Mineral exploration permits ceased by county

At their Oct. 25 weekly business session held at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass, the Josephine County Board of Commissioners voted to suspend the acceptance of mineral exploration permits and mining leases.
According to the board order, “The Board of County Commissioners intends to update Chapter 5.15 of the Josephine County Code which pertains to mining and… The consideration and approval of mineral exploration permits and mining leases costs public resources including staff time and consulting fees and… The Forestry Program should focus entirely on preparing and offering timber for sale as a steady and reliable source of revenue for the county.”
The county will refund the administrative fees paid by any organization with a pending mineral exploration or mining permit application, with the exception of a mineral lease application submitted in May, which will be processed separately.
American Mineral Research, Inc. is the organization that has the aforementioned mineral lease pending. AMR has had a mineral exploration lease on county property for several years, and recently delivered a presentation before the commissioners explaining why they are now seeking a full permit to mine the land of gold and other valuable minerals. The commissioners, however, have made it clear they find the evidence submitted by AMR thus far to justify a full mining operation less than compelling.
“The idea of the suspension of acceptance of applications is to give the board and county officials time to consider ways in which to update the Josephine County Code in this area,” remarked county legal counsel Wally Hicks. He added that the suspension will last for one year but the board will have the option to extend it.
Commissioner John West said he supports the suspension while code revisions are under consideration because “it takes time to update that ordinance and go through all the public hearings and all that.”
“When we finally come up with a policy that we believe is good for the county, then we will go through the whole procedure and have two meetings and approve it,” Baertschiger assured.
The vote was 3-0 to approve the mining permit suspension order, with Commissioner Dan DeYoung joining his colleagues West and Baertschiger in voting yes.
Also at the meeting, four properties were annexed into the Josephine Community Library District: a 3.03-acre property on Lower River Rd in rural Grants Pass owned by Darin and Judi Fowler; a 5.23-acre property on Demaray Dr in Grants Pass owned by the Murry-Brown Family Trust; a 1.81-acre property on Holland Loop Rd in the Illinois Valley owned by Hannah Elizabeth Sauchyn; and a 17.3-acre property on Illinois River Rd in Selma owned by Christina Wright.
JoCo Community Library Associate Director Michelle Rosenberger spoke briefly on the matter of these annexations, saying, “These are four families that have asked to be annexed into the district because they want to support the library.”
Board Chair Herman Baertschiger elaborated, “We have a library here in Josephine County and it’s voluntary to opt into the district and these people have agreed to opt into the district which will help pay for our library system in Josephine County.”