Opposition to California Assembly Bill 1032
California Assembly Bill 1032 acts to amend Fish and Game Code Section 5653 (use of any vacuum or suction dredge equipment), and to amend, repeal, and add Section 5653.7. This bill was introduced by California Assembly Member Wolk on 22 Feb 2007, has been amended twice in Assembly (27 March and 16 April 2007) and was subject of a hearing conducted by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations (25 April 2007). This bill, if approved, authorizes the Department of Fish and Game to prohibit small scale mining activities from occurring on valid Federal mining claims on public land as authorized in the Mining Law of 1872. This bill, if approved, permits the Department of Fish and Game to close waters to suction dredging if the department determines closure is necessary to protect fish and wildlife resources. It does not outline department requirements prior to enacting such closure. This bill seeks to blame small scale miners but does not address other activities such as fishing, rafting, kayaking, cattle grazing. The Department of Fish and Game has yet to complete comprehensive studies which prove that small scale mining activities adversely affect fish dwelling waters. On 20 Dec 2006, the California Department of Fish and Game was ordered by Alameda County Court Judge Sabraw to complete an Environmental Impact Report on suction dredging within 18 months of the Court Order. There have been, however, factual studies conducted by multiple sources which conclude that suction dredging on rivers and streams actually increases spawning conditions by breaking up severely compacted river gravels and bed surface materials. Studies also show that fish congregate to old mining gravels as their choice for spawning and rearing. AB 1032 contains no factual evidence which indicates that small scale miners utilizing suction dredges on Federally approved mining claims are responsible for degrading the habitat or spawning grounds of any fish or wildlife. For this reason, the below signed petitioners oppose AB 1032.