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Two Gravel Mining Permits


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Just saw this ad in the Baxter Bulletin (http://www.baxterbulletinonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060721/NEWS01/607210316/1002) talking about new gravel mining permits. Paper begins the argument by talking to someone who loves smallmouth fishing, but thinks that not mining gravel and sand from a local source would cost too much. And, therefore, the growth of the twin lakes area would be stunted.

One question: What would the cost be to go into the river after mining and engineer habitat that was destroyed due to the mining? The same has to be done by foresters, although when they harvest an area it is blatantly obvious to all who pass by - thus fostering more support for replanting.

What can be done to prohibit gravel mining on this beautiful smallmouth fishery altogether? If a tree in my yard falls on my neighbor's house it's my responsibility, right? Well, following that logic; if a landowner allows mining on their property and the result of that is detrimental to my property downstream, does that mean I can sue the landowner upstream for damages? If so, I'd bet that access to the creek would be severely limited in the future.

Please add thoughts and forgive my spelling.

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Thing is, it's all about cost. The cheapest way to get gravel is to dig it out of a stream bed, without regard to any damage you are causing, and without doing anything to remedy the damage afterwards. As long as that sort of thing is allowed, the costs are going to be artificially low, because they don't take into account the costs of damage done. But nobody wants to pay more for anything than they have to.

There ARE ways of mining gravel that are LESS damaging to streams. But it's never totally benign.

As for fixing the damage after it's done (restoring habitat), it sounds good but it really isn't possible. Once the stream bed is altered to the extent that gravel mining usually alters it, the effects travel upstream and downstream, and you can't put any of it back the way it was. Your point about the damage done to downstream (and upstream) landowners is a good one, but often it isn't obvious to everybody that the gravel mining caused the damage. A hydrologist can see it immediately, but the average person doesn't equate filled in pools and siltation miles downstream, and eroded banks and such upstream, with gravel mining in a particular place. There are too many people who still think it's a GOOD thing to get all that gravel out of the stream.

Leave aside the fact that maybe a little restraint upon growth might not be a bad thing, anyway. At least, if we were more responsible about where and how we get our building materials, we'd understand more of the TRUE costs of doing so.

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