Vermont's Gold Sluice Season Is Underway, But Permits Are Required

Jun 27, 2016

Vermont streams have some of the purist gold in the world, although it's found in tiny quantities. But officials warn that you need a state permit if you're going to disturb the stream with a sluice box to find it.

Anyone can pan for gold by hand.

But according to Kim Greenwood with the Agency of Natural Resources, Vermont residents have to pay $25 for a permit to use a sluice box. Non-residents pay $50 for a permit.

A sluice box is an open-topped tray with ridges along the bottom that catch small pieces of rock and sand – and, if you're lucky, flakes of gold.

"With hand panning, it's a much smaller volume of material," Greenwood says. "So the potential to impact habitat is smaller. But with a sluice box, you're moving a much larger volume of stream bed, so the potential is greater to impact habitat."

Greenwood says many people using sluice boxes know about the state permits, but she says game wardens in southern Vermont recently issued three citations to prospectors who were using sluice boxes without permits.

The state issues between 18 and 25 sluice permits each year. The penalty for an un-permitted sluice for first-time offenders is $150; penalties for other or repeat offenses can be higher.

Sluicing is illegal in state parks and on federal land.

Greenwood says it is important to get the approval of land-owners when sluicing or hand panning on private property.

Suction dredges and pumps are illegal in all Vermont waterways.

The permits are issued from June 1 through the end of September and non-Vermont residents have to pay an annual $50 permit fee.