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News / Opinion / Letters to the Editor
The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Letter: Change law on suction mining

By Donald Kohler, Camas
Published: March 3, 2020, 6:00am

The 270 members of Clark-Skamania Flyfishers think it is unwise to spend millions of dollars each year on salmon restoration while allowing a recreational activity to go unchecked that harms that habitat. The activity is suction dredge mining. This practice goes on at the same time of year when salmon and steelhead are likely spawning in the same waters.

There are two bills moving through the Legislature to address the issue. The bills, Senate Bill 6149 and House Bill 1261, would prevent suction dredge mining taking place in habitat for listed endangered species.

Suction dredging could continue in rivers that are not considered salmon or steelhead habitat. We need to protect the habitat for these endangered fish.

Clark-Skamania Flyfishers have worked with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on spawning surveys of the East Fork of the Lewis River and found steelhead spawning in the upper areas of the river as late as May, when miners are permitted to work. The East Fork isn’t the only river where salmon and miners intersect. WDFW has closed waters to fishing due to low water because of potential harm to spawning steelhead, but suction mining was still allowed under current law. It’s time to change that law.

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