OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 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.
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. “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."
A public meeting will be held in Olympia Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at the Natural Resources Building Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E.
Information about the upcoming rule change process is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/hpa/rulemaking.