By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- A House committee has moved forward a bill that would force aggregate miners to show no alternative sites are available when proposing to mine parcels greater than 5 acres on Class 1 and Class 2 soils in the Willamette Valley.
The House Land Use Committee on April 18 moved House Bill 2202 with a do-pass recommendation by a vote of 4-3, with Republican Reps. John Davis of Wilsonville and Kim Thatcher of Keizer joining Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene in opposition to the bill.
Rep. Kevin Cameron, R-Salem, said he supported the bill under the condition that he may change his vote on the floor depending on the findings of a work group that has been convened to study the issue.
The bill now goes to the Ways and Means Committee.
Asked if the bill could slow the loss of high value farm land to aggregate mining in the valley, Oregon Farm Bureau's Katie Fast said: "That is the hope, that it would force the aggregate industry to look at other lands, and not our very best farmland."
Gary Lynch, assistant director of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, said a little over 10,000 acres of the valley is being mined for aggregate, and of that 2,400 are Class 1 or Class 2 soils.
The figures don't include past completed mining operations or closed aggregate pits, he said.
Under an amendment, aggregate sites currently permitted are exempt from the bill's provisions.