This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee.
It's not news that salmon populations have declined drastically. Last year, regulators voted to ban all salmon fishing along the Pacific coast of California and Oregon. Their actions wiped out the livelihoods of thousands of commercial fishermen, fish processors and charter boat operators.
The threat is so dire that regulators are expected to continue the ban through 2009.
So it seems incredible that in the tributaries of the state's major rivers where salmon lay their eggs, suction gold mine dredging continues under regulations now badly out of date and inadequate to protect dwindling numbers of fish.
Recreational miners use giant dredges to vacuum the creeks and river beds, sucking up tons of sand and rocks in search of tiny flecks of gold. In the process, they destroy precious salmon spawning grounds and kill salmon eggs, young salmon, trout and sturgeon.
The California Department of Fish and Game has the power to stop the damaging practice. It should do so immediately.
The Karuk Indian Tribe and a handful of conservation groups, including California Trout and the Sierra Fund, have petitioned DFG to issue emergency regulations to limit when and where dredging can be done on the Klamath River, its tributaries and five other streams in the Sierra.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.