California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Frequently Asked Questions - New Suction Dredge Permits

Page updated 5/24/2011

Q:  Why has CDFW stopped selling suction dredge permits?

A:  CDFW stopped selling suction dredge permits pursuant to a court order issued by the Alameda County Superior Court on July 9, 2009. (Leeon Hillman et al. v. California Dept. of Fish and Game et al., Super. Ct. Alameda County, 2009, Case No. RG09-434444.) The court order prohibits CDFW from spending any money from the California State General Fund to issue suction dredge permits. The court clarified on July 27th that the order prohibits CDFW from spending any General Fund money, even indirectly, to issue suction dredge permits. CDFW has stopped selling suction dredge permits consistent with the court order.

Q:  Will permits be sold again in the future?

A:  The court order prompting CDFW to stop issuing suction dredge permits states the order will remain in effect as long as the Hillman lawsuit is pending or until a further order is issued by the court.

Q:  Under what conditions can I engage in suction dredging? (Can I do it without a permit?)

A:  Fish and Game Code section 5653(a) prohibits the use of any vacuum or suction dredge equipment by any person in any river, stream, or lake in California, except as authorized by a permit issued by CDFW. CDFW is currently prohibited by court order from issuing suction dredge permits.

Q:  What's the penalty for suction dredging without a valid permit?

A:  A violation of Fish and Game Code section 5653(a) is punishable as a misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or confinement in county jail for up to 6 months.

Q:  Where can I find more information about this in the future?

A:  Information concerning suction dredge permits is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge.