And I am glad that you get reinforcement and compliments from the mining community because you certainly will not get them from your former peers or from the scientific community where it actually counts. I suspect it is also gratifying that your contrarian views and emerging status in the mining community affords you a notoriety that you never enjoyed during your career as a federal bureaucrat—I hope it is worth it.

    –Bob Ferris

    P.S. In terms of your characterization of my qualifications, my undergraduate degree is in Environmental Studies and Biology which means that I completed the degree requirements for both majors. Moreover, my exit requirement for biology involved being above the 75% mark on the subject GRE which was easy and why I later was accepted into masters and PhD programs. Much of this is not on my LinkedIn profile because the later 20 years of my career are more relevant. So I left out paid teaching assignments (not unpaid courtesy appointments) at San Jose State University and UC Santa Cruz (full courses not short courses) as well as my ecological consulting and research experience in the 1980s.

  72. prodredge says:


  73. bob says:

    Prodredge–FYI your other posts were removed because they contained obscenities and were not in the nature of respectful dialogue. Show us you want to clean up your language and talk about concrete issues and your posts will appear. Bob Ferris

  74. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    I would like to say one thing. Down here in so cal we have very little native fish. The claim i work and own does get stocked by DFG in the winter. But in the summer months it is bone dry(down to bedrock). I pull out hundreds of pounds of LEAD fishing weight. I capitalized the lead because it dissolves into the water which people drink. I find no mercury in my creek but i do remove a toxin far worse. Lead is a huge problem in all our water ways yet no one mentions the possibility of micron lead particles going into our drinking water and food supply. I say to you sir we all have our point of views and i can agree with parts of yours. But the real issue here is all these environmentalist are crazy. I believe that if the state would open up grubstakes on land that is still very rich but can be worked, the unemployment would drop 5% easy. I kill no fish with my dredge and spring run off strips more layers of the river bottom away than i could possibly dream of doing with my dredge. Salmon and steelhead are still born every year despite their eggs being stripped away. Dredging is not the cause of any loss of number in fish populations, It decreased because there are way to many damn people that have to have in their diet. If and when we are depopulated our mother earth will keep on producing wildlife.
    thank you for your time,
    Jeff W. Runnells AKA hbprospector.  
    P.S. you can google my name i have a youtube channel and a Facebook for my mining Op.

  75. bob says:


    Right now there are about 2 million folks out of work in California and the unemployment rate is around 10%. So you are arguing that a million people could instantly become miners under your plan? The California Gold Rush at its nadir had roughly 100,000 miners and a lot of them were starving and living under miserable conditions. The environmental damage wrought by those miners can still be seen today. And you are proposing putting 10 times that many folks at the same task with less gold to pursue and expecting better results. I am not sure that environmentalists have the market cornered on insanity.

    Bob Ferrris

  76. CHUCK 2251 says:

    The more one maves the more gold one gets..

  77. CHUCK 2251 says:


  78. CHUCK 2251 says:


  79. CHUCK 2251 says:


  80. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    yes the miners did damage,and yes it looks horrible. But hydrolic mining was outlawed. And if the state did grubstakes the revenues would be huge. Reclaiming the land would of course be mandatory,as it is with all legal claims. On my claim I remove non native plants and replace them with live oak trees. I work a full time job on top of mining. The point I was getting at is the lead pollution. Noone talks about the lead. When I get home I will post the dangers of lead in our waters.

  81. CHUCK 2251 says:


  82. CHUCK 2251 says:


  83. CHUCK 2251 says:


  84. CHUCK 2251 says:


  85. CHUCK 2251 says:


  86. CHUCK 2251 says:


  87. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Although my mining effort consist of a now banned form of mining. The folks that live in the canyon i work will appreciate the fact that i’m removing lead from their  drinking water. There are those that oppose the fact that dredging is by far the cleanest way of mining. We are not ripping apart mountains, and we are not ripping out trees in mass numbers. We are simply moving rock,dirt and boulders a little further down stream. Which nature does every year on her own any ways. Mr. Bob Harris is a anti dredging campaign leader and rallying others in less than truthful articles paid for by Extreme environmentalist. The creek in which i work is hiked by sierra club, friends of the river, and just about every other club there is. After they leave from their day hike i pull trash bags of water bottles, health bar wrappers, and other trash from my claim.

  88. bob says:

    Only the “experts” are not fish or fish habitat experts but rather officers of Millennium Diggers organization and you are the PR flack for Gold Prospectors who is promoting the myth that they are experts. This move is transparent and does not help your organization’s credibility nor advance your arguments.

    –Bob Ferris

  89. vhuvk2251 says:

    joe and claudia seen to lenf=d credibilty to dredging cause..

  90. bob says:

    Neither of them are acknowledged experts. Neither of them has any credibility in these fields. They are simply former and long retired scientists who want to suction dredge that does not in any way qualify them as experts.

    –Bob Ferris

  91. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Why is it that the issue of lead is always avoided. In the last seven years i have pulled over 200 lbs of lead from an area no more than 9 cubic feet. All that is said is mercury this and the fish that. I can honestly say that in both the creeks that dredge in, the fish are not native but planted every year by DFG. in the summers they are gone. Most of them die out because the water dries up. Although in one of my pools that I had made with a four inch dredge, it had trout almost all summer until the first winter storm that came and filled in my hole. I ate good that summer while prospected around looking for new spots and possible sources of the gold I find. But the topic that i will ask again is, What about all the lead and other heavy metals that toxic to the environment and wildlife that we pull out. I for recycle the lead into dive weights for myself and I also sell to others. As for all the other types of metals I take those to a waste management. And yes if the we were open some of the land up to basic mining on a small scale the tax revenue would totally help out California. You commented on the destruction the old timers did with their hydraulic mining. I agree with you. That is a form of mining, that should be out lawed. But with bonding laws that are set in place one that mines must reclaim the land. If they don’t the state or feds will do it and charge the owner the costs. It does not take much to start up native plant life in pots and transplant them. I  will continue to dredge pay paid for claim as it is the economical way for me to mine. That being said the feds stated in the revised mining law that, states the claim owner or lease holder may work the claim in the most economical way to bankrupt the claimant. I will find the sub section that says it in hard writing. The law is very long. But please feel free to comment on the toxins that we do remove from all of our drinking/tap water.
    Thanks for your time,
    Jeff W. Runnells AKA hbprospector

  92. bob says:

    It is not avoided it was addressed in the studies.  The thought was similar to mercury in that it was not great but probably better to keep it buried than bring it to the surface.  I suspect it is comfortable to think of this as an environmental benefit but the whole goal of the EIS process was to find out if the benefits outweighed the costs and the conclusion ultimately was that activity caused more harm than good.

    Bob Ferris

  93. steve hammer says:

    BOB… stated……………….. Also, please defend your $100 million industry claim.
    Do you really think these figures are accurate?      I can only laugh.
    Do you think we really report the gold we find ?  Hell no !
    There is millions of gold found that is NOT REPORTED. All I can tell you is i know this for a fact, I will say NO MORE as it is NO one's business but mine.     PS………   I have a BS degree from Cal Berkley and I tend to agree with the facts that dredging does no more harm than mother nature.

  94. bob says:


    I suspect that most folks who graduate from Berkeley know how to spell Berkeley. Those who did not usually make the mistake of leaving out that first “e.” And most graduates would not make the grating subject verb agreement mistake of “there is millions” rather than “there are millions.” So either your statements lack a certain veracity or you are hardly representing your school well with this post. I would also suspect that the IRS would be interested in millions of dollars not being reported.

    –Bob Ferris

  95. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    The removal of toxins is free of charge to the state by miners. I personally don’t charge for it. When the rivers and creeks swell the lead and mercury is unburied any put down stream in smaller pieces. It happens ever year and the pieces get smaller and smaller. I for one am doing a good thing by removing it for free. But if this ban continues I will be charging the state for reclaiming the creek of toxic metals. And furthermore lead was not addressed in the EIS, I have a draft copy of it. The fact of the matter is I own my claim, and I will work as economically possible

  96. CHUCK2251 says:


  97. CHUCK2251 says:


  98. bob says:

    If you honestly want to learn about the impacts please check out the DSEIS and read it closely so that you understand what is actually being said here. Pay special attention to Class A and C designation where dredges would have been banned or restricted. The Class A sections were areas that could not be dredged because the impacts would be too great for the species to bear and the Class C sections were areas that had to be seasonally closed for the same reason. It should be noted that significance does not mean “no impact” but rather the activity will likely not drive a species into decline or directly kill 10% of the population or more. All of these are very different than saying that suction dredging has no impact, because reading through here we see case after case cited where they know or strongly believe that an impact is taking place. Joe’s claim about how happy he was to see that he was having no impact is simply fantasy.

    –Bob Ferris

  99. Frank says:

    the most recent studies showed that a four inch dredge used by miners had a 98% recovery on mercury and thge 2% percent los was unacceptable OKAY 
    and the government dredge program NID and Diana Fienstien had at best 85% recovery on mercury and now are asking for tax payer funding to continue this program. a 15% lose thats your logic
    the day will come when fishing will be outlawed cuz of toxins in the waterways
    you know BOB it would be nice if you could answer the questions and points of facts directly rather then deflect from the statement posted by others
    at best I don't think you have casted a line much like the movie ( Mans Favorite Sport with Rock Hudson ) anybody can dress the part, but in truth you seem to lack any knowledge of fishing on your own or lack the ablity to observe the environment while fishing, Stand on your own two feet Bob
    Steelies are not Native Bob, does that scare you?
    rainbow trout is not native Bob, nervous?
    wanna talk about the Salmon, Bob?
    all the others posting in favor of dredging have been kind to you Bob
    i am tired of your liberal bias

  100. bob says:

    On the topic of native steelhead trout, you are simply wrong. It is easy to look up, so please do. ( On the topic of mercury, you do not understand the issue. For several decades now it has been the normal strategy of dealing with legacy pollutants that have become sequestered below sediments to basically let sleeping dogs lie rather than dredge them up. Yes dredges remove a lot of mercury but they miss some and there is also the phenomenon of flouring (see

    –Bob Ferris

  101. rick m says:

    Clearly Bob
    You really should get out and learn about what you are talking about.
    The spot had a concentrated amount of gold. Two four inch dredges only move a small amount, not the numbers you use at all.
    These guys only ran two tanks of gas a day during the weekend. 6 hrs two days a week.
    They were in 4 ft of water with 18 inches of overburden and only had a hole of 10 sq yards when they were done. Which are already reclaimed and unnoticeable.
    NO FISH,No bugs or anything else were injured, NO MERCURY in the area.
    Thanks but clearly you are biased and do not understand the real world.
    The area is locked between two dams.

