Laws and Regulations That Might Affect You if You Mine Sand or Gravel From Missouri Streams

Missouri streams are an important source of sand and gravel for many construction activities in Missouri. In many cases, Missouri stream channels provide an abundant and easily accessible source of these materials. However, removal of these materials can have harmful effects on streams, life in the streams, and landowners upstream and downstream from a removal site.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has no regulatory authority over sand and gravel mining operations. However, because removal of these materials from streams can cause damage, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is concerned that gravel removal be done properly, to minimize impacts. A copy of our Sand and Gravel Removal Guidelines is located below. Other agencies, state and federal, do have authority under existing regulations, to help protect the health of streams. The following information is provided to assist you in understanding the regulations that may affect your sand and gravel operation.

Fisheries Division personnel from the Conservation Department are available to assist in locating sites where gravel can be removed with minimal impacts on streams. Fisheries staff are located in:

  • Kirksville 660-785-2420
  • St. Joseph 816-271-3100
  • Kansas City 816-356-2280
  • Columbia 573-882-9880
  • Sedalia 660-530-5500
  • St. Louis 314-285-5051
  • Sullivan 573-468-3335
  • Camdenton 573-346-2210
  • Lebanon 417-532-7612
  • Springfield 417-895-6880
  • West Plains 417-256-7161
  • Cape Girardeau 573-290-5730 or 5731

Please do not hesitate to contact one of these offices, if you would like assistance in locating gravel removal sites.

Local: Flood Damage Reduction Ordinance
What it says Some jurisdictions (for example, county, city) require any projects in certain floodplains do not raise flood heights. Projects include many dirt moving activities such as mining, dredging and building construction.

This law applies to you if:

  1. Your project is within a participating jurisdiction.
  2. Your project is within a designated flood hazard area.

It does not apply to you if: Either of the conditions above do not apply to your project.

For more information:
Your local town clerk, county clerk, or the National Flood Insurance Program State Coordinator at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources at 573-751-2116.

State: Land Reclamation Act
What it says: If this law applies to you, you must get a permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The permit application will require information such as a Sand and Gravel Excavation Plan, maps of the site location, fees, along with a Company Information Form. Once the application is deemed complete by Land Reclamation Program staff, the applicant must advertise a Notice of Intent to Operate a Surface Mine in a newspaper in the county in which the mine is located, and send certified mail to the landowners surrounding the mine site property. These regulations came into effect in 1990.

This law applies to you if you commercially mine sand or gravel from Missouri streams, other than the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

It does not apply to you if you mine gravel from streams for personal use or you are a political subdivision (for example, county, city) using your own equipment and personnel, and are mining the material for your own use, or you are removing sand from the Missouri or Mississippi rivers. However, you should check with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see if they have jurisdiction over these types of activities.

Commercial operations that conduct sand and/or gravel removal within the stream banks must comply with the following regulations that were adopted by the Missouri Mining Commission Sept. 30, 2004, and are found at 10 CSR 40-10.050(14). The following regulations are designed to protect water quality while allowing for the excavation of sand and gravel from riparian environments. Upon request of the applicant, the program may establish site specific variances to address conditions that may occur at individual locations.

