Gravel extraction can often be harsh on the surrounding environment and detrimental to landscapes and watersheds. In the Applegate Watershed, which falls in both Josephine and Jackson counties, an Oregon Solutions team was convened to review available data and to identify the conditions and additional studies needed to determine how to extract gravel in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. The Applegate Watershed encompasses approximately 50,000 acres located on the northeastern flank of the Siskiyou Mountains in southwest Oregon.
Controversy surrounding aggregate mining and permitting can result in disruptive and expensive land use battles that take an emotional and economic toll on all those connected to the issue, without providing a durable solution to the problem. In the Applegate community, there was recognition of the economic importance of the aggregate, but also an awareness of the need to extract the material in a scientifically sound and sustainable manner.
Members of the Applegate Partnership and Watershed Council, a long-standing community-based collaborative group in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, sought support from the governor’s office and Oregon Solutions to help resolve key issues related to gravel mining in the Applegate area. A project team of 20 stakeholders was convened to address the issues.
- Identify and procure necessary information, studies and/or analysis to determine if, how, when, where and to what level gravel can be removed from the Applegate Watershed while protecting aquatic and riparian resources.
- Develop a community-based, collaborative, long term adaptive management plan for the Applegate Watershed.
- Coordinate and align permit processes.
- Generated significant momentum toward creative and scientifically sound solutions for gravel mining and ecosystem based management of river resources in the Applegate Watershed.