Plans for gravel mine near Sanger delayed

FRESNO, Calif.

The project was approved by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors last October. Gerawan Farms hoped to break ground on the mind this summer.

But a local group called Friends of the Kings River had concerns. Not so much about the mine, but about what happens when the mining is done. State law requires the land be reclaimed to a beneficial use.

Attorney Marsh Burch says the plan to leave behind 600 acres of water filled pits is not a benefit.

"The state mining and reclamation act requires that the end use be a beneficial us and in our view, it's not."

The mine developer says the pits left behind are too deep to be filled with dirt and leveled, so, they want to allow the natural groundwater to fill them up. Mining Board members John Lane had problems with that.

"Why would you want to expose such a valuable resource?" He asked.

And because the ponds would be so close to the Reedley airport they would have to be forever kept free of plants and wildlife that would attract birds, which could collide with planes. So, to board member Brian Baca that meant the land would never actually be reclaimed.

"What is being proposed here is where the land is never suitable for another end use. There is a continual and perpetual financial assurance liability to keep making sure that nothing grows or lives there."

In the end the board voted unanimously to send the plan back to Fresno County. The project manager for the Mine, Mike Mallory said it's a small setback.

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