California Tribal Business Alliance Applauds Governor on Signing of SB 670

Aug 06, 2009, 17:22 ET from California Tribal Business Alliance

SACREMENTO, Calif., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The seven member tribes of the California Tribal Business Alliance today lauded Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature on SB 670 (Wiggins), which would put an immediate moratorium on instream motorized suction dredge gold mining.

The California Tribal Business Alliance and the Karuk Tribe sponsored the legislation, which would put a temporary moratorium on the controversial mining practice until an environmental impact report assessing its effects on fish is prepared and new regulations are adopted based on that assessment.

"Many Indians in northern California still reside in their aboriginal territories, where the loss of fish species transcends economics," said CTBA Board Chairman Robert Smith, who is the tribal chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians in San Diego County.

"For many, their cultural and traditional religious practices revolve around the annual return of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and lamprey," he said. "Many tribal members rely on subsistence fishing to keep food on their families' dinner table."

Suction dredge mining is a recreational mining activity in which the bottom of the river is sucked up through a large hose, run through a sluice box to separate any gold in the material, and then dumped back into the river.

No other state allows the use of the large scale equipment authorized in California, where outdated regulations allow a suction dredge that can move as much as 37 tons of material per hour. This is eight times bigger than the largest equipment allowed in Oregon, for instance.

"California tribes don't always agree with one another, but when one tribe's traditions and culture are threatened, you will see them band together to fight as one in defense of tribal customs," said Smith.

Established in 2004, the California Tribal Business Alliance was formed by California Indian tribes interested in developing partnerships and coalitions with like-minded governments and with business entities in California.

CTBA has taken leadership roles in addressing problem gambling; opposing off-reservation casinos; protecting Native American cultural resources; and a number of legislative and regulatory issues on the federal, state and local level.

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SOURCE California Tribal Business Alliance