Park rangers and police raided a gold panning operation in the Parque Nacional Corcovado and confiscated three pumping devices used to extract gold.
Gold panning is a traditional activity in and around the park, but the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación noted that a new law forbidding open pit mining also covers panning operations. The raid Saturday took place at the Quebrada La Cholona where the water devices were being used to eat away at the banks of the waterway, said the conservation agency.
The park is isolated on the Osa peninsula, and patrolling the area always has been difficult. This time the agency rented a helicopter and used GPS devices for police units to maintain control.
The park also is plagued by illegal hunting and even drug smuggling.
The Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación estimated the value of the confiscated pumps to be about 2 million colons or about $4,000.
The illegal sluicing activity came to light because it was generating silt that flowed into the Gulfo Dulce. The silt was potted by helicopters, said the agency.