Tag Archive for: natural resources

Earth Week Part 2: Clearing Land for Sand Mining

Best management practices for sand mining in many states say that miners should avoid clearing land until they’re ready to mine it. The roots of trees and grasses help stabilize soil during floods.

Barren land exposed to three 500-year storms. Vegetation not only binds the soil, it reduces the velocity of floodwaters, reducing the potential for erosion. Picture taken on 9/14/2017 two weeks after Hurricane Harvey.

Land Cleared, Then Three 500-Year Storms

However, on Caney Creek in Porter, a sand miner cleared 60 acres right before three 500-year storms in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Except for a tiny pond at the far end of this cleared area, no mining had occurred here when I took this photo shortly after Harvey.

With little vegetation to reduce the velocity of floodwaters, the miner lost sand from this area and a significant portion of his stockpile. Below is a closer shot of the stockpile.

34-acre stockpile suffered severe erosion during Harvey.

Sand Damage Downstream from Mine

Meanwhile, downstream from the mine, when Harvey’s floodwaters subsided, Kingwood residents found 30 acres of East End Park covered with sand, including this area that was once wetlands.

Eagle Point section of Kingwood’s East End Park. After Harvey, sand dunes replaced wetlands.

Extreme events like Harvey reveal the need for regulations that protect both miners and the public.

Restoring the trails in the park cost residents hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several months after the storm, trees covered by sand started dying and continue dying to this day. Eagles, other birds, and residents have lost valuable wetlands.

Bills to Regulate Sitting Idle

State Representative Dan Huberty introduced a bill that would establish best management practices for sand miners and another bill that would require miners in the San Jacinto watershed to follow them.

  • HB 909 calls for the TCEQ to adopt and publish best management practices for sand mines.
  • HB 1671 creates penalties for non-compliance with best practices defined under HB 909.

The legislature has taken no action on either bill since:

  • The Environmental Regulation Committee received HB 909 on 2/25/19.
  • The Natural Resources committee received HB 1671 on 3/4/19.

Time Running Out

With only 37 days left in this legislative session, hopes for both bills are quickly fading. If you would like to see them enacted, please email committee members:

House Environmental Regulation Committee

House Natural Resources Committee

Click here to see my top ten recommendations for sand mining practices that could reduce erosion. Each represents an opportunity for improvement relative to other states.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/23/2019

602 Days since Hurricane Harvey with 37 Days Left in the Legislative Session