Suction Dredge Permitting Program Subsequent EIR

Horizon Water and Environment (Horizon) worked closely with the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to update suction dredge regulations and develop a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  DFG regulated suction dredge mining for gold through an existing permitting program under Fish and Game Code Section 5653.  In response to a lawsuit filed in 2005 by the Karuk Tribe of California, the court found that the 1994 EIR prepared in support of the existing permitting program did not adequately disclose program impacts in light of new species listings and additional information that became available since 1994.  Following the court mandate, DFG hired Horizon to prepare a Subsequent EIR as a basis to update the regulations.  The project atmosphere is highly contentious with impassioned disagreement amongst suction dredge miners, tribal, and environmental interests.

Horizon successfully developed a comprehensive statewide programmatic EIR that satisfied DFG’s needs in light of the court mandate.  Horizon effectively updated suction dredge program regulations in coordination with the EIR development process and also conducted a socioeconomic analysis to evaluate the effects of amending the regulations.

Due to the high level of public interest in this project and the potential for additional litigation following the EIR, the Horizon team conducted a detailed legal review of the EIR and provided DFG with a complete administrative record to support the program.  Throughout the project, Horizon conducted extensive outreach efforts including developing a project website and newsletters, conducting public meetings throughout the State, and forming a Public Advisory Committee made up of diverse stakeholder interests to provide additional input.

Horizon helped DFG achieve their project vision – to develop updated suction dredge regulations and an EIR that are environmentally sound, legally defensible, and result in an implementable and enforceable permitting program.