Why Has Sand Mining Become
an Issue in Fannin County?
Some landowners in the Ravenna / Mulberry communities are very concerned about the sand mining operations in that area. One of those concerned citizen asked CORE, an established local non-profit organization, to help organize landowners to better address their concerns. The following issues of concern emerged from their first meeting on September 24, 2016:: 1) the effects on water quality and shallow wells in the area, 2) the increased traffic and danger from loaded trucks running full speed down a FM road not built or maintained for such traffic, 3) noise pollution, 4) the degradation of the topsoil and possible erosion, 5) the effects the mining has on property values for those not willing to sell/lease, and 6) the intimidation tactics used by one company if the owners are not interested in selling.
The facts as we understand them (as of 1/5/2017):
N-TEX Sand & Gravel Company appears to be conducting their business in a professional and ethical manner. They either buy or lease the land for a reasonable price. Then, if written into the contract, they will reclaim the land after the sand is extracted. The owner Tom Gaedtke has contracted Randy Moore (who worked many years for the FC Soil & Water Conservation District) as a consultant to sit down with those landowners to talk about reclamation. They discuss their vision for their land post-mining — e.g. agricultural uses, livestock grazing, wildlife management, etc. Together they work out a plan that is as close to what they envision as possible. This might mean a large pond, a wetlands, native grasses, wildflowers and trees planted, good grazing grasses sprigged or seeded.
Another entity, Metroplex Sand & Gravel Co. of Fort Worth (represented by a Bill Baldwin) is reported by some landowners as pressuring them in order to secure sales contracts — offering questionable amounts of money and even lying about why the buyer wants the land (e.g. for a ranch). If the owners are not interested in selling, they’re told they will be surrounded by lots of noise and big trucks, 24/7. The company makes a small ‘intent’ payment, but doesn’t plan to close on the sales until they get a large enough bundle of properties to be financed by a Chicago lender. It is unclear how much reclamation they might do, as that is not required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
County Commissioners Resolution
The sand mining issue has been on the FC Commissioner’s meeting agenda several times. At their October 4, 2016 meeting they signed a “Resolution Requesting Legislation That Requires Reclamation of Mined Land” which was presented to Sen. Hall on the 24th — at a town hall meeting about the issue which was set up by the commissioners. The Task Force has since suggested a few minor modifications of the document, and has stated their objectives for legislation for regulatory mandates by TCEQ. [See link below for the Resolution.]
CORE Citizens Group of Fannin County
Objectives for Legislation for Sand/Gravel Mining
Regulatory Mandates by TCEQ
1) Ensure the reclamation of the land disturbed by surface mining so that its viability for cattle grazing and crop production, its aesthetic qualities, and its biodiversity are restored.
2) Ensure that, in the process of sand mining, the air is not polluted and the water in shallow wells and other groundwater is not contaminated.
3) Ensure that all roadways and thoroughfares in the county that are accessed for hauling sand are regulated, repaired, and maintained for safe transit, and that traffic laws are obeyed by all mining operators.