For twenty years The Sierra Fund has been leading the charge to address the legacy of Gold Rush impacts on California’s headwater ecosystems and communities. In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has required recalibration of TSF’s collaborative efforts, which up until March had been predicated on face-to-face interaction and relationship building with technical experts and state leaders.
Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, TSF has stayed the course, meeting virtually with state leadership to increase the visibility of community and ecosystem resiliency projects in the Sierra Nevada with the intent of catalyzing statewide action. Read more below about how TSF has continued to be a voice for the Sierra during these challenging times:
Meeting with the Legislative Analysts Office:
TSF was thrilled to see The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) published a report in August of 2020 titled “Improving California’s Response to the Environmental and Safety Hazards Caused by Abandoned Mines” which underscores the important work of TSF and project partners to advocate for increased investment in projects that work to remediate Abandoned Mine Lands (AMLs). This report is a clear statement of public interest in confronting the physical and environmental threats of AMLs. It acknowledges the systematic challenges that we encounter in addressing legacy impacts and gives directions for how to increase the pace and scale of mine remediation for greatest net benefit.
We have met several times with members of the the California Legislative Analyst’s to discuss opportunities for reducing the impacts of abandoned mines from the Sierra to the sea and to ensure best-practices for mercury abatement outlined in our Headwater Mercury Source Reduction Strategy are visible to state leaders as they take on projects on AMLs.
We endorse the LAO recommendations and look forward to working with the legislature and the Newsom administration to enact some of these visionary ideas, and to bring light to the problem of legacy mercury contamination to state leadership.
Meeting with the State Water Control Board:
After TSF CEO Izzy Martin was featured on the California Secretary for Environmental Protection, Jared Blumenfeld’s, podcast, Podship Earth, about mining impacts, TSF was invited to present our Headwater Mercury Source Reduction Strategy to Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. TSF sent the Secretary our pre-recorded HMSR presentation in advance of the meeting, allowing for robust discussion on the priorities and best-practices the Strategy outlines.
Speaking at Key Conferences and Events
Lunch-n-Learn Series: Over the course of TSF’s 14 week Wednesday Lunch-n-Learn series, TSF staff presented on our core programs and projects and brought together nearly 80 stakeholders from more than 40 distinct groups. Thank you to those who attended, and if you missed one of the presentations they are available here on our website.
Sierra Nevada Alliance Annual Conference: TSF’s CEO Izzy Martin participated on a virtual panel discussing the future of Sierra Water Workgroup during the Sierra Nevada Alliances annual conference, “A 2020 Vision for the Sierra.” The conference featured prominent Sierra conservation leaders and focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, conservation priorities, our shared narrative, legislative priorities, funding, and developing sustainable organizations.
Ensuring Equitable Involvement in Regional Water Planning Virtual Summit: TSF’s CEO Izzy Martin will be speaking as a panelist on the “Community and Tribal Leader Panel” taking place next Tuesday, October 13, from 12:05 – 1:00 PM as part of a virtual three-day summit on “Ensuring Equitable Involvement in Regional Water Planning.” This event is sponsored by the Local Government Commission and the Department of Water Resources, and will focus on engaging marginalized communities through the Integrated Regional Water Management Program (IRWM) and beyond in water planning efforts.
Delta Tributaries Mercury Council: TSF designed a monitoring program for Combie Reservoir, a 303(d) listed water body impaired for mercury, to evaluate sediment removal activities for deleterious effects to water quality using continuous real-time data. After presenting a poster at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco last December, TSF’s Environmental Scientist, Nick Graham, has been asked to present the project to the Delta Tributaries Mercury Council in January. These persentations are increasing the engagement of downstream experts in mercury abatement projects in the headwaters and incentivizing widespread real-time mercury monitoring in the hydraulic mining-impacted region of the Sierra Nevada.