Examples of Environmental Damage Caused by In-Stream Sand and Gravel Operations
Johnston Sand and Gravel
Vaughn Ready Mix
Walnut Ridge Enterprizes
Havin Materials Service
Schultz Sand and Gravel
Schultz Sand and Gravel on Cole Camp Creek near Cole Camp, Missouri. Currently the Land Reclamation Commission is considering a proposed permit expansion. About 75 residents have provided written complaints about how muddy the water has become and about sedimentation that is causing a problem for all who attempt to use the creek for purposes other than mining. Specifically, these letters describe the problems as follows. Copies of the letters are available if you would like to review them.
Eroded banks and shallow water in a Benton County stream. Schultz Sand and Gravel (February 2002)
Equipment travel and in-stream gravel mining caused erosion and no flowing water in Cole Camp Creek. Schultz Sand and Gravel (October 2002)
Landowner complaint letter statements:
- Mr. Dallas Brown of Warsaw wrote on August 29, 2002 “The water stays muddy most of the year. Many people depend on Colecamp Creek for recreation but it’s so muddy no one can enjoy the water.”
- Mr. Sterling Swearngin of Warsaw wrote on September 9, 2002 “The removal of gravel down to solid rock has also destroyed the habitat of various fish life in the stream such as fresh water mussel, nesting water holes for fish, flat head catfish, large mouth bass, blue gill, etc. The stream was noted over the years for walleyed pike. It is now too muddy for them to occupy.”
- Leland and Martha Lee of Warsaw wrote on August 30, 2002 “This tears up the creek and makes it so dirty, silty and oily it’s hard for the fish to come upand#8230;.Makes me sick they think they can do anything they want to. We built a real nice place down here. They are ruining the land price of our property and other folks places too. They don’t care if they ruin the creek. All they care for is to make lots of money at our expense.”
- In a telephone conversation, Mr. Lee stated “he wrote into us complaining about the muddy water and now it is our job, because that is what we get paid for, to investigate the issue of the muddy water.”
There are no documented damages to the local infrastructure such as roads and bridges, but clearly there is a concern for the loss of the recreational value of this Ozark stream.
Johnston Sand and Gravel
Johnston Sand and Gravel removed gravel at Sellars and Murphey Creeks in Camden County. Here the Department of Conservation (MDC) cost-shared an erosion control structure with the county in an attempt to save a low water crossing at a county road. The Land Reclamation Program and Water Pollution Control Program addressed this in September 2000. Charles Johnston mined below the water level and caused headcutting, which damaged a county road low water crossing upstream of the extraction site. A total of 18 acres of stream channel were impacted by this unpermitted mining operation. The complaint was first called in by nearby landowner Mr. Less Richardson. Local government and MDC spent approximately $10,000 for the repair that was needed to correct the damage to the low water crossing and to install a grade control structure to protect the crossing from further damage in the future. Additional work appears necessary as the creek bed continues to degrade and threaten the crossing. Please see pictures of the site before reconstruction and currently threatened.
Looking upstream, Sellars Creek in Camden County has not been impacted above the bridge. Johnston Sand and Gravel (March 2002)
The bridge in Sellars Creek in Camden County before repairs. Johnston Sand and Gravel (June 2001)
A view of the bridge before repairs at Sellars Creek in Camden County from the opposite angle. Johnston Sand and Gravel (June 2001)
The bridge at Sellars Creek in Camden County after repairs. Johnston Sand and Gravel (March 2002)
Vaughn Ready Mix
Vaughn Ready Mix on the Jacks Fork River in Shannon County. There was a complaint filed by a senator concerning the company’s operation where the operator mined below the water level. The senator was concerned about the effect of the operation on his commercial campground operation (mainly from the noise levels at the screening/washing plant), which was nearby. The Vaughns subsequently moved their operation to an alternate location that also received several complaints from Mr. Morton. The Land Reclamation Program noted several poor mining practices occurring at this later site, prompting Mr. Morton’s complaints.
