Phase I of a proposed dredging operation on Lake LBJ would take down this island created by the 2018 flood in what the Lower Colorado River Authority calls Zone C. The LCRA is taking public comments on an application from Collier Materials Inc. to set up an aggregate mining operation along the lake’s shoreline in Kingsland near the RM 2900 bridge. Photo by Stennis Shotts
The Lower Colorado River Authority has deemed one of four permit applications from Collier Materials Inc. to dredge in Lake LBJ “administratively complete.” The LCRA is now seeking public comments on the proposals.
The multi-phased mining operation is expected to last for years and will involve the construction of aggregate mining infrastructure to process dredging materials on the Kingsland shoreline, according to the applications.
All applications are rated Tier III for commercial operations in the LCRA’s Highland Lakes Dredge and Fill Ordinance, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Collier Materials’ three applications were the first filed for dredging in the lake.
The application for a “Kingsland I Sand and Gravel Processing Plant” is for dredging in Zone D, which is on the Llano River arm of Lake LBJ west of the RM 2900 bridge and upstream of Moss Creek. It involves a lease agreement for 78.66 acres of shoreline property located off of County Road 309 in Kingsland, where materials will be processed. The land is owned by Marsha Spinner and Spinner Beheim LLC and was previously used for agricultural purposes.
A “Kingsland II Sand and Gravel Processing Plant” application is for Zone C and also will operate from the leased site adjacent to the lake in Kingsland. It is east of the confluence of the Llano and Colorado rivers. This project’s first phase aims to remove an island of built-up sediment that formed during the 2018 flood that has become a popular spot for boaters to gather.
The dredging applications states the operation will include “drawing sediment from the lakebed, sifting, and processing it at a proposed plant.” The plant’s construction will involve clearing and grading a pad for stockpiles and parking equipment as well as building a boat ramp, docking bay, and settling ponds. Collier also will use two dredge barges and divert boat traffic from the Kingsland location.
The mining company will operate from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays and in rare cases on the weekends, according to the applications.
Collier also included plans in the applications to build a new driveway from CR 309 to the plant site.
In an email response to questions from DailyTrib.com, an LCRA spokesperson said the comment periods for both applications will remain open throughout the technical review period for each but gave no dates.
“If a draft permit is issued, the public comment period would remain open for an amount of time that will be stated in the notice of draft permit,” reads the email response. “If a public meeting is held, the comment period will be extended until the public meeting is concluded. The review process is explained in detail in this document, which also is available on the Dredge and Fill Permit Applications for Public Comment webpage.”
Comments on the application may be mailed or delivered to LCRA, Mail Stop L106, Watershed Engineering Planning, P.O. Box 220, Austin, TX 78767. You can also submit comments online.
One Save Lake LBJ member, Barbara Schmidt, who lives in Comanche Rancherias, the neighborhood adjacent to the Kingsland I proposal, pointed out that the Collier applications claim the company does not need permits from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or the Texas General Land Office to be granted operations permission by the LCRA. She and other Save Lake LBJ members disagree.
“The applicant implies that under the ‘restoring storage capacity’ claim he can dredge anywhere ‘regardless of the underlying survey’ indicating private land that extends into the lake,” Schmidt wrote in her comments to the LCRA. “The applicant is, in effect, telling LCRA he does not need any private landowner’s permission to dredge their property. This is a threat and an attitude that represents a recipe for disaster.”
She followed that with a question: “Does LCRA intend to stand by their own rules that private landowners must give consent to dredge their properties?”
A letter from the General Land Office to Collier Materials, which was included in the application to the LCRA, states that no permit is needed from the GLO. That letter is dated December 2020 and is for a different proposed dredging project, said Schmidt, who reviewed the letter. She asked the LCRA to obtain an updated opinion from the General Land Office.
Save Lake LBJ member Taylor Delz, whose Kingsland property backs up to the leased land on which Collier Materials plans to build its plant, said he’s making sure everyone knows what’s at stake.
“We don’t disagree the lake needs to be dredged. We disagree with the plans in place,” he said. “We are trying to get the correct message out there. These are permanent plans. Collier is not going to dredge for a few years and be done. Even the application says this is a years-long operation.”
Virgil Yanta, an attorney and Kingsland resident, is also submitting his comments and plans to continue to object to an aggregate mining operation on Lake LBJ.
“Our environment should not be for sale,” he said. “I grew up on a ranch. I’m a farmboy by background. It just galls me no end to see profit put before people. People are forgetting this is going to be permanent ”
Fermin Ortiz, who is the owner/operator of The Athletic Club in Marble Falls, also opposes aggregate mining on the Highland Lakes. He is a member of Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining, a statewide coalition of member groups working to create state standards for best aggregate production operation management practices.
“The Highland Lakes is so pristine and beautiful, there’s no justifying the commercialization of our lakes,” he said. “I’m very shocked the LCRA would let it get this far. Their mission does not allow for the commercialization of the Highland Lakes.”
LCRA staff will review all public comments and determine whether the applications meet the standards set out in the Highland Lakes Dredge and Fill Ordinance, the LCRA told DailyTrib.com. Any appeal of a staff decision to grant or deny a permit would go the LCRA general manager. If determined to be a valid appeal, it would go before the LCRA Board Water Operations Committee and potentially the full LCRA Board of Directors for a vote. Details about the appeal process are available in Section 11 of the ordinance.
CORRECTION: In reporting on the four applications from Collier Materials to set up a dredging operation on the shores of Lake LBJ in Kingsland, DailyTrib.com incorrectly reported the number of applications now open for public comment. Only one, a dredging permit for Kingsland II Sand and Gravel Processing Plant, is currently in the public comment stage. DailyTrib.com regrets the error.