This winter's flooding in Northern California has done more than bring relief after years of drought; it's created the prospect of the best gold prospecting in 20 years. Gold hunters in the area tell the Chico Enterprise-Record the floods have "rearranged the rivers" and "move things around." That means gold veins that have been hidden for 200 years are suddenly exposed. According to CBS San Francisco, the floods also swept gold out of abandoned mines and washed it downriver. While KCRA reports that gold can simply be picked off the ground following major flooding, the best prospecting will come in the summer months when the water has receded.
Right now, rivers are still high and government workers are trying to keep would-be prospectors away while they get things under control. But in the summer—which experts say could be the busiest since the one that followed major flooding in 1997—stream beds will be exposed for better gold hunting. "I'm going to have a ball," one prospector tells the Chico newspaper. The epicenter for the new gold rush could be the Oroville Dam, which nearly catastrophically flooded this winter and required the use of an emergency spillway for the first time. (This treasure hunter is seeking $1 billion in gold from a sunken ship.)