In-stream Sand and Gravel

Many Missouri streams provide an abundant and easily accessible source of sand and gravel for construction activities. In-stream sand and gravel mining is one of the most prevalent types of mining in Missouri, as far as the number of sites. However, in-stream sand and gravel mining is somewhat of a misnomer because this mining method does not allow for excavating machinery to mine in the flowing portion of the stream. This mining method would be more accurately described as a bar skimming mining operation. 

Bar skimming is limited to the exposed portion of a gravel bar above the water line, within the ordinary high banks of a stream but not within the flowing water. Bar skimming is recommended as a means for advancing stream resource conservation while maintaining a viable extraction industry. This type of gravel removal operation lowers the risk of forward erosion of the stream channel upstream and sedimentation downstream from the area of excavation. In addition, the practice of removing gravel at periods of low water flow will aid in protecting wildlife near the stream environment. Some of the rules include: staying an adequate distance from the stream bank, use of existing crossing areas, leaving an undisturbed buffer of 10 feet from the flowing water line and no mining below the water line. There are some circumstances when the operator can apply for and receive a variance after multi-agency consultations have occurred which generally involve the Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Removal of sand and gravel from streams can cause damage. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is concerned that gravel removal be done properly in order to minimize impacts to landowners upstream and downstream. Other agencies, state and federal, have authority under existing regulations to help protect the health of streams. 

Permit Types

Commercial Gravel Mining

The department permits about 200 in-stream sites, annually. Numerous commercial mining operators across the state excavate sand and gravel deposits, commonly known as gravel bars, as a source of aggregate material. Questions about permitting should be directed to the department’s Land Reclamation Program at 573-751-4041.

The majority of commercial in-stream mining activities on gravel bars are permitted by the department, but there are some permitted by USACE. The department and USACE worked together for the last 10 years to make their in-stream sand and gravel mining requirements nearly identical. If in-stream gravel removal is not conducted in strict compliance as written in the Sand and Gravel Excavation Plan, USACE may become involved in the permitting requirements.

Sand and Gravel Mining - PUB2813

Personal Gravel Mining

The department does not require a Commercial Gravel Mining permit for personal use only, as identified in the regulations at 10 CSR 40-10.010(2)(B)1. However, personal use gravel mining may be regulated by U.S Corps of Engineers (USACE) under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Before conducting any stream gravel removal activities, contact USACE to determine what permitting requirements may apply to your proposed personal use gravel mining. Questions about permitting should be directed the department at 573-751-4041, or contact the USACE District near you. 

Sand and Gravel Mining - PUB2813


Fees for permits to mine sand and gravel are required in most situations. Refer to In-stream Sand and Gravel Operations Permit Application Guidance - PUB2460 for information about fees and required forms.


Permits to mine sand and gravel are required in most situations. Refer to In-stream Sand and Gravel Operations Permit Application Guidance - PUB2460 for required forms and for information about fees.


State: Missouri Clean Water Act

What it says: It is unlawful to discharge any contaminants into waters of the state including those that form putrescent, unsightly or harmful bottom deposits, oil, scum, and floating debris or cause unsightly color or turbidity or offensive odor Have a harmful effect on human, animal or aquatic life.

If these materials are present in quantities such that above conditions are present, water quality standards may 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 Branch
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
PO 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. 

It is your responsibility to ensure that your activities do not impact federally listed species.

For more information: 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
101 Park DeVille Drive, Suite A
Columbia, MO 65203-0057

Federal: Section 10 Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and Section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972

This Act is also known as The Clean Water Act.

Under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbor Act, USACE regulates any work or structure in, over or under navigable waters of the United States. Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, USACE regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material in all waters of the U.S., including rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. Permits must be obtained from USACE prior to starting any work within USACE jurisdiction. Actions regulated under Section 404 also must obtain a Water Quality Certification from the department's Water Pollution Control Program under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. USACE contact information.