River Monitoring Program Receives New Grant to Protect Creeks from Mining Activities

Proposed mine activities in the Spring Creek watershed could impact water supply and water quality.

The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment has awarded SYRCL a grant to ensure that new and proposed mining activities in the South Yuba River watershed are carried out under the highest environmental standard.  SYRCL will use the funds to develop a new River Monitoring Plan that targets the specific questions of concern for new mining threats, and to educate and mobilize citizens concerned the mines and water quality.

The Rose Foundation grant arrived as two gold mines seek to reopen and resume operations.  The two mines, the San Juan Ridge Mine and the French Corral Mine, will drain directly into the South Yuba River.  During its operation in the 1990s, the San Juan Mine closed after a mishap that dewatered wells throughout the community and sent contaminated discharge down Spring and Shady Creeks.  The San Juan Mine Corporation has initiated the extensive permitting process and the French Corral Mine is beginning operation under an existing permit.

The new grant provides $20,000 in funds to build specific capacity within the River Monitoring Program to gather critical data in the portions of the watershed potentially impacted by mining projects, and to use the information in public and regulatory forums regarding the mines.  The data will be analyzed to explain and distribute information so that the community can understand the real and potential outcomes of the mine operations.  This new focus of the River Monitoring Program will result in scientifically rigorous data to be used in the environmental review process for the mines.

This is just the latest news for SYRCL’s award-winning River Monitoring program that has been collecting data since 2001.  Recently, the program was commended in an International Rivers periodical as a model for citizen science for rivers.  As Haven Livingston writes, “data collected by citizens is creating windows into the health of our waterways.”  River Monitoring activities in the Yuba River watershed resume in spring 2013, and now with capabilities to assess the impacts of current mining threats, as well as other land use issues.  If you are interested in joining the River Monitors, then be sure to sign up as a volunteer before March when we will be coordinating our next training.

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