EPA issues new permit for suction dredge miners
The Environmental Protection Agency is now requiring a permit for recreational miners who use suction dredges to explore for gold in Idaho's riverbeds.
The agency unveiled the permit and new rules Thursday for suction dredgers using hoses 5-inches in diameter or less.
EPA's Seattle Water Office Director Dan Opalski says the goal is to protect water quality, fish and wildlife.
The permit includes new rules, conditions and limits on how and where miners can operate, including an outright ban on the Salmon River and waters through tribal lands.
Suction dredge mining is a popular recreational activity on streams across Idaho and the West.
But for years, environmentalists have been urging the EPA to require miners to get pollution permits before stirring up river bottoms in their pursuit of precious metals.