The process to either approve or deny the San Juan Ridge mine is underway, and the environmental legacy of mining in western Nevada County is no secret to any of its residents. Apart from the political considerations of whether continuing to mine in the region, one environmental nonprofit is taking steps to ensure South Yuba River watershed remains relatively untainted by mining activities.
The South Yuba River Citizens League obtained a $20,000 grant from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment to ensure new and proposed mining activities in the South Yuba watershed are carried out under the highest environmental standard, according to a SYRCL news release.
SYRCL will use the funds to develop a new River Monitoring Plan that targets the specific questions of concern for new mining threats and to educate and mobilize citizens concerned about the mines and water quality, the release states.
The controversial San Juan Ridge Mine operated in the early 1990s under the aegis of a different corporation name, Siskon Gold Corporation. In 1995, Siskon workers accidentally drilled into a vertical fault containing an enormous volume of water, causing major underground flooding that led 12 wells in proximity to the project to go dry.
SYRCL said in the release that contaminated discharge was sent into Spring and Shady creeks as a result of the fracture. Spring and Shady creeks both flow into the South Yuba River.
SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick voiced concern that another such incident could endanger the rivers and creeks near the proposed mining operation.
“SYRCL is very concerned about impacts to Spring and Shady creeks, as well as indirect impacts to the South Yuba River,” Dardick said during a December public scoping session in the Nevada County Board of Supervisors chambers.
SYRCL also addressed potential impacts from the French Corral Mine, which is in operation and also located on the San Juan Ridge.
“The Rose Foundation grant arrived as two gold mines seek to reopen and resume operations,” the release states. “The two mines, the San Juan Ridge Mine and the French Corral Mine, will drain directly into the South Yuba River.”
The funds provided through the grant will be used to gather data in portions of the watershed impacted by mining projects for the purpose of providing information to the public during meetings relating to eventual approval of mining projects.
“The data will be analyzed to explain and distribute information so that the community can understand the real and potential outcomes of the mine operations,” the release states. “This new focus of the River Monitoring Program will result in scientifically rigorous data to be used in the environmental review process for the mines.”
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.