LAKESIDE, Calif. – A group of East County residents testified at a heated public hearing in Lakeside against a proposed sand mining project.
The group, which included members of the Kumeyaay Nation, scientists and environmentalists, are concerned about a proposal to excavate sand from nearly 480 acres in the El Monte Valley. The sand mining company, El Monte Nature Preserve LLC, proposes digging up to 100 feet into the San Diego River riverbed to harvest roughly 12 million tons of sand a year.
The company presented an environmental impact report on the project at the Lakeside Community Center Tuesday evening.
Several opponents openly testified during the meeting.
Michael Evans-Layng moved with his wife to El Monte Valley. He says the mining project is more than a Lakeside issue.
Members of the Kumeyaay Nation object to the mining because the valley is a historical and spiritual site with numerous artifacts and burial sites.
Environmentalists have concerns about the effect of the project on the area’s aquifer. Some opponents are concerned that the sand mine could pose a health risk by disrupting the soil and spreading Valley Fever, a fungal infection.
Some residents are demanding county supervisor Dianne Jacob ask for the county’s Michael Beck to resign due to conflict of interest. Beck has two environmental organizations involved in restoring sand mines at Hanson Pond in Lakeside, Endangered Habitat League and Endangered Habitat Conservancy. He is purchasing land through one of these non-profits with grants, public funds and donations and is using the other to restore land. Beck has partnered with El Monte Nature Preserve to secure the paid contract of the restoration post-sand extraction.