Looking upstream with mining having taken place from bank to bank. Vaughn Ready Mix (July 2000)
Materials pushed into the bank vegetation will eventually cause vegetation to die and expose the banks to erosion, if not corrected. Vaughn Ready Mix (July 2000)
Walnut Ridge Enterprizes
Adolph Lieback, a/k/a, Walnut Ridge Enterprizes, on the Bourbeuse River in Franklin County. This operation mined out a large gravel bar and removed quite a quantity of gravel below the water level and dug into the bank. This site was inspected as a result of a complaint. The operation caused substantial damage to the river at that location in the form of major excavation into the banks of the river causing massive bank failure and resulting property loss and downstream sedimentation. Violations were issued in 1995 and corrective actions were required to stabilize the stream banks, which was done by the operator.
Havin Materials Service
In addition we would note that stream problems can be addressed and mitigated, although prevention of the problems is always the preferable option. As an example we would note the experience of Havin Materials Service in Phelps County south of Rolla in the mid-1980’s. By working through the stream problems with the operator, the department was able to solve the problems in the Little Piney River, which is a cold water trout stream. The willing cooperation of the operator was instrumental to solving this problem and very much appreciated by the department. The company remains in business at this location today.No photo available.
A complaint investigation was conducted at this operation in Benton County on February 24, 1998. The complaint was anonymous and alleged improper mining practices in the course of excavating sand and gravel from Indian Creek. An inspector from the Land Reclamation Program determined that the excavation was not being done in accordance with generally acceptable practices. As a result, increased channel erosion and downstream sedimentation was occurring. In addition, the mining company had constructed a stream diversion channel to divert the normal channel away from the site of excavation.
During 1998, the Army Corps of Engineers was the permitting and enforcement authority that regulated this type of mining activity. As a result, the Corps conducted their own investigation of this site shortly after the Land Reclamation Program investigation. Their inspector made the same observations and following the Corps' inspection a "Cease and Desist" Order was issued to Smasal Aggregates by the Corps. This Order mandated that mining at this location stop immediately and no further mining has been allowed to occur.
Damage resulting from this improper mining included the beginnings of a head cut which caused increased erosion within the original channel upstream of the excavation site and downstream sedimentation resulting from the material eroded from upstream of the excavation site. It is fortunate that the mining operation was ceased when it was. Had mining continued with the excavation in the way that it was being done, it is certain that greater damage to both upstream properties and downstream reaches of Indian Creek would have resulted.
No photo available.
Linn Creek Sand and Gravel
The most dramatic example of a costly gravel mining operation is the situation on Linn Creek that caused considerable damage to property upstream of the mining site as well as to the bridges over Linn Creek on Highway 54 in Camden County. Massive damage was also done to the infrastructure of the town itself including sewer lines, water lines, phone lines and power poles. The actual costs to the community of Linn Creek are unknown but estimated to be near $100,000 or more.
One of the more common problems identified with in-stream operators is the tendency to affect the banks adjacent to the removal site. This can either be by actually digging into the banks or by shoving the oversize cobbles into the banks. Several operators have been cited by the Land Reclamation Program for this practice, which results in excessive deposition of this material on downstream landowner properties. Companies that have been cited for this practice in the past are Houston Redi Mix, Vaughn Sand and Gravel, Hekawee Land Company, Cannon Properties, Bentley Trucking Inc. and EBS Backhoe Service Inc.
A backhoe used to reach out and down into the river bottom causes a vertical, unstable bank along the river when mining to remove minerals is done out of flowing water. Walnut Ridge Enterprizes (1995)
Bridge pillars in Linn Creek that were previously buried in the stream channel are now exposed an additional 10 feet above the water line. The creek bed eroded due to downstream gravel mining. Linn Creek Sand and Gravel (Mid-1980s)
The stream channel suffered from “active headcutting”, which shows major erosion of the stream bed due to downstream gravel mining. Water depth typically drops about 10 feet in depth at the head cut. Banks also suffer from erosion.
Linn Creek Sand and Gravel (Mid-1980s)
This sewer pipeline at Linn Creek was previously buried beneath the stream bed. It is now high enough above the new stream base to walk under. Linn Creek Sand and Gravel (Mid-1980s)