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Texas Parks and Wildlife Sand and Gravel Permitting Program: History, Scope and Protections

As I’ve been posting a lot about sand mining legislation, a friend sent me this doc today about the reasons for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) permitting program. TPWD regulates mining in rivers; TCEQ regulates mining in flood plains.

Photo by Jim & Melissa Balcom of their son playing on the West Fork of the San Jacinto after Harvey.

Difference in Tax Rates Between Rivers and Flood Plains

Flood plain mining has a 2% tax rate; in-river mining 8%. This doc explains what the department does with that 8%. TPWD’s authority to regulate mining in rivers goes back more than 100 years.

TPWD says that:

Dredging of sand, gravel, and shell from rivers and bays can negatively impact fish and wildlife habitats. Habitat alteration is the primary cause of population declines, loss, and extinction of freshwater fishes, mussels, and other aquatic organisms. Habitat alteration is also one of the primary contributors to listing of fish and wildlife as threatened or endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act. 

Evolution of Mining Influenced

Because of the 4X difference in tax rates, and the fact that sand is a highly competitive undifferentiated commodity, sand from flood plains enjoys a huge cost advantage: 6%. As a result, comparatively little sand is taken from rivers today. In an average year, TPWD department says it brings in only $200,000 to $400,000 statewide. It comes mostly from small scale mining (less than 1000 cubic yards) by people who want to build roads or pipelines across streams.

Goals of Regulations

As the number of applications for permits has increased, TPWD has established project guidelines such as seasonal restrictions that avoid or minimize impacts to recreational users; site-specific provisions to ensure channel stability; and best management practices to control bank erosion, avoid land loss, and reduce downstream impacts. 

Read Over Your Morning Cup

The entire document is 2-pages, well-written, and well-illustrated. It will give you a good understanding of why the state started regulating sand mining in rivers long ago…all during your morning cup of coffee or tea. Highly recommended easy reading!

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/19/2019

598 Days since Hurricane Harvey