TSF Releases Report on Pilot Environmental Health Outreach Program

The Sierra Fund is proud to release a new report detailing activities, results, and lessons learned from a year-long pilot outreach program in four Sierra communities.

Click here to view or download the full report.

The short term goals of this program were to prevent and reduce exposure to mercury from locally caught fish in Sierra communities, and to raise awareness about mercury in the fish and other mine-related toxins, among community members, leaders, and healthcare providers.  The long term goal is to build a movement to clean up sources of legacy mining pollution in the Sierra.

Over 2013-14 program included accredited trainings for doctors and nurses at Sierra clinics about mercury in fish and how to advise their patients to eat fish safely, and outreach to the general community about mercury, lead and other heavy metals associated with our region’s mining history.

“This program, like much of The Sierra Fund’s work, was designed to be a small-scale pilot project that can provide an example for other organizations and communities in the Sierra,” said Kerry Morse, Program Director.  “This final report is an important piece for sharing what we did, and what we learned, with others in the region.”

Community members were extremely responsive to the outreach program, with 60-100 people showing up for informational community meetings in Nevada City, Foresthill, and Quincy.

With the assistance of partner organization California Indian Environmental Alliance, we conducted free trainings on mercury in fish to staff from 15 hospitals and clinics in the region. None of the staff participating in the training had ever provided information about mercury in fish to their patients before our contact with them.  Now, the majority of clinics we contacted at the end of the program are providing this information to their patients.

The Sierra Fund’s Outreach Coordinator Amber Taxiera summed up her on-the-ground work on the pilot program, saying “Implementing The Sierra Fund’s outreach programs has been fun, challenging and rewarding.  Not only did I get to teach about our local history, I also got to help people make good choices about reducing their exposure to environmental hazards – a job worth doing!”

The Sierra Fund is grateful to the agencies, organizations, foundations and individuals that made this program possible through funding or in-kind support:

  • Funders include The California Wellness Foundation, Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, Clif Bar Family Foundation and the EPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Program.
  • Advisors include the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and Department of Public Health.
  • Our main project partner for the program was the California Indian Environmental Alliance, which provided expertise, materials, and various kinds of in-kind support.
  • Guest speakers at events included the US Geological Survey, USDA Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management, and California Indian Environmental Alliance.
  • Co-sponsors of events included: Mercury Health Summit co-sponsors Senator Fran Pavley, Assemblymember Brian Dahle, Sierra Health Foundation, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, California Indian Environmental Alliance, and the California State University Chico School of Nursing; Quincy Community Meeting co-sponsors the County of Plumas and the California Indian Environmental Alliance; Foresthill Community Meeting co-sponsors North Fork American River Alliance, Upper American River Foundation, North Area Sportsman’s Association, Sierra Club Placer Group and Sac-Sierra Trout Unlimited; and Nevada City Community Meeting 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.