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

Downtime

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.


Read more...

Tackling the CEO-worker pay gap

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF

An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Corner Office: Marv LaPorte

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.


Read more...

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


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