PLEASE HELP SAVE RANCHES, WATER, WILDLIFE, PROPERTY VALUES, AND LIVES ON HWY 71
Generations of ranchers, your highway safety, our water resources, and
God's creatures depend upon it.
As many of you are aware, The Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) mailed out more than 400 packets to supporters of Save Sandy Creek who filed opposition to the industrialization of our precious water source. TCEQ has a process that they are required by law to adhere to. This packet is just part of that process. The information is extensive and will take the leadership of Save Sandy Creek some time to review. Please note that we have already requested a contested case hearing. We will be in touch as we develop a response. If you'd like to share your thoughts with us please do! We appreciate all your thoughts and prayers. As Admiral Farragut said, "Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!"
Fermin Ortiz, Larry Black, and Binky Morgan
A major tributary to the Llano River and Lake LBJ, Sandy Creek is unmistakable if you drive Highway 71 to Sunrise Beach, Llano, or Enchanted Rock from the East, or Horseshoe Bay, Marble Falls, and beyond from the West. A very wide, pristine sandy creek, often dotted with cattle or wildlife, it's crossed by a long stretch of two-lane bridge with a highway sign bearing its name. Its waters are among the purest in the Hill Country, and it bears some of the oldest exposed stone in North America. Sandy Creek meant everything to the Native Americans, to the early settlers, and now to the folks who live along it today, many of whom can trace multiple generations of ownership.
Generations of ranchers have relied upon Sandy Creek for water to maintain cattle and homesteads. This project will require multiple thousands of gallons of water PER DAY to operate. Homeowners throughout the area--seasonal, weekend and full-time--know this will destroy property values and impact their quality of life. Hunters and bird-watchers will see declining populations as the water disappears. The tourism industry will suffer. Finally, the potential for serious accidents will rise dramatically due to the projected 40-plus fully-loaded (and 40-plus empty) tractor-trailer trips per day on Highway 71. (Note that the application as presented to the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality allows for many more truck trips than current projections.)
We are an organization of ranchers, neighbors, hunters, friends, and fans of Sandy Creek--and users of Highway 71--who are deeply concerned about the damage that our water reserves, highways, tourism industry, businesses, ecosystem and lifestyle will suffer if the proposed Collier Materials sand and rock crushing plant is put into operation in Sandy Creek. We pledge to do everything we can legally and ethically to stop this project before it starts.
It appears the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has fulfilled its responsibility of protecting Texas’ beautiful natural resources.
Please read the online article then go buy a paper for the full article. The Friday edition of the newspaper is available at the 7-11 in Horseshoe Bay, Kingsland HEB, and many locations in Marble Falls.
We cannot let our guard down. We will keep fighting til the bell rings and the gloves are cut off. We are not gloating, merely informing.
A nice article by Daniel Clifton about the riparian restoration project on Sandy Creek is linked to below.
Members of Save Sandy Creek and land owners continue to work with subject matter experts to minimize the impacts and amount of sand and debris that flows into the Highland Lakes from Sandy Creek. Through natural restoration efforts of the riparian areas, sand flow can be significantly alleviated--the way nature intended.
The photograph to the left is a combination of two photographs from Google Earth Pro. The two photos are of the exact same scale. The photo of the FM 1980 Collier Sand Works shows what is believed to be a similar operation as to what is proposed in Sandy Creek, although the applications submitted for the work to date do not give precise information as to size of the operation. Later applications may specify with more accuracy but for now this is the best information available. IF later applications are filed with more equipment this composite will be changed to reflect that.
The photograph above does not show the size of the sand mining that will occur in the creek itself or the large mining or truck equipment needed to remove the sand. Steve Nash does not have a lease with any of the land owners adjacent to the location of the mine. Trucks will have to traverse the length of the creek shown here to get to Mr. Nash’s land near the Hwy 71 bridge where it can move from the creek to the sand processing equipment.
Additional photographs here show (above) the sand handling equipment that Collier first said would be moved here in the Spring, and (left) the two waste water pits on the Collier site currently along the Llano river.
These photographs were prepared by Larry Black, a lawyer for many of the landowners most affected by the proposed industrialization of Sandy Creek.
The accident described in the article linked here occurred on a portion of Highway 71 that has four lanes and has high visibility. If Collier Materials is allowed to place a plant on the Nash property right before the Sandy Creek bridge, their trucks would be entering a two-lane portion of the highway. They will be coming out of the Nash property by a bridge that allows no ability to safely evade the increased heavy commercial traffic.
We are not talking about a few trucks. Based on Collier Materials' actual quotes of how much sand they want to remove (between 1000 - 1700 tons per day) that would require between 40 and 68 fully loaded 25-ton capacity trucks a day trying to exit the property and then have to go up a sharp hill on a two-lane portion of 71. Another 40 to 68 empty trucks would need to enter the Nash property every day -- thereby doubling the potential for a tragic accident.
Collier Materials proposes an 8-hour day. Eight hours x 60 minutes = 480 minutes. At 40 trucks per day every 6 minutes a truck will be trying to either enter or leave the property. At 68 trucks per day it's every 3.5 minutes per day. The only way to keep this area safe is to defeat the attempt to industrialize Sandy Creek.
