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Drought Conditions Cause Gold Fever

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Low river levels in the Sierra foothills are opening up new opportunities for gold prospectors.

Pioneer Mining Supplies, a store in Auburn, was busy on Tuesday helping customers who are interested in cashing in.

“We’re able to get to places that we wouldn’t normally be able to get to this time of year,” said a prospector named Brandon who spent Tuesday afternoon searching for gold in a public portion of the Bear River in Placer County.

Brandon and a friend were digging in dry sections of the riverbed where water would likely be over their heads in a typical rainy season.  With the aid of a sluice box which separates gold from small rocks as river water flows through it, they were finding plenty of shiny gold flakes.

“Maybe some day if I find some big nuggets, I’ll make some money on it,” Brandon pondered.

But even the flakes he is finding can add up to an amount he could sell to a jeweler.  Gold is going for about $1,250 per ounce.  But Brandon agrees that an end to California’s drought would be truly priceless.

“Even though it allows us to get to places we’ve never been, I’d rather see it rain.”

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