Sand and gravel are widely used throughout the U.S. construction industry, but their extraction can significantly affect the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of mined streams. Fisheries biologists often find themselves involved in the complex environmental and regulatory issues related to instream sand and gravel mining. This paper provides an overview of information presented in a symposium held at the 1997 midyear meeting of the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society in San Antonio, Texas, to discuss environmental issues and regulatory procedures related to instream mining. Conclusions from the symposium suggest that complex physicochemical and biotic responses to disturbance such as channel incision and alteration of riparian vegetation ultimately determine the effects of instream mining. An understanding of geomorphic processes can provide insight into the effects of mining operations on stream function, and multidisciplinary empirical studies are needed to determine the relative effects of mining versus other natural and human-induced stream alterations. Mining regulations often result in a confusing regulatory process complicated, for example, by the role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has undergone numerous changes and remains unclear. Dialogue among scientists, miners, and regulators can provide an important first step toward developing a plan that integrates biology and politics to protect aquatic resources.
Additional publication details
Instream sand and gravel mining: Environmental issues and regulatory process in the United States