Mining industry digs into the Valley's best soil

| Print |  Email
Archives - July 2009
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

Epitaph for a Boondoggle

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The CRC is a cautionary tale about how we plan for, finance and invest in transportation infrastructure.


Read more...

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...

Hot Topics/Cool Talks recap

Linda Baker
Friday, April 24, 2015
htctthumbBY LINDA BAKER

A recap of "Tech in Transit: Will Portland Build the Next Uber?"


Read more...

100 Best: The Power of the Worker

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
AND AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Technology is empowering people like never before and transforming how employees interact in the workplace. How can companies attract and keep staff engaged in this rapidly changing world?


Read more...

Announcing the date of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon event

News
Friday, March 20, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-250pxwBY OB STAFF

Join us to celebrate and network with Oregon’s best green workplaces!


Read more...

Can small be large?

Linda Baker
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
040115-lindablogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Leaders in Oregon's ag sector gathered this morning in Portland’s Coopers Hall winery/taproom to discuss the role of the region as an export gateway, impediments to exporting products and solutions to containerized shipping challenges.


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