U.S. Forest Service warns proposed landfill poses risk to Sam Houston National Forest

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Agency says site is “generally unsuitable”

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN, Texas – In comments filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) yesterday, the U.S. Forestry Service (USFS) warned that a potential landfill site in San Jacinto county poses ecological risks to the Sam Houston National Forest (SHNF). The comment warned of the risk inherent in  the proposed 636 acre facility which would be located between a produce farm, the national forest, and a 100 year floodplain.

The SNHF district ranger Jason Roesner warned that a failure at the site would have ecological and social impacts including “degradation of wildlife habitat and water quality” and damage “public health and safety and loss of recreational opportunities.” TCEQ granted Peachcreek Environmental Park a draft permit despite acknowledging many of these concerns. 

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center’s Michael Lewis said that “given the risks to our national forest and the general public outcry, the location of this landfill should be reconsidered. Less than 5% of Texas is public land and these areas need to be proactively protected. The few natural areas left in the state should be protected rather than covered in our waste.”

In September 2021 when dozens spoke at a virtual public meeting held by TCEQ it was clear the landfill was broadly opposed. The public has submitted nearly 2,000 overwhelmingly negative comments or meeting requests to TCEQ since November 2019 citing concerns over water contamination, pollution, traffic congestion and road deterioration if the landfill is approved. One comment said to TCEQ “Please do your job and protect the environment, our citizens, our wildlife and our national resources.” 

Other voices have since joined in. Citing the forest’s importance as a water recharge zone and importance to overall water quality, the Sierra Club said “A landfill disrupts these important functions and makes clean water a difficult if not impossible goal.” San Jacinto County Commissioner David Brandon wrote TCEQ regarding road conditions and “unwanted changes” that would be a consequence of the landfill. The San Jacinto County Farm Bureau stated its opposition due to “health, safety and welfare implications” as well as various pollution concerns.