With over 47,000 abandoned mines throughout the Sierra, The Sierra Fund takes many avenues to advance the cleanup of these sites to protect our health and environment. These abandoned mine lands present hazards from mine waste that can contain arsenic, lead, and mercury as well as physical hazards. A key project in 2022 has been TSF staff reaching out to cities and counties to encourage them to connect to available federal and state resources to help them to assess and clean up abandoned mine lands. Many city and county mine-impacted sites, if assessed and cleaned up, can be developed and returned to safe public use.
The Sierra Fund staff identified an array of financial and technical support to counties, cities, land trusts, property owners, and others interested in remediating brownfields. A brownfield is a property with potential hazardous contamination from past activities that makes it complicated to reuse or redevelop the property. In the Sierra Nevada, these often come in the form of abandoned mine lands with known chemical hazards.
Our calls and conversations with staff in Sierra Nevada cities and counties have found that the super majority of these entities are unsure of where to start and what is available. To help get the ball rolling, The Sierra Fund this year put together some summary resources, organized with partners a public workshop for the Nevada City/Grass Valley community, and started calling and emailing Sierra Nevada counties. We reached out to land use planners and public health departments and shared what programs and funding are available and offered our free expert guidance to help support their brownfields cleanup projects.
“The Sierra Fund found us when my staff and I were at a crossroads in the remedial process and were concerned about continued funding,” commented Yvonne Kimball, City Manager with the City of Jackson.
“The Sierra Fund staff provided us with encouragement and grant information. I found them passionate and experienced, especially when helping small communities. I greatly appreciated their mental and technical support.”
Click the link here for a full list of resources to address abandoned mine lands. For more information, contact Jessica Dyke at The Sierra Fund at Jessica.Dyke@sierrafund.org. Shout out to our funding support for this critical work— thank you individual supporters and CalEPA, True North Foundation, Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, and Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment.