California Department of Fish and Wildlife

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Important Suction Dredge Information

Suction Dredge Permit Holders and Potential Applicants

CDFW is currently prohibited by court order from issuing suction dredge permits. (Leeon Hillman et al. v. California Dept. of Fish and Game et al., Super. Ct. Alameda County, 2009, No. RG09-43444, ordered issued July 9, 2009.) The Court order specifically prohibits CDFW from expending any funds from the State of California General Fund to issue suction dredge permits pursuant to Fish and Game Code section 5653, and related regulations found in sections 228 and 228.5 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations. The order will remain in place as long as the related litigation is pending or until a further order is issued by the Court.

Additionally, as of August 6, 2009, all California instream suction dredge mining has been suspended following the Governor's signature on a new state law. SB 670 (Wiggins), as signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger and effective immediately, prohibits the use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment in any California river, stream or lake, regardless of whether the operator has an existing permit issued by CDFW. The moratorium does not apply to suction dredging operations performed for the regular maintenance of energy or water supply management infrastructure, flood control, or navigational purposes.

The moratorium on instream suction dredge mining established by SB 670 will remain in effect until CDFW completes a court-ordered environmental review of its permitting program and any necessary updates to the existing regulations take effect. The court-ordered environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is currently underway and CDFW expects to complete the effort, including any updates to the existing regulations, by late summer 2011.

Neither SB 670 nor any other provision of law authorizes CDFW to issue refunds to current permit holders.

A violation of the moratorium on instream suction dredge mining is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.