The Sierra Nevada is riddled with abandoned gold mines. Residents and visitors can be unknowingly exposed to physical and chemical hazards while recreating or living on abandoned mine lands (AMLs) in the region. The Sierra Fund educates people in impacted communities about how to protect themselves from exposure to these hazards and supports public policies to ensure appropriate remediation and development of AMLs that underlay the towns and forests of the Gold Country.
For over 100 years cities, parks and schools were built on top of AMLs. Soil tests conducted on AMLs in the Gold Country have found high levels of toxics such as lead, arsenic and asbestos. This problem gets larger as formerly remote AMLs are increasingly in the path of development or are considered for conservation acquisitions. Residents need accessible and understandable information about these threats. Public agencies need to take action to identify and remediate the legacy mine hazards on AMLs in order to protect public and ecosystem health.