The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is inviting people to share their views at four public meetings focusing on the development of new rules for permitting suction dredging in state waters.
At the meetings, WDFW will also invite suggestions on ways to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by suction dredges used for recreational mining for gold and other minerals.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, directed the department in April to develop new rules to address those issues.
Current state rules allow people to operate a small suction dredge as long as they carry and follow the Gold and Fish pamphlet, which outlines state regulations. To promote greater accountability, the commission called on WDFW to develop rules that require everyone who wants to use a suction dredge in Washington state to apply for an individual permit.
Randi Thurston, WDFW Habitat Program Protection Division Manager, said the commission is tentatively scheduled to act on a new permitting requirement for suction dredging early next year.
“The department is reaching out to citizens who have an interest in how the rules are developed,” said Thurston said. “Commissioners have emphasized that the department’s rule development must be open to public involvement. We are very early in the process, and we are seeking the public’s help in shaping the development of these rules.”
The public meetings are scheduled at the following times and places:
Wenatchee July 16 from 7-9 p.m., Port of Chelan County Confluence Technology Center (Methow and Teanaway Rooms), 285 Technology Center Way.
Spokane Valley July 17 from 7-9 p.m., CenterPlace Regional Event Center Auditorium, 2426 North Discovery Place.
Olympia July 19 from 7-9 p.m., Natural Resources Building Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E.
Everett July 25 from 7-9 p.m., Everett Community College, Jackson Conference Room 2000 Tower St.
Information about the upcoming rule change process is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/hpa/rulemaking. Comments can also be submitted by email to the department at vog.aw.wfdnull@seluRAPH