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Recreational Placer Mining

Notice: Oregon Legislature passes Senate Bill 3; changes go into effect January 1, 2018 

Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 3 on June 14, 2017. The bill establishes new restrictions on motorized recreational placer mining and lifts the moratorium put in place in 2016.  Through December 31, 2017, all current rules and the moratorium remain in effect. Additional information on the new requirements will be posted in fall 2017 on this webpage and on the Department of Environmental Quality's website. 

2017 placer mining rules

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 (fish and wildlife, water quality, etc.) and cultural resources (areas of cultural significance to Indian tribes, historic artifacts, etc.). The bill imposed a moratorium on motorized mining for gold, silver and other precious metals, effective Jan. 2, 2016 to Jan. 2, 2021. 

While the moratorium does not prohibit all motorized placer mining for precious metals, it establishes certain restrictions and prohibitions:

  • It reduces the number of streams that are open to motorized suction dredge mining. See the moratorium map to determine eligible stream segments. 
  • It 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.

To comply with the moratorium, the Department of State Lands has revised the General Authorization for Recreational Placer Mining. The permanent rule went into effect on June 30, 2016. 

When is the 2016 General Authorization needed?


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.

Individual Permits

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 an SSW. Be aware that suction dredging is not allowed in scenic waterways, even under an individual permit.

Use the Joint Permit Application form to apply.

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