  1. Excavation of sand or gravel deposits shall be limited to deposits in unconsolidated areas containing primarily smaller material (at least 85 percent of the material is less than 3 inches in diameter) that is loosely packed and contains no woody perennial vegetation greater than 1 1/2 inches in diameter, measured at breast height, 4 1/2 feet.
  2. An undisturbed buffer of 10-foot width shall be left between the excavation area and the water’s edge of the flowing stream at the time of excavation. A buffer zone of adequate width to protect bank integrity should be left between the excavation area and the base of the high bank.
  3. An undisturbed buffer of 25 feet wide shall be maintained in an undisturbed condition landward of the high bank for the length of the gravel removal site. Disturbed areas in this riparian zone shall be limited to maintained access road(s) for ingress and egress only. No clearing within this riparian area is authorized in association with work authorized by this permit.
  4. Sand or gravel shall not be excavated below water elevation at the time of removal, except:
    1. If the stream is dry at the time of excavation, excavation shall not occur deeper than the lowest undisturbed elevation of the stream bottom adjacent to the site. Upon request of the applicant, the excavation depth restrictions may be modified if the staff director determines that a variance would not significantly impact the stream resource.
    2. For wet stream reaches, the excavation depth restriction may be modified if it is determined by the staff director that a variance would not significantly impact the stream resource based on the presence of bedrock to prevent head cutting, excessive bed load, gravel rich areas or any other appropriate reason.
  5. Stream channels shall not be relocated, straightened, cut-off, shortened, widened, or otherwise modified. A stream channel is defined as that area between the high banks of the creek where water is flowing, or in the case of a dry stream, where water would flow after a rain event.
  6. Within 30 days of the removal of excavation equipment from the site, stream bank areas disturbed by the removal operation (access points) shall be revegetated or otherwise protected from erosion. For long-term operations, longer than 30 days, or for sites that will be periodically revisited as gravel is deposited, access points shall be appropriately constructed and maintained such that stream banks and access roads are designed and constructed to minimize erosion.
  7. Any aggregate, fines, or oversized material removed from the site shall be placed beyond the high bank, on a non-wetland site that has been approved by the landowner. No material, including oversized material, that results from excavation activity may be stockpiled or otherwise placed into flowing water or placed against stream banks as bank stabilization unless specifically authorized by a state or federal permit.
  8. All sand or gravel washing, gravel crushing, and gravel sorting shall be conducted beyond the high bank, in a non-wetland area and away from areas that frequently flood, such that gravel, silt, and wash water that is warm, stagnant or contains silty material cannot enter the stream or any wetland.
  9. Vehicles and other equipment shall be limited to removal sites and existing crossings. Water shall be crossed as perpendicular to the direction of the stream flow as possible.
  10. Fuel, oil and other wastes and equipment containing such wastes shall not be stored or released at any location between the high banks or in a manner that would enter the stream channel. Such materials shall be disposed of at authorized locations.
  11. Outstanding Resource Waters (10 CSR 20-7.031)
    1. In-stream sand and gravel operations are prohibited from those waters listed as "Outstanding National Resource Waters."
    2. In-stream sand and gravel operations are prohibited from those segments of "Outstanding State Resource Waters" that are owned or managed by a state or federal agency.

Secretary of State, Code of Regulations, Division 40, Missouri Mining Commission – Permit and Performance Requirements for Industrial Mineral Open Pit and In-Stream Sand and Gravel Operations

For more information: 
Land Reclamation Program
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102

State: Missouri Clean Water Law
What it says: It is unlawful to discharge any contaminants into waters of the state including those that:

  1. Form putrescent, unsightly or harmful bottom deposits.
  2. Oil, scum and floating debris.
  3. Cause unsightly color or turbidity or offensive odor
  4. Have a harmful effect on human, animal or aquatic life.

If designated beneficial uses under the Clean Water Law are prevented, it is considered that these materials are present in quantities such that water quality standards have been violated.

This law applies to you if you mine sand or gravel from waters of the state, including streams and other waters.

It does not apply to you if your mining activity is in a stream floodplain, at least 100-feet from the stream bank, that is not a wetland.

For more information:
Water Pollution Control Program
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Missouri Department of Natural Resources Regional Offices

Federal: The Endangered Species Act
What it says: It is illegal to harm federally-listed endangered or threatened species or the habitat on which they depend. At this time, the following species could be affected by in-stream mining:

  • Interior least tern – lower Mississippi River.
  • Pallid sturgeon –Missouri and lower Mississippi rivers.
  • Niangua darter – Tributaries draining north to the Osage River, including Tavern, Little Tavern, Bear and Brush creeks, Niangua, Little Niangua, Maries, Pomme de Terre and North Dry Sac rivers.
  • Pink mucket mussel – Portions of Big, Black, Gasconade, Little Black, Meramec, Osage, Sac and St. Francis rivers.
  • Fat pocketbook mussel – Upper Mississippi River.
  • Curtis' pearly mussel – Castor and Little Black rivers and Cane Creek.
  • Higgins' eye pearly mussel – Mississippi River.

The endangered species list changes from time to time, as species become endangered or restored.

This law applies to you if your planned activities are within, or could impact, the range of the species listed above.

It does not apply to you if your activities are not in the range of any endangered species. It is your responsibility to ensure that your activities do not impact federally listed species.

For more information:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
608 E. Cherry St.
Columbia, MO 65201

Federal: Section 10 Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and Section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act amendments of 1972 also known as The Clean Water Act
Under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbor Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) regulates any work or structure in, over or under navigable waters of the United States. Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Corps regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material in all waters of the United States, including rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. Permits must be obtained from the Corps prior to starting any work within the Corps' jurisdiction. Actions regulated under Section 404 must also get a Water Quality Certification from the department's Water Pollution Control Program under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. For U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contact information and map.