The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has ordered a sand mine in southeastern Minnesota to cease operations and apply for a permit required of mines located within one mile of a trout stream.
Houston County gave the Erickson Mine permission to start mining silica sand, but a 2013 law requires a DNR permit for mines if they are located near trout streams within an area known as the Paleozoic Plateau.
The Erickson Mine is within one mile of Ferndale Brook, so DNR officials sent the mine's owner a letter last week, saying the agency's decision will depend on an analysis of area hydrogeology.
DNR officials wrote on Friday that the analysis "may result in a buffer distance adjacent to the trout stream that cannot be mined, or the denial of a permit to mine within one mile of the trout stream."
The mine's owner, Tracie Erickson, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Minnesota lawmakers pursued the trout stream setback law for southeastern Minnesota because of the region's unique geology that can make trout streams more vulnerable to mining activities than in other parts of the states.
Johanna Rupprecht, a policy organizer for the Land Stewardship Project, the advocacy group that pushed for the rules, said neighbors noticed that Erickson's mining activities had stopped on Tuesday.
"It was good to see the DNR step in," she said, adding that the group was happy to see the DNR point out the permit could be denied.
If Erickson applies for the permit, it would be the first such case under the new law.