Our state Senator, Jason Atkinson, has written an opinion column for the Oregonian (8/25/2010), telling out-of-state recreational miners with dredges, “Welcome to Oregon; now leave.”
He says that he’s an unashamed, passionate steelheader. He should check his conflict of interest; it appears that he doesn’t want to share the river with other users. In fact, it appears that he wrote his column after he found a miner in one of his favorite fishing spots.
He said that out-of-state miners have “flooded” into Oregon’s rivers since California shut down dredge mining. Funny, I walk along the Rogue nearly every day and I’ve yet to see a single dredge. For a “flood,” they are few and far between.
You would think that an Oregon Senator would be glad to see so many tourists coming to Oregon. But he doesn’t like tourists with dredges, though they shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, buy our gas, and otherwise bring money into our most depressed counties.
He says that there are miners here from North Carolina, Texas, and Indiana, but we can’t dredge in their rivers. I don’t know why anyone would want to: those states are not known for gold in their rivers. There is a reason why there was a gold rush to California and Alaska: gold gathers into veins only under certain conditions, such as exist in the Pacific Ring of Fire. California just cut off a major portion of the America’s piece of that Ring.
He says that, when he was first elected, he didn’t have the ability to stop dredge mining altogether-showing his prejudice against it. But he worked to ensure that gold hunters would use only small-diameter dredges; place dredged material upstream rather than down; and fill their holes before they leave.
When he saw the miner on his sand bar, he asked to see his permit, his intentions, and whether the state agency that sold him the permit had told him how long he could camp on one spot and our regulations regarding sensitive fish habitat. They had not.
So now, because the state agency in charge of dredging permits hasn’t told dredge miners the regulations that they are supposed to follow, he wants to ban gold-hunting tourists instead of rebuking state officials for not doing their job of informing our guests how to share our public property and treat our rivers. I ask this Board to rebuke him and those officials, and to suggest that a booklet of regulations and a test on them be given to miners before issuing such permits. Senator Atkinson can work on pushing that through the Senate.