Reclaiming the Sierra

Gold Country Mines Tour

Gold Country Mines Full-Day Tour
Monday April 20th, 2015 – 8:15 am – 4:45 pm

 Tour Sponsored by:  Department of Conservation, Office of Mine Reclamation

Tour participants joined The Sierra Fund Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin and Science Director Dr. Carrie Monohan on the Gold Country Mines Tour to view some stunning – yet contaminated – historic mine lands; clean up technologies and breathtaking scenery. This tour included two stops:

  • Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park: California Department of Parks and Recreation owns what was once one of the world’s first and largest hydraulic mines. Tour participants walked into this nearly two mile long, one mile wide hydraulic mining pit and look at the historic Hiller Tunnel that is the outlet for surface water discharge from the pit. The Sierra Fund and USGS scientists talked about assessment activities occurring at this site and proposed pilot project, funded in part by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and conducted in cooperation with State Parks, to reduce sediment and mercury discharge form the pit into the Yuba River.
  • The Combie Reservoir Sediment and Mercury Removal Project: The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) owns and operates Combie Reservoir which is located on the Bear River and listed as impaired from mercury. Tour participants viewed a demonstration of an innovative process and state of the art machinery that removes elemental mercury from dredged sediments and treats turbid water discharge, part of NID’s precedent setting project to combine reservoir maintenance with mercury remediation. NID representatives and engineers talked about the situation they face as mercury contaminated sediment occupies valuable water storage space in their reservoirs.