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Gold in them hills! Drought spawns modern day gold rush

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 8:19 PM - It's been drought or deluge for California so far this year, with either major flood emergencies, or ongoing dry conditions that have fueled wildfires forcing thousands from their homes.

However, the back-and-forth might have an unexpected benefit, at least for the enterprising: It's sparked a new gold rush in northern parts of the state.

In February, record amounts of rain, along with snow at higher elevations promising enhanced runoff, caused a major crisis, particularly in areas around the Oroville Dam. The dam's main spillway was damaged by extended rainfall, forcing a shutdown that raised the risk of floodwaters overtopping the dam. Almost 200,000 people were evacuated as a precaution, though Livescience says the spillway ended up being used to relieve the pressure.

WATCH BELOW: "Glory Hole" spills over for first time in 10 years, drone captures it

All those floodwaters roared downstream, eroding riverbeds and river banks, such that some areas, particularly Feather and Yuba rivers below the Oroville Dam, have had long-buried gold veins uncovered.

That's had would-be prospectors flocking to the area, in a modern-day parallel to the kinds of gold rushes that attracted hundreds of thousands to California in the mid 19th Century.

The best spots are, of course, hard to determine, as CBS says most prospectors don't exactly advertise where they've hit literal paydirt. However, 

"I’ve heard of people walking along, kicking the dirt and finding a piece of gold,” Diana Clayton, president of the Shasta Miners & Prospectors Association, told SF Gate.

However, though there's definitely money to be made -- one man in 2014 found a nugget worth $400,000 -- gold assayers say not to expect any new millionaires from today's finds, with most payouts in the $40-$300 range.

SOURCE: Livescience | SF Gate | CBS | Thumbail Image Source

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