MAHASKA COUNTY — A joint public notice has been given in regards to an application to mechanically excavate sand and gravel from a sandbar on an inside bend in the Des Moines River located southwest of Oskaloosa.
The location, specifically in Section 15, Township 74 North, Range 16 West, has been used in the past under a previous DA Permit, which expired in 2008.
The previous permittee did not reapply at that time, but there is an applicant under a new name proposing to use a long reach excavator to obtain material such as sand and gravel materials.
“These materials are used in concrete and a lot of different construction uses,” said Morgan Schuler, whom is named by the US Army Corps of Engineers and Iowa Department of Natural Resources as an applicant for the permit under the name of Manaco. “We just use a backhoe to pull the sand out.”
Schuler said although they are applying as a new applicant, this site has actually been excavated for a number of years.
“We just bought it from another company, I believe they have been doing it since 1999,” he stated during a phone conversation.
Dave Sedivec, director of the Mahaska County Conservation Board, said applications such as these need not always be approved by the county to start.
“They have to get what’s called a 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a lot of times it also has to be approved by the DNR,” he said. Section 404(b) refers to the Clean Water Act, which maintains that projects such as these require an assessment of the impact of the proposed activity.
The applicant of this project also requested authorization to work in the floodplain pursuant to Chapter 455B of the Iowa Code and other applicable state permits. However, at no point does Mahaska County have an official say on such an application.
“Especially on the Des Moines River, because it is a navigable stream, there are a lot of different technical rules the applicants go through, but not us,” Sedevic said of the conservation board. “It’s all through the Army Corps of Engineers.
Currently, the U.S. is soliciting public comments in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of project.
“If a landowner were to take issue with it, such as impacting their property value, that’s one concern we may address and forward on to Manaco,” said Albert Frohlich, project manager of the regulatory branch for the US Army Corps of Engineers. “However, this is not a major project and is actually quite routine so I don’t foresee a lot of, if any, comments.” When asked about the project, Mahaska County Supervisor Willie Van Wheeldon said he did not have any knowledge of the proposed sand and gravel site.
According to the public notice, the US Army Corps of Engineers has documented that there is no foreseeable historical or archaeological impacts and no potential impact on threatened or endangered species pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act as amended, although no consultation has been initiated with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at this time.
The public review kicks in today, Mar. 1, and will be open to commentary until Mar. 21. Legitimate concerns and replies to this project should be sent to the District Engineer, US Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, ATTN: Albert Frohlich OD-P, Clock Tower Building – Post Office Box 2004, Rock Island, Illinois 61204-2004. Written comments concerning possible impacts to waters of Iowa should be addressed to: Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 502 East 9th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.
To obtain additional information, Frohlich may be reached by phone at 309-794-5859, and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story provided by Hailey Brown of the Oskaloosa Harold