AUBURN (CBS13) – It’s hard to see a silver lining when it comes to California’s drought, but there’s one industry that has a bright future because of it.

Heather Willis, owner of Pioneer Mining Supplies in Auburn, showed off her necklace as a token of her love for gold panning

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“We’re discovering a lot of cool things. There’s a lot of areas you couldn’t dig that now you can,” Willis said.

It’s the perfect time for Willis – who comes from a mining family – to get out and look for more.

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“We’re like finding all kinds of great gold, all kinds of artifacts, things that are popping up,” Willis said.

The drought is making it easier to strike gold.

“The water is low now … it’s a great place to find where gold was deposited when waters were higher,” Willis said.

Willis shares her expertise and equipment with beginners who want to take advantage of this opportunity.

“I watched all the gold shows, caught the fever [and] saw this free class and decided to try it out,” said Rich McGuire.

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McGuire lives in Auburn and wanted to cash in.

“We live right out in the middle of all this gold. Why not come out and pick it up,” McGuire said.

The free class at Bear River Campground teaches all different techniques

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“Panning, sluicing, metal detecting. You can use high bankers that pump your water – and good old fashion elbow grease,” Willis said.

First timers get a lot of help and encouragement.

“I’m here to tell you, you can. It’s public land. Get off your bum and come out and enjoy yourself,” Willis said.

Everyone seems to take away a little knowledge looking for the golden lining.

“Who knows. The next big pocket of gold could be right around the corner,” McGuire said.

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Experts say fuller creeks and rivers expected later in the year will make gold panning much more difficult.