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Recreational Placer Mining


NOTICE: A moratorium on motorized placer mining goes into effect Jan. 2, 2016.
Current placer mining rules will be in effect until the end of 2015.

More information on the moratorium


Due to the passage of Senate Bill 838, in 2013 the Department updated the Administrative Rules for Recreational Placer Mining within Essential Salmonid Habitat (ESH). Highlights of the new rules that went into effect in 2014 include limiting the number of permits or authorizations the Department may issue for Recreational Placer mining within ESH to 850 and changes in operation conditions.

The on-line application process will be available beginning January 1, 2015. To be eligible to apply for 2015, monitoring reports from those who had an authorization in 2014 must submit the report by February 28, 2015.

For more information on the new rules and the process for selecting the 850 permits or authorizations, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions.
The Department of State Lands regulates recreational placer mining through two types of removal-fill permits: General Authorizations (GAs) and Individual Permits (IPs).
Non-Motorized Prospecting is exempt. Prospecting means to explore for samples of gold, silver and other precious minerals using non-motorized methods. Prospectors are limited to removing less than one cubic yard of material from within the bed or wet perimeter of any single State Scenic Waterway or Essential Salmon Habitat stream annually, and less than 50 cubic yards on other waters. Prospecting does not require a permit from DSL. Prospecting is not allowed at any site where fish eggs are present.
A General Authorization (GA) is required for activities involving less than 25 cubic yards of removal and fill annually in Essential Salmon Habitat (ESH) streams. Use the (2015) Interactive Draft ESH Map​ to determine if your location is an area that is designated as ESH. The 2014 ESH designations will go into effect on March 1, 2015. Activities under this general authorization are not allowed in Oregon Scenic Waterways. 
DSL has revised and simplified the GA application process for disturbing less than 25 cubic yards per year within ESH streams. You may apply for and receive a placer mining authorization online: www.statelandsonline.com (2015 Applications not available until January 1, 2015).
A simplified paper authorization also is available online. Fill out the top half, send it to DSL to review and we will return it with an approval signature if the application is eligible. 
You must submit an annual report by February 28 to be eligible to apply for a recreational placer mining GA the following year.
An Individual Permit (IP) is required for placer mining activities when:
  • Activities will disturb 25 cubic yards or more in ESH streams.
  • Activities will disturb 50 cubic yards or more in non-ESH streams.
  • Applicants plan to operate a large suction dredge with a hose intake greater than four inches in diameter.
  • Applicants plan to recreationally placer mine in a SSW. Be aware that suction dredging is not allowed in scenic waterways, even under an individual permit.
IP applications are available online - use the Joint Permit Application form.
Some waterways have been closed to recreational mining by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Others are closed or their use is limited by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) because of water quality problems.
GAs for recreational placer mining cannot be used on State Scenic Waterways. An Individual Removal-Fill Permit is required, and a written form must be submitted.
When conducting recreational placer mining, be sure you can legally pan, dredge or sluice on the waterway. Check with the owner to be sure you can be there, even on publicly owned land. Remember that it is illegal to cross privately owned land without first obtaining the owner’s permission.
Information about which Oregon waterways are state-owned and available for prospecting and recreational placer mining is on the DSL website. Publications also are available.
You may also want to contact federal landowning agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for information concerning streams on federal land.
Placer Mining Administrative Rules​ (OAR 141-089-0820)
In 2013, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 838,​ finding that motorized mining in and directly
adjacent to the beds and banks of Oregon's rivers and streams can pose significant risks to Oregon's natural resources (e.g. fish and wildlife, water quality, ect.) and cultural resources (e.g., areas of cultural significance to Indian tribes, historic artifacts, ect).
Based on these concerns, SB 838 imposed a moratorium on motorized mining for gold, silver and other precious metals that goes into effect on January 2, 2016 and lasts until January 2, 2021. The moratorium does not prohibit all motorized placer mining but it establishes certain restrictions and prohibitions.

The moratorium reduces the number of streams that are open to motorized suction dredge mining. The moratorium also prohibits removal or disturbance of vegetation​ resulting from motorized placer mining activities within 100 yards of most waterways in a manner that may impact water quality.

​​Moratorium Q and A​