SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — While the drought is hurting farmers and ranchers and costing the state millions, some people are able to cash in as the search for gold is better than ever.

Gold is what put California in the map—prospectors panning in the foothills hoping to strike it rich.

That’s happening again now—a mini Gold Rush is getting help from the drought.

Heather Willis runs a mining supply story in Auburn, and says gold mining products are in high demand.

“I’d say it’s taken up to a 20-25 percent increase in sales,” she said.

In a normal winter with normal rain, waters would be high. But during the drought, rivers have receded and are allowing people to walk in farther and pan for gold in spots that haven’t been accessible for years.

Willis says gold has been deposited in untouched pockets and prospectors with pans, or more advanced gold grabbing devices are digging in.

And it’s not just gold fanatics coming in. It’s people looking for new hobbies after the drought put a damper on old ones.

“They put a temporary ban on fishing being allowed in these area, so these are outdoor hobbyists looking for something new to get into,” said Willis.

Willis says a lot of gold diggers will stick close to the shore, but just like many things, if you want the big reward, you might have to put in a little extra effort.

“Hikers, kayakers, things like that tend to go two to three miles from a lot of these areas that are getting really good finding really great gold,” she said.


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