First, be sure to check the new permit for all up to date rules.  They have changed every year now.

Currently there is a ban on dredging so get the permit and find out what you can and can't do, and where.

Tn. Gold prospecting permit info:

For those of you that are GPAA members, you get the phone number to the Tellico District Ranger Station, as the contact for getting your gold dredging permits.

These are currently free, and they are required to dredge for gold, and use a Mechanical items in the Tellico District area, of the Cherokee National Forest.  They are valid for 1 calendar year.
Again, it is free to get them renewed, but it is just an added time frame you need to think about before going.  You can only pick them up on a week day.

According to the ranger at the southern ranger station, along hwy 64,  you do not need a permit to use a pan or hand sluice at that end of the forest. This covers the area in Polk County.
This means, that you can go to the south end of coker creek with your sluice box, and pan, without the permit. You may NOT dredge in Polk county areas.

The Tellico district station is open Monday through Friday. Except holidays.  You can pick up maps for a fee, and pick your dredging permit up in person.

Do the rangers stop and check on you? 
You bet they do!
I have been dredging on the Tellico river, and other areas, and had the rangers stop by, talk and check out my permits and ID, to make sure it was my permit.

I never met an unfriendly ranger yet.  Every one I have talked to has been more than friendly, polite, and treat me with respect.  

Know the rules, and abide by them, and you will not have any problems with the rangers.  They are a great group from what I have seen so far.  They enjoy speaking to prospectors and seeing if your getting any gold, and if you have any to show them.

Some of the basic rules change from the northern area around Tellico, and the southern area along 64. 

Stop by during the week and talk to the rangers. They will let you know where to go find gold in their area.

You may pan and (hand powered) sluice, without a permit.  No dredging is allowed in this area.  The rivers have hydro electric dams that let out huge amounts of water. Making it too dangerous for them to allow dredging.

 You can shovel gravels in from within the water, but not any dirt from dry land.  In other words, dig within the current water level. No digging in banks or dry land.

There are people that do not follow the rules.  This is destroying our prospecting areas as well as the right to prospect in these areas. 

The rangers are looking at closing areas off due to over use, and abuse.  If you see someone digging or dredging into the banks, ask them to stop, and if they don't, then please call the Tellico Ranger Station and inform them that you are a prospector trying to save your prospecting area, and someone is blatantly breaking the rules.   This has been especially bad in Doc Rogers Field. 


If you see it happening, and do nothing, then don't expect to be able to go there next year. It could be closed.

Tellico Ranger Station: 423-253-2520

There is a NEW dredge permit now.  (5-14-2010)

Pick up your new dredge permit to find out what rules have changed.  

You no longer need a permit to use a hand sluice. However, anything with moving parts needs the permit.. ie: gold and sand hand dredge, and other sucker tubes (believe it or not)

The new permits are good for a full calendar year now. 

Also, with sluicing not requiring the permit, it opens hundreds of miles of creeks for sluicing that were only open to panning before.  That is great news!

There are a few odd rules though, so get your new permit and find out what they are.  If you have a valid permit already, you have a new one coming in the mail.

Call and ask for your dredging permit.  They will mail you a set of maps that show the areas you are allowed to dredge and prospect.  They will also show the areas you are NOT allowed to prospect.

If you are only using a pan, ask for the gold PANNING rules and maps.  They have to keep track of the number of permits issued, and people getting permits when no dredge is involved, is increasing, and making it seem (on paper) that there are many more dredges out there, than there really is. 

You do NOT need the permit for using a hand sluice in the Tellico district areas.

You may pan and sluice, anywhere in the national forest without a permit, except in wilderness areas.  This is a good reason to get the maps... so you don't get caught in the wrong place. 

I have found good gold in several places within the  area.  Have fun and be safe.

Tim LeGrand,
TN Gold Co.

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