Buffer Zone Established For Nome-Area Mining Permits

Offshore gold miners near Nome will have to stay a half-mile from river mouths and keep a 300 foot distance from fishing nets this summer.  DNR and Fish and Game have drafted new stipulations for the 130 mining permits in the works.

The new 300-foot buffer will apply to all set nets. The stipulations add that if a mining operation creates any turbidity, they must stay 500 feet from nets.

Fish and Game Area Manager Jim Menard says even years have seen the biggest returns on subsistence fish over the past eight years. He says odd years typically bring in about 30 ocean permits.

DNR’s Kerwin Kraus says no final decision has been made on what recourse lessees might have. He says he has not yet spoken with the impacted miners. Kraus says the half mile rule will not affect recreational miners.

Beyond the leases, several registered claims are within the half-mile range of rivers, stretching west to the Sinuk and east to the Solomon River.  Kraus says they will be impacted.

And the DNR has hired the seasonal employee to help manage the increased mining activity. Former Police Sergeant Byron Redburn will serve in the role this summer.  The DNR is still working to find a boat for Redburn to use.

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Ben Matheson is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

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