  102. bob says:

    We are all biased. If all of this is true, they were indeed fortunate men. Not sure that you have a basis for making the claims about lack of impact, however.

    –Bob Ferris

  103. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Check my page, this is proof that the ban was uncalled for. We have not been dredging for three years now and the salmon are still being killed…..BY THE DFG. Wow what do you have to say now. And the mercury is B.S. most of the mercury in our fish is from industry. The mercury is vaporized into the atmosphere and then drops into the oceans,river and land. You want to talk about "flour" merc. I'll call your bull. The EPA has done studies on the release of mercury into the air via industry and thats one of the reason california is losing businesses. The EPA made finacially impossible for them to stay. 

  104. bob says:

    Ah here is where the science comes in. The reason they are killing those fish has to do with a phenomenon of outbreeding depression which is the flip side of the concept of hybrid vigor. If you cross distinct but fairly closely related animals–in this case winter and spring run salmon–you either get individuals that are better adapted to survive than their parents (hybrid vigor) or less adapted to survive that their parents (outbreeding depression). With these salmon they got the latter condition. So they are killing the individuals that share genes between the two populations to eliminate the chance of both populations experiencing what is know as genetic swamping (think of it as genetic or DNA pollution) by the less “fit” hybrids. Then they get two distinct populations that spawn at the times their genetic make up co-evolved with. This fairly basic applied genetic conservation (see What might not make sense to you, might make perfect sense if you have a background in the area.

    “Gravel and cobbles that entered the sluices caused the mercury to flour, or break into tiny particles. Flouring was aggravated by agitation, exposure of mercury to air, and other chemical reactions.” (please see

    –Bob Ferris

  105. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Small scale dredging is the least of the worries. Reclaimation dredges blow out way more sediment and if you look at the map on your link it is mostly in the harbours…….where they dredge with 12" and cutter heads. Not to mention there is no merc in my creek. so why do i need to stop. I have no fish, no merc, and a short season. I will continue to fight for this cause, it is unjust. Maybe in the spring you can fish some trout out of my hole. They are just stocker rainbow but my hole will be there for them. Maybe you suggest to the rest of your fellow members that are fighting us with dredging to come and talk about the damns that won't let the steelhead back up san juan creek. Oh and the shallowness of the creek cause i can not remove gravel and dirt so they have a cool pool to swim in.

  106. alaskan1 says:

    Who pissed in your wheaties.You people will never figure out that the cause of the salmon decline is not dredging but man made dams over fishing  indians netting the shit out of them over population of sea lions and a host of other things all man made.What you assholes dont realize is dredgers create habitat by making deep holes in which the fish lay up in providing cooler water and oxygenated water which warm water does not provide.You dipshit conservasonalists have not givin one credible study to prove otherwise yet there many studys that are credible that prove dredging does not harm the fish.Lets talk about management of the fisherys.Alaska state uses the lower west coast as a example of WHAT NOT TO DO.You want salmon then shut the damn rivers down to the indians and sports fisherman for the next 4 years then see what the hell happens.Provide escapement like alaska state does to preserve thier fisheries.Dont place the blame on a single group of people who have very little impact.Its all to easy for you idiots to blame some one else and not the management of the fisheries or the obvious causes.

  107. Rick M says:

    Everything has impact.
    Just a question of degree. Society has taken a path to sustain itself. If you want to stop society as we know it then please attack mining, and farming.
    Look around the room where you are at. almost everything is a product of Modern Society and all depend on growing or mining something to make what modern society needs.
    People make up the society and have to make money to survive in society.
    You make it your way and other people make money the way they can.
    Thanks for your time
    Rick M

  108. bob says:

    You are right it is all about cost and benefits. Suction dredgers constitute less than 1/1000 of a percent of the California population. Moreover, their past annual contribution relative to the California economy is 0.002% for everything (e.g., dredge sales, gold recovered, hotels, gasoline,etc.). Most of the that with the exception of dredge sales and gold recovered is easily transferable (i.e., the vast majority of suction dredgers lose money on their activities so they will likely shift these expenditures to some other activity). You and your colleagues have failed to make the case (i.e., document) that your activity is really driving anything economically.

    –Bob Ferris

  109. bob says:

    I appreciate your kind words of wisdom, but we people have never placed full blame on suction dredgers. What is core here is that for a number of reasons suction dredging will cause unacceptable damage on already over-stressed populations. And study after study indicates either direct impacts or the risk of impacts.

    –Bob Ferris

  110. miner mike finlay says:

    Well Bob, see there is something Wrong with your math. How much gold,,,, Assay done, or best  guess, Then  amount of yards of gravel  Moved,    In 8hrs or 24 hrs ? Then cost of Permits, Cost of Equipment, Fuel, Oil, Spares and Support, Housing, food, Transport to and from site, Insurance, And OPE's! . Just wondered how you came up with them ? Now how much of the "Split" is left?  Thanks , Miner Mike Finlay, CEO A,F,S,Mining llc. "profiting while protecting the environment"

  111. bob says:

    The numbers come from the EIS. Some are from the results of miner surveys and others are estimates (theirs not mine) based upon articles written about common yields and mining experience.

    –Bob Ferris

  112. Bob D says:

    Bob, after reading this whole thing I cant help but notice that most of your arguments against dredging use phrases like "probably,possibly,likely,assume,etc". While I applaud your effort for standing up for what you believe in, I'm just not seeing the evidence. Just opinions, thoughts and assumptions. For the record….I'm not a dredger but I am an avid fisherman and I'm not afraid to admit that fishermen kill more fish than the dredgers do. My state has banned lead sinkers and jig heads under 1 oz but is also open for dredging. Has your state banned lead? Are you pushing for a ban on lead sinkers,fly tying lead,etc? If not, does it really make sense to you that your lead pollution/participation is acceptable yet lead removal should be illegal? And something else to consider…all of the other woodland critters that eat the fish with a hook and sinker in them. Show me ONE and only ONE study that says "Eagles and other animals that swallow fish with hooks and sinkers are in NO danger". Bet you cant! So one group of outdoor enthusiast negatively impacts dozens of species is acceptable while a group who's actually cleaning up your mess is bad. BLOWS MY MIND!!!

  113. bob says:

    My background is in science and scientist generally use weasel words such as probably, possibly, likely, and assume. Our use of those words should in no way imply that there is not sufficient evidence that impacts will happen. It is has more to do with the fact that there are times when the unexpected happens and we grow tire of saying that we have a 95 percent confidence that something will happen. Additionally when we conduct test and find that in a laboratory that a suction dredge will kill 100% of un-eyed salmon eggs or 37% of eyed salmon eggs if they are entrained (sucked up the tube), we assume that we will see the same mortality rate in the wild. We also use that sort of language if we have observed a phenomenon in two locations we feel it is likely that we will see it at a third location given similar conditions. But in none of these instances do we lack sufficient evidence to make prudent management decisions that we are confident about. As to lead, I think if you do a little research you will find that conservation groups have tried repeatedly to get lead banned. The same is true about gear restrictions that minimize the harm caused both to fish and other species. My wife and I regularly participate in a waterway and shore clean-up efforts wherever we live and I am forever removing abandoned monofilament line, hooks and weights.

    –Bob Ferris

  114. Bob D says:

    I was under the assumption(to use on of your own words)that dredging was not allowed during spawning season thus no eggs get sucked up. Yet fishermen target salmon during the spawn. And for every female fish caught and killed by a fisherman is how many thousands of eggs that never get laid?

  115. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    how do you find the weights? cause i know that all the weights i find are in pockets deep in the ground…….
    you are full of BS. And your study was probably with the engine maxed out…….
    This whole thing is total nonsense. lets see you fight this hard on the removal of lead products and when that succeeds i'll think about not dredging.

  116. Auendave says:

    well it seems to me Bob all your intrested is to save the fish for yourself, I mean if your a fisherman your whole objective is to kill the fish, we dont kill them we are not there when they spawn. You can find believe that suction dredging does not add much to californias ecconomy but you be  the one who is feeding their family from that 10 million. it is not very much money so why dont you just let these few unimportant people have their way of life. Maybe we should ban fishing Ill bet there is a lot more fish killed by those fishermen.
    I know those people have a money and they dont hurt the fish now do they? well you can just go ahead and spread these lies because you have the money and backing to do so, ther is just no room in this world for the small miner to put his dredge in the water and make a little money, enjoy the outdoors, it is all to be saved for those fish that you want to kill.

  117. Auendave says:

    I love the way you say it, tell it like it is Thanks Bob D.

  118. bob says:

    You know it is interesting that I have been a life long hunter and angler, but the older I get the more time I spend saving fish and wildlife. I think my pattern is common in our community–particularly with folks who believe in conservation or biodiversity preservation.

