NEVADA CITY, 5 November 2013 – Monday night, November 4th, over one hundred people showed up to the Nevada City Veterans Hall for an informational event about legacy mines hosted by a local nonprofit organization, The Sierra Fund (TSF). “I was expecting maybe fifty people” said TSF Outreach Coordinator Amber Taxiera, “but we had to keep bringing out more and more chairs as people arrived.”
“We were thrilled to have such a broad range of participants attend the meeting,” said Elizabeth Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund. “The number of people who attended and the great questions they asked clearly show that folks are interested in our mining history and how it plays into our lives today. The Sierra Fund was pleased to bring experts to answer some of the community’s questions.” Click here for event photos.
Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) presented the results of assessments of historic mines in the Deer Creek Stocking Flat area, Hirschman’s Pond and the Lonesome Lake area on the San Juan Ridge. William Haigh, Field Manager for BLM’s Motherlode Field Office introduced the presentations by saying that while BLM is still finalizing the reports on the mine sites that were assessed, they wanted to provide the community with “a progress report” about what was found. The good news is that the levels of contaminants were not present at levels that would be dangerous for folks hiking, biking or swimming in those areas.
On the other hand, TSF Science Director Carrie Monohan, Ph.D. described how eating certain kinds of loc ally caught fish, especially bass, can result in dangerous levels of mercury exposure. She presented a fish consumption warning issued by the State of California for lakes and reservoirs, including Hirschman’s Pond, Scotts Flat, Lake Wildwood, and lakes on the Ridge. To be safe, women under 45 and children under 18 should not eat any bass or large brown trout from these and many other lakes.
The diverse audience included nonprofit organizations, regulatory agencies, gold miners, local elected officials, neighborhood associations and tea party members. After the event, one member of the audience was overheard saying “before I came here tonight I knew nothing about this stuff. Now I know a lot!” This meeting was a huge success part in thanks to the support of co-sponsors Nevada County Public Health Department, Greater Champion Neighborhood Association, Greater Cement Hill Neighborhood Association, San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association and the Yuba Watershed Institute.
The Sierra Fund has been working since 2006 to address the ongoing pollution from historic mining including research on public exposure pathways, and as part of their outreach efforts, will be holding similar community meetings in Plumas, Sierra and Placer counties. Dr. Carrie Monohan who presented on Fish and Dust: Legacy Impacts from the Gold Rush, has led two major studies completed by The Sierra Fund to assess human exposure to heavy metals: the Gold County Angler Survey and the Gold County Recreational Trails Assessment, both available, along with more resources, online.
This meeting was originally planned for early October, but had to be rescheduled due to the federal government shutdown, which prevented speakers from USGS and BLM from attending.