Get the Mercury Out Campaign

The Sierra Fund is spearheading a campaign to increase public funding for cleanup of mercury from legacy mines.


Mercury was heavily used in historic mining in California for more than a century.  Millions of pounds of mercury were released to the environment, and many legacy mine sites have never been cleaned up, so continue to leach the heavy metal into rivers and streams.

Mercury from legacy gold mines in the Sierra poses a serious risk to public health. There have been a number of studies documenting the serious health risks to humans who eat fish contaminated with even very small amounts of methylmercury.


The Sierra Fund’s “Get the Mercury Out” campaign works to increase public funding for the cleanup of legacy mines in the Sierra, in an effort to prevent the spread of this toxic metal. Together with Tuleyome, and a dozen other partners, we are working to remove mercury from our lakes, rivers and streams left from the California Gold Rush.

See our campaign brochure for illustrated summaries of the major points of the campaign, including the history of mercury in the Sierra, the serious risk it poses to public health, and the solutions The Sierra Fund is pursuing to fix the problem, including a number of pilot projects to assess, design and implement methods to “Get the Mercury Out.” The brochure also illustrates the process by which mercury from upstream sources like legacy mines affects downstream communities.

Also, see the fully-referenced 2-page fact sheet that supports the brochure and other campaign materials.

See Also:

Malakoff Diggins – The Sierra Fund’s pilot project to assess mercury at  one of the largest and most iconic hydraulic mines in the Sierra.

Combie Reservoir Project – More information about Nevada Irrigation Districty’s pilot project to remove mercury-contaminated sediment from one of their water storage facilities.

SNC Video on Combie Reservoir Project – This video, produced by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and featuring The Sierra Fund Science Director Dr. Carrie Monohan, highlights the ongoing discharge from upstream legacy mine sites and the Combie Reservoir project as a key opportunity to clean up mercury.

NID’s Video on Combie Reservoir Mercury Removal Project – Another short video about Nevada Irrigation District’s pilot project to remove mercury-contaminated sediment from their reservoir.