Current News for American Mineral Research

June 3, 2021
American Mineral Research shines light on past, present, & future federal land lock-ups in SW Oregon.

Filmed in spring of 2021, this mini-documentary linked above includes a variety of discussions by the management team and a board member of American Mineral Research. This covers the impacts resulting from how federal land is managed in Josephine County and SW Oregon, some of this area's rich critical mineral and precious metal mineral development opportunities, and information about past, present, and pending federal mineral withdrawal and wildland expansion proposals.

* Disclaimer: American Mineral Research does not have any mineral properties that would be directly affected by these federal proposals and is merely acting to protect SW Oregon's economic and tourism future. Our state geology department (DOGAMI) hasn't ever had a budget to do significant field mineral research in SW Oregon and American Mineral Research has been collaborating with local governments and agencies such as DOGAMI / Oregon State University to inform the public of the billions of public and private opportunity costs and fire risk costs that come with these federal land lockup proposals.

April 24, 2021

American Mineral Research pens article about Federal Mineral Withdrawals in Josephine County for first monthly edition of the Josephine County Eagle in May of 2021.  We want to help local law enforcement!

American Mineral Research does NOT have any mineral property developments that would be directly affected by current US Federal Mineral Withdrawal proposals.  However, as part of the mission of American Mineral Research is to help our local governments in Josephine County, especially public safety, law enforcement, and tourism in Josephine County, we wrote the following article for the first monthly edition of the Josephine County Eagle.  This newspaper is mailed by the Eagle to all residents and businesses in Josephine County.  Facts in this article are based on our many years of historical and current scientific mineral research in Josephine County and SW Oregon.

Do you have a comment or want to help us work in favor of local law enforcement funding?  Please reach out to us using the CONTACT page.

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Our [County's] Mineral Wealth Under Attack

​Few locally seem to know that politicians in Washington D.C. have proposed legislation that would majorly affect Josephine County. Certain bills would have a devastating long-term financial impact on our local communities and future tourism in Josephine County. These are proposed federal mineral withdrawals and wildland expansions in Josephine County and SW Oregon which would ban minerals/metals exploration and related activities in large areas [certain federally managed lands].

One example is that in February 2021, without gathering current local input, Rep. DeFazio added a title to H.R. 803 Protecting America's Wilderness and Public Lands Act to enact a permanent mineral development activity ban on certain lands in Josephine and Curry counties. Despite DeFazio’s claims of protecting watersheds and fish habitats, most areas subject to this legislation don’t even have flowing water for much of the year.  DeFazio’s mineral ban section in H.R. 803 must be removed or Congress needs to compensate Josephine County for the loss of billions of dollars of precious metals and critical minerals in this area.

Tellurium is the rarest of all the critical minerals on the USGS Critical Mineral list and is a semiconductor metal primarily used in making solar panels.  We were recognized by state geologists for the discovery of high levels of native Tellurium on our properties in Josephine County long before Tellurium was added to the critical mineral list in 2010.

Our County was built on the mineral development industry.  In the 1920’s, the world’s eyes were on Grants Pass as a major federal mineral investigation concluded that this area had abundant minerals and many of the lands should be reclassified as mineral lands. In the 1930’s, our state geology department was started in Grants Pass because democrat Governor Martin thought SW Oregon’s mineral wealth could pull Oregon out of the Great Depression.

Well as we say, rocks don’t change. Southwest Oregon’s geology, located in the northern half of the Klamath Mountain range is unique in the world. We believe Josephine County is the center of the mineral wealth in this region.

Other than some of our recent privately-funded efforts, no modern geology research has been conducted locally and our lands remain improperly classified. Some think we have a trillion dollar opportunity in SW Oregon.

Our county’s primary mineral wealth comes from lode (hard rock) mineral deposits.  We have developed a unique lode mineral development program based on our complex geology which is a tiny surface impact and doesn’t impact our local watersheds or beautiful natural environment.

Significant law enforcement revenues for Josephine County’s justice system can also result from responsible mineral development efforts on our public lands, just like past timber agreements. By both the spirit and letter of the law, our public lands are supposed to “contribute to the economic stability of local communities and industries.”

The Senate needs to remove DeFazio’s mineral withdrawal title in H.R. 803 or compensate Josephine County for the loss of billions of dollars in mineral deposits. If we don’t act soon, much of the opportunity to improve Josephine County’s future economy and our local justice system funding in this way will be lost forever.

Let’s not forget the county justice system financial crisis of 2012-2017, let’s vote to renew all current public safety funding sources and fix the rest of the local challenges through our vast mineral wealth.  If you agree that Josephine County should be compensated for the mineral wealth and hundreds of potential future high paying jobs that would be taken away, drop an email to the County Commissioners at bcc@josephinecounty.gov so we build local support.

April 5, 2022

AMR Continues to Support Josephine County Law Enforcement - Ideas to Fund Sheriff Patrols

By Jay Meredith

Josephine County’s Sheriff Office has been in different stages of a financial crisis since 2012.  This is largely due to Federal agencies cutting back on timber funding via the O&C Act and cutbacks in temporary federal funding sources partially meant to replace some O&C funding.  The years 2012 to 2017 were especially challenging, with Josephine County having less law enforcement per capita in unincorporated Josephine County areas than many third world countries.

While we’ve now funded much of our adult jail and juvenile justice budget needs through a levy vote in 2017 and a voter levy renewal in 2021, time has come to decide how to fund rural patrol services.  The Sheriff and County Commissioners say we have approximately one year left to figure out funding for rural patrol before remaining reserves are depleted and the limited services we have today have to be cut back yet again.

Sheriff Dave Daniel made a bold move last month in floating a seasonal sales tax, likely in part to show just how urgent the situation really is.  One County Commissioner has been looking into the idea of a seasonal sales tax for at least a couple years now, but as has happened every time a local sales tax has been proposed in the last 20 years, the proposal seems to lack support.  Even in the depth of the law enforcement financial crisis in 2015, City of Grants Pass voters said no to a sales tax for City law enforcement services and county jail services by almost 80% no.

As I mentioned to the Sheriff when last month he was very generous in allowing me some time to explain potential alternative funding sources, when it comes to local taxes the sales tax is probably the most logical proposal but also the least likely to pass a vote.

“You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

Well in Josephine County and many other places, the most popular funding source (read tax) is one that somebody else pays or one that come from our unique timber and mineral resources.  We at American Mineral Research have made several attempts to explain some of these alternatives to the Josephine County Commissioners in the last three years, and recently began reminding commissioners of even more funding alternatives that have only been partially vetted during the financial crisis.

There are several funding sources, meeting our local prejudices, that if all put together and all pursued could fund all or most the Sheriff’s $4.6 million per year funding gap without going the route of an unpopular levy or sales tax vote.

Timber and Minerals:

The Sheriff, knowing that we at American Mineral Research are working to support local law enforcement, has been following our recommendations over the years.  The Sheriff even attended a County Commissioner meeting last year where we made such a recommendation and asked the Commissioners to follow through on pursuing compensation for federal actions that have illegally locked up our mineral and timber lands.  Commissioners to date have failed to follow through on these many recommendations without an apparent explanation.

I asked the Sheriff in our recent meeting, “If our Federal delegation proposed a federal act that would permanently lock up every single acre of federally managed land currently designated as O&C lands in Oregon, and prevent all timber harvesting and mineral development efforts on this former O&C land, do you think Josephine County and other Oregon counties would fight back?”  “Yes, absolutely” said the Sheriff.  Well Sheriff, that’s exactly what’s happening now…just in a series of smaller congressional acts.  They illegally locked up a bunch of Josephine County’s federally managed O&C land in 2019, and now there are no less than three major federal acts pending that would permanently lock up hundreds of thousands of additional acres in Josephine County and SW Oregon.

The Commissioners sent a couple letters to Congress last year opposing these efforts, which is a start after several years of warning these actions were coming, but they have yet to take the time to understand the revenue that can come from our plentiful mineral and timber resources.  Our last few calls in 2022 to the Commissioners’ office to set up a meeting to explain this potential have gone unreturned.  While there isn’t room to detail it all here in this article, let me also say that our only agenda here is to help local law enforcement and preserve our County’s economic future.  We don’t have any properties in our mineral portfolio that would be affected by these federal proposals.

Also to this end, in January this year we proposed the Commissioners put on the May 2022 ballot a non-binding advisory question related to compensation and our federally managed mineral/timber lands.  But apparently, the crazy idea of moving the County to Idaho advisory question was more important to the Commissioners than making people aware of potential funding options for the Sheriff’s office.

On a similar note, we also find it interesting that the O&C Counties’ recent major win in federal court in upholding the timber harvesting required by the O&C act (2019 legal victory) has not been mentioned as a potential near-term factor in funding for the Sheriff.  Rumor is the settlement to the counties will be decided soon, and could potentially provide more revenue to O&C Counties in the next few years to partially make up for what the Counties should have had in the last 10-20 years.  What will this mean for the County’s bottom line in the next few years?  It remains to be seen, but the figure is potentially big enough to become a factor in the Sheriff’s funding discussion.

Granted, revenues from timber and minerals may be longer-term considerations but if we don’t stay focused on steps needed to get there now, it may never happen in the long-term.  And before you or any Commissioner repeats the statement about nothing will be done while the “Democrats” are in control, let me just say that President Biden just spent a bunch of time this year promoting (and throwing federal money at) two different critical mineral mining projects in California along with Governor Newsom, billions of critical mineral research and processing infrastructure federal funding is now in place through the recently passed federal infrastructure bill, and even Senator Wyden just proposed a small amount of critical mineral grant funding. 

Our private research shows that SW Oregon, and Josephine County in particular, has green energy minerals like the very rare mineral Tellurium that goes with some of our gold deposits and this can be a huge long-term boost to public coffers.  Tellurium is the rarest of all the critical minerals on the USGS Critical Mineral list and is a semiconductor metal primarily used in making solar panels.  We were recognized by state geologists for the discovery of high levels of native Tellurium on our properties in Josephine County long before Tellurium was added to the critical mineral list in 2010.

Other funding sources…let somebody else pay part of the bill!

As far as more traditional funding sources for local government and local law enforcement, another idea that needs to be pursued through a stage legislative change is allowing counties to charge a franchise tax (or right-of-way privilege tax) on utilities just like cities in Oregon are allowed to charge this tax.  This is so common, that Pacific Power has 3.5% built into its base rate for all accounts to cover this tax.  Grants Pass has a 5% utility tax rate, but on Pacific Power bills for properties in Grants Pass city limits, you’ll only see a 1.5% fee.  Josephine County residents living in unincorporated areas of Josephine County are already paying a 3.5% tax, so let’s change the state law to allow that tax to be remitted to Counties just like it is in the Cities.  This is much easier said than done, but let’s hope our legislative representatives are up to this state law change challenge.

About two years ago, Josephine County started looking into a property registration ordinance that would set up a fee for any property owners that don’t live in Josephine County.  Curry County has implemented a similar ordinance for law enforcement purposes.  At the time this was first proposed in 2019, of properties in Josephine County with “out of the county” property owners, 33% of them had code enforcement violations and 30% of them had Public Health or Solid Waste violations of some kind.  And while the County is refreshing these stats, at the time 50% of County search warrants were for properties with “out of county” property owners, 28% of recovered stolen vehicles were coming from properties with out of County owners, and more.  And the fees are projected to bring the County as much as $1.1 million per year with the potential for the majority of revenues from this fee to be dedicated to the Sheriff.

A lodging tax for the unincorporated portion of Josephine County should also be reconsidered.  Grants Pass already has a 12% rate, but Josephine County doesn’t have a lodging tax in any amount.  State law would only allow 30% of new lodging tax revenues to go towards law enforcement, but this revenue source could also be a huge boost for tourism promotion revenues and potentially for revenues of Josephine County Parks and the Josephine County Fairgrounds.  The typical lodging tax covers Airbnb type properties, RV/campground rentals as well as traditional hotels/motels.  There is a small percentage state lodging tax that most short-term rental type properties in Josephine County should already be administering.  A County lodging tax could help support one or two more Josephine County Sheriff deputies as well as provide a big boost to tourism promotion revenues and tourism facility funding (County Parks and County Fairgrounds).  And of course it’s paid by visitors, not by local taxpayers.

Now let’s see if the County Commissioners pursue some of these more reasonable ways to fill the Sheriff’s funding gap, or if they remain focused on moving our border to Idaho, so to speak.  



November 6, 2021
American Mineral Research and Josephine County Commissioners collaborate to put our county on the map in Washington, D.C.

After almost three years of warning the Josephine County Commissioners about how much Josephine County and SW Oregon is being damaged by our congressional delegation and a series of mineral withdrawals and wildland expansion acts proposed by Rep. DeFazio and Senator Wyden, we have finally caught someone's attention in Washington, D.C.

As we've tried to shout from the rooftops in 2021, Josephine County now faces no less than three major federal bills that would lock up hundreds of thousands of acres of federally managed lands in Josephine County and SW Oregon.  Most of them have been proposed in 2021, but we’ve known for years the damage that DeFazio and Wyden intend to do to Josephine County’s economic future. 

Josephine County Commissioners finally got the hint in 2021 and started paying attention.  While County Commissioners have much more to do to fight these damaging proposals in our view, a letter they sent to D.C. back in September 2021 finally got someone’s attention.

On September 8th, 2021, Josephine County Commissioners sent a letter to all US Senators and all members of the US House Natural Resource Committee which requested Josephine County be removed from the acreage within these damaging land lockup proposals.  In the letter they highlighted American Mineral Research’s discovery of high levels of Tellurium in certain parts of Josephine County and the fact this rare critical mineral needs to be protected for green energy manufacturing (used to make a certain type of high efficiency solar panel).  They also attached our Op-Ed that called out Senator Wyden for misrepresenting the voices of those of us that live in rural Oregon in the areas that would actually be affected by these costly and unnecessary Acts.  That September letter is here:  Josephine County Letter 9.8.21 H.R. 803 and S.192.pdf

At the end of October, County Commission chair Dan DeYoung was invited to testify on November 9th about one of these bills to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources.  On Friday November 5th the County submitted additional information to the record for this hearing, including resubmitting the September letter plus a new four-page letter written by American Mineral Research explaining how damaging these proposals are to Josephine County.

The congressional subcommittee hearing starts at 10am PT this Tuesday November 9th and can be watched on the committee’s YouTube page.  Ten separate bills are before the subcommittee in this hearing so Josephine County and this topic may not get much “airtime,” but let’s hope Commissioner DeYoung is bold during his 5 minutes of allowed oral testimony time.  These Acts are unnecessary and very damaging bills to Josephine County, because current law already protects our watersheds and the salmon and we would be losing billions, perhaps trillions, of future economic potential just in the mineral values that would be locked up forever. 

Let’s hope Congressman Bentz, who is expected to attend this hearing, speaks out publicly for the first time on how damaging these proposals are.  To date, he’s been largely silent on what we see as the biggest long-term federal issue facing Josephine County other than being quoted in an editorial from the Capital Press on August 5, 2021, as having surveyed the County Commissioners in his district and 53 of 63 County Commissioners oppose the River Democracy Act.  The River Democracy Act would unnecessarily lock up huge amount of acreage in Josephine County and over 3 million acres in Oregon. 

But that’s not all!  American Mineral Research also drafted a new six-page letter and requested Congressman Bentz submit it to the record for this upcoming hearing.  Congressman Bentz, since your new district lines will soon include all of Josephine County, it’s time to stand up for what the vast majority of Josephine County citizens want and need.

For the full story of why this should be on the radar of everyone in Josephine County, please see our new six-page letter here:  

American Mineral Research - Additional Congressional Testimony 11-9-21 Hearing.pdf