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Judge nixes mining activity along Clearwater River

LEWISTON, Idaho — An administrative judge has rejected plans by hobbyist miners to set up suction dredging operations along a prized cutthroat trout stream in North Idaho.

Judge Robert Holt from the U.S. Department of Interior issued a ruling earlier this month rejecting at least 30 placer mining claims filed along a stretch of the North Fork of the Clearwater River.

The U.S. Forest Service initiated the challenge last year, arguing that fishing, camping and protecting tribal artifacts outweighed the miners’ quest for gold.

Judge Holt agreed — saying even if the claims produce a profitable mine, full-scale placer mining would substantially interfere with recreation and cultural uses.

One of the miners with claims on the river told the Lewiston Tribune the government should reimburse him for the lost right to mine.

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