On Wednesday, Nevada County planners heard from hundreds of community members who packed the Board of Supervisors chambers to formally comment on the proposed re-opening of the San Juan Ridge Mine as part of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process now underway.
Earlier this year, SYRCL joined the San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association in requesting that County officials conduct a comprehensive EIR on the project. When the mine last operated in the 1990s, it had to shut down after dewatering wells for the local school, community center, and numerous residential properties. SYRCL wants the EIR to assess potentially significant impacts to the South Yuba River watershed and its tributaries, Spring and Shady Creeks, including impacts to water quality and quantity, fish and wildlife, and vegetation.
Caleb Dardick, executive director of the South Yuba River Citizens League, commended the County for its decision to require a full EIR. “The proposed mine re-opening must be evaluated in the context of environmental damage and risk to the Yuba River. Simply put, this project would draw and discharge a huge amount of water that could severely damage our watershed as well as threaten the quality and reliability our water supply,” Dardick stated.
SYRCL also submitted formal written comments
Key points in the comment letter include:
- Dewatering threatens headwaters of local streams and wetlands critical to water quality and quantity.
- Cumulative impacts must be assessed for the maximum project horizon and all potential scenarios of dewatering and discharge from mine activities.
- Cumulative impacts to fisheries and amphibian populations should be thoroughly assessed in the EIR, and include downstream effects to species expected to be present within the extended duration of the project.
- The potential for release of mercury into streams and ultimately the South Yuba River must be evaluated in the EIR.
- Impacts to recreational uses should be assessed as a potentially significant impact in the EIR.
SYRCL intends to remain fully engaged in the environmental review process for the proposed mine. SYRCL is also developing a targeted River Monitoring program focused on gathering critical data in the portions of the watershed potentially impacted by mining projects.