‘This is not OK’: Organizers mobilize in light of Rise Gold survey
Mine protesters organize in pursuit of "peace of mind“
One hundred and ten people signed up to protest at six different locations around Nevada County on Thursday to spread information about the potential risks of reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine.
Traci Sheehan helped organize the event to get petitions signed and distribute anti-mine signs, a yellow-and-black accessory for yards in the area. Sheehan, who worked to oppose Centennial Dam three years ago as coordinator for the Foothills Water Network, said the public-facing event was meant to counter any traction Rise Gold may have gained after publishing survey results she said are the antithesis to the community’s true, overwhelming opinion.
Sheehan said she was unsurprised by the Rise Gold-funded survey results — which found over 60% of the county supports the mine’s reopening, using a 500-person sample size — but not because she knows people personally who are vocal about their support.
Christy Hubbard, a resident who lives close to the Idaho-Maryland Mine site, said she believes Rise Gold’s intent behind the survey was to influence more than illuminate.
The survey had the opposite of Rise Gold’s intended effect, Hubbard said, attributing the recent growth of the region’s longtime Community Environmental Advocates group to the survey. Hubbard said she is grateful people have been galvanized by what she called obvious misrepresentation.
“People were like, ‘This is not OK,’ and it catalyzed the opposition,” Hubbard said.
Sheehan said the group has grown “exponentially” over the last month.
RISK VERSUS GAIN
Hubbard and Sheehan, both environmental activists, said the mine makes little sense for the community when one tries to weigh the potential risk to potential gains.
Hubbard said she is grateful this is a nonpartisan issue, and that columnists who contribute regularly to The Union who she describes as conservative have come out against this business venture.
Ben Mossman, president of Rise Grass Valley and CEO of Rise Gold Corp., has said misinformation has appeared in the newspaper about the mine. He said the mine will create 600 local jobs, and employ 312 people at full operation, with two-thirds of these positions projected to be filled by existing local residents.
“New local spending of $50 million per year will create an additional 300 indirect jobs in our community and bolster local businesses,” Mossman said.
Hubbard said the mine would bring large risks against small benefits.
Laura Gagliasso has lived a quarter-mile from the Idaho-Maryland property on East Bennett Road for the last seven years. She said her interest in the issue began after she received a letter from Rise Gold saying that her well could possibly be affected by mining activity in the area.
Mossman has said that only wells near the Old Brunswick Mine could be affected.
“Rise has proposed to connect the entire East Bennett neighborhood to NID potable water and pay the water bills for current residents who choose to switch,” Mossman stated.
Gagliasso is also concerned about noise levels, something she got a taste of during Rise Gold’s period of exploratory drilling.
“It was 24/7,” Gagliasso said.
Beyond the incessant noise, Gagliasso said traffic is another community concern. She said that her community has gotten a taste of the noise and traffic to come over the course of the Loma Rica Ranch project, and they do not want seconds.
Gagliasso said when the mine was shut down 70 years ago, the county’s Board of Supervisors zoned the region for “light industry” and new homes were built progressively closer to the retired mine premises.
Finally, Gagliasso said she takes particular issue with Rise Gold’s main selling point being the creation of jobs for the community.
“How many people in Nevada County want to work one mile underground?” Gagliasso asked. “Do you know any Nevada Union high schoolers whose mission in life is to work in a mine?”
Gagliasso called the land the mine occupies “a scarred piece of forest,” and said she hopes the county supervisors will encourage and support light industry there that will employ youth.
“I don’t disagree that we need jobs,” Gagliasso said.
Tables were located outside of Valentina’s Bakery, both Grass Valley Flour Garden locations, Natural Selection, Gaia Soap Supply and both SPD locations.
Sheehan is grateful for all of the community’s support, but said she was especially moved by business owners like those of Gaia Soap Supply who explicitly came out against the mine’s rehabilitation.
Sheehan said the community is rightfully concerned about how their quality of life will be affected by an active mine.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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