Reclaiming the Sierra a Huge Success

Thanks to our conference sponsors and attendees, Reclaiming the Sierra (RTS) 2019 was a huge success! RTS 2019 was The Sierra Fund’s (TSF) fifth biennial conference to address historic mining impacts. This year’s event focused on catalyzing action around TSF’s Headwater Mercury Source Reduction (HMSR) Strategy – a vision of adaptive recovery for the environment and communities that are still blighted from the 19th century Gold Rush. Four strategic targets for addressing ongoing sources of mercury were explored at the three-day event: (1) Hydraulic Mines and Mine Features, (2) Mercury in Forest and Land Management, (3) Mercury-Contaminated Sediment in Reservoirs, and (4) Mercury Exposure via Fish Consumption.

The event brought together over 150 land managers, policy-makers, scientists, technical experts, tribal entities, artists, and interested members of the public. The conference culminated with a call to action urging conference attendees to sign a resolution in support of the HMSR Strategy and the collaborative approach it outlines.

Conference Highlights

Art at the Edge of Extraction Reception

RTS 2019 launched on Wednesday, October 16 with an evening reception, Art at the Edge of Extraction, a reflection on Gold Rush impacts to the people and to the environment. A short program included a moving opening from Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribal Spokesperson and California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project (CHIRP) Executive Director Shelly Covert, a poetry reading, a song, and a heartfelt address given by Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books and California Institute for Community, Arts, and Nature. Featured Artists included Franceska Alexander, Ruth Chase, Ashley Church, Shelly Covert, Jorie Emory, Jenny Hale, Graham Keeble, Alex Keeble-Toll, Lewis Paul Toll, and San Juan Ridge Tapestry Project.

Headwater Mercury Source Reduction Workshop

The second day of RTS consisted of the Headwater Mercury Source Reduction Workshop featuring technical presentations and panels that encouraged robust discussion of each of the four strategic targets for mercury, priority actions and annual milestones. Keynotes, Dr. Jane Hightower and William “Bill” Craven, gave thought-provoking speeches on A Literature Review of Mercury in Fish and A Policy Framework for Addressing Headwater Sources of Mercury, respectively. A full day of panels on the four targets ended with an evening reception, where Becky Woods (Teichert Materials, Retired), Jim Branham (Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Retired), and Bill Craven (Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee) were honored with TSF’s prestigious Golden Pinecone Award. Click here to view the full program.

Mercury in the Headwaters Tour

The final day of the Conference was the Mercury in the Headwaters Tour, providing a tangible, on-the-ground opportunity to discuss mercury abatement opportunities with project partners. Click here to see the tour materials.

Stay tuned for Reclaiming the Sierra 2021! Sign up for our conference newsletter here.