Land board approves dredge permit on Salmon River
BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The Idaho Land Board has approved a mineral lease sought by a Grangeville man who wants to dredge a half-mile section of the Salmon River for gold and garnets.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday despite objections from conservationists who claim suction dredging harms the riverbed, threatens water quality and disturbs areas critical to fish.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the rest of the board delayed a vote on the lease last month, saying more time was needed to take a personal visit to the river.
Ultimately, the board concluded recreational mining is an appropriate and legal use for the river.
Dredger Mike Conklin has been doing small-scale exploration for two years. His new lease gives him exclusive rights to dredge a section of river 13 miles downstream of Riggins.