Gold and Fish: Rules for Mineral Prospecting and Placer Mining (2021)


Published: May 2021

Pages: 44


The May 2021 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 any suction dredges, dryland dredges, gravity siphons, or motorized methods (including, but not restricted to, power sluice/suction dredge combinations, motorized highbankers or power sluices, spiral wheels, and vac-pacs). You must obtain a separate, written HPA to use methods not specifically authorized in the pamphlet. You must follow the rules in the pamphlet when you conduct projects covered by the pamphlet. These rules do not relieve you from obtaining landowner permission or 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. Please refer to the Department of Ecology mineral prospecting website to see if your proposed activity is in an allowed area. 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 HPA application submittal tool is available on the HPA application process page as well as details about alternate application methods if you cannot apply online.