Applegate River Floodplain Mining, Josephine County, Oregon:
A Report to the Applegate Sustainable Aggregate Project (ASAP)
Report by E. Frank Schnitzer, (retired DOGAMI Reclamationist)
(pages 3 & 4 from Schnitzer report)
The Applegate River is designated critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act for the threatened coho salmon in addition to providing habitat for Chinook salmon, summer and winter steelhead, Pacific lamprey, and other native fishes. At the same time, there is an immediate and future demand for aggregate. The Applegate Partnership and Watershed Council (APWC) and principals from Copeland Sand and Gravel, Inc., resolved to address the issue in a collaborative, solution-oriented, and transparent process, seeking assistance from Oregon Solutions. Recognizing the demand for aggregate and for a community-based process that addresses various interests in the Applegate River valley, Oregon Governor Kulongoski designated the Applegate Sustainable Aggregate Project (ASAP) effort as an Oregon Solutions project in September 2008. The mission of Oregon Solutions is to develop sustainable solutions to community-based problems that support economic, environmental, and community objectives and are built through the collaborative efforts of businesses, government, and non-profit organizations. Part of the Applegate Sustainable Aggregate Project purpose statement seeks to identify where and how aggregate can be removed from the Applegate Watershed while protecting aquatic and riparian resources.
DOGAMI and Applegate Sustainable Aggregate Project
As a contributing member of ASAP, DOGAMI offered to conduct data collection at existing and closed Applegate River floodplain mines. All of the floodplain mines are located between river mile (RM) 0 and 25, with the majority located between RM 15 and RM 25. The intent of the data collection was to provide ASAP a foundation to evaluate past and recent mine and reclamation practices. A direct “apples to apples” comparison is not possible because each site is uniquely located and on-site factors differentiate each site. These factors influence everything from site reclamation, site and riparian buffer stability during flooding, flood frequency, fisheries impacts, lateral channel migration or avulsion potential, abundance and extent of the mineable sand and gravel deposit, along with instream and off- channel sediment storage locations. This report provides these details available through DOGAMI permit files, DOGAMI data collection and on-site observations, plus available historical information.