    As to the economics, I am sure that some people make a profit from suction dredging, but then some people make money in casinos too. On average, however,the vast majority do not. Moreover, the contribution relative to the impact does not justify allowing the activity. And again this in generally not about adult fish but rather about the vibrancy of a waterway and its reproductive capacity as well as the ecological integrity of the aquatic ecosystems in question.

    It is also the balancing act between a lot of impact from very few played off against little impact by very many.

    –Bob Ferris

  119. Mark H says:

    Your science…maybe, might be, could be, possibly, ??? correct. By your opinion or by what money you are paid to say it is so.
    But there is alot more of science out there that proves that with man made dams and factorys of all sorts, in this country, and other countrys, AND that mother nature produces alot more methal- mercury than your little poo- butt science  …maybe, might be, could be, possibly, produce.
    You know as well as alot of us out here know that this ban on dredging here in ca, is all about MONEY!!!  

  120. bob says:

    And which money would that be exactly?

    –Bob Ferris

  121. Mark H says:

    BIG MONEY!!!  Prove me wrong!

  122. Mark H says:

    I am waiting…

  123. littlejoe says:

    Gold dredgers touch such a small fraction of 1% of a steambed in a river, there is plenty of virgin stream bed for fish to use, and feed on, if thay choose to. The extreme environmentalists make it out like gold dredgers turn over the whole stream bed in the river, leaving nothing for the fish, not true.

  124. Rick says:

    Hey Bob (I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself). To wit: "….you will find that conservation groups have tried repeatedly to get lead banned. The same is true about gear restrictions that minimize the harm caused both to fish and other species…" Following your line of reasoning in regards to suction dredging, it think you should take the bull by the horns and you should start a petition banning fishing until there are undeniable studies showing fishermen do not impact the environment.  Let's make the fishermen guilty on a suspicion and make them prove that their footsteps in the rivers, and their losing of fishing line, lures and weights DOESN'T AFFECT THE ENVIRONMENT. Obviously, you see that there MAY BE some issues with fishing- just as there MAY BE issues with dredging. Being the good envrionmentalist that you are, taking the lead on shutting down the dredgers on suspicions-  I am sure you can see past your OWN HOBBY and that fact that you- yourself see there is potential damages caused by fishermen, I think you should take the lead on this and do what is good for the riparian environment, eh?

  125. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Please reply to everyone not just a few. You did not answer my question about banning lead….

  126. Mark H says:

    Bob you are nothing but a joke!

  127. bob says:

    Ok, big money from where and to whom?

    –Bob Ferris

  128. bob says:

    One thing to consider in all of this is history. Anglers do cause damage but they also work very hard and constantly at restoring the resource.  Unfortunately miners–large and small–do not have that same legacy.  

    –Bob Ferris

  129. bob says:

    Gee Mark,

    Let me apologize for keeping you waiting.  I had an evening talk to give and did not get home until very late.

    –Bob Ferris

  130. bob says:

    This is always an interesting spin.  Cyclones touch down on very little of the ground in Kansas, but I am sure that Dorothy felt the impacts were significant.  With imperiled fish we are often talking about individuals and when we look at reduced spawning success due to the instability of tailings many more young fish.

    –Bob Ferris

  131. bob says:

    I am not sure that I can find it at this point but I have always been in favor of stopping the use of lead in many recreational applications.  I am on the record for that, if you look.  Our efforts to ban lead have met with resistance so we have focused on banning the types and sizes that do the most damage–i.e., lead shot in hunting and smaller jigs and split-shot where possible.  Your removal of lead does not balance the other impacts.

    –Bob Ferris

  132. Mark H says:

    Stuck on Fairytales I see.

  133. Rockton says:

    1) I would like to see your evidence that dredges introduce mercury into the environment as your article suggests. They do not, PERIOD and to say otherwise is deliberately dishonest.
    2) You attack high banking as well. As its name suggests "High-banking" occurs high up the bank and not in the waterway. I think for whatever reason have decided that you don't like mining and are attacking it even though you have no concrete evidence of any harmful effects on the ecosystem. Dredging does not hurt fish and high banking definitely doesn't hurt fish. Your attempts to misconstrue and fabricate your own facts are pathetic.
    3) Fishermen kill fish by the millions. Fish on BBQ grills cannot reproduce. This is fact!
    4) You exaggerate the costs associated with dredging while downplaying potential returns. This is dishonest as sometimes yields can exceed $45 per 5 gallon bucket in a good placer deposit. Incidentally I built my own dredge for under $1k as well.
    5) I dredge in seasonal streams which cannot support fish anyways, the holes left behind retain water long after the streams have dried up. These holes provide water for local wildlife and in no way harm the ecosystem.
    6) The gold was placed there by mother nature during flash-floods. If you have ever witnessed the awesome power of one of these floods then you would be lying to deny that they are capable of moving enormous quantities of material. In fact any manmade imprints are filled in and washed away in seconds. After a flash flood you cannot even tell anyone ever dredged in a spot. The harm to the environment from dredging is non-existant.

  134. bob says:

    Mark (or Hefty if you prefer) debates are generally more productive when someone actually raises an issue for discussion. Your talk about money and fair tales, while entertaining, is not productive until you actually raise or introduce some concrete issues. I know that you are likely upset about your loss of equipment from your claim and appreciative of all the coverage you have gotten in the gold prospectors and treasure hunters world, but have you every wondered why this is not being covered in the regular media?

    –Bob Ferris

  135. bob says:

    1) There are two main studies and a number of supporting studies that indicate that suction dredging in area with sequestered mercury takes it some from the beneath the soil and re-suspends it in the water column. The measured end of pipe discharges exceed allowed discharge levels by a factor of 10.

    2) Water flows down hill–always has. Moreover, high banking requires water withdrawals from somewhere which needs to be regulated. Videos that I have seen of process often times do not involve the required sediment ponds which means they are adding to the silt load. Siltation is not good for fish and other aquatic creatures when it is in the water column at the wrong time of year and when it settles always.

    3) Yes fish die and many people eat them.

    4) I am using figures provided by miners to calculate the costs and returns.

    5) Seasonal streams still can contribute to silt load when worked and often provide important spawning and food resources for fish.

    6) Actually, in California there are observations of suction dredging impacts that last past the annual scouring cycle.

    All of what you presented above either is incorrect or misrepresents the importance of bio-physical phenomena.

    –Bob Ferris

  136. Joe Dredger says:

    What business is it of yours who is making money?Thats mighty un American,dont you think?I have had my dredge's for over 30 years,pretty good one time investment if ask me!Why should you care how much money you think we make?Your numbers are flawed,yes we have bad day's but the gold I took from my own property for many years was a huge supplement to my income,and has kept many people off of Public Assistance….but you probably dont care about that?Its OK for you to kill fish(Dont you dare tell me you dont)I can prove to you that in the stretch of river that flows through my property has the biggest healthiest fish on the whoole waterway…been dredged for over 50 years!As far as your spawning info…..we had a season,that was before the spawn,and its a proven fact that nature does the same thing you blame us for.I am not one to take from somebody else but you know what?I will sighn any petition to Ban fishing…afterall its my mis-informed feeling that its wrong

  137. Joe Dredger says:

    Yes,none of the streams I dredged %70 of the time even have water in them right now,and the river I spoke of earlier goes through two major dam's before it gets anywhere near any Salmon.Bob,on average I removed 10-15 lbs of Mercury from our waterways(I despise the stuff,but it there and has to be removed)the only way to get it out is suction!

  138. Mark H says:

    Not at all!
    By the way I got my equip, back. At their cost of embarrassment and disgrace of their job.

  139. littlejoe says:

    Speaking of Dorothy, us modern day, environmentaly-friendly gold dredgers,are the focus of a modern day witch hunt.

  140. Mark H says:

    I must of hit a nerve for you to look me up.
    As all LEOs do.

  141. Mark H says:

    From donations and taxpayers money granted to your so-called non-profit org.

  142. bob says:

    Since the vast majority of suction dredgers spend more money than they make (.e., total costs per year greatly exceed gold recovered), this hardly seems like a viable strategy for getting folks off public assistance. And even if it was the numbers of participants are not likely to make a noticeable difference.

    –Bob Ferris

  143. Joe Dredger says:

    Here is what I think of your,"studies"
    Do you really think any miner is going to trust the Gov. and give them a true amount of how much gold they have taken?I am not one!!!

  144. bob says:

    Only I seem to remember the witch in that equation actually being a witch.

    –Bob Ferris

  145. bob says:

    Mark /Hefty,

    In reply to your above (the thread was too long to add a reply).  Given the level of misrepresentation in terms of facts and affiliations, I tend to look at who the posters are and their backgrounds.  For instance, the two former scientists making claims without disclosing that they are officers in an group that owns mining claims.  That is material information that they should have disclosed before posting "scientific" opinions on this thread.  Other officers in minimg organizations should have done the same.  So no it was not because of some nerve you struck.  I like to know who I am talking to because my responses will be different depending upon backgrounds.

    –Bob Ferris

  146. bob says:

    Setting aside the violation of IRS statutes and avoidance of federal mining royalties, do you think this lawless sort of response instills confidence in people considering the issue of suction dredging and wondering whether or not suction dredgers will obey restrictions and conditions? It does not really demonstrate that you or your colleagues will act as responsible citizens and respect regulations.

    –Bob Ferris

  147. Mark H says:

    Yea Right.

  148. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    my science says it does………

  149. bob says:

    With all due respect Jeff you are a butcher hoping to eventually go back to college. When you complete that degree and if that degree is in a scientific discipline related to this issue, we can talk about science and the relative value and credibility of particular reports, articles and studies. I would love to have that debate with you on particular scientific works but I suspect that you would get out of your comfort zone fairly quickly. Hint: science is not bad because you disagree with the findings nor is it good because it embraces your world view. I was the secondary instructor on a course at UC Santa Cruz on field methods and experimental design in environmental studies that experience and my own research equips me to offer these judgments, is there some similar background that you have that affords you similar grounding?

