Orland gravel company halts compliance appeal

Orland gravel company halts compliance appeal(WILLOWS, Chico, California) – A battle between government agencies and Orland Sand and Gravel over mining reclamation compliance became a deeper pit Thursday when the company’s owner filed a document in Glenn County Superior Court to stop a hearing scheduled before the Board of Supervisors.The board was scheduled to hear an appeal April 18, brought by the California Department of Conservation, to determine if Orland Sand and Gravel is in violation of the state’s Surface and Mining Reclamation Act of 1977.The board would also decide at the hearing whether to fine the firm $55,000 for its alleged noncompliance. Before the state’s appeal, the Glenn County Planning Commission determined Orland Sand and Gravel is not in violation of the mining reclamation act. Orland Sand and Gravel owner Dale R. “Doc” Bogart filed a writ of mandate, also known as a writ of mandamus, on Thursday because the board failed to respond within 10 days to the company’s request that the board excuse itself from the compliance hearing. Basically, a writ of mandamus is filed when a party in a case being heard by a private or governmental body is dissatisfied with how the case is being processed and seeks intervention from a court.Thursday’s action will likely postpone the 1:30 p.m. Tuesday hearing, said Supervisor Tom McGowan in a telephone interview early Thursday evening. McGowan said the case could stretch beyond Orland Sand and Gravel.”The reason it’s so interesting is there are 14 or 15 gravel operations in Glenn County, and the outcome of this case will affect them,” McGowan said Thursday. “Everybody who’s involved in that industry is watching – with great interest.”What “everybody” is watching is whether Bogart will be fined $55,000 for failing to comply with the California Surface and Mining Reclamation Act. Orland Sand and Gravel’s case hinges on the act’s definition of mining. Bogart said his company is not engaged in mining, as defined in the act, because it doesn’t extract minerals in its operations. He also said his operation is not subject to the act because Orland Sand and Gravel existed before the law was enacted. Bogart bought the company in 2002. It has been in operation for 33 years.But the appeal before the supervisors is based on the Department of Conservation’s opinion that Orland Sand and Gravel is not in compliance with the act.Douglas W. Craig, assistant director of the Office of Mine Reclamation, said Friday the state’s position is that Orland Sand violates mining reclamation act in several areas: Operating outside its approved reclamation plan and not operating in compliance with an approved plan.Conducting surface mining outside the boundaries described in its existing approved plan.Failing to provide adequate financial assurances – money that assures mined land will be returned to its natural state in the event the operator does not do so.Failure to obtain appropriate permits required by the Department of Fish and Game. And failing to file an amended reclamation plan.Craig said the state could take direct action, but typically enforcement of compliance rests with the lead agency, in this case the County Planning Commission.The appeal hearing will be postponed to May 17 or later, according to the Board of Supervisors agenda for its April 18 meeting.By BARBARA ARRIGONI – Staff Writer896-7757 or barrigoni@chicoer.com

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