Carver: 104 Tremont St.: Public demands cease and desist on sand mining

  Meg Sheehan  Cranberry

Breaking News: April 2024

Massive Sand Mine at

Federal Furnace Cranberry Site Faces Barrage of Legal Challenges


  •  Ten Residents Group appeals state wetlands approval

  • Court lawsuit challenges Carver Earth Removal Committee Commercial Mining Permit

  • EJ Pontiff Cranberry starts commercial mining , public demands  cease and desist order

Public demands halt to 20+ year sand mining project by Federal Furnace Cranberry Co.


Behind the facade of “Federal Furnace Cranberry Co.”  at 104 Tremont Street in Carver, Massachusetts is a history of destructive and illegal sand and gravel mining. The large tract of land — about 930 acres — sits behind a quaint stone wall on Federal Furnace Road in Carver near the Plymouth border.  The company grows cranberries and gets permits under “agriculture” exemptions in attempt to hide its decades long industrial scale sand mining operations. These permits are granted for the maintenance or expansion of bogs, but in reality, the company removes vast amounts of sand and gravel to sell for profit instead.

In 2024, Federal Furnace Cranberry’s new owner EJ Pontiff Cranberry is proposing to mine the last 17 acres of uplands on the site for about $15 million in sand and gravel. Pontiff claims the mining is just to level the site for five new bogs.

Read more about the history of sand mining by Federal Furnace Cranberry Co. in the Sand Wars Report here. 

At 104 Tremont Street, the cranberry company leveled about 100 acres, extracting millions of dollars worth of sand and gravel. Holes created by mining were filled with debris and covered with cranberry bogs. About 90 acres have been covered with industrial scale solar energy systems.

About 75% of the approximately 110 sand mines in Plymouth County are done under the ruse of cranberry agriculture in order to evade laws that prohibit this mining. These laws are meant to protect our water, communities and forests. Click here to learn more about how sand mining harms our drinking water and the environment.

Commercial mining disguised as agriculture

In 2022, EJ Pontiff Cranberry Co. of Duxbury MA purchased the Federal Furnace Cranberry site. Pontiff is one of the largest sand and gravel operators in the region. Pontiff has been mining in Plymouth and Carver for decades. Pontiff and P.A. Landers just finished a massive 1+ million mining operation on Firehouse Road in Plymouth. They used the ruse of creating a “cranberry pond”. Pontiff bought the Firehouse Road mining site from Federal Furnace Cranberry — as well as the Carver 104 Tremont Street site.

The cranberry industry is in decline and can’t make money, according to a number of industry, academic, and government sources. The world’s largest cranberry grower,  A.D. Makepeace of Wareham is trying to sell off bogs because cranberry farming is unprofitable. Yet EJ Pontiff Cranberry in 2024 claims it needs to level 17 acres of forested hills to mine  $15 million in sand and gravel to level the land for 5 new bogs?

Click here to read about how sand mining companies exploit agricultural loopholes to mine sand. 

Pontiff’s new sand mine proposal at Federal Furnace Cranberry

Pontiff’s mining proposal requires a permit from the Carver Earth Removal Committee under the Town’s General Bylaw. In 2023, Pontiff applied for the permit for about 1.5 million cubic yards – about $15 million worth of sand and gravel from the Tremont Street site.  This is about 40,000 truck loads.  Pontiff proposed to mine the last area not already stripped on the site — about 17 acres next to Myles Standish State Forest.

Residents sue to revoke commercial mining permit

The Carver Earth Removal Committee granted Pontiff the permit to do more commercial mining. On 4/19/24 residents filed a lawsuit to revoke the permit. See the lawsuit here.

The lawsuit claims the permit violates the Bylaw:

  • The ERC is not authorized to issue permits for Commercial Mining at this location because it is not agriculture.
  • Even if it could issue the permit the ERC did not require things mandated by the law, such as a way to independently monitor how much sand Pontiff mines.
  • The site plans lack required items such as Vegetation, Primary recharge areas, or groundwater levels before and after excavation.

The permit is also illegal because ERC members who were not in attendance at the hearings issued the permit, which would void the permit.

Fox guarding the hen house: ERC members’ conflicts of interest

Four of the seven ERC members have blatant conflicts of interest. They are in the sand and/or trucking business and have financial ties to the companies they regulate and are supposed to oversee. Chair Mr. Hannula, Mr. Shores, Mr. Mason, and Mr. Ward all represent cranberry business interests. Mr. Mason and Mr. Hannula are the President and Vice President, respectively, of Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association. Mr. Mason works for A.D. Makepeace Cranberry Company, the owner and operator of Read Custom Soils, a sand and gravel mining company based in Carver, MA. These private interests clearly are a conflict of interest and drives the agenda of the ERC — to grant more permits for cronies and business associates. Read more about Cranberry Country Corruption here.

State issues wetlands permit, Ten Residents appeal,

Demand cease and desist

Pontiff’s sand mine requires a permit under the state and local wetlands laws. The state granted wetland approval on April 12, 2024.  On April 26th, 2024 a Carver Ten Residents group filed an Appeal Notice of MassDEP’s Superseding Order of Conditions (SOC) issued to EJ Pontiff Cranberry Co. See the appeal here.

See the Wetlands Plans for the  EJ Pontiff Sand Mine, Carver 2023

The state wetlands law prevents work when an appeal is pending.  Pontiff has already started work at this site including clear cutting trees and hauling them off site.

Above: EJ Pontiff Cranberry starts clearing land for a massive sand mine. April, 2024

The public demands that MassDEP issue a cease and desist on April 26, 2024 for all land clearing, cutting trees, removing stumps, vegetation, removal of topsoil or Earth of any kind, including sand, gravel, or aggregate materials and otherwise conducting any activity on the 17.8 acre site.

Decades long of mining on the site

Hundreds of acres leveled, mining in the Aquifer illegally

Below is a photo chronology that shows between 2006 and approximately 2022 Federal Furnace Cranberry Co. conducted extensive mining on the site.

It mined about 2.7 million cubic yards across 102 acres. Gary Weston of Carver, and G. Lopes Construction ran the operation with Federal Furnace Cranberry’s president, Walter J. Morrison III. The Carver Earth Removal Committee issued several permits under the ruse of agriculture.

Below:  Mining operation about 2010 (Google Earth Pro image)

Below: Mining operation about 2018. This shows a commercial sand processing and dewatering operation and commercial sand and gravel processing equipment. The mining operation dug a hole in the Aquifer. Water is pumped out during the mining operation so it is easier to dig deeper. The sand is washed on site to extract fine particles. The process water is then discharged on site.

Below: New mining site next to Myles Standish State Forest.

Sand mine placed within environmental justice neighborhood

The state Environmental Justice map of a portion of Carver is below. It shows both the proposed Pontiff sand mine and the expansion of the A.D. Makepeace sand mine are within Environmental Justice Population neighborhoods. The sand mines could expose these communities to silica sand dust that blows offsite.

These are neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards, putting them at an increased risk. Under state law, these communities are supposed to be protected at a higher level due to their vulnerability. Click here to learn more.

A new federal law enacted on April 18th, 2024 acknowledges the adverse health effects caused by exposure to silica dust. These effects include silicosis, nonmalignant respiratory diseases , lung cancer, and kidney disease. Each of these effects is chronic, irreversible, and potentially disabling or fatal.

Archeological impacts not studied

The purple on the map below shows this is an archeological site according to the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

What has happened to any Native American cultural sites here?

Read more, take action



Join our Coalition and Donate so we can fight this!


Sand Wars in Cranberry Country: An investigation into the money, politics and corruption behind sand mining and its silent environmental crisis in Southeastern Massachusetts

Movie>  Short Version 5 min.  Long Version 10 min.


Drone Videos of Pontiff and other mining operations:

Save the Pine Barrens Southeastern Massachusetts You Tube Channel Search for “Pontiff” in the search box.

1 thought on “Carver: 104 Tremont St.: Public demands cease and desist on sand mining

  1. For heavens sake!! This was hardly a good harvest. Hot summer, lots of rot, and that didn’t make for profits. This is simply another ruse to remove the Town of Carver, grain by grain of sand!! We need to preserve our environment. No more Solar, no battery units, no more destruction, this may be the season of giving, but this proposal is a NOT of any benefit to the Carver townspeople.

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