FLORENCE, Ore. - Mining the Oregon Coast.
An out-of-state company is interested in silica deposits on the dunes, but residents say the project would come at a huge environmental cost.
Harlen Springer and other members of the Heceta Beach Neighborhood Group say the pristine Heceta Dunes area should be the last place for a silica mining operation.
Springer says, "Right now we want to act methodically and responsibly."
They say an Indiana man is interested in silica deposits in the dunes and that crews took sand samples last June.
The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition is also monitoring the situation.
Director Phillip Johnson tells KVAL News, "Well, what might happen, what would be predictable would be pit mining. The open question right now would be how big a pit."
Silica is industrial sand used in glassmaking and for fracing operations.
Johnson and Springer said residents anticipate increased truck traffic, dust, noise and disruption of wildlife if such a mining proposal gets off the ground.
The U.S. Forest Service is quick to point out nothing has happened since Wilson took his samples and nothing may happen.
"So there's no mine proposal. There's no additional sampling proposal. There's no other exploration activity underway," Area Mining Geologist Ruth Seeger (based in Springfield) told KVAL Wednesday.
Neighbors want to mobilize, just in case.
"Our best move is what we're doing, is to notify everyone of what the outcomes could be, what the impacts are and to get ready," Springer said.
Johnson laments the mine could happen legally under a federal mining law that dates to 1872.
"It's insane that we are still operating under this law from a century and a half ago."
To be fair, KVAL News tried to reach the prospector at his listed office number in Indiana but got a recording that the number was disconnected.