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.
Have you panned for gold in Oregon’s rivers? What questions do you have about modern day gold mining or for the planned strip mine in southern Oregon?
- Dave McCracken: Founder and president of The New 49’ers Prospecting Association
- Eric Metz: Southern region manager with the Department of State Lands
- Cameron Lafollette: Land use director for the Oregon Coast Alliance
- James Buchal: Attorney with Murphy and Buchal