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Defending Old Hazeldell

In her Sept. 15 column entitled “Quarry on Native Lands,” Kayla Godowa-Tufti argued that the Old Hazeldell Quarry (OHQ) site, which is currently the subject of a public land use process with Lane County to allow quarry mining, is culturally significant to local Native American tribes. There are a number of factual inaccuracies that merit a response.

 Godowa-Tufti stated that Greg Demers was one of the owners of OHQ. In addition to being irrelevant to the merits of the proposed quarry mining application, the claim is totally false. The site is not, and never has been, owned by Mr. Demers, and he emailed Lane County staff this fact for the public record after this was erroneously stated.

Godowa-Tufti suggested that King Estate Winery is not sincerely devoted to sustainable business practices and that the environmentally responsible measures taken by King Estate Winery are merely an attempt to deceive the citizens of Lane County. Those who know King Estate know that such characterization is absurd. Furthermore, King Estate Winery is completely separate from OHQ.

Godowa-Tufti also claimed that an Indian trail cuts through the site, that ancient materials have been found on the site and that there is a “known burial ground nearby.” Her claims have been thoroughly responded to by a well-respected, Eugene-based nationally certified archeological firm, Heritage Research Associates. Its report may be found at oldhazeldell.com.

Not only did Heritage Research exhaustively research the written records pursuant to state law, but three archeologists from Heritage Research also canvassed the 45-acre site specifically to look for evidence of past Indian trails or burials grounds. No such evidence was found.

This recent cultural survey is consistent with the U.S. Forest Service’s similar reconnaissance of the site in the early 1990s. The U.S. Forest Service found no evidence that would support Godowa-Tufti’s claims.

In addition to the Lane County Planning Commission’s formal public hearing process, OHQ, of its own accord, did its own public outreach, including twice meeting with citizens of Oakridge and the site’s neighbors, as well as meeting with the Oakridge City Council, LRAPA, SW Forest Collaborative, Oakridge Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Last month, the Lane County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval to the Board of Commissioners subject to 46 conditions of approval. Many of those conditions were a direct result of the input received from the public process. In other words, public process improved the proposed project.

If approved, OHQ will be able to provide up to 17 million tons of high-quality rock to be used in building roads, bridges and homes in Lane County and beyond, and will do so by moving the rock less than a mile from its source to a state highway without passing a single home. The quarry will be a source of local jobs and be a boost to the local economy, while providing a crucial resource to Oregon’s transportation infrastructure.