Why protect mineral and aggregate resources?Gravel deposits are quite numerous throughout Oregon. In fact, the combined values of sand, gravel, and stone rank as No. 1 in Oregon’s mineral industry. Sand and gravel are essential materials for construction of highways, bridges, buildings, and airports. Large quantities of sand and gravel are also used for fill. Studies by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries indicate that most, if not all, of the available gravel will be needed for development. Since gravel is a vital resource needed for development of any area, adequate protection by state and local governmental agencies is needed to assure its availability for present and future use.
What is “aggregate”?Aggregate is a mixture of minerals or rock fragments that resembles rock. People often refer to this as gravel.Does Marion County have much aggregate?Yes! Large deposits of sand and gravel occur in the mile-wide floodplain of the Willamette River; the bar and channel gravels are constantly being replenished. This material represents the gravel deposited during formation of the Valley before the river migrated to its present location. As the river meandered back and forth across the Valley, it deposited gravel and sand. These gravels merge with gravels similarly deposited by the larger tributaries flowing from the Cascade Mountains.
Alluvial or glacial outwash fans in the Santiam River drainage between Mehama and Turner have provided a few hundred square miles in area of sand and gravel. The gravel resource forms a fairly narrow channel through Salem and Turner; but toward Stayton, where the channel of distribution widens, there is 50 feet or more of gravel. What are the land use regulations for approving mineral and aggregate sites? Oregon Revised Statute 215.298 requires that, before land use approval to extract aggregate is granted, the site must be included on an inventory list adopted as part of a county's comprehensive plan. This is done through a comprehensive plan amendment application. Comprehensive Plan amendments to be included on the inventory list must be in compliance with Statewide Planning Goal 5 (Natual Resources, Scenic and Historic Areas and Open Spaces) that includes criteria on quality, quantity, and location of the resource. Comprehensive Plan amendments must also meet county criteria outlined in the Marion County Code. In Marion County, most of the rural resource zones list mining and processing of aggregate as a conditional use. However, under current Oregon Administrative Rules if it is determined that there are no significant conflicts, a conditional use permit may not be required. This determination is done through the Post Acknowlegement Plan Amendment (PAPA).