By Ted Shorack

The Bulletin

If you go

What: Public hearing on potential gravel mine near Prineville

When: 6 p.m. tonight

Where: Crook County Meeting Room, 320 NE Court St., Prineville

A proposed gravel mine near Prineville is facing opposition from nearby landowners who are concerned about groundwater, dust and noise from the potential commercial operation.

Knife River Corp. has plans to extract gravel from a nearly 100-acre site belonging to Craig Woodward, president of the Prineville Sawmill Co.

The sawmill is located at the proposed gravel mine site off NW Stahancyk Lane, northwest of Prineville. To process the gravel, Knife River is proposing to wash the aggregate on-site and store wash water from the Ochoco Irrigation District in ponds.

A contract between the irrigation district and Knife River is pending approval of the mine but allows for up to 150 acre-feet of water — enough to cover 150 acres with a water depth of 1 foot — to be delivered to the site for washing extracted gravel. The mining and wash water storage plans have raised concerns about potential contamination.

Most nearby properties rely on well water.

Carroll Asbell, who lives near the proposed mining site, said the sensible approach would be to take the gravel somewhere else to be washed or put in a pond liner so that no unwanted contaminants find their way into the groundwater.

The Crook County Planning Commission will hold a hearing tonight to hear from local residents and will decide whether to make a recommendation of approval to the Crook County Court, made up of the county judge and commissioners.

Woodward and Knife River are proposing a change to the county comprehensive plan that would recognize the site as a significant source of aggregate within the county. The comprehensive plan outlines land use policies and goals.

The change would open the door for potential approval of a conditional use permit for the mining.

Crook County Court would have to adopt an ordinance changing the comprehensive plan and recognizing the property as a “significant aggregate resource site.”

The planning commission voted to extend a June 24 public hearing to tonight’s meeting to allow for additional comments to be made by the public and Knife River.

Woodward said at the June hearing that based on other operations, Knife River has “always lived up to everything they said they would.

“We don’t want to damage anybody else’s property in any way, shape or form,” Woodward said, according to a county recording of the hearing. “We’re going to end up with a farm field when it’s all said and done. It looks to me like a win-win.”

Knife River plans to mine 10 acres at a time on the property and put topsoil back after extracting aggregate.

Tim Marshall, a geologist and planner with Knife River, said at the June meeting that about 1.2 million cubic yards of aggregate could be extracted based on 20 tests done at the property.

“The rock is high-quality aggregate,” said Marshall at the June hearing. “The bulk of it is useful for concrete aggregate, which is what we’re primarily looking for from this source.”

Woodward’s land is zoned primarily as exclusive farm use. Mining activity is allowed on land zoned for farming but requires a land use review and conditions that have to be met if approved.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,