Note: This is part of a series.
In one of the largest Measure 37 claims to date, a Portland man is asking Deschutes County for $200 million or the right to develop his property inside Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
James R. Miller wants to drill geothermal energy test wells, expand a small mining operation and build as many as 100 vacation homes on land he owns within the caldera….His 157-acre property borders East Lake, a popular fishing and camping destination inside the monument….
The greatest share of his $203 million claim comes from the value—estimated at $179 million, according to his filing—of the 8.5 million cubic yards of high-quality pumice at the site.
Not much to comment on here—though that seems like pretty darn expensive pumice. I wonder if the market would support such a high valuation. Not likely, given that the total value of all pumice mined in the entire United States in 2003 was less than $22 million (pdf link).
But that doesn’t really matter one way or the other. I’d wager that Deschutes County couldn’t pay even a fraction of what the landowner’s asking for. Heck, the county may not even have enough money to fight the claim at all.
I think we can expect even more of this kind of thing—mines in protected areas, wildly implausible economic estimates, etc.—as time goes on. Seems like Measure 37 is turning into a rich vein for some pretty unsightly shenanigans—and that what’s really getting mined is the public trust.