Gold mining in Oregon is not a new story! It has a history entailed with southwest and northeast Oregon. According to the article, “Up Sucker Creek in Southwest Oregon, gold miner’s rights collide with environmental realities,” by Scott Learn, there are as much as 50 gold mining claims along the upper part of Sucker Creek. And, to add to the unfortunate reality, almost all of these are on public property. Learn states, “The miners don't dig in the water, but they cut trees near streambanks, dig potentially leaky mining pits down to bedrock using track-hoe excavators and dump trucks, fill the pits with water diverted from creeks and vacuum through the diggings for gold nuggets and flakes with a suction dredge.” Are the gold miners silently creeping into destroying Oregon’s precious wildlife? With human beings only after profit, our Oregon greens might just be sold for people’s greediness and never satisfied hunger over gold products.
The law passed in 1872 in favor of gold miners to give “anyone who stakes a claim a clear right to the minerals on the land” is the main reason for the collision between the gold miners such as Cliff Tracy and the state regulators, such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Beaureu of Land Management. This aged law overrules those rules that came along later such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973. And, according to Learn, the Sucker Creek was named as a Top Priority Stream in 1997 due to the diverse wild life it feeds. Aside from all the significance the Sucker Creek has to the Oregon and surrounding environments, the gold miners continue to fight for their rights to dig for gold! What can we do as Oregon citizens to stop this digging into something more valuable than gold? Are we to wait until our elected politicians address this issue, or as consumers, should we consider the source of our gold products before sliding that credit card?