Anglers praise bill that reins in suction dredging

Jan. 21, 2015

For immediate release

Contact: Gregg Bafundo (206) 276-4843,
Crystal Elliot (509) 386-7768,

Anglers praise bill that reins in suction dredging
Bill aims to bring common-sense reforms to largely unregulated practice

OLYMPIA – Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-Ballard) introduced a bill, HB 1162, that would limit the use of suction dredging in Washington rivers and streams. Suction dredges are aquatic vacuums used by miners to collect and sort precious metals at the bottom of river beds. The practice can harm fish habitats and their spawning grounds.

Suction dredging is mostly unregulated in Washington state. Tarletons bill would require the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to establish a workgroup and study the impacts of suction dredging on native fish habitats. The workgroup would include diverse stakeholders such as Native American tribes and recreational groups. A moratorium would also be imposed while the department studies the practice.

Washington state lags far behind our Pacific Northwest neighbors in placing reasonable restrictions on suction dredging, said Tarleton. Its time for us to ensure that regulations protecting access to public lands and waters apply to everyone fishers, hunters, and miners alike. We must protect access for future generations.

Oregon and California have placed a moratorium on suction dredging while they study the issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned the activity in Idaho streams and rivers with fish runs at risk.

The Fish and Wildlife study and workgroup recommendations must be submitted to the Legislature by October 31, 2016.

This bill is a huge leap forward in protecting Washingtons iconic fisheries, said Derek Young, owner of Emerging Rivers Guide Service. Washingtonians have spent billions of dollars trying to recover our native fish and its our hope in passing this bill that we will learn if recreational motorized gold mining washes away those billions. I make my living along these waters, I feed my family thanks to them and I want to protect that.

The bill was referred to the House Agriculture & Natural Resources committee.


Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter and visit us online at