Mining industry digs into the Valley's best soil

| Print |  Email
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
willamette_valleyEfforts failed this year to protect the best soil in the Willamette Valley from mining operations.
Fertile land is the lifeblood of Oregon’s agricultural industry, a major economic driver that is almost completely family-run. But land — including the physical space, topsoil and rock underneath it — is a lucrative resource and contenders include aggregate mining companies. The reason: much of the highest-quality basalt is located under the best soil.

In this year’s legislative session, efforts by the Oregon Farm Bureau and other supporters failed to result in legislation to protect the best soil from mining. In Oregon, aggregate mining of Class 1 and Class 2 soil is only permitted in the Willamette Valley. The Oregon Farm Bureau views this as nothing less than the destruction of the state’s most valuable asset.

“We’re not going to give up; the issue is real and it has to be addressed at some point in time,” says Bruce Chapin, farmer and Farm Bureau board member.

According to a 2004 report by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), “Farmland is under constant pressure for development to other uses . . . Oregon’s current land planning system does not properly account for the value of these perpetual benefits that agriculture has to offer.” The benefits include food security, renewable energy potential and wildlife habitat.

ODA is not completely opposed to mining Class 1 or 2 soil, if companies prove there are no reasonable alternatives.

Post-mining reclamation is required, but reclaiming it back to farmland is not. Sites are reclaimed for a variety of uses, including farmland, fish habitat, forestry and recreation.

According to Gary Lynch of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, clear, current data is needed on the issue. They plan to start a new data-gathering project soon.

Rich Angstrom, president of the Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers Association, stresses aggregate’s necessary role in construction projects, but admits mining companies are usually the second cousin no one wants over for dinner.

“If you move the industry off of prime soils into the hills,” Angstrom says, “there’s a whole other series of people who don’t want
aggregate in their back yard.”
JENNY FURNISS
 

More Articles

An uncertain future

Guest Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty is a part of doing business, whether in through the lens of investment opportunities and risks or the business of running an enterprise.


Read more...

The Green Paradox

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY EMILY LIEDEL

Inside the topsy-turvy world of corporate sustainability rankings.


Read more...

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


Read more...

6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, June 05, 2015
basedthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.


Read more...

Cherry Raincoat

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces announced

News
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-1000pxwBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

More than 250 people turned out today for Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual celebration of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS