Gravel extraction is an important economic activity for the coastal economies of Oregon and northern California communities. Coastal development and highway infrastructure are dependent on high-quality gravel, and rapidly increasing transportation costs make long-distance movement of gravel cost-prohibitive. Therefore, local gravel sources are often utilized to support growth and development in these coastal regions. Over 90% of the gravel extracted is used for making concrete for the construction industry, asphalt for highway construction, drain-rock for sewer and water systems and for road fill. Gravel can be extracted for other reasons than to provide a marketable commodity, including maintenance of channel depth for navigation, irrigation diversion, flood control, and channel stability. Coastal rivers provide high-quality gravel because the softer and more highly fractured rocks do not survive the erosive forces of water and the constant abrasion as they tumble from the headwaters to the ocean. However, gravel extraction in many coastal rivers has been reduced or curtailed because of its effects on both anadromous and resident fishes and their habitats. Such effects can include loss of spawning gravel, reduction in juvenile fish rearing habitats, channel instability, siltation or other water quality issues, and loss of riparian habitats. Impacts of gravel extraction on fish can have both short-term (direct mortality or displacement from habitats during the extraction phase) or long-term cumulative effects on fish and their habitats. Conflicts between gravel extraction interests and the protection of fisheries resources escalate when rivers are inhabited by fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act. As a result, the possibility of generating fish habitat enhancement opportunities while mining gravel through creative extraction planning and permitting flexibility has started to receive increasing attention.

Guillermo Giannico (editor) et al
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Proceedings of regional symposium held April 2006, S Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Charleston, Oregon.
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Entry Date: 
Sunday, October 1, 2006
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Additional editors: Frank Burris and Jim Waldvogel
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