We Take Care of the Land and Communities that Take Care of Us
The Atlas Management Team has a history of good stewardship and giving back to the community. From the building of parks in Williston to the participation in the donation of $1.2 million to preserve the Sawtooth Mountains of West Texas, our long list of philanthropy speaks for itself.
We also take care of our land. Before we began the Atlas Sand Mining operations, we conducted extensive habitat surveys that informed the siting of our facilities, ensuring our activities would not impact sensitive species. We hired two independent environmental firms that confirmed our Kermit Plant site and 3-5 year mining area is unsuitable habitat for one species of concern, the dunes sagebrush lizard (DSL).
We have voluntarily adopted the industry best practices for DSL:
- Avoiding shinnery oak habitat that is known to be home to the DSL where possible;
- Moving slowly across the landscape with our mining activities, allowing for potential DSL habitat restoration projects as a part of the reclamation process wherever this opportunity exists;
- Including substantial DSL habitat set asides. Atlas Sand plans to voluntarily set aside as much as 17,000 acres of its currently held 38,000 acreage hold; and,
- Making investments in science and conservation research.
Although we are not required to do all this, we are looking for ways to ensure the DSL always has a home in West Texas. This is just one example of how we use our entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas to make our communities and the land we depend on better.
Key Facts about the dunes sagebrush lizard and the Sand Mining Industry:
The DSL inhabits dune complexes with shinnery oak vegetation in southeast New Mexico and West Texas. Currently, estimates suggest that approximately 200,000 to 400,000 acres of potentially suitable habitat for DSL occurs across the range of the species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) previously considered the DSL for listing as threatened or endangered, but determined in 2012 this action was not warranted. Although concerns have been raised that the sand mining activities could impact the DSL, these are largely unfounded.
- Sand mining in West Texas will be a much slower process than many may realize. It takes 10 – 15 years (depending on depth of a sand deposit and plant capacity) to mine a single section (640 acres) of land; therefore, it would take 20-30 years for a typical plant to mine +/-1,000 acres, or <0.5% of the potential extent of DSL habitat.
- Site-specific surveys have determined Atlas Sand is mining in unsuitable habitat at the Kermit site (see link to the habitat assessment above), while actively having independent biologists perform habitat assessments over its more recently acquired Monahans site. Nevertheless, we continue to be engaged with the Texas Comptroller’s Office, USFWS, the GLO, TXOGA, PBPA, to promote best practices and diligent operations.
Opportunities in Science and Research: Along with our fellow WTX sand miners we are also talking to the teams at Texas State University, Texas Tech University, Sul Ross University, and the University of New Mexico (all leading Universities in DSL science) about key research projects, including:
- Shinnery oak propagation & transplant
- Dune Restoration
- Presence/Absence Surveys
- Creation of new habitat assessment protocol (the science behind this species is still in its early stages)
- DNA mapping the species across geographical areas
- Species movement and interconnectivity studies
While we take care of our land, we also take care of our communities. We prioritize giving to local causes that help make our communities strong. Some of our past contributions include:
- Supporting Parks, Firemen and Recreational Centers
- Invested substantially in pipeline & infrastructure to reduce traffic, wear and tear on stressed roadways
- Invested in homes and neighborhoods which benefited employees and families
- Provided funding to the Watford City, Williston, Stanley, Trenton and Genora Fire Departments to help keep our communities safe
- Funded Handicap Boat Dock/Ramp
- Lead Spring Clean Up Days
- Sponsored Babe Ruth World Series and Band Day
- Paid for Teachers and Supplies for After School Program
- Funded High School Auditorium Renovation
- Donated 150k to Williston Community College for New Facility
- Funded 3 Elementary School Playground Facilities
- Donated to Children’s Home Improvement Project
- Funded Williston Park Improvement Project
- Hosted the Bakken 50-year Celebration
- Organized a 6 Company consortium to give back to the community and lead the efforts to execute in the field