    –Bob Ferris

  150. Rockton says:

    1) Dredging does not introduce mercury. You are claiming that dredging in already contaminated areas is harmful because it "re-suspends" the mercury. I guess the mercury obeyed laws of physics the first time around but if disturbed might change its mind about obeying the law of gravity  and decide to float instead of sink?
    2) Many high-bankers recirculate their water in tubs causing zero "siltation" .But I guess they should be punished too because Bob Ferris doesn't like mining.
    3) Spending $3,000.00 annually on fuel and only dredging 35 days? Where are these miner friends of yours who supplied you with these figures….I'm skeptical.
    4) Dredging seasonal streams with no fish in them do not affect the spawning of fish that don't exist in them. Nope. No matter how much you want them to…. The invisible  fish who need water only part of the year do not exist. Just admit it, you hate mining and even if a study showed ecological benefits you would still be against it. I can tell from all the animal tracks around the waterholes that the animals appreciate the new sources of water here.
    5) There may be isolated incidents on dry years where dredging impacts last longer due to a lack of flooding…however the next great gulley washer will no doubt erase ALL traces. 
    6) Mother Nature is no respector of persons. She will drop torrential downpours as she pleases, sometimes predictably during monsoons, but flooding and siltation can occur at any time of the year. Dredging isolated spots along a waterway has an insignificant impact in comparison with any flash flood.

  151. Auendave says:

    I would have to disagree on the few verus many there are and have been mostly around 3000 dredger a year that get permits, and most of them dont dredge more than a few days, and the dredge does not kill fish but no how many fisherman are there I would guess at least a million, and if each one only kills one fish ther is a million fish. i guess you also havent seen what mother nature does to the rivers and streams in the winter either. I would say the dredgers do not save the fish your right but we are not there killing them and spending tons of money to drive the dredger off so we can raise more fish to kill.
    Dredging also removes hazzardous materials from the river which your fishermen put there and I would guess you left a lot of that lead in those streams Bob, maybe you feel guilty for your part in this. You know what is going to happen soon the government is going to say we need to clean up all this lead and mercury in the streams and rivers, and you know how they will do it Bob, I bet you guessed it that is right, they will dredge it and when they clean  out all that material they will pocket millions in gold.

  152. Auendave says:

    Hey bob have your tried to save those Salmon up there on the Kalamah were this started, how about those indians who gill net thousands of fish before they get to their spawning grounds, they are killing way more fish than all the dredgers put together.

  153. bob says:

    1) If you put it back into the water column in small bits, attached to sediments, or floured, there are problems. Well established science on this.

    2) But some do not particularly those who use larger volumes of water.

    3) Actually they are your miner friends. These are not my figures, they come from your community.

    4) It causes habitat damage (see Endangered Species Act) and contributes to silt loading when the rains do come.

    5) Yes not in all circumstances but often enough to be noticed and measured.

    6) In the range of Pacific salmon heavy rains are extremely rare in early and mid summer.

    –Bob Ferris

  154. bob says:


    Boy it is nice to have fans in the treasure hunting community.  I am not sure that I see anything here that directly address the science or facts that are relevant to this important issue.  Lots of name calling, finger pointing and frustration.  I particularly liked the Bob Ferris…Sucks part of this.  Thanks, Hefty.
    –Bob Ferris
  155. Gabe says:

    Habitat loss is much more significant a threat than overharvest by fishermen. Many reasons for this. One is that populations can quickly recover from an overharvest, whereas lost habitat tends to take a long time to recover. What matters is the limiting factor of the population. You can lay all the salmon eggs you want in many of Oregon's creeks, and the population would never increase if there isn't enough habitat for rearing. That's the reason it's not so horrible to harvest salmon when they return to spawn. Lack of returning spawners isn't generally the limiting factor (sometimes it is, and when that's the case then you'll find allies in Cascadia to prevent their harvest). 
    As for your general line of logic, that this and that and that are worse threats to salmon than dredging, two responses. First, we DO address other threats to salmon populations. Dams, clearcutting, etc. etc. Second, this line of logic does nothing to convince us that suction dredge mining should continue unabated. There are always worse things in the world, but that doesn't (shouldn't) stop people from doing what good they can. If you feel these other things are the greater threat, then have at it! Lets work together to tear down some dams, ban lead sinkers, feed the poor etc. etc. 

  156. Gabe says:

    You are barking up the wrong tree here, buddy. Our tax statements are publicly available. We've never gotten any big money to ban suction dredge mining. There's no big money in our organization AT ALL, let alone big money to say dredging hurts salmon. 
    Try again because that dog don't hunt. 

  157. Auendave says:

    hey about that gold fever math. You must be taking about those Large commeriacal  mines with those .0025 ounces to the yard, I have a claim here in ca, I get about .25 ounces to the yard on the banks that I now work. If I could get in there river and dredge it is more like a .5 ounces to the yard. I believe your so  math is very bad because you mix apples and oranges, but I guess they make a good fruit salad.

  158. bob says:

    Again, I am just going by figures provided by miners and averaging what your community is claiming. I suspect for every “success” like yours there are those who find very little.

    –Bob Ferris

  159. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    why not post the comment i left?

  160. bob says:

    As far as I know all comments–except those with threats and major obscenities–have been posted as soon as humanly possible. I think we have been very fair and consistent about that.

    –Bob Ferris

  161. bob says:

    “Now a single ounce of gold is worth $1,500. But don’t plan on striking it rich. On a good day it’s possible to collect a quarter of an ounce. Most never get that lucky.”

    It is interesting to read this article because in addition to being a microcosm of what we are seeing here (i.e., dredgers making claims and every other user of the river saying they are not true). I got this from a tweet posted on twitter by Jeff W. Runnells. So he has seen dredgers make statements and seen most refute them.

    –Bob Ferris

  162. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    First off that is not a tweet from me. It may be from a follower and or someone i follow. My tweeter account is linked to my facebook page and i do not read other post on unless i get a direct message or a retweet.
    Second the post i put had no threats and one word "ass" which is a mule/donkey.
    If you are going to post things saying they are from me, they better be from and not from the mining community. You are more than welcome to repost anything i write. It all has truth.
    And if one does their research and proper prospecting/sampling, money is to be made if the work is put into it.

  163. bob says:

    jeff runnells ‏@hbprospector
    One Type Of Gold Mining in the Northwest Raises Concerns
    Expand Reply Retweet Favorite

    Here is a copy of the post from September 29…

  164. Mark H says:

    Now we both know that is not true is it bobby…you and your org, have at least 2 sets of comments…one from your website side of the internet…and this one

  165. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Yes Bob.
    The fact that it does not take a degree to learn a trade. The education from doing it with mining engineer, geologist, biologist, and many other types that have gone to college/university's. Paper are available to read. And i have many reports. Some in support and some against. The fact is not about me going back to school. It's about a disagreement and the inablilty to compramise. Would love tp use a 6",8" 10" or even a 12" dredge. Yes i would.. But most of research i have done is in support of 4" and smaller dredge's which is proven to not create a major impact. That is from the new EIR. Trying to belittle me on the net because i have not gone and finished school is just lame. I'll go back to school when my wife is done with hers and my kids are older. I do have the years of field work. That would allow me to get hired as if i had a degree. 

  166. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Like i said it was from facebook. That is an article that was shared just like i shared yours. That is why FB is in the link. I'll share any article that is revelant to mining good or bad. Even if the i get crap from other miners.

  167. bob says:

    So it was as I said a tweet from you…

  168. Mark H says:

    My bad…two different blogs.

  169. bob says:


    In reply to your above, the thread got too long.  There is a difference between a trade and a profession.  Being a butcher, electrician or plumber is a trade–you get is from trade school or experience.  Biologist, doctor, lawyers, and chemist are professions that require degrees of some type and some sort of exit test or certification.  You will think that I am splitting hairs if you do not have a degree and do not if you do.  No saying smarter always but certainly it is deeper kind of training and more difficult.

    –Bob Ferris

  170. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    memorizing paper that change on a regular basis and passing a test is by no means a profession. Learning comes from doing not a text book. If i did exactly like the text books say then i would not be as successful as i am in the area i work. The old way taught be professors of geology all concluded that the range in which i work has no commercial value of any mineral. Yet after read the very short reviews and mineral reports from the department of interior i went out and sampled,prospected and did research of my own. I found new studies for the type of rock i deal with along with the study of paleoclimatology I figured out that there is gold here and it is of commercial value. When i brought my findings up to well educated geologist they said that i would find nothing and the research was to new to be reliable. So like i said my trade, which by the way i learned the same way as becoming a butcher. By doing it and the final test was doing it right.

  171. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    I find gold in a area that historically there is none. So i consider my test as aced. It's not that i think that you are smarter than i nor myself smarter than you. It's the fact that research,studies and conclusions in the scientific world change to much. What one says is good now is bad later, and vise versa. My studies don't need to be dictated by a school that half there books are out dated. Heck in my geology class we were ready from a book printed in 1989. That was a little out dated. and the mineral resources we used were from the 70's. The one i bought on my own had more to learn from than the one in school. 

  172. bob says:

    I suspect that it is a case of you both likely being right. You are finding enough gold to supplement your income with hard work and the would not see that as commercially viable on the scales that they normally operate. You are probably for commercial gold mining what gleaners are for agribusiness.

