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California drought is creating a new gold rush

Published On: Jan 28 2014 01:50:52 AM CST
OROVILLE, Calif. -

Low lake levels are revealing treasures of the past but low water levels in rivers and streams are exciting another kind of treasure hunting--the search for gold.

Joey Wilson, who owns Adventures in Prospecting Mining Supplies in Oroville, says he's feeling momentum gaining for the new gold rush.

"There's a lot of buzz out there right now because the water levels are so low that you can access points in the stream that you normally wouldn't be able to get to," he says.

He also says it's going beyond the buzz and starting to translate into more business.

"People are more excited therefore they're coming into the store more, buying more equipment, giving us calls, asking questions," Wilson says. "So yeah, it's definitely bringing in more business."

And that was the case Monday when Jason Hook was at the store, gearing up to do some prospecting of his own.

"I've done it before but it's been awhile," Hook says. "So with the low rivers this year I figured it'd be a good time to get back into it and find some gold down there that hasn't been found yet, hopefully."

He says the best place to try and find the mother lode is off the beaten path but you also don't have to go that far.

"They find some on the Feather River down here," Hook says. "Up in the mountains is better but you can find it right down here out of town."

For some, like Wilson, the search for gold, gems and other hidden treasures is a living.

But for most, like Hook, it's just about getting out there and claiming a little treasure of his own.

"It's just the rush of finding a little bit of yellow in the pan," he says. "I mean, you're not going to get rich off of it but it's just fun to go out and do it."

And Wilson says that old west feeling of finding something never found before is what keeps people hooked.

"It's just a lot of fun to get out there and explore with the hope of finding that gold nugget," Wilson says. "Just keeps you going out there."

Of course Wilson hopes gold fever spreads like wildfire but he also says the weather forecast and the forecast for gold prices, are creating the perfect storm.     

"Also with the price of gold being up, right now it couldn't be better."