The Box R Ranch has been operating an unpermitted mine operation since the 1990’s in the Greensprings area approximately 1 ½ miles off Hwy. 66. This has historically been a small operation until 2018 when Box R contracted to supply rock for the reinforcement of both Hyatt and Howard Prarie Dams. The increased haul traffic led to several public complaints and eventual code enforcement citations issued by Jackson County. The remedy for these violations required Box R to obtain both County and State permits for the mining operation. Jackson County preliminary approved the mining application on December 2, 2019.
Rogue Advocates and local residents appealed the County approval based on various concerns during the County appeal hearing in January. There was no traffic study or limitation on the volume of haul trucks. Keene Creek, a pristine fishbearing stream, flows through the mine site and includes endemic fish such as the red banded trout and Jenny Creek sucker. The Jenny Creek sucker is an incredibly rare species that only resides in Jenny Creek and its tributaries such as Keene Creek. The sucker has been isolated in Jenny Creek for five million years by an ancient lava flow near the California border that created impassable 30’ waterfalls.
On February 2, the County Hearings Officer issued a very fair decision denying the Rogue Advocates appeal but strengthening Conditions of Approval that must be implemented prior to the commencement of mining. The 50’ riparian setback from Keene Creek will be strictly enforced and any existing disturbances from previous mining activities must be remediated and replanted with native vegetation subject to approval by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. All mining activities must be limited to a surveyed 12.8 acre area that has already been disturbed within the 42-acre parcel that is surrounded by the Siskiyou National Monument.
Although our appeal was denied, Rogue Advocates is pleased the approval includes enforceable limitations to enhance the water quality of Keene Creek, limiting the scope of operations to previously disturbed areas.