Public meeting in Grass Valley discusses Brownfields Assessment Grant | TheUnion.com

Public meeting in Grass Valley discusses Brownfields Assessment Grant

Jennifer Nobles
Staff Writer

Grass Valley, Nevada City and Nevada County officials met to tackle environmental issues left from the area's rich mining history — and they're asking for help.

Officials met with members of the community Wednesday evening in Grass Valley City Hall to encourage residents to learn more about a new Brownfields Assessment Grant and report sites they believe may be impacted.

Brownfields Assesment Grants awarded in 2012 and 2013 were also reviewed.

According to environmental engineer Jason Muir, project manager for NV5-Holdredge & Kull engineering and consulting service, a Brownfield site is a property that is or may be impacted by a hazardous substance. This designation does not necessarily mean that the site is hazardous, just that it is a possibility.

The grants allow environmental agencies to conduct environmental assessments, determine threats to people or environment, and, if necessary, thoroughly clean the site to rid it of contaminates.

With an extensive history of gold mining, Brownfields sites are not uncommon in Nevada County.

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"Through this grant program, we do all those stages from the initial assessment and figuring out if there's contamination and how bad it is, will it affect anybody or anything in the environment, and then what to do about it," said Jim Brake, project manager and geologist with Geocon.

Grass Valley received its most recent grant in 2017. It has partnered with Nevada City and Nevada County to establish the Gold Country Coalition to help target potentially contaminated areas and support in the application of the grant.

Muir said that the Environmental Protection Agency funding serves as a catalyst for smart redevelopment, promotes community involvement and attracts investments.

There are several Nevada County locations that will be assessed, including the old Nevada City airport, Berriman Ranch in Grass Valley and the site of the Idaho-Maryland mine.

Brake noted the assessments can only take place with consent from the property owners, and citizens are encouraged to provide the coalition with sites they feel may be hazardous.

"It's meetings like this that help potentially contribute to that inventory," said Thomas Last of the city of Grass Valley, "because if any of you are property owners, if you know of a property that might be a good candidate for this program, that's one of the reasons we do this, not just to tell you about it, but it's actually kind of solicitous."

Also in attendance were representatives of The Sierra Fund, a nonprofit organization working to restore ecosystem and community resiliency from the lasting impacts of the gold rush. The fund has served as a partner in the implementation of the Brownfields grant.

"The whole basis of this program (is) to assess, perceive, or know, environmental issues on the property so it can be put to better use," said Brake.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.