Salmon River Suction Dredging

Salmon River Suction Dredging

Current Status:

Date Filed:
Oct 12, 2012

Case Title:
Idaho Conservation League v. State Board of Land Commissioners and Idaho Department of Lands

Staff attorney(s):
Bryan Hurlbutt


Idaho Conservation League

To Protect:




Case Information:

November 5, 2012 — Mr. Conklin abandoned his proposal and withdrew his lease application, which is a great victory for all who enjoy the beauty of the Salmon River!

October 12, 2012 — Advocates for the West filed a Petition for Judicial Review on behalf of Idaho Conservation League challenging the State of Idaho’s approval of a riverbed mineral lease to Mike Conklin. The lease would have allowed Mr. Conklin to intensively suction dredge a half-mile segment of the bed of Idaho’s famed Salmon River approximately 13 miles downstream of Riggins, Idaho.

A suction dredge uses a high pressure gasoline powered water pump to suck up riverbed material and water. The riverbed material and water are then run through a sluice box to separate out valuable minerals while the remaining riverbed material and water are discharged back to the river. Mr. Conklin applied to suction dredge 10 cubic yards of material from the bed of the Salmon River every day, 128 days per year, over the five-year period of the lease.

Idaho Conservation League testified before the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners (“Land Board”) to the damaging impacts of suction dredging the site, including harming endangered fish species, degrading water quality, and creating dangerous hazards to fly fishing. Nevertheless, the Land Board approved Mr. Conklin’s lease without requiring the reclamation plan and corresponding bond required by state law.

Shortly after Advocates for the West filed the Petition, Mr. Conklin abandoned his proposal and withdrew his lease application. After receiving confirmation from the State that Mr. Conklin’s application was successfully withdrawn, Advocates for the West dismissed the Petition on October 31, 2012.