Gold prices are up, and California is preparing to allow dredging for gold in rivers and streams. But environmental groups are concerned about the impact to fish habitat.
The original 49ers – the prospectors who scoured the Sierra foothills during California’s Gold Rush – mostly relied on a simple and environmentally friendly piece of equipment: the gold pan.
In Concord, Mike Dunn teaches some of those old panning techniques in a weekly class at his store Gold Pan California.
“See how the gold sits right there? Fan it out a little bit and just lift it out of the water,” he says, swirling a pan in a tub of water.
But today’s prospectors also rely on heavier equipment: the suction dredge. It’s similar to a large floating vacuum.