Regulations force shut-down of sand-mine operations, Viborg says
Viborg Sand and Gravel to close Salinas River operations
– After years of going head to head with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), longtime local business, Viborg Sand and Gravel, is shutting down its sand-mining operations at the Salinas and Estrella rivers.
“[The CDFW] basically shut me down,” said Paul Viborg of Viborg Sand and Gravel. “My family has been mining sand since the 60s; we got our first permit in 1967. Now the fish and game is shutting us down. People don’t understand that 40 percent of asphalt is sand. We need sand to build our roads.”
Viborg said the ongoing fight against what he described as constantly changing state regulations made it difficult to run his business. Viborg has mined sand along the Salinas River in Paso Robles, relocating to Estrella when the Nacimiento water project began. Last October, he requested an independent state panel to review his mining operations and the permits he would need to continue his work. The panel issued a decision that included restrictions on mining below the water level, sloping along the riverbank to protect existing habitat and steelhead trout.
“It makes it impossible to run our business,” Viborg said. Their state requirements went from three pages in 1996 to 50 pages now and over $15,000 dollars a year for permits by the time I hire surveyors. This regulation is hurting, not just me, but other sand-and-gravel businesses too. This is a third of my business.”
According to Kirsten MacIntyre, supervising information officer for the CDFW, “In order for anyone to conduct mining operations, all necessary local, state, and federal regulatory approvals, including a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, must be obtained. CDFW issued Mr. Viborg a permit for his mine operation in Templeton, but Mr. Viborg disagreed with some of the conditions in the permit and requested an arbitration panel to resolve the disagreement. After reviewing the CDFW’s and Mr. Viborg’s opening and reply briefs, inspecting the mine, and holding a hearing, the arbitration panel issued its decision on July 3. The panel mostly agreed with CDFW on the conditions disputed by Mr. Viborg.”
“On July 15, Mr. Viborg informed CDFW that he would be closing his Templeton mine and directed CDFW to terminate the permit for this site,” said MacIntyre, “Mr. Viborg also informed CDFW that he would be closing his other mine on the Estrella River, a tributary to the Salinas River. Mr. Viborg had a CDFW permit for his Estrella mine, and he completed some mining under the permit, but thereafter he terminated the permit and applied for a new one. When Mr. Viborg informed CDFW of his intent to close both mines, he withdrew his permit application for the Estrella mine.”
The Viborg family founded their sand-and-gravel business in Paso Robles in 1967, joined by Paul Viborg in the 1980s when he finished college.