A new bill signed into law this week by Governor Kate Brown bans suction dredge mining in areas of Oregon streams that are habitat for sensitive salmon and lamprey species.
Suction dredging, used by recreational gold miners, utilitizes motorized floating dredges that suck up the bottom of rivers. The controversial technique still will be legal, with a permit, in sections of streams and rivers that aren't considered sensitive habitat.
The bill represents a compromise reached after several years' efforts by a variety of players in the industry, environmental and fishing groups.
"Suction dredging, in the wrong places, can have devastating impacts on Oregon's valuable salmon runs and destroy commercial salmon fishing jobs," said Glen Spain, Northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, in a prepared statement. "This bill achieves a better balance, simply by pulling suction dredges out of vulnerable salmon nurseries, and moving them to where they would do far less economic and biological harm."