Gold and Fish: Rules for Mineral Prospecting and Placer Mining (2019)

Category: Mineral Prospecting

Published: November 2019

Pages: 45

The 2019 Gold and Fish pamphlet replaces all previous editions and will remain valid until the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) publishes a new edition. The rules contained in it were developed to protect fish and their habitats. This pamphlet serves as your Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) for the types of mineral prospecting and mining activities described in it. Please note that this version of the pamphlet does NOT authorize the use of suction dredges (including dryland dredges and gravity dredges). You must obtain a separate, written HPA to suction dredge in state waters. You must follow the rules in the pamphlet1 when you conduct those projects in Washington. These rules do not relieve you from obtaining landowner permission and any other necessary permits before conducting any mineral prospecting activity. You must also follow the rules and regulations of local, federal, and other Washington state agencies.

If you want to conduct mineral prospecting or mining activities at different times or locations, or with different equipment than allowed in this pamphlet, you must apply for a separate, written HPA. You will receive an HPA unless the department determines that the project will result in direct or indirect harm to fish life, and enough mitigation cannot be assured by provisioning the HPA or modifying the proposal.

You may request a written HPA by submitting a complete application to WDFW. An online application submittal tool is available at At that website you can also find details on alternate application methods if you cannot apply online.