    –Bob Ferris

  173. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    If you would have fought this hard agianst the introduction of lead into water ways, you might have won that fight. Or did the fishing community have more money and time to fight back. You see most people you will ever meet have fished, do fish or will take up fishing and the numbers out weigh that of miners. So the question now is do you still fish? And do you still use lead? Mercury is a big concern i agree. I don't find it though. Others do, but i also no many collect it and take in to have it dealt with. Not all but most. To attack a group because of a few is just plain wrong. Your group should be doing case by case studies of the dredge at hand. Not in a lab. The only real science is by testing the idea in the field and coming to a conclusion yourself after years of study. Not the words of a few miners that have tales as big as most fisherman. So show me proof positive the ground for the expulsion of dredging and i'll post yours on my page also. 

  174. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    I am not for big machines even though the kid in me says "hell yeah i drive that". And the supplement of my income is the make up for my wife's previous income. Which is to allow her to stay home and raise my kids. Do the average math of a to person income in which it takes to live in so. cal. with the extra money to do other activies with and for the kids. like cheerleading, football, tae kon do, ect…. Plus fuel for a F150 to drive 75 mile one way twice a day five days a week And to the claim which is 86 miles one way. I'm sure you could say i do ok with my supplemental income. But this is not what it's about. The point was the studies that was needed that was not taught in school.

  175. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    edit….   "I'll drive that"

  176. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Everything i post on facebook goes to twitter. It was not written by me but shared by me. I said to post stuff that is written by me. Just as i shared you blog, which has gone to twitter. If you want to copy thing I've written go for it. Like i said i'll share anything in support or against

  177. chuck2251 says:

    you mean sort of like those who fish without a license..use illegal means to catch fish..
    i would venture to say there are more people that fish without a license ,than miners who dredge all to gether ..
    have you ever wondered how the commercial fisherman with those 25 mile long nets affect the fish population..the japs process the fish as fast as they catch them..
    Frank  and Bob please comment on the impact these may have..

  178. chuck2251 says:

    u make too much common sense..

  179. bob says:


    I am not sure why you feel it is of benefit to your argument to compare suction dredging with other damaging behaviors. And the Japanese people and others often find the shorten version of their nationality offensive and racist. Please do not use that term or similar terms again on this website.

    –Bob Ferris

  180. chuck2251 says:

    We are gone when ,the salmon lay there eggs, your labortory tests mean notning .we do not suck up eggs PLAIN AND SIMPLE..

  181. bob says:

    No actually we did not. The timber industry with a little help from the government built too many timber mills and set harvest expectations too high. In short it was unsustainable. No mystery there. Which lake are you talking about re: willow gnatcatcher?

    –Bob Ferris

  182. Auendave says:

    Bob I dont know if you heard but the hatchery at lake oroville in now killing the salmon, not taking the eggs, just killing the salmon so as now to mix the fall and spring run, have you addressed this or are you after the dredger who is not in the water during spawning, are you going after these too. or are they too much for you to take on, oh arent they on your side of the dredging issue

  183. bob says:

    Here is the post that I did for Jeff when he raised this issue:

    Ah here is where the science comes in. The reason they are killing those fish has to do with a phenomenon of outbreeding depression which is the flip side of the concept of hybrid vigor. If you cross distinct but fairly closely related animals–in this case winter and spring run salmon–you either get individuals that are better adapted to survive than their parents (hybrid vigor) or less adapted to survive that their parents (outbreeding depression). With these salmon they got the latter condition. So they are killing the individuals that share genes between the two populations to eliminate the chance of both populations experiencing what is know as genetic swamping (think of it as genetic or DNA pollution) by the less “fit” hybrids. Then they get two distinct populations that spawn at the times their genetic make up co-evolved with. This fairly basic applied genetic conservation (see What might not make sense to you, might make perfect sense if you have a background in the area.

    –Bob Ferris

  184. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Hey Bob,
    I would like to invite you for a season of dredging research this season. You can go through my tailings and let me know what i losing back into the water way. Also We will county the hybrid trout in the lower canyon in my hole if they make it up that far. When we conclude that the hybrids are taking over the creek we'll have a fish fry with the locals. That way we don't pollute the area. Let me know, and hey you might even get some gold out of it.
    Jeff W. Runnells AKA hbprospector

  185. bob says:

    Jeff, Nice offer but I still have this day job thing which seriously cuts into my play time. Bob

  186. Roy Lancaster says:

              I think you are as brain washed as the rest of the tree huggers. I fish in a aera wear thay uesta dredge.  The fishing was good then and has declined sence thi ban on dredging.  Ther are 4 dams on the Merced river with no fish ladders so ther are no wild salmon or stellhead in the aerea ware the dredgers wear working. The water temp gets over 80 in the  sumer and the are no Trout eather. But lots of Bass, froggs, crawfish. The dredgers Keep the river a lot cleener than swimers, fishermen, hickers. I love to fish and so dose my wife we live off the land a lot so we care a LOT. In the area wher the dredgers work ther is all ways more fish. And to the comet about  Mercury Dredgers do not use mercury Hard rock opperahions do not dredgers. Ther is allways better fishing near the aera that have been dredged smal fine gravel on topnot large bolders all the time. Ther is still large rocks for the fish to hide in and around. In the spring when the runoff comes you cant tell ware thay dredged last year!!  Ther is good sponing BEDDS and a lot of food for the fish in thes aereas. I see a lot more trash left behind by picknicker, swimers, hickers seams thay can carry full cans of beer and soda in but they must get heaver after thay drink them.The aereas aroud dredge sites is all ways trash free and neat. The BLM make miners post a bond and can take this if thay leave trash and destroy the aerea. But most Dredgers care about the aerea a lot more than hickers and picknickers do.

  187. bob says:


    If by brain-washed you mean educated and informed, then guilty as charged. Most of the issues you have raised have been dealt with in previous posts. As to the mercury, it was never an issue of use by suction dredgers but rather re-suspension of mercury used by previous miners. As to the sources of litter, I think there are many. My experience of cleaning up rivers indicates that the trash we see if more associated with folks who are looking for a place to party rather than hikers or others who go to wild areas for a dose of nature.

    –Bob Ferris

  188. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    I figured it would great research and we could come to a conclusion on this issue. At least for in so. cal.. All i know is you are pushing rather hard to keep the ban in effect, so my offer will extend to your fellow nay sayers. Just say'n.
    Jeff W. Runnells AKA hbprospector

  189. gmeanie says:

    One would think you would be trying to stop building of houses and business.
    They are taking away more of the Amimals Habitat than any dredger.

  190. Bob D says:

    "educated and informed" by multiple assumptions and theorys over the years without proof just flushed your credibility down the toilet. Or would you prefer "brain washed"?

  191. bob says:

    I am very comfortable with my credibility. Thanks,

    –Bob Ferris

  192. Trevor says:

      I've read every comment down to the one that you posted on 10/4 at 6:52 a.m.  That post inferred that there would be "reduced spawning success due to the instability of tailings".  I will have to argue on this point.
      First off,  the material that dredgers are looking to move is hardpacked or sitting on bedrock.  Either of those are impossible for the fish to utilize.  Breaking up the hardpack actually creates more spawing bed area that the fish can utilize. 
     Secondly, ALL streams have been hit with a "season" that they can be dredged, even if there are ZERO salmon in that whole river system.  That "season" is after the fish have spawned and the fry have gotten big enough to move on.  That season, also happened in late summer/fall before the snows started piling up in the mountains.  So, between the dredging and the spawn, comes the spring thaws.  Those thaws create much more sediment and move millions of tons of silt and gravel.  So when the fish actually spawn, it's mother nature that has "made the bed" for the fish, since there will be ZERO evidence that a given area had ever been dredged.
    I am so tired of useless, tree hugging, tofu farting, fairies, butting into everyone elses business, just to take the attention off themselves and all the wrong that they do. (Crimes agains nature)

  193. bob says:

    As a piping designer I can see nothing in your background that equips you to comment with authority regarding impacts on fisheries and/or the stability of tailings for spawning which has been shown during high flows to lessen spawning success. But thank you for your kind and enlightened comments.

    –Bob Ferris

  194. chuck says:


  195. chuck says:


  196. chuck says:


  197. bob says:

    Spawning is not the only time that river systems are vulnerable. Developing eggs and small fish are also vulnerable and dredge tailings reduce likelihood of success in spawn when flows are high.

    –Bob Ferris

  198. chuck says:


  199. chuck says:


  200. chuck says:


  201. chuck says:


  202. chuck says:


  203. bob says:


    I understand apples and oranges and have got the Algebra 1 thing down pretty well. The reason the did laboratory experiments was to make sure that they eliminated all the confounding variable. They did and they found that dredging killed the uneyed eggs every time. The mortality rate diminished with the age of the egg but was still significant. Young fish were not killed outright but the studies admitted that they did not look at predation effects or longer term survival. The tailing stability tests were done in situ and found that success rates dropped when fish used tailings and waters ran hard. Moving the gravel created situations that were un-natural and un-armored. Natural scouring creates better spawning gravels and suction dredging lowers the quality of the habitat. Tested and simple as that.

    –Bob Ferris

  204. bob says:

    asked and answered.

    –Bob Ferris

  205. chuck says:


  206. chuck says:


  207. chuck says:


  208. chuck says:


  209. bob says:

    So where do you feel that I have misrepresented bio-physical phenomena? Please be specific.

    –Bob Ferris

  210. chuck says:

    your claim was that one of the people BOB HAD MISREPRESENTED..

  211. bob says:

    Rains can be a factor as well, particularly in coast streams.

