Idaho Press-Tribune

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Not you?||
Logout|My Dashboard

Environmental group sues over Idaho river dredging

Environmental group sues over Idaho river dredging

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 11:13 am | Updated: 12:16 pm, Tue Oct 16, 2012.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An environmental group said Tuesday it had sued the state after the governor and other officials approved a plan to dredge the Salmon River for gold — an operation some contend will harm migrating fish habitat and create hazards for anglers.

The Idaho Conservation League announced it had asked a 4th District Court judge to require the state to approve a reclamation plan before signing off on any mining projects.

In September, Grangeville miner Mike Conklin was awarded a five-year lease by the Idaho Land Board, giving him sole access to a half-mile stretch of river about 13 miles downstream of Riggins where he can mine the gravel for precious metal.

The Boise-based environmental group contends Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the other board members ignored laws meant to protect Idaho's water, arguing that miners who use gasoline-powered suction dredges often leave big holes in the riverbed that damage valuable habitat for salmon and steelhead.

"Before anyone goes onto our lands which need to be protected for the benefit of water quality, fisheries and wildlife, and public health and safety, miners need to submit a restoration plan before they're allowed access onto these properties," said Jonathan Oppenheimer of the environmental group. "If there's anywhere there ought to be a high level of scrutiny, it's in the bed of the Salmon River, which is one of the gems of Idaho."

Staff members at the Idaho Department of Lands who oversee mineral leases with proceeds and royalties that benefit public schools, contend the league is misinterpreting state rules and laws governing suction dredge mining and reclamation requirements.

Eric Wilson, minerals program manager, told the Land Board in August that regulation of recreational dredgers such as Conklin falls to the Idaho Department of Water Resources, and the Department of Lands only has jurisdiction over awarding a lease.

On Tuesday, Wilson declined to comment on pending litigation

Some anglers have also opposed Conklin's permit, saying it will hurt popular steelhead fishing areas and create hazardous holes where people could fall in and drown.

In addition to Otter, the Land Board members named as defendants are Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, public schools chief Tom Luna, attorney general Lawrence Wasden, and controller Brandon Woolf.

The Idaho Conservation League says a judge should reverse the Land Board's order granting Conklin a lease. It also wants a review of whether the state erred in deciding that laws such as the Dredge and Placer Mining Protection Act and the Surface Mining Act don't apply to the project.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Check out these other popular articles

  Middleton teammates Pierce and Lyle helped each other through family deaths, injuries
MIDDLETON — The Middleton Vikings traveled an unpredictable road to the 4A state boys basketball tournament at Borah High, a destination they might not have reached had they lost two seniors: Pierce Scott and J.D. Lyle.
Offseason Outlook: Finley, Rypien set to begin QB battle
Note: This is the eighth of a nine-part series looking at each position on the Boise State football team heading into spring practices, which begin on Monday. Today, we examine the most glorified position at Boise State: the quarterbacks.
  Crusaders open play at GNAC tourney
Three months ago, they commiserated in a locker room after a 26-point defeat. Immediately, the task to reach a six-team GNAC tournament picture seemed daunting.
  Yotes draw Dakota State at nationals
A chance of redemption lurks in the second round — but Scott Garson will maintain a laser-sharp focus for the time being.
Idaho Steelheads take 7th consecutive win
Seven different players scored goals Wednesday night as the Idaho Steelheads extended their winning streak to seven games with a 7-2 victory over the Stockton Thunder. invites you to take part in the community conversation. But those who don't play nice may be uninvited. Don't post comments that are off topic, defamatory, libelous, obscene, racist, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. We may remove any comment for any reason or no reason. We encourage you to report abuse, but the decision to delete is ours. Commenters have no expectation of privacy and may be held accountable for their comments.
Comments are opinions of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions or views of Idaho Press-Tribune. Please view our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy for further details...

Welcome to the discussion.




DASCHUND PUPPIES, 3 years-old, 2-Black Rust, 1-Fawn Color, Male is

? ? ?

? ? ?