Small Scale Mining

Do I need a Fish Habitat Permit for my Small Scale Mining activities?


You are required to obtain a Fish Habitat Permit to conduct small scale mining activities in a waterbody that is designated important for the spawning, rearing, or migration of anadromous fish, or a waterbody used by resident fish. The Division of Habitat has developed over-the-counter fish habitat permits for most small scale mining activities. Call or visit any Habitat Division office to obtain a permit or find out if the waterbody in which you propose your activity has been legally identified as important for anadromous fish. You can also search the online Anadromous Waters Catalog.

Definition of Small Scale Mining:

  • Suction Dredging: A small scale suction dredge has an intake diameter of six (6) inches or less and is powered by an engine 18 horsepower or less.
  • Power Sluicing: A small scale power sluice is used to process material you gather with hand tools, like a shovel and bucket, using an engine that is 18 horsepower or less. You must screen water intakes for power sluices with no larger than 1/8 inch mesh to avoid injury to fish.

Fish Habitat Permit Conditions:

The conditions on your permit(s) are designed to minimize impacts from small scale mining. For instance, small scale mining is not allowed in salmon spawning areas after adult salmon have spawned until the juvenile salmon have emerged from the gravel.

If you plan to use an all terrain vehicle, you will need a Fish Habitat Permit to cross a waterbody designated as important for the spawning, rearing, or migration of anadromous fish. You may also need a permit from the land manager.

Other Authorizations:

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and Water (ADNR/DMLW), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and the USDA Forest Service have regulations regarding small scale mining activities. All streams in Alaska are subject to fish habitat permit requirements, regardless of land ownership. The acquisition of a Fish Habitat Permit does not relieve you of your responsibility to obtain other state, federal or local permits or approvals from private property or mine claim owners. The ADNR/DMLW and the BLM can provide information on land status, existing mining claims, and areas open for small scale mining. You must have the permission of the legal owner to mine a valid mining claim.

NOTE: Local contact information for other agencies can be found below, or on your regional permit(s) found under the Mining Applications tab above.

Other Permitting Agencies Related Documents and Pages
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Fish Habitat Permit Application (PDF 69 kB)
Alaska Department of Natural Resources;
Division of Mining, Land and Water
Anadromous Waters Catalog
Catalog of Waters Important for the Spawning,
Rearing, or Migration of Anadromous Fish
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Special Areas Permit Application (PDF 134 kB)
U.S. Forest Service Culvert Application (PDF 94 kB)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ADF&G Streambank Restoration Guide
Kenai Multi-Agency Permitting NOAA Habitat Restoration