Collier Materials is on record as wanting to extract between 1000 and 1700 tons of sand per day, not for just one year or just two years. They have explicitly stated that they want to do it forever, or until they can't make money on it.
This project affects everyone who travels east from Llano, Kingsland or Sunrise Beach to Horseshoe
Bay or Austin. It affects everyone who travels west from Horseshoe Bay, Blue Lake, Deer Haven, The Trails or Sandy Harbor to Llano or Sunrise Beach.
The supporters of the industrialization of Sandy Creek want us to believe that there will be no increase in risk to the public. The truth is in the math.
Save Sandy Creek thanks State Senator Dawn Buckingham’s office, State Representative Andy Murr and U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway’s office for their attendance at the TCEQ public hearing and their interest in gathering information on this important issue. Local elected officials attending and speaking were Mike Bird, City Councilman from Sunrise Beach, and Peter Jones, Llano County Precinct 1 Commissioner.
Here is a brief recap of the information presented:
Pictured to the left above is the new plot plan, which shows SIX sand stockpiles. These stockpiles will be 45 feet high and their bases will cover one acre each. This information was not known to the public prior to this meeting.
Scott & White Medical Center, near the intersection of HWY 71 and 281, is about 45 feet high -- the height of the six proposed sand stockpiles. It covers half an acre, so the sand stockpiles will be double its width. Pictured in the section below is an image of the equipment that will be on site.
Property owner Steve Nash and Collier Materials have repeatedly said this was to be a modest plant, but now the truth is known. They will be expanding their production levels multi-fold from what was previously represented. This new level of production will exacerbate all the concerns for area residents, animals, and the environment.
Altogether 25 residents that live closest to the sand mine spoke against it, some detailing their age and significant pulmonary illnesses that will be aggravated by the pollution from the plant. One young father explained that he is on dialysis and has an immune disorder. He felt that the quantity of particulate matter from the plant will assure his death, echoing statements made by others.
Beyond the particulate matter that was the topic at hand, TCEQ explained that they had no idea where the water would come from to spray the sand stockpiles, although all of their conclusions assumed adequate water at all times to keep the pollution under control.
An email from Kevin Collier of Collier Materials was shown, in which he indicated that last year his sand mine in Llano County consumed 1.1 million gallons of water per month. This is almost 50,000 gallons per day. This area has not been proven to produce that volume of water.
Both Steve Nash and Kevin Collier were present at the public meeting but neither offered comments supporting the sand mine, nor did anyone else.
Not one single individual spoke in favor of this project.
Thank you to all who attended for presenting reasoned, articulate, calm, factual testimony.
On Thursday August 16, a presentation by Save Sandy Creek was held at the Sunrise Beach Community Center. The focus of the presentation was to explain how we can work together to assist our neighbors at the mouth of Sandy Creek that need to have sand removed from their waterfront, without the industrialization of Sandy Creek. It was a full house and the audience was engaged. We had numerous elected officials and their representatives in attendance. Several stated that they had gained new information that they were unaware of.
Another image of the August 16 meeting. >
If your organization would like to have representatives from Save Sandy Creek make a presentation at your next meeting, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On July 30 2018, members of Save Sandy Creek meet with Congressman Mike Conaway at the Congressman's Town Hall meeting at the Llano Library. L-R: Fermin Ortiz, Congressman Mike Conaway, Jennifer Ortiz, Binky Morgan, Patsy Wiley, Henry Tate, Dave Oswald, John Wiley, Winnie Tate-Morgan
On July 31 2018, Fermin Ortiz, representing Save Sandy Creek, met with our State Representative Andrew Murr in the family ranch house. Fermin was pointing out the area that state agencies have a vested interest and responsibility in protecting from flooding. Fermin was explaining that the residents at the mouth of Sandy Creek can be protected without the industrialization of Sandy Creek. Representative Murr was very interested in pursuing a long term solution.
Please take a moment to read this. It is an evaluation by a State Certified Professional Road Engineer regarding the traffic implications and solutions resulting from the proposed industrialization of Sandy Creek.
This letter was submitted to TCEQ by Kingsland attorney Larry Black, who represents several families with properties adjacent to the proposed sand mine.
In a vote held Monday July 9, the Llano County Commissioners Court voted to OFFICIALLY OPPOSE the Collier Materials Plant Proposal.
The City Council of the City of Sunrise Beach Village voted unanimously to OPPOSE the Rock Crusher and Sand & Gravel Plant proposed by Collier Materials Inc. at Sandy Creek in Llano County.
The July 13 edition of the Austin Chronicle features a piece on Save Sandy Creek!
The Texas Observer posted this story on July 18!
Even if you have previously submitted a comment in opposition or have signed a petition, treat this like a RESTART BUTTON. We do not want the TEXAS COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY to think opposition has gone away. Please get back on the TCEQ website, enter PERMIT NUMBER 152092L001, and state that you are "OPPOSED TO THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF SANDY CREEK." It does not have to be a long or eloquent statement; we just need more numbers to keep fighting for Sandy Creek. Please do it NOW while you are thinking of it! Thank you!!
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P.O. Box 154, Llano, Texas 78643, United States
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