Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund awards grant to The Sierra Fund's Sierra Nevada Mining Toxics Initiative

Nevada City, CA —

The Sierra Fund is pleased to announce that the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund has awarded $50,000 to our Sierra Nevada Mining Toxics Initiative. The Mining Toxics Initiative is focusing public awareness and resources on the threat that historical mine activities pose to environmental and community health. Our goal in doing so is to lay the groundwork for development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to remediate environmental problems, develop health interventions to reduce the risk to Sierra communities, and protect the health of humans and wildlife throughout the Sierra.

The first objective of this project, now mostly completed, is a comprehensive needs assessment that will lay out what is known about the problem of mining toxics throughout the Sierra and identify crucial knowledge gaps where more information is needed. This assessment will cover both the environmental and the public health threats presented by the history of mining in the Sierra. The outcome of this assessment will be a significant increase in understanding about the scope of this problem. This knowledge will be of use to numerous individuals and communities throughout California, including public health departments, rural health practitioners, environmental advocates, and policymakers at the state and county levels. Begun in June 2006, we expect the needs assessment to be completed by March 2007.

Our second objective is to engage stakeholders in assessing the problem and designing needed responses. We have hired three regional community organizers to build public support and develop the capacity of the environmental and health communities to begin addressing one of California’s longest-ignored threats to our community health. Stakeholders will be engaged both in assessing the problem and in designing solutions, thereby increasing their capacity to work together for improved health and environmental outcomes in their communities.

The third proposal objective is the development of a comprehensive plan for environmental remediation and public health treatment response, which will be completed over the summer. This plan will aim to:

  • Identify where environmental clean up and community health interventions are needed;
  • Specify interventions required when these are known;
  • Outline further research required at both the environmental and community health levels;
  • Identify public information needs and strategies for public education;
  • Articulate public policy issues essential to successful resolution of mining toxics issue;
  • Identify who needs to be involved in implementation of plan;
  • Establish quantitative cost estimate for addressing impacts of mining toxics; and
  • Identify public and private sources of funding for environmental clean up and remediation and community health education and treatment response.

The outcome of this plan will be to lay the groundwork for the implementation of a regional strategy to address mining’s toxic legacy.

The Sierra Mining Toxics Initiative involves a broad array of partners, including the Departments of Geological and Environmental Sciences and School of Nursing, California State University, Chico; community leaders, public health directors, environmental health officers and public health departments of 20 Sierra counties; groups such as Northern Sierra Rural Health Network, South Yuba River Citizen’s League, Friends of Deer Creek, and Natural Heritage Institute; Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board; State Water Resources Control Board; Bureau of Land Management; US Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Each organization will provide expertise on particular aspects of the plan.

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