California is once again living up to its nickname as the Golden State. Thanks to recent weather cycles from extended drought conditions to a springtime of flooding, northern California is producing gold. The back and forth weather pattern which led to the Oroville Spillway emergency and thus weeks of heavy runoff has lead to gold panners enjoying a bonanza kicked up by all the debris. If you recall, in February, record amounts of rain fell near the Oroville Dam, which feeds the Feather and Yuba rivers, which is where the majority of finds are occurring. Along with the rain, there was higher elevation snow fall which also led to significant runoff as the temperatures warmed this spring. All the flowing water has been a dredgers dream as gold nuggets are once again being uncovered. I’m told would be prospectors have flooded the area creating a modern day gold rush. According to Diana Clayton, president of the Shasta Miners & Prospectors Association, some folks are just walking along, kicking the dirt and finding pieces of gold. Local business owners associated with the trade say, that there’s been a 25% increase in professional miners heading up north. I understand there has also been a significant rise in amateurs coming in and purchasing equipment. Though there are reports of nuggets being found in the area, those hoping to get rich quick may be a bit disappointed as most payouts are in the $40-$300 range. Agents from the Bureau of Land Management have stated there won’t be many nuggets found due to the heavy mining that took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. Locals kindly disagree with that assessment saying there is definitely nuggets to be found. Since gold was first discovered by James Marshall near Sutter’s Mill, folks have followed their dreams to get rich by mining for the metal, with very few of the hundreds of thousands actually made enough to cover expenses. As I understand it, there are millions of tons of gold still lurking in the rock in the Sierra Nevada, but much of it is either difficult to access or released in tiny flecks that are not economical to gather, according to a 1982 U.S. Geological Survey report. Historically, prospectors found giant gold nuggets in California during the 19th century Gold Rush days, including a 54-pound chunk found in Butte County in 1859. It has been decades since a report of anyone discovering a rock of 6 pounds or more in California. But in 2014, an undisclosed miner unearthed a 6.07 POUND rock which sold to a collector for $400,000. I suspect it is that kind of news that keeps the crowds coming out with hopes of striking it rich. Time will tell if any life changing finds will be discovered.(Source: LiveScience, Weather Channel, LA Times)