Federal Judge: Knock Off the Suction Mining on Clearwater

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A federal judge pulled the plug on any plans for suction dredge mining along the North Fork of the Clearwater River.

This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that Administrative Law Judge Robert Holt handed down a 27-page ruling that said public recreation and the river's archeological history are more important than would-be gold miners dredging river bottoms.

"Full-scale placer mining would substantially interfere with other substantial recreational and cultural uses," wrote Holt.

The Tribune reports that more than two dozen placer claims had been filed to suction-mine a 30-mile stretch of the North Fork that runs through the Nez Perce Clearwater national Forest. But the U.S. Forest Service challenged the claims, triggering a hearing last January and Holt's ultimate ruling.

But at least one miner said his economic livelihood was at stake due to the ruling,

"All of us miners are in general agreement that we are getting ripped off by the government," Cark Callear of Orofino told the Tribune. "It is the government that owes us money."

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