PNS Daily Newscast - July 23, 2019 

A bipartisan deal reached to avert U.S. government default. Also on our Tuesday rundown: a new report calculates the high hospital costs for employers. Plus, new legislation could help protect Florida's at-risk wildlife.

Daily Newscasts

Report: Lack of Modern Mining Law Chips Away at "National Treasures"

April 18, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - An Oregon region is on a new Top 10 list of public lands threatened by mining activity. It's another battle cry in a long struggle to update the nation's mining law, which is almost 140 years old.

A new report from Pew Environment Group cites the Siskiyou Wild Rivers region of southwestern Oregon as one place gold miners tear up the turf without having to pay royalties or clean up environmental damage when they're done, leaving that to taxpayers.

Erik Fernandez, wilderness coordinator for Oregon Wild, says the last decade has seen more than 800 mining claims in that area.

"Bringing in Diesel-powered engines to suction off the bottom of these rivers is not the kind of management that helps to restore this natural treasure. We recognize that mining is going to continue to happen into the future. We just want to make sure that it's not happening in places like the Siskiyou Wild Rivers."

Fernandez says Oregon is already dotted with more than 5800 abandoned mine sites, some of which are safety hazards and a continuing problem for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Eleven of them in Oregon are on a national priority list for cleanup as hazardous waste sites.

"The federal agencies have their hands tied by the 1872 Mining Law. It's not that they're not enforcing the laws; there aren't enough laws out there to truly address the mining threats."

Fernandez says most of Oregon's congressional delegation favors updating the mining law; he thinks the effort has not been successful so far for lack of a leader to take up the cause, either in Congress or the administration.

Miners say they do pay fees to the state for their claims, and that not all are irresponsible about cleanup.

The report also lists Mount St. Helens, the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore as areas where mining is taking a toll on the health or safety of drinking water, plants, fish and wildlife.

The report, "Ten Treasures at Stake," is online at

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR