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The footprint of California’s 19th century Gold Rush stretches from the Sierra Nevada to the sea. More than a century ago entire communities and ecosystems were destroyed in the hunt for gold. As a result, today’s residents of the Gold Country – the state’s headwaters – are living on top of and surrounded by physically and chemically hazardous abandoned mines whose sometimes toxic drainage impacts communities all the way to the San Francisco Bay.
National and state leaders have recently called to increase the pace and scale of mine remediation, but precisely how to do this has been unclear – until now. The Sierra Fund, a Nevada City-based non-profit organization, has spent nearly two decades understanding the impacts of this era and crafting scientifically sound protocols and practices to address these legacy mine impacts. They have distilled this strategy in a new report “Due Diligence in the Gold Country: New Tools to Remediate California’s Abandoned Mine Lands” to be released next month.
This report – and a series of free upcoming “virtual” workshops on the subject on Mondays in May – outlines steps that can be taken immediately to protect public health and repair significant lands, forests, and rivers by stimulating the cleanup of abandoned mine lands. It details policies and practices that will increase the pace and scale of mine remediation so that communities in the Sierra headwaters and downstream have clean water, soil, and air and are healthy places to live, work, and prosper.
Mine land remediation is vital to transform the toxic legacy of California’s 19th century Gold Rush from destruction into innovation and accelerate the protection of the Sierra Nevada communities and natural resources. The Sierra Fund’s multi-benefit pilot projects demonstrate effective methods for monitoring, assessment, and restoration of mine-impacted lands. Their projects provide replicable models for local, state, and federal landowners to implement to address hazardous mine lands.
This Earth Week, The Sierra Fund asks the state of California and the nation to stand with us to recognize – and clean up – the lasting impact of California’s 19th century Gold Rush. To learn more about this important work, sign up for The Sierra Fund’s Reclaiming the Sierra: Due Diligence in the Gold Country workshop series outlining a strategy to finally remediate California’s dangerous legacy mines so that headwater and downstream communities’ resources support healthy places to live, work, and thrive. The workshops will take place from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm over four consecutive Mondays in May, beginning on May 3.
To learn more about The Sierra Fund’s work and to register for the workshops, visit their website at https://sierrafund.org/2021-workshops/.