Since 2015, The Sierra Fund (TSF) has organized an annual volunteer event to post state-issued fish consumption advisories at Sierra water bodies where people are fishing, known as Post It Day.
Fish consumption warnings about mercury in fish exist for many lakes and reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada as a result of historic mining in the region, but prior to 2015, none were posted at water bodies. On July 11, 2015, community volunteers posted 98 fish consumption advisories at 28 lakes and reservoirs in the Bear and Yuba watersheds.
TSF has held the event annually since, and has increased the project’s impact by expanding posting to additional watersheds, posting advisories in additional languages (Spanish) and conducting targeted outreach about mercury in fish to sensitive populations, such as women of childbearing age and children. Read about each annual event below.
- Save the Date! May 6 for Post It Day 2018
- Post It Day 2017, advisories posted in Spanish for the first time
- Post It Day 2016 & Fishing for Fun, a family educational fair
- Inaugural Post It Day 2015
On August 1st, 2013, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) released general “safe eating guidelines” for fish from all of California’s lakes and reservoirs that do not already have site-specific guidelines pertaining to them. This general advisory is in addition to many site-specific fish consumption advisories that the agency has already released.
While the fact that this data gap has been filled is good news, the bad news is that the guidelines confirm that mercury is dangerously high in California’s fish. The guidelines recommend that women under 45 and children under 18 do not eat any bass, carp, and large brown trout. Instead, they may eat up to 2 servings per week of rainbow trout. This advice is intended to protect children and babies from mercury exposure, which can permanently damage their brain and nervous system.
The Sierra Fund worked with staff at OEHHA and the CA Department of Public Health to develop a poster appropriate for Sierra water bodies. This poster is now complete, and has been posted at numerous popular fishing locations throughout the Sierra. Click here to view the poster.
The Sierra Fund then worked with public and private landowners, reservoir managers, and recreation area hosts to obtain permission to post the fish consumption advisory signs at public fishing access locations. Many agencies, organizations and businesses granted permission to place the signs or offered to post them including: Tahoe National Forest (TNF), Nevada Irrigation District (NID), US Army Corps of Engineers, City of Nevada City, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Auburn State Recreation Area and others.
An Annual Volunteer Posting Day
The Sierra Fund has partnered with local non-profit organizations South Yuba River Citizens League and Wolf Creek Community Alliance to organize annual Post It Day events. Since 2015, 60 volunteers have posted nearly 100 locations at over 20 water bodies in five watersheds in the Sierra Nevada. Nine target water bodies have been posted in two languages, English and Spanish, directly by volunteers. Additionally, TSF furnished advisories in both languages to two major water body managers within the project area (TNF and NID) that agreed to utilize staff time and resources to post, representing over 20 additional water bodies.
Each annual event begins with a volunteer training to provide background information and put the need for posting fish consumption advisories in context. TSF staff present on the history of mining and mercury in the region, how mercury gets into fish, how to read fish consumption advisories and how posting advisories can help to protect public health. The training serves to educate volunteers about the issue of mercury in fish and prepare them to answer questions posed by interested public while in the field.
How You Can Help
If you are traveling to a lake or reservoir in the Sierra Nevada region, contact us to see if we need a sign posted at that location. If it’s appropriate, we will send you out with a laminated advisory and posting materials so you can help us spread the word about which fish are safe to eat. Furthermore, if you are interested in participating in next year’s Post It Day, or hosting one in your watershed, please contact Kelsey Westfall at 530-265-8454 ext. 217.
Gold Country Angler Survey – The Sierra Fund’s study to learn about mercury exposure potential from eating locally caught fish
Environmental Health Outreach – The Sierra Fund’s campaign to bring information about public health exposures to legacy mining toxins to rural Sierra communities, and the doctors and nurses who serve them
Mercury Trainings for Healthcare Professionals – The Sierra Fund’s program to educate regional doctors about mercury in the human body, and how to talk to their patients about eating fish
OEHHA Fish Consumption Advisories – State-issued fish consumption advisories for lakes, reservoirs and rivers in California from the CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment