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Grand Island is located about 35 miles southeast of Portland. It's mostly home to a number of farms, but recently caught the attention of the gravel industry. Baker Rock Resources is applying to open a gravel mine on the Yamhill County island. Gravel experts say it's the ideal place for nearby towns like Salem, McMinnville, and Dayton to get the needed resource. Gravel is widely used to make concrete and asphalt, and is difficult to transport long distances due to its weight. But there are strict regulations on where companies can open mines, and Baker Rock is going through that permitting process right now. It is facing opposition from Grand Island farmers. They say it would destroy good farmland and heavily increase commercial truck traffic on the island. The Land Use Board of Appeals has ruled that the site meets the necessary standards, but Protect Grand Island Farms — the group opposed to the mine — is appealing that decision. Either way, Baker Rock must go through a second step before final approval to determine the mine's impact on the community.
The recent collapse at the Lucky Friday silver mine in Idaho left seven miners injured after a rock burst 6,000 feet underground. The mine has been fully evacuated and is closed until further notice. Wednesday night's accident was the third major accident at the mine since April, which have resulted in two fatalities. Last week, the Mine Safety and Health administration released a report that criticized the mine's owner, Hecla Mining, for "not having policies and procedures that provided for safe mining," and "failing to design, install, and maintain a support system" that would have held up the rock that killed 53-year-old Larry Marek. These incidents, along with a second death last month, have raised questions about Hecla Mining's policies. OPB's Jessica Robinson has been following the events all year.
With gold prices sky high, environmentalists and others are worried about a potential gold rush in southern Oregon. In fact, members of Oregon's Congressional delegation just introduced bills that would make parts of the Chetko river off limits to suction dredge mining. Dave McCracken runs a gold prospecting association in northern California. He says when California put a moratorium on suction mining last year, it left some of his members looking north to the Rogue river. But he adds that, during a recent trip the Rogue, he didn't see anything he would describe as a rush. Meanwhile, a very different kind of mining operation looks like it's about to get underway near Coos Bay. The Oregon Resources Corporation is poised to become the state's only commercial strip mine — getting chromite, zircon and garnet out of land near the ocean. Though ORC is just one permit away from a green light, some environmentalists and community members remain staunchly opposed.
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Darlingtonia California; Oregon Fossils; Off-shore Minerals; Spotlighting Deer