Gold: A New Threat to U.S. Streams

With gold at $1,600 an ounce, recreational gold panners are getting serious — serious enough to have an impact on stream environments. That’s the case in North Carolina, where a local land trust closed its property to gold prospectors recently, and the Uwharrie National Forest banned suction dredging several years ago.

Read the story in the Charlotte Observer, here. (Oh, and you’ll have to forgive the headline, which refers to “marine life.” Clearly, the article is referring to aquatic life in central North Carolina, far from the ocean.)

Think that no one is panning for gold in your state? Think again. Placer gold, the kind found in stream sediments, has been found in just about every state. Panning for gold is sometimes unregulated, and where it is regulated, misconceptions and plain old ignorance abound. The real damage comes from mechanized panning, such as suction dredging.

Is the critical habitat for your sensitive aquatic species safe from gold panning?

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