Backlash against El Monte Valley sand mining plan - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Backlash against El Monte Valley sand mining plan

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The plan to excavate about 10 million tons of sand has stirred up controversy in East County. On Tuesday night, a heated meeting was held as residents aired their concerns.

Those opposed to the proposed El Monte Nature Preserve sand mine gathered at the Lakeside Christian Church. It was the first community rally against the project.

Residents shared concerns about property values, disturbing natural habitats and water contamination.

"This would devastate hundreds of neighbors right in that spot that have children, horses and family life," said Ana Nita, an El Monte resident.

Zack Noonan joined hundreds of the Save El Monte Nature Preserve during their first gathering to rally against a project that would move 10 million tons of concrete grade on 166-acres over the next 15-years. The land was once owned by Helix Water District.

"They have a fight on their hands that we are not going to let it happen. We are not going to let it happen easily," said Noonan.

The company EL Monte Nature Preserve LLC., said San Diego County does not have a large sand mine. The consultant for El Monte Preserve LLC., said each year the county imports 16 million tons of concrete. Roughly 35-percent is sand for construction.

"It has to be imported from Mexico and Imperial Riverside Counties. This would be an important local resource," said Crystal Howard, an Economist and Planner for EnvironMine Inc.

Residents believe the sand plant will contaminate water and they worry about all the sand trucks.

"Property values hitting the dirt because 2-400 trucks everyday for the next 15 or 30-years going down our roads," said Noonan.

World renown environmental advocate Joan Embery previously voiced her concerns. She has property near the proposed sand plant.

Many like her worry about disturbing the animals and horse trails.

"We want to work them to come up with a trail plan that they are proud of or that they would like to use," said Howard. 

The company plans to reclaim the vegetation after each mining phase.

El Monte families plan to pack the San Diego River Conservancy meeting on August 6th.

The scoping meeting with the county to get public feedback on what to include in the environmental report will be held at the end of August.

If all plans are approved, mining could begin next year.

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