Department of Lands defends gravel mine decision

Emily Anderson, the Idaho Department of Lands public information officer, wanted my readers and I to understand why the Idaho Land Board voted 5-0 to continue leasing the bed of the Salmon River for gravel mining. I wrote about the issue in a blog last week and my Monday column, How long will the Salmon River remain a gravel mine?

The gist of the column is that environmentalists were going to continue to challenge the gravel mine because the Salmon River is considered Idaho’s most valuable.

Anderson sent me a fact sheet that shows that the board considered many of the issues raised by the 430 people and the Idaho Conservation League about the gravel mining of the Salmon River.

“Previous Land Boards have not permitted mineral extraction for sections of the river above Long Tom Bar and below Hammer Creek in order to address concerns about the scenic characteristics of the river. However, previous Land Boards intentionally left this area open for mineral extraction because it does not meet the standards of a Wild or Scenic river, and the Idaho Water Resource Board did not recommend any additional protections for this section of the Salmon River. In addition, this source is one of only two rock sources in the area that meet Idaho Transportation Department materials standards. The materials from this operation are a main source of ITD material for Highway 95 projects in the area. Testimony demonstrated that sufficient alternative sources do not exist in this area, and upland gravel sources have the potential for other impacts.

Here are the other issues she addressed:

"Recreation – The extraction operation normally is active outside of the prime time for floating, fishing, and other recreational activities on the river. The mining area appears to be just another gravel bar during the summer. In addition, this stretch of the river does not receive as much river traffic as other sections of the Salmon River. The number of floaters and anglers that pass by the mining area during the brief period it is active, or between the time it is mined and spring high water, appears to be small. No evidence of substantial complaints from fall and winter floaters or anglers was presented in testimony or comments.

Public input – Most of the written comments IDL received that opposed the application were written on a form letter and largely contained the same concerns. A number of other written comments, as well as most of the testimony given at the Feb. 21, 2012 public hearing supported the application. Thirty-seven members of the public attended that hearing, and only one person testified in opposition to the application. Also, it was intentionally arranged that public testimony would be accepted at the Land Board meeting on March 20, in order to provide members of the public another opportunity to present evidence and provide comments.

Harm to the river and the resources associated with it – No photos, monitoring data, or other evidence was submitted to support the statement that the operation would harm the river and the resources associated with it, especially salmonid fish species. The river channel has been stable for more than 40 years with mining at this location, and site specific conditions will keep it stable. Chinook spawning redds have increased in number, and mining operations are conducted in a manner to avoid impacts. Sedimentation from the mine area will not be an issue as long as operations continue to be conducted in the responsible manner prescribed in the approved operating plan."

In closing Anderson pointed out that public trust lands, including the beds of rivers, are managed for the public benefit, which includes commercial activities such as gravel mining, dam construction and diversions.

“Abundant testimony was given regarding the benefits provided to many members of the community, businesses, and the general public through the use of the mined aggregate in concrete and construction projects,” Anderson said.

Good coverage Rocky

It sounds like the human benefit is great but it shouldn't just be about humans and this use shouldn't be based on a popularity contest. What are the benefits of this operation to the environment? I see it doesn't "seem" to harm the fish (we didn't ask them) etc but there are many other environmental factors.

Like what?

Perhaps you are like the enviromentalist who testified. They couldn't come up with any EVIDENCE to support their ideas.


Does it have to benefit the environment? Or can it just be neutral?

one of a kind unfortunately

Well not many rivers like the Salmon left. It is a prescious jewel now because of our environmental practices and deserves special consideration. Are you willing to loose this river for a little profit?


You say it is a "prescious jewel".

Yep and the mining has been going on for 55 years.
So apparently the mining hasn't reduced the river to anything less than your "precious jewel". Otherwise, you would be forced to say, look the the terrible pollution, erosion, and silt downstream of Riggins. You can't say that cuz it's not true. This gravel operation is not affecting the river.

Profits and jewels can coexist.

And there are lots of rivers like the Salmon. Get out more and look around. The world doesn't stop at the borders of Idaho.

sure thing

the Salmon River in Idaho is the longest un-damed river in the lower 48, that's a sad fact. Sadly there's plenty of human caused damage on the Salmon River. Ask the Salmon, Stealhead and other native fishes or other wildlife that used to call it home but have been destroyed. Gota go, I'm gonna "get out" some


Dalek, you and Barker need to get together and write lies together.

the longest undamed river in the lower 48 is the Yellowstone. And that is NOT a sad fact. There are things called lakes.

Ask the salmon? good one.
Other wildlife called the Salmon home and are not there now???? Wait, I thought the Salmon is a precious jewel. A jewel without wildlife?

Do you need a Kleenex?
Reach over and get one from the Rock.

Dams -once again the dam enviros cry about dams.
Cascade Res.
Payette River
Boise River.

I don't hear any enviros complaining about their fun time rafting on the Payette in late August- thanks Deadwood Resevoir-dam.


isn't there a dam at Yellowstone Lake. The Salmon doesn't have a dam on it. The environment is more than just a toy for humans. No worries mate


I'm worried that you might vote.

Let me guess, you think every lake has a dam?

You and Barker are classic "enviromentalists".

All will be explained to Herr Nubeimann directly below.




"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger

Economic interests will always win in Idaho. Land of the Marlborough Man and we know what happened to him.

An addict came up with that phrase you know.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?


The Rock wrote, "...the Salmon River is considered Idaho’s most valuable."


it is a dry gravel bar.
Despite the implied image of Rock's blog, it is not like a dredge running in the middle of the river.

Imagine a two-year-old picking up rocks along the side of the river. Is that okay? Now imagine 10,000 of them doing the same thing. And next spring, mother-nature will replace the supply.

From SOMETHING, like the federal budget.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

"my readers and I"?


Grammar is not one of the Rock's strength.

Eating donuts? Now he's interested.
Using spell check? No.
Bacon? Yes.

The unfortunate part of it is, as readers continue to read WRONG stuff, they tend to accept the wrong version. Aint that true?

And the publisher of the Statesman is to blame in this case.

Do they groom the new publishers then?

Parrish left, it's not Gowler's job. They hired a guy from the San Jose Murky News.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

PS I can barely afford a bacon cheeseburger...

but you'll have to shoot it from my cold, dead hands.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?