Aggregate Mining

Applegate Sustainable Aggregate Project

Rogue Advocates has joined other conservation groups, local political leaders and county, state and federal agencies in a Governor Kulongoski-sponsored “Oregon Solutions” project to examine how to “sustainably” mine aggregate in the Applegate watershed.

Called the Applegate Sustainable Aggregate Project (ASAP), this coalition of stakeholders will work together to determine ways to maintain a viable local industry while at the same time protecting farm and forest lands and important aquatic species like the Coho salmon, which is seriously impaired by river mining, poor forestry practices and water withdrawals for farm use.

See The Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) for details.

Mining on Farmland in the Applegate

For years, residents of the Applegate Valley (a half million acre watershed contributing to the overall Rogue Valley watershed) have been challenging river mining that damages the river environment and the Coho salmon’s bedroom. Many residents have formed a group called SAVE (Save our Applegate Valley Environment) and have successfully appealed and reversed three land use mining decisions.

While SAVE has recently achieved this great feat of preventing mining in the river floodplain, they are now facing the new threat of mining on Applegate farmland. This emerging trend is troubling, as it eats away at valuable, limited farmland in the region.

What has happened on one piece of farmland in particular illustrates how great the desire to mine these lands is. From a failed mining application under a Measure 37 claim to a “backroom” deal with Jackson County overturned by the circuit court that would have allowed the mining, there have been multiple creative attempts to mine aggregate on this piece of farmland.

The latest scenario involves the county permitting an application to excavate an “agricultural pond” on the property. The county approved it with no questions asked as to whether or not this was truly a farm use. But state agencies have recently suspended this activity when they revealed this ruse as mining. Rogue Advocates and SAVE will continue to support the appropriate sustainable use of farmland.

Click here to read a Mail Tribune article exploring this issue. Click here for a video clip of a January 2010 news story about aggregate mining on Applegate farmland.

To learn more about the clash of mining and farming across Oregon, click here to read an Oregonian article and click here to read an Oregonian editorial.

Update: Local hearings officer denies applicant opportunity to mine farmland under a Measure 37 claim. Read press release here and Daily Courier article here