    –Bob Ferris

  212. Roy Lancaster says:

             In regard to re-susoension of merccury it stays in the dredge sluce box and is removed from the water at the time of ther clean up. Sother is another point for the gold dredger's. When you vacume your floor you dont move the drit from one aera of the room to another you take it out or not. I belive you have never seen a gold dredge in operation or you woud know how thay work . All so you need to look at dredging season  that the fish and game set for dredging ther is no trout salmon or stellhead sponing dearing this time and the fish fry have gone from the rivers ware the dredgers are working!!!! and lookat the amount of revenue the state gets from gold dredgers vs fisherman. The State of California dose not raise gold to plant like they do fish so ther for it is pure proffet for the state. Gold dredgers spend a lot of money on equipment, food at restrants, gas, camping gear that are all TAXED plus and Thay pay fees for having a gold clam. Fishermen shoud look ware a lot of the Fish and Game money comes from.  I woud invite you come and work a copel weeks and see a dredge in action then you woud understand how thay work. YES I'm a gold dredger to as well as a outdoors man hunter and fisherman. I have shone a lot of people the way a dredge works and thay change ther minds and understand we are not RAPING the land but taking a lot of bad things out of the water!!
    Have a nice day and come work on a dredge  befor you condim them.

  213. CHUCK says:


  214. bob says:

    This is wishful thinking on the part of dredgers.  For every hole open another hole is closed.

    –Bob Ferris

  215. bob says:

    I suspect that I am comfortable dealing with and discussing CH3Hg+, because of three courses in inorganic chemistry, 2 courses in organic chemistry, and one in biochemistry.  Plus experience over the years dealing with complex aquatic toxicity issues.  What in your undergrad eduction and MBA prepares you for this discussion?

    –Bob Ferris

  216. bob says:


    Experimentation does not confirm your statements on mercury. Gold dredgers can shift their spending habitats so this economic activity is not lost.

    –Bob Ferris

  217. bob says:

    Then you have not looked very hard.

    –Bob Ferris

  218. Mark H says:

    Illusory superiority !!!
    Wont change his mind.

  219. bob says:

    Let’s see you have the US EPA, the Xerces Society, the Courts, the American Fisheries Society, dozens of PhD fish biologists, fishing guides, conservation groups, tribes, river protection organizations, anglers, and a host of others with knowledge of and interest in salmon and river restoration and protect holding the position as I do. A position I might add that is fully supported by science and experience. You hold a different view than all of these folks that is not supported by facts or science and you expect me to change my stance on your say so. Really?

    –Bob Ferris

  220. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    But how many of them used a dredge in the river/creek. To do test in a lab is not the same as in the field. If none of them have experience dredging then they only have the hear say of the people they took polls from, And their lab works. Keene engineering has lab work that says a four inch dredge will move 5yrds per hour. In the controlled lab work with half inch gravel it will move that much. In the river one would be lucky to move a yard an hour. To many variables, Boulders, cobbles, hardpack, ect… I will still open my claim to yawl to come check it out and do your field studies.
    Jeff W. Runnells AKA hbprospector

  221. bob says:

    The impact analyses were done both in labs and in the field. Having both examinations generally informs both as well as lending strength to the interpretation. One does not have to have heart surgery to know it hurts. The study with egg mortality was done in a lab, but there is no reason to believe that eggs in situ would do any better and a 100% mortality rate seems pretty unequivocal. The scouring studies were done in the field and they indicated reduction in spawning success in tailings. The mercury test were done in labs and in the field. There will be and should be synergies between lab and field work. It is how we understand and test our assumptions.

    –Bob Ferris

  222. chuck says:


  223. chuck says:


  224. chuck says:


  225. bob says:


    There is not a fence here. Either you have compelling evidence or you do not. I have read the materials of the folks that your side purports to be experts, their arguments have been rejected and still they and you present them as if they pass the sniff test–they do not.

    –Bob Ferris

  226. chuck says:


  227. chuck says:


  228. bob says:


    You have asked and I have answered with citations. Please review what I have posted and my responses, before asking the same question again.

    –Bob Ferris

  229. Mark H says:

    So Bob when did you start careing more about fish, and stop careing about people? Is that what being a peace officer did to you? When did you turn into the incredable "Mr Limpet"?  You of all people should know Mother Nature will take care of herself, always has and always will. And the same goes for our future generations. Even without all this BS. And dont forget Bob, that you are also part of the pollution problem of the world. Drop the John Wayne attitude and open your eyes.

  230. bob says:

    Mark this is a silly response. Anglers are people. The tribes that depend on these fish are people. Women who could potentially ingest the mercury re-suspended by suction dredger and their unborn children are people too. Recreational river users such as rafters or kayakers are people as well. And yes we all are part of the pollution problem, the big difference being that I and other like me trying in a variety of ways to lessen our impact wherever and whenever possible. You on the other hand, pursue an activity that is all about resource use and habitat destruction. Moreover, it is classic selfishness in that it puts the desires of a few over the desires of the many and then you throw in the “Mother Nature heals all” philosophy and you do not even have to take responsibility for your actions. Sad.

    –Bob Ferris

    –Bob Ferris

  231. Bob D says:

    Now dredgers are killing babies…..seriously! Have you been drinking?
    -Bob D
    -Bob D

  232. bob says:


    One in six pregnant women have enough mercury in their systems to cause a birth defect, do we really want to do anything to increase that risk. Re-suspending mercury puts it back in the water column and ultimately the food chain. So my statement is both logical and defensible which is more than I can say regarding a lot of the comments of your colleagues.

    –Bob Ferris

  233. chuck says:

    "" re-suspending mecury "" that does not appear in any research ,i have encountered..
    why is it you are able to paste in references and i am not..??

  234. bob says:

    Here is one reference below but then commonsense would also lead you to surmise that if sequestered mercury is released from the sediments and you are able to capture 98% that 2% is released into the water column. As that 2% is 10 times the legal limit of mercury release your actions (that you think are doing good) are actually doing just the opposite.

  235. Mark H says:

    October 13, 2012 at 8:02 am
    Mark this is a silly response. Anglers are people. The tribes that depend on these fish are people. Women who could potentially ingest the mercury re-suspended by suction dredger and their unborn children are people too. Recreational river users such as rafters or kayakers are people as well. And yes we all are part of the pollution problem, the big difference being that I and other like me trying in a variety of ways to lessen our impact wherever and whenever possible. You on the other hand, pursue an activity that is all about resource use and habitat destruction. Moreover, it is classic selfishness in that it puts the desires of a few over the desires of the many and then you throw in the “Mother Nature heals all” philosophy and you do not even have to take responsibility for your actions. Sad.
    –Bob Ferris
    “Anglers are people. The tribes that depend on these fish are people.” AND THEY DO KILL FISH!!!
    “And yes we all are part of the pollution problem,” Ha- we agree on something.
    .”Recreational river users such as rafters or kayakers are people as well.” AND THEY COULD POTENTIALLY KILL FISH!!!
    “Women who could potentially ingest the mercury re-suspended by suction dredger and their unborn children are people too.”
    And women could potentially ingest the mercury re-suspended by mother nature!
    “One in six pregnant women have enough mercury in their systems to cause a birth defect,” AND WHERE DID THEY GET THIS MERCURY FROM?
    “ do we really want to do anything to increase that risk.” WE CANNOT STOP MOTHER NATURE!
    “Re-suspending mercury puts it back in the water column and ultimately the food chain.” COULD POTENTIALLY?
    “big difference being that I and other like me trying in a variety of ways to lessen our impact wherever and whenever possible” USING OTHER PEOPLES MONEY AS A WAY OF LIFE TO ACHIEVE WHAT YOU DESIRE…THAT’S SAD!
    “You on the other hand, pursue an activity that is all about resource use and habitat destruction.” DO YOU LIVE IN A CAVE? WHAT ARE YOU TYPING ON? HOW DO YOU GET TO YOUR MEETINGS? THAT WAS JUST A COMPLETE XXXXXXXX STATEMENT ON YOUR PART.
    “Moreover, it is classic selfishness in that it puts the desires of a few over the desires of the many” AND YOUR DESIRES ARE LESS SELFISH???

  236. bob says:


    At the end of the day you are still stuck with an activity practiced by a very, very few having an out-of-scale per capita impact on the values of many more other interests. And it is not even a close horse race–in California 2 million fish and 3,500 dredge. And this is only partially about adult fish but rather compromising the system inhabitants’ ability to reproduce. Tribal fisheries are granted by treaty and one of the few revenue sources left to these peoples and it is already seriously compromised. In the final calculus it is really a matter of societal priorities and cost-benefits. Suction dredging while personally important to you, does not really pass muster in the big picture set of competing interests.

    –Bob Ferris

  237. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    What about the casino revenue??????? Also the 2 million fisherman…….that is a lot of lead going into our waters. The mercury that is put into our food sources is hardly from dredging. That my friend is from industry. Dredge boxes have a great recovery rate and if a three stage box is used then it’s even better than the standard sluice. I think the mercury is just an excuse to for ya’ll to use to keep miners out of the waters. Keep in mind that if the tribes were to stop gill netting and the dams were to broken. The salmon would have way more spawning grounds and the population would explode within a few years. And those energy saving light bulbs that environmentalist push so hard to sell, have flour mercury in them and it’s enough to get people sick when they break. Lets see the fisherman introduce one of the most toxic metals known into our waters. The environmentalist push for mercury filled light bulbs to be put into our houses to break and kill us. Dredge users make holes for the salmon,trout and other critters to keep cool in the summer. They remove lead, mercury, and all the other trash from that people leave in the water.  Just my two cents.
    Jeff W. Runnells AKA hbprospector

  238. bob says:

    I think it is natural for all people to rationalize destructive behaviors. They do that by pointing fingers at others, diminishing the characterization of their impacts, and over-emphasizing or mischaracterizing the value of their “benefits.” All those activities have been attempted by the dredgers.

    –Bob Ferris

  239. Jeff W. Runnells says:

    Please spare the the nonsense. I have posted fair questions to which non have been answered with solid proof. I want to see the field reports on the the effects of small dredges, the effects on fish by fisherman over fishing the grounds, the effects of "floured mercury", the effects on the toxic waste dissolving in the water put there by fisherman "LEAD". 
    Jeff W. Runnells AKA hbprospector

  240. bob says:

    Interesting that your reply to my post is a perfect example of what I was addressing.

    –Bob Ferris

  241. joe says:

    bob im not a scientist but common sense tells me that you are a fool who shall be followed by generations of fools. please do not breed

  242. bob says:

    An interesting take. Common sense should actually tell you to follow the best available science as well as take a precautionary approach when dealing with species and resources in decline. I suspect, therefore, that common sense has very little to do with your position.

    –Bob Ferris

  243. Mark says:

    I made a statement of fact that you have failed to address in my Sept. comment to you while you have been all to busy attacking Mr Green who is a court recognized scientific expert on this topic.  Are you?
    In the Humbug/Yuba mercury study, a three inch dredge operating in one of if not the most mercury contaminated river stretches in the state of California had mercury levels in the turbidity plume that were below the detection threshold of the most advanced detection equipment made today, operated by scientists who are recognized as the leaders in their field, in all but one sample.  In that one sample, the level detected was the lowest reading the equipment could detect.
    In simpler words, there was no detectable resuspension of mercury by that dredge running contaminated gravel through it.  Period. End of story. 
    The scientists had hypothesised that this study would prove that dredging remobilized mercury, but sadly enough, it proved exactly the opposite.
    Yet, in the second part of the study, no large dredges were allowed to be used.  Why?  Maybe because the powers to be feared that this study would prove opposite of the presumed outcome???????
    The entire conclusion of the study is based off of nothing other than unproven hypothesis, ignoring facts and natural occuring events.
    If you Bob are such a self touting expert on the harmful effects of dredging as you love to proclaim about yourself, please answer this simple question.
    If as you and all the other "expert scientists" who support your claims that it is a fact that dredging reintroduces mercury, then how on earth do you explaine how a study using proper scientific method and methodology ran a three inch suction dredge in one of the most highly mercury contaminated sections of river in the state of California and that three inch dredge had undetectable levels of mercury in it's turbid water discharge in every sample taken but one and that one had the lowest level of mercury the equipment used could detect? No illegal discharge of mercury occured, and that is a scientific fact of record.
    I am asking a simple question that the scientists involved in that study refuse to address.  This is documented scientific fact. 
    Come on, Harvey hates dredgers, you hate dredgers, the powers to be at the state water board hate dredgers, and the list goes on and on.
    Your science sucks.  You accuse me of picking out the facts that I like that supporting dredging and ignoring the rest. 
    Fact one.  The California impact study did not study one operating dredge.  How can one study dredging without studying operating dredges?
    Don't give me a line here, remember this.
    All the scientists involved in the Humbug creek/Yuba mercury study in their educated professional opinions, were totally proven wrong when there was no detectable mercury in the turbid water of that three inch dredge.  Come on here buddy, every single educated scientist involved and nuberous others were all proven wrong when there was no detectable mercury in that turbid water.
    And don't give me the cop out line that they did, which was that that portion of the study was to prepare for the larger dredge the following year.  The fact still stands that the mercury wasn't there yet all other samples taken from the general area were contaminated with detectable levels of mercury.
    Where did it go??????
    Come on Mr self proclaimed expert on all dredging science, if you even try to explain this proven scientific fact obtained using proper scientific collection methods and done using proper scientific methodology as unimportant, as did the scientists who compiled the totally fabricated conclusions of that study based on untested hypothesis instead of the proven facts, you will label yourself to be one of the same hypocrits that they are.
    Come on, you can do this one, it is simple.  The mercury was caught in the dredge.  It is the only place the mercury could have gone. 
    And I am not talking about the 98% line you like to quote from the water board study done using improper scientific methodology, leaving untold variables unacounted for, using an outdated crashbox header, that can not prove were the mercury went. Not using an experienced dredger operating the dredge.  Just pouring liquid mercury into a container with gravel and sucking it out.  The mercury could have just been spilled for all known facts.  Actually, the 2% mercury could have been left in the concentrates.  Who cleaned the mercury out of the concentrates in that waterboard study????  To many variables not considered for that study to have any credit as proving anything based on proper use of scientific methods or methodology..   
    I am talking about multiple samples taken of everything.  The water, the sediments, the gravel, the dredge concentrates and the turbid water off the dredge.  Proper method, methodology and documentation.
    The only thing that did not contain detectable levels of mercury was the turbid water and the settled sediments out of that turbidity. 
    As a scientist, you have to admit that a scientists "professional opinion" is just an unproven hypothesis unless there are credible experiments and studys that take ALL variables into consideration and almost every study you keep quoting is based on "PROFESSIONAL OPINION".
    PS  Just a reminder to correct your opinion on why logging was stopped.  It was not because to many mills were built.  It was not because to much timber was being harvested.  It was not because a head rangers bonus was based on the board footage harvested from his forest, it was not because it was making the spotted owl extinct. 
    It was halted because a bunk environmental group sued using the spotted owl and the endangered species act to completely close down an important economic income for this country.  Instead of coming together and changing the regulations to bring it into a sustainable harvest, it was stopped cold in it's tracks causing untold hardship to hundreds of thousands who made a living of the timber industry and destroying thousands of small town economies in America.
    Just like you want to do to dredging.  
    The next time there is a high water flood event on a river near you, I want you to stand on the bank of that river and with an honest face tell someone that mother nature does not disturb heavy minerals like mercury every single year.  I am not talking about the Mississippi, I am talking about a river that carries gold and has a gradient like gold bearing rivers do. 
    Your repeated arguements supporting the destruction of an industry border on childish and prove that you are unable to agree on anything.  You want nothing but a total ban which makes you a biased and closed minded environmentalist zealot hypocrit.  You are unwilling to agree with any valid point in opposition to your personal views.  You attack people and hide behind lawers while causing people to loose their jobs while you proclaim your superior intelligence on the subject.  You attack professionally recognized experts because they dredge themselves, all the while,  your own personall agenda is to ban dredging.  How does that make you any less biased than them?
    All that mercury from the mines up Humbug creek has been carried downstream by natural flood events over the last one hundred and fifty years.  Dredging is the only thing removing that toxin from those rivers that nature will continue to remobilize during every single natural flood event.
    Can you agree with anyone on any fact that opposes your personal hypothesis?
    Personally I think not.  Arguing with you and the likes of you is like arguing with a drunk, nothing more than wasted effort.
    Maybe the salmon issue in California is the result of nothing more than the naturally occuring event called global warming and the fact that salmon are a cold water fish and California is the southern most location of these fish.
    And please avoid going off on global warming.  It has been ongoing since the last ice age and will continue until the begining of the next ice age, with or without mankind.  But I would bet that is another subject you are an expert on also and will try and expaine how mankinds emmisions that do not even compair to a single natural event like the eruption of Mt St Helens are responcible.
    Oh, one other favor, please don't discount my facts because I may have missssspelled a word or toooo as you have with others, childish. Actually, I appologise, that was a cheap shot, but thanks for the oportunity.
    Common scense— where did the mercury go??????????

  244. bob says:


    I think somewhere in your reading of the literature you missed this important couple of lines:

    A suction dredge set up to recover gold recovered liquid mercury from the mercury hotspot.
    The dredge recovered about 98 percent of the mercury in a test sediment sample enriched in
    mercury. Mercury concentrations in the fine and suspended sediment lost from the dredge
    were more than ten times higher than that needed to classify it as a hazardous waste.

    –Bob Ferris

  245. chuck dunn says:

    aAe the tribes associated with any pot growing in the area??

  246. bob says:

    Of what real relevance is this information? It bothers me that suction dredgers hold animosity for the tribe or tribes that are only trying to protect some of the last resources left to them under very difficult situations. I suspect that if you had worked with tribes or spent any time on reservations, your attitude and inquiries would be very different.

    –Bob Ferris

  247. Tom says:

    There are many scientist that side with the suction dredgers we do create habitat for fish of all types I have video of this in fact.  Many of these scientist have done the same research as the next one but its funny that the scientist that you claim does all these studies are huge supporters of sierra club, and other major enviromental groups, there was just  a bunch of EPA scientist that just got fired because they did not give the report that the agency wanted these scientist claimed enviromental groups would not stand for the true facts about their findings it was all FACTS that was once again ignored by the goverment because of the scare tactics that enviromental groups throw at the goverment if all this legislation passes then we all know we will all be in court and the facts are going to be brought to the surface, In Cal the courts are looking and its looking up for the miners because of all this flat out LYING to keep the public out of the woods and off the waters,  I have pictures of all the mess the fisherman and swimmers leave and I don't like seeing this so myself and other dredgers pick up all the trash and dispose of it, don't feel to good getting hooked and tangled up in a fishing line.

  248. bob says:

    Tom, I am not sure that you truly understand the word “many” or the implications of the word “research” in this context. Roughly 20,000 PhDs in science are awarded in the US each year and when you look at the standing US population of scientists with applicable undergraduate degrees the number is roughly 5 million. You have two scientists neither of whom have PhDs and neither of them have conducted direct research or experimentation in the specific area. Yes they have critiqued the work of others but that is not really the same thing as conducting research or writing peer-reviewed journal articles. They are also–like you and your wife–officers in a mining club, but that hardly speaks to their objectivity. You talk about FACTS, but how can you translate two into “many” in this context with a straight face and claim to embrace facts?

    As to your claim that we are trying to keep people out of the woods, that is similarly ridiculous. We are part of a coalition that involves anglers, rafters and others who desire to protect vulnerable salmon and steelhead populations and who would like to enjoy those areas as they should be enjoyed and not have them unduly impacted and compromised by a tiny and very vocal minority.

    Bob Ferris

  249. John says:

    Dredging actually provides better fish spawning beds, deeper and cooler hiding pools, and remove toxic metals including lead naturally and left behind by fisherman. We are not in the water when fish are spawning, fisherman are. We don't walk on eggs, fisherman do. Why do you think we have a dredge season? So we are not in the water at the same time as the spawning fish are, fisherman do. We leave our sites better than when we get there unlike leaving lures, bait, miles of fish line, and lead.

  250. bob says:


    I know this is your camp’s mantra, but it is less than accurate and purposely misleading. For example, dredging does not provide better spawning beds–studies show that dredging makes beds unstable.

    Bob Ferris

  251. John says:

    Interfering with reproductive capabilities?  Obviously you know nothing about fish spawning.  Fish cannot creat a a spawning bed on hard packed river or stream bottoms.  They need loose sand and gravel to do that.  Dredgers tend to dredge at the lowest points in river and fish do not spawn in those areas.
    Dredgers do not dredge during spawning season in the first place, and fish use their shallow tailing piles to spawn in.  When dredgers loosen the HARD bottoms they free nutrients that were LOCKED into bed of the stream which fish immediatly flock to.  When I fish, I scuffle through the water loosening up the bottom to release then hidden food that the fish love, and guess what?  I get surrounded by fish real quick like and they are not shy about nibbling stuff stuck to the hairs of my legs that I kicked up.

  252. bob says:


    Redds are most successful when placed in gravel and silt combinations that allow for aeration but are resistant to scouring. When that gravel and silt matrix is disturbed, by suction dredging or your shuffling, the success rate diminishes because those gravel beds become unstable and wash away. That is an impact to the breeding success of these salmonids. And it is no huge surprise when invertebrate infauna are ripped from their substrates and unexpectedly injected into the water column that they would be fed upon but what does that action do to the food chain/reserves and those fish that might need those food resources at a specific time in the future. As to those fish near your bare legs, those are unlikely salmonids because if you are bare legged the water is too warm for them. And if they are salmonids, then your actions are stressing them rather than enriching them. And I actually do know a little bit about fish spawning.

    Bob Ferris

  253. John says:

    Well Al, & et. al.,  you can't argue with blind stupidity an ignorance.  Like you said, these environmental followers do not want to know the truth and blindly follow whatever fits their feel-good what's in it for me state of mind.  One thing is for sure, they cannot come up with all their arguments against dredges without someone spoon feeding them all that unscientific hogwash.  I do not see any environmental wackos out cleaning up any stream, but I do see OTHER more responsible groups and miners bringing out tons of trash from boaters, fishers, and litterers (including big corporations).
    It is also true that dredges cannot hold a candle to the turbidity and destruction of wintertime runoff, yet there is still fish in these rivers and streams.  Of course it is also true that these so-called environmentalist never even considered the Muddy Mississippi, which has been that way since BEFORE white man came to this country,  Yet there are still fish in it, even with the pollution of all those cities along it.
    Environmentalism is just a cover for socialism which is a criminal act against our federal republic.  Democracy is just another term for socialism, and The united States of America is definately NOT suppose to be a democracy.
    And no, I am not politically correct and never will be.  Real Americans are not politically correct either, unlike Tory Americans who are (they are also the ones who do not want anyone to have freedoms), they want Fence-Sitter Americans who are incapable of taking sides, or more preferrably defenseless slaves and peasants whom they can treat like cattle.  Funny thing about Fence-Sitters, They were dispised by both sides during the revolutionary war.

  254. bob says:

    John, Are you really thinking that you are making a cogent point here? The Mississippi and rivers in the Pacific Northwest are different types of rivers with different cycles, chemistry, climate regimes, temperature cycles and fish assemblages. Trying to compare them and make assumptions one to the others is indefensible. The Mississippi fish co-evolved in a murky environment and that is why catfish have whiskers and the converse applies to salmonids which do not. As to people concerned about the environment not cleaning rivers–are you kidding? Google “river clean up” and there are 167 million entries–add the term suction dredgers to that search on the number drops to 84 thousand or roughly 2000 times less. What do you think that indicates? And your political comments are simply silly. And being a real American has nothing to do with political correctness. If you were a real American, you would have taken the time to educate yourself so you could engage in informed, productive and civil debate with your fellow citizens. Your lack of knowledge as well as your lack of respect only makes it less likely that those making decisions about what works and does not work in our precious rivers would include suction dredging in that list of what works.

    Bob Ferris

  255. Craig says:

    Claudia Wise and Joseph Greene, worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more than 30 years. Wise is a retired physical scientist and Greene is a retired research biologist. Both scientists have done extensive research on the issue and cannot find any evidence to substantiate claims made by environmental activists that suction dredging harms fish or fish habitat.

    Dredging improves fish habitat by creating pockets in the bottoms of riverbeds and streambeds. These depressions are ideal places for fish, especially salmon, to spawn when there are limited natural areas of loose gravel, calledrefugia.“It’s a pool of water within the river you might say. If it is three feet deep, it’s considered refugia, which is a depression in the river bottom that is under the main currents where fish prefer to rest in cooler water, lots of times at the mouth of a tributary,” she said.“There are so many benefits to it,” said Wise, explaining that the gravels in many rivers and streams have become so compacted over the years that the fish cannot always find a natural place to spawn.Even though most environmental activists are aware that suction dredgers are not allowed in the water during spawning season, they still use it as propaganda.
    “That’s totally bogus. The opponents know that we DO NOT dredge during spawning season … That’s what the environmentalists use as their hammer. You can see it over and over in their writings that we are killing all the salmon and sucking up the eggs. It’s just an absolute lie.”
    So, why are environmental extremists so down on dredging?
    Both Greene and Wise contend that the push by environmental activists such as the Sierra Fund, local Friends of the River groups, and some native American tribes has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics and profits.Wise said many radical environmentalist groups get government grants to research environmental issues that eventually lead to more bans, restrictions, regulations and even lawsuits against the government.
    “Part of it is money. If they don’t have an issue that they can spread to their membership and government, then they don’t have wages,” Wise said. “Most of those clubs don’t do habitat restoration ­— they sue. That’s their whole mandate to sue the government.”And, how are they able to use taxpayer dollars to sue the government for more taxpayer dollars?
    While they may not directly sue the government, they use the funds to draft environmental reports which are then handed off to other groups to sue the government, she said.“Part of the Endangered Species Act says that they have to allow funds to hold these agencies’ feet to the fire …These people sue and they don’t even have to have their own money on the line,” Wise said.

    Read more here:

  256. bluarc says:

    I have liked to fish since I was a young kid.I have eaten a very few fish that I caght may like two trout as a boy scout, I am more apt to buy afish meaL I want fish to eat. When I fish I put the fish back. I do not kill the fish.

    I have two metal detectors and also own a Keene four inch dredge with a three inch set up to reduce weight. I bought that for my retirement hobby that pays some dividens back. I was only able to dredge two hours one week end. I am now seventy and have been not allowed to dredge for more than three years. I am a 100 % disabled Veteran and also worked in the construction industry for some 30 plus years. How could I have done that? Well "Agent Orange" dosen't kill all of us that fast.

    My point is if you look the disturbance a dredge size 1 1/2 – 4 inch causes in the river you will see the word "MINIMUS" look it up it means "NONEXISTANT" 

    Also as you seem to like fishing other's of us like to prospect. It dose not hurt any one or anything much less the fish.

    Want to kill fish put a dam in the river may 3,4 or 5 dams in the river. I won't go into the why's because you will not listen to it. Hint the water let out at the bottom of a dam is 38 degeres do your baby fish or fish eggs like that?

    Leave dredgers alone a dredge can only move 10 percent materal to the size of the dredge set up. My personal dredge can only move about the equivelent of one inch of material I use a three inch set up. Any more the riffle action will not work as it will not be able to keep its self clean enough to work in the trapping of gold. Members of the gold club I belong to for the most part are eighty percent or more made up of older and retired men with bad backs. One dose not have to stand up and dig to dredge.

    We do not do this for the amount of gold we get. We do this because it gives us a common thing that we enjoy doing. Just the same as the guys that like to hunt or fish.

    My neighbors three of them like to hunt and kill eat and mount their game. I do not like to kill wild life because I do not see the need to take the life of any thing. I don't try to stop them. They certainly don't need the meat to feed them or their families. Every one in this neighborhood are preety well off, including this writer. We all get enjoyment in different ways. If one dose not infringe on your rights why would you wish to infringe on those of others.

    Lastly dredging has not been banned in California. You  only see that which you wish to see. Look it all up.

    The department of Fish And Game has been prevented from the practice of issuing dredging permits. Federal law says we are allowed to engage in prospecting and minning. This right is being illegaly infringed by the State of California. The State is in the wrong in this but in the interm we all lose. One right surpress leads to others.

  257. bluarc says:

    Bob you ought to just stuff it. You have no valid points just the same old talking points.

    You are with the type of people on city and county counsels that take Federal Funds to maintain river banks and then spend the funds elseware. That is wher you should direct your efforts.

    While you are at it Many rivers are legally considered navigable and the public is supposed to have access for any and all receation. Try getting access in Madera County California for one place in the many rivers that were used for "C Commerse" namely logging even though man made fuumes were used the water from several rivers were used making them navigable  water way for ever more. "No one can own a Navigable Water Ways" They belong to the public. If any property deed states owner ship, said deed is in error and is not valid. Look it all up for your self. If you can't find it you are not looking in the right places. I am talking about Government web Sites.

  258. bluarc says:

    Bob, you need to get a life besides all this typeing. seema to me you work and are paid by our hard earned tax dollars andspend all you days posting on this and other sites.

    I have zero respect for the likes of you. Want to prove me wrong please feel free to do so. As far as I am concerned you should be fired for not doing your biology job like you need to be doing.

    I hope your supervisors get on to you. I help pay your wages and I don't like you because you are not a good employee. No other reason and don't need any.

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