For more information on the Hydraulic Permit Application (HPA) Program, please contact:
WDFW Habitat Program
(360) 902-2534


Suction dredge operation in river.

2018 Round 2 Hydraulic Code Rule Making

Why new rules?

On April 14, 2018, the Fish and Wildlife Commission directed WDFW to begin rulemaking to require individual Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permits for all suction dredge mineral prospecting.  

What are the proposed changes?

WDFW's goal is to modify rules to authorize suction dredging activities through individual HPAs rather than under the Gold and Fish Pamphlet.

WDFW's objectives in this rulemaking include:

  • Develop an individual HPA application method for suction dredging that is streamlined;
  • Develop application and reporting methods to enable WDFW to determine:
    • the number of prospectors engaged in suction dredging and
    • where and how much suction dredging occurs; and
  • Identify methods to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species through the movement of suction dredging equipment into and around the state.

Graph showing the timeline and steps taken during the rulemaking process from May 2018-May 2019

Steps in the suction dredge rule making process:

  1. File a pre-proposal statement of inquiry (CR-101) with the Washington State Code Reviser (5/8/2018)
  2. Host 4 public meetings to explain the scope of rule making and discuss with the public
    • Meetings were held in July 2018: July 16 - Wenatchee; July 17 - Spokane Valley; July 19 - Olympia; July 25 - Everett
    • Slide presentation
    • Rule change flyer
    • Background science documents are available:
      • California Department of Fish and Game Suction Dredge Permitting Program Literature Review (September 2009) - Appendix D to Suction Dredge Permitting Program Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report, February 2011, available at a link found on this page:
  3. Develop the language for specific rule change proposals
  4. Make a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) threshold determination
  5. Draft regulatory analysis documents
    • Complete a preliminary cost-benefit analysis
    • Determine the Least Burdensome Alternative
    • Analyze effects under the Regulatory Fairness Act
    • Meet requirements for Significant Legislative Rules
  6. File a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (CR-102) with the Washington State Code Reviser
  7. Take public comments
  8. Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold a public hearing to listen to oral public testimony Prepare recommendations for the Fish and Wildlife Commission

Updates will be posted here as they become available.

For Further Information

Randi Thurston,
Protection Division Manager