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On the watch: Opponents of Idaho-Maryland Mine seek signatures for petition

Those opposed to the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine by Rise Grass Valley have stepped up their campaign. MineWatch representatives will be at various locations this Sunday, collecting signatures and passing out information.
Photo: Elias Funez

Janet Cinquegrana says she and her husband have agreed to sell their Grass Valley home and move, if the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine occurs.

Cinquegrana was among a group of MineWatch volunteers Friday afternoon who were at the entrance of Valentina’s Bistro in Grass Valley, collecting signatures and speaking to people about opposition to the mine.

“Right now, it’s a beautiful spot, but I have doubts that it will remain beautiful,” she said on the mine’s proposed reopening. In addition to holding environmental concerns, she said she is worried the mine’s reopening could cause property values to drop.

“They should think about, right now, this is a tourist area — people come here to go to the little shops and everything,” said Cinquegrana. “They don’t want to do that if there’s diesel trucks racing up and down, all the pollution, the air pollution and the water pollution, the noise.”

Trucks will make up to 100 trips a day, averaging 50, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

They will be transporting engineered fill, or barren rock and sand tailings, generated from tunneling underground. The proposed plans designate two routes for the trucks: one route between the Brunswick and Centennial sites, along Brunswick Road and Whispering Pines Lane; and one route between the Brunswick site and Highway 20/49, along Brunswick Road.

A MineWatch table is set up outside of Valentina’s Bistro in Grass Valley for people wanting more information on how to oppose the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine.
Photo: Elias Funez

On her motivation to volunteer with MineWatch, Nevada City resident Debbie Van Dusen said, “I actually came out here because I’m just — and we’ve heard this from a lot of people that have stopped at the table today — so surprised that we’re even talking about this kind of environmental destruction and project right underneath Grass Valley.”

Van Dusen said Friday that she supports the “no mine” effort primarily due to concerns about environmental damage. She also said that “everybody” she had talked to at the table that day had expressed they were also opposed to the mine’s reopening, although some did not know much about the topic.

“People are wanting to get informed and learn more about it, and they may not have had the chance to do so before, which is why we’re trying to be a little more public and be available to answer some questions and give people some answers,” she said.

Ben Mossman — president of Rise Grass Valley, the company seeking to reopen the mine — has said in a statement that the draft environmental impact report was “a major milestone toward the Board of Supervisors’ formal review and decision on approval of the Idaho-Maryland Mine project.”

“The results of the county’s independent study and analysis of the project speak for themselves; there are no significant impacts to water quality, groundwater, air quality, or the natural environment,” wrote Mossman.

A public meeting on the mine’s draft environmental impact report is set for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City. The meeting’s purpose is to hear public comment regarding the draft EIR on the proposed project, which county staff released in January.


The petition on which volunteers were collecting signatures Friday read, “Businesses, homeowners, and conservationists in Nevada County are joining together to protect our neighborhoods, our local economy, and quality of life from the Rise Gold proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine,” adding that those signing urge the county Board of Supervisors to reject the proposal.

It is, according to Cinquegrana, not an “official petition” in that signers needed to be registered voters, but instead for the purpose of recording community support for the group’s cause.

Traci Sheehan with the Community Environmental Advocates Foundation, which sponsors MineWatch, said in an email Thursday that volunteers will be tabling again at various locations Sunday.

These will include Valentina’s, as well as Flour Garden Bakery and Natural Selections in Grass Valley, and Robinson Plaza and Three Forks Bakery and Brewing in Nevada City.

According to a press release by the foundation, tabling will occur from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m, and is a part of a “week of action” which will conclude this coming Thursday — when the Nevada County Planning Commission is set to hold a meeting at the Eric Rood Administrative Center.

A “People Power Rally“ opposing the mine’s reopening is set to be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Brunswick gate of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, near Wood Rose Way, according to a release. Attendees are encouraged to bring ”No Mine“ signs and noisemakers.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com

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