Part 1

Sand Mining
in the Texoma Area
We are not hoping to shut down sand mining.  Sand is needed.  However, we do want to help ensure that the entire process is ethical and respectful of the landowners (and their neighbors) and of the environment -- a win/win for all.
This photo -- taken on an unknown date by Bing Maps -- is of sand mining in another Texas location, not in Fannin County.  Hopefully, this land will be reclaimed (or was) after the mining is completed.
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.

[NOTES from a year ago]

CORE Announces Strategic Planning Meeting Regarding Sand Mining

The event will occur Saturday, November 12, 2016, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon in the Elizabeth May Room of American Bank in Bonham.  Randy Williams, an experienced “facilitator” from McKinney, has been engaged to assist.  At the end, “What will I resolve to do?” 
Fannin county citizens concerned about recent aggressive expansion of sand mining operations west of Ravenna on FM 1753 have met with Commissioners Court and at a “Town Hall” meeting with Senator Bob Hall.  Reported attempts by yet another sand mining operation based in Fort Worth, to acquire large tracts of land in the county have added to citizens’ strong protective reaction against the destruction of agricultural land and woodlands, and displacement of families and long-established patterns of peaceful rural living.  The destruction and contamination of state highways paid for and used by all tax-payers is also cited, along with multitudes of speeding trucks endangering drivers on these roads.
Clean water and clean air: No concern is greater than that expressed for clean water in homestead wells that can be ruined by sand mining operations.
Citizen attempts to solicit help from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality enforce perception that the agency is either not adhering to state regulations or is structurally committed exclusively to large business interests at the expense of citizens and the environment.
Texas law does not require the reclamation of devastated land following mining operation, not ever.  “When will this change?” 

Citizens attending the Strategic Planning meeting on November 12 are asked to think about their own “goals and strategies” for countering sand mining operations that are redefining for all what it means to live in Fannin county.  Among possibilities identified at a November 1 meeting of CORE are the following:

• Contacting Red River Groundwater Conservation District, and other local water districts;

• Gathering data on groundwater - wells going dry;

• Sand industries’ plans - where are the plants, and what is their definition of “processing”;

• Air Quality;

• Contacting Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);

• Contacting local government and local State government;

• Determine how to become informed about sand mining businesses in the county.

To see past meeting reports and other documents, scroll down to "Links" on the far right
Click here to Keep Up to Date! . . . The "Fannin County Sand Mining Report" Blog 
(Includes a recorded Interview with residents affected by the sand mining -- "Smoothed Out Holes".)
The blog is updated regularly, so sign up there to 'follow' Citizen K. 
Metroplex Sand & Gravel Equipment (Citizen K)
N-Tex Operation (Citizen K)
Sand Truck w/o Tarp  [Tracy Lester 11/23/16)
Arial View of roads Metroplex wants to widen and pave.
N-Tex operations
Receive update e-mails from the Sand Mining Task Force.  Send a request to: 

'Not Just Dust' --- a
sand mining resistance group in Atascosa County, TX:
on Facebook
Their website

Wall Street Journal article (3/23/17), " . . . The Rocketing Price of Sand"

" . . . Both the State and Fannin County ignore that the sand mining companies are completely destroying the ecosystem that creates and protects these shallow water wells. They are destroying a layer of groundwater; destroying a valuable source of groundwater that the state has passed laws to protect. This in a county, designated by the State, as a county in need of groundwater protection. . . . " 

Click here to read the entire article by Task Force member Jeff Sweet.
Notices of Sand Mining Task Force Meetings are now being posted on the CORE Facebook page.

Task Force Objectives:

■  Assure timely reclamation of land affected by sand mining. 
■  Assure that air and water is not contaminated by mining interests moving into northwest Fannin County. 
■  Assure that roads are repaired and that all applicable regulations and traffic laws are enforced.

Working Committees:   Research / Community Awareness / Legislation / Enforcement