Miner Explains Why SB 670 is Unfair PDF Print E-mail
Written by Unknown   
Thursday, 24 December 2009

 

Let me say up front that I am absolutely appalled over the ban on dredging. I do not dredge, and have just started prospecting this year. However, I think the ban is completely unnecessary & the reasoning for it unfounded. I do see the budget-issues being the primer for the action (i.e. Hillman). And it seems that the Indian tribes & environmentalists have taken advantage of that action to further their own causes. I don't know what's motivating them. But it sure does sound like it is something other than saving the environment.

 

As I have said in other posts in other threads, I have a Master's in Biology. Not that I like to toot my own horn - but I can't see any reason for small-scale dredging to cause a decline in salmon populations, or other fish, for that matter. And this is based on scientific reasoning:

 

1) CA DFG regulates the dredge season to minimize impact on the fisheries. Given the number of years that dredging has been regulated, the DFG biologists should have noticed any obvious changes in fish populations associated with dredge-activities by now. And if they did, they would have been the first to sound the alarm. I am unaware of such notice, other than the raising of concern over the formation of methyl-mercury, which I will address below.

 

2) The redistribution of river sediments is a natural activity. And because small-scale dredges move only a small volume of material in a given location, even over the course of the season, that really shouldn't cause problems either. On the contrary, the movement of sediments can release trapped nutrients into the water, loosens packed gravel, and overall, should rejuvenate the areas worked. Thus, dredging, done responsibly, can be good for the ecosystem.

 

3) Mercury & methyl-mercury: If the movement of mercury through a dredge did result in the formation of methyl-mercury, which is "biologically available" (i.e. can be assimilated into the tissues of an organism), then there would be clear evidence of this throughout the affected ecosystem. And this would show up first in the predators at the top of the food chain - the birds & mammals that feed on the aquatic life. This is due to the process of biomagnfication, where the toxic compound continues to accumulate in higher concentrations within each step of the food chain. Thus, the highest concentration is found at the top, which is usually why such a problem is first noticed through the decline in the top-predator group. Does anyone recall the decline in the birds of prey due to DDT? Same idea.

 

So if mercury was the true cause of the problem, it would be evident in other areas. And it would also be evident in the development of the fry, as salmon move out to the ocean to mature. They are only in the rivers as eggs/fry, and then return as adults to spawn and die. Lastly, it would be measurable within the tissues of the organisms - mercury, as we all know, does not go away. It accumulates. But it does not degrade or decay.

 

With that said, I can only suspect that the pursuit to ban dredging is being fueled by ulterior motives. Perhaps the greenies see this as the Achilles heel of the legal system - a weakness to be exploited so they can shut down any activity they deem undesirable based on suspicion, whereas before the courts required reasonable evidence/proof. Once precedent is set, it opens the door to a new mechanism for interdiction; one based on "maybe" vs. hard fact. From all I've read, I'm inclined to believe the latter.

 

The ban on dredging is more a victory of legal precedent than "saving the earth". The environmentalists have, in effect, convinced the courts that any suspicious activity should be shut down until a study is completed. So if they can find any reason for a study to be required, then that alone can be justification for the suspense of said activity - pending completion of the study. Yes, I suspect the assault on dredging is really a means to twist the legal system into working more-advantageously for the environmentalists - the "end-run", as others have called it. And that scares me more than the loss of the right to dredge, as it opens the gates to the continual loss of right-of-access to all public lands, simply because someone, somewhere suspects it just ain't right.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 December 2009 )
 
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