Gold enthusiasts pan state dredging regulations

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

A group of California gold-hunting enthusiasts will attempt to persuade a San Bernardino County judge today to lift a five-year ban on suction dredging in the state's rivers.

The group, which holds mining claims in Siskiyou County, sued the state in April 2012 to overturn the ban. The civil case is scheduled for a hearing in San Bernardino Superior Court today, where attorneys say a judge could either make a decision or further delay it.

The ban has affected gold prospecting throughout the state and dozens of small claims in both Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, including those at Italian Bar Camp on the Stanislaus River. The camp is owned by the Lost Dutchman Mining Association and open to members of the organization.

Droves of hobbyists used to flock to the Italian Bar Camp during the summer months when suction dredging was allowed, but now only the most dedicated return each year, said Frank Powell, who was heading out from the camp to mine his claim on Tuesday.

"A lot of people just don't come out here anymore," he said.

For the complete story, see the May 1, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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