|Miners collect dirt from a mud pit next to the Bear River.|
(Photo by Randy Pentch, The Sacramento Bee)
The increased prospecting has driven up sales of supplies and equipment. Heather Willis, manager of Pioneer Mining Supplies in Auburn, turned miner, too, at "an untapped spot on the upper Bear River. . . . In a few hours of digging and panning, she got nine grams of gold, worth about $340."
Hecht writes, "As the drought continues, some miners say diminished waterways are getting picked clean of gold. They count on another extreme weather event – namely, reports of a coming El Niño storm system – to provide help for the hunt. The system would replenish gold supplies by washing down mountainsides, dumping new glistening deposits into creeks and streams and invigorating the search for gold anew."