Agencies find issues with some miners working on Idaho river
LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — Some suction dredge miners seeking gold on the South Fork of the Clearwater River in north-central Idaho aren’t adhering to state and federal rules, federal and state officials said.
The Idaho Department of Water Resources is considering issuing notices of violations to at least two of the miners, the Lewiston Tribune reported Wednesday.
The miners are not following terms stated in permits issued by the department, said Tim Luke, the water compliance bureau chief for the agency. “The main issue is not working in areas we had permitted and/or not getting authorization from us before moving to these other areas,” he said.
The citations could carry monetary fines or requirements for remediation.
The U.S. Forest Service is also debating whether it will take enforcement actions against a handful of miners on the river who failed to submit required plans of operation.
Most of the miners submitted their plans, but nine others didn’t, said Quentin Smith, the recreation, engineering, lands and minerals program manager for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.
Warnings have been issued to miners who are working without getting clearance from the Forest Service or acquiring permits from the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of those who received warnings have not ceased operations.
“There is a class of folks who simply seem to be doing this as part of a protest and just don’t want to follow the rules,” Smith said.
The Forest Service is consulting with the EPA, the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office and the enforcement divisions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on how it should proceed.
Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com