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Aggregates task force meets to examine state’s resources

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Aggregates task force meets to examine state’s resources

ST. PAUL – The Legislative Aggregate Resource Task Force – co-chaired by Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent – met on Monday to examine the status of Minnesota’s aggregate substances mainly used for construction projects.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources indicates that 50 percent of the aggregates such as sand and gravel consumed in Minnesota are used to build publicly funded projects. This includes everything from highways and bridges to airport runways, hospitals, trails, boat landings and beyond.

Swedzinski said the task force is working to ensure the state practices wise management of aggregates, ensuring the materials are available for future generations.

“It may seem as though the state has never-ending aggregate resources, but they need to be managed,” Swedzinski said. “We aren’t facing an imminent shortage or anything, but we don’t want to get to the point where we have to outsource because a lack of planning cut off access to our own materials. That’s why it is so important to take a long-range approach to this issue.”

Following the task force’s meeting in St. Paul, the panel toured aggregate facilities around the Twin Cities metro area to learn more about production and day-to-day operations.

“It was interesting to see how well these operations cooperate with local communities,” Swedzinski said. “Strong conservation efforts and attention to managing prairie landscapes allow these operations to fit in, even where residents live in close proximity.”

Minnesota’s Aggregate Mapping Program was established in 1984. It gives priority to identification and classification in areas of the state where urbanization and other factors may be resulting in a loss of aggregate resource development.

The state has completed around 20 mapping projects mainly near regional population centers. In Swedzinksi’s District 16A, the DNR indicates Redwood County aggregate mapping work is in progress and Lyon has filed a county board resolution requesting a survey of deposits be conducted.

“Knowing where aggregates are located in areas such as ours will help state and local governments better manage the inventory,” Swedzinski said. “This is especially important as we focus on improving our state’s roads and bridges. If, for example, it takes an estimated 85,000 tons of aggregates to construct one mile of a four-lane interstate highway, you can see how large a scale we are talking and why it is so vital